The best treasure books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about treasure and why they recommend each book.

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Quest for the Golden Hare

By Bamber Gascoigne,

Book cover of Quest for the Golden Hare

From a wild sheep chase to a grand old treasure hunt that gripped a nation, the Quest for the Golden Hare tells the real-life story of one of the most famous book-related escapades in recent memory. 

In 1979, British artist Kit Williams published Masquerade – a cryptic storybook containing clues to the whereabouts of an 18-carat gold hare trinket that Williams buried somewhere in the English countryside. Author Bamber Gascoigne was the only other person present at the burial, and was tasked with documenting the frankly bonkers lengths the crazed fans would go to uncover it.

I’m loath to mention the pandemic again, but in these times, when most of us are going stir crazy and are itching for an adventure, this book might just be the next best thing. (Bonus points if you can source a copy of Masquerade while you’re at it, which I believe has been…

Quest for the Golden Hare

By Bamber Gascoigne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quest for the Golden Hare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Gascoigne, Bamber

Who am I?

I’ve always had a love for weird and wonderful animals. As a kid, I used to collect lizards, snails, beetles, and caterpillars. When I was 15, I hid a family of white mice under the house so my parents wouldn’t find them. We bred guinea pigs and rats for a time. It was almost inevitable that I would end up writing about animals. As a science communicator, I tell stories about how strange yet relatable so many of the creatures living among us can be. I also love an adventure, and I hope these books capture your imagination as they did mine! 


I wrote...

Creatura: Strange Behaviours and Special Adaptations

By Becky Crew,

Book cover of Creatura: Strange Behaviours and Special Adaptations

What is my book about?

There’s no doubt that Australia has more than its fair share of weird and wonderful animals - just think about the platypus - but the true diversity of our wildlife is more extraordinary than you might imagine. There’s the caterpillar that wears its old head shells as a macabre hat, the cuscus that wraps itself in a blanket of leafy camouflage and the fish that targets prey with a high-powered jet of water. In this collection of stories from Australian Geographic blog Creatura, science writer Bec Crew celebrates the strange behaviours, special adaptations, and peculiar features of our amazing Australian creatures.

Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Book cover of Treasure Island

Treasure Island is my favourite childhood story. I used to dream of finding hidden treasure on some distant tropical island. My mother would wax lyrical about the Isle of Man, she had many holidays there in the 1920s and 1930s. She called it her ‘treasure island’ and told me about its clear harbour water and golden sands. Well, for those who don’t know, the IOM is a small island in the middle of the cold Irish Sea. Talk about a disappointment when I visited the island. It was freezing cold, wet, dismal, and its capital city Douglas was in the advanced stages of decline—a long way from Stevenson’s version of the Hispaniola and pirates of the Spanish Main. However, I still enjoy reading about Black Dog, Billy Bones, Dr. Livesey, Long John Silver, and the cabin boy Jim Hawkins and at the age of 79 I can still dream of…

Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Treasure Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Penguin presents the audio CD edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Following the demise of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. For he has discovered a map that will lead him to the fabled Treasure Island. But a host of villains, wild beasts and deadly savages stand between him and the stash of gold. Not to mention the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas . . .


Who am I?

Two events happened around the same time, 1950-51, that made me want to go to sea. One was seeing the movie Down to the Sea in Ships and the second was a 30-minute boat ride on the sea. I was about 9-years old at the time. I think I must have identified with the boy (Jed) in the novel and unlike my younger brother, I enjoyed the thrill of the wind and waves and I wasn’t seasick. From then on, I had a lifelong love of the sea, serving with the Merchant Navy, having my own seagoing boat and for 22 years teaching navigation and sailing knowledge to Sea Cadets. 


I wrote...

Fife's Tin Box

By Peter Copley,

Book cover of Fife's Tin Box

What is my book about?

Over 500 boys aged between 14 and 16 were killed at sea while serving in the British Merchant Navy during World War ll. Including John E Atkins, aged 15, of the barge Rosemary, who lost his life while evacuating troops from Dunkirk and Reginald (Reggie) Earnshaw just 14 years old when he was lost at sea. 

Kevin Fife is a 14-year-old who keeps getting into trouble with the authorities. After minor altercations with the police, the magistrates do not agree that his ‘offences’ are only boyish mischief and send Kevin off to sea as an alternative to Borstal (Correction House) under the ‘Jail or Sail Policy’. This novel follows Kevin facing the dangers of the sea and the violence of the enemy between January 1940 and January 1941.

No Country for Old Men

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men is a hard-boiled, new wave western that takes place on the Texas side of the U.S. border. Imagine a fast, violent story about a stone-cold killer (Chigurh), a small-town sheriff (Bell), and an average Joe who stumbles across a leather case filled with $2 million in hot drug money (Moss). Of course, the cartels want their money back and so the hunter and the hunted are catapulted into a nightmarish world of drugs, money, and death. McCarthy turns the elaborate cat-and-mouse game played by Moss, Chigurh, and Bell into a harrowing, non-stop drama, cutting from one violent set piece to another with economy and precision. This is a perfectly orchestrated novel written by one of America’s finest authors at the height of his powers. I loved it!

No Country for Old Men

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked No Country for Old Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim's burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes that Moss and his young wife are in desperate need of protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular…

Who am I?

I have some insight into the crime fiction genre that's unique. After graduating from Georgetown University I desperately wanted a job as a writer. Unfortunately, it was in the midst of a deep recession, and being $40,000 in debt with college loans decided to take a job that would help pay bills and give me insight into the criminal mind and the detectives that chase them for my literary endeavors. I became a deputy sheriff in Arlington, VA, transporting federal criminals from Washington, D.C. to sundry institutions. It was then that my writing career began in earnest as I started publishing stories about the crimes, criminals, and detectives I worked with in True Detective magazine.


I wrote...

A Man of Indeterminate Value

By Ron Felber,

Book cover of A Man of Indeterminate Value

What is my book about?

In a world plagued by corrupt corporations, institutions gone haywire, and sinister forces that prowl the global landscape, Jack Madson needs to escape his own demons. Trapped in a hate-filled marriage, a job he despises, and the mountain of debt his wife has racked up, he’s crafted a plan. He’ll fake his own death–simultaneously winning a large insurance payout for his family and paving the way for his getaway to Mexico. There, he’ll create a new life with the proceeds he’s been amassing from illegally selling intellectual property to criminal investors in China. But Madson’s plan goes dangerously wrong. Chock full of action, sex, and the author’s unique perspective on global business, A Man of Indeterminate Value is a tour de force that will grab readers from its first page.

The Romance of Ballooning

By Edita Lausanne,

Book cover of The Romance of Ballooning: The Story of the Early Aeronauts

This oversized coffee-table book is an archival treasure trove: a collection of primary source materials—contemporary articles, letters, broadsheets, and other rare material—arranged chronologically and packed with line drawings and spectacular full-color plates. The author lets the painstakingly harvested entries speak for themselves, with little comment or imposed context beyond the archival images, and the result is a rich tribute to the art of ballooning and its practitioners. Beautifully curated and visually dazzling, this is a browser’s delight.

The Romance of Ballooning

By Edita Lausanne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Romance of Ballooning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hard cover unique book fully illustrated about the romance of ballooning.

Who am I?

As an avid student of curious social history, I’ve wanted to tell the story of early flight for a while. A friend once took me up in a hot-air balloon for my birthday, and I’ve been a balloonomaniac ever since. I’ll never forget the awe I felt that morning in Vermont—the sensation of drifting softly above it all, passing spirit-like through orange-pink clouds just after sunrise with the muffled bark of a distant dog the only sound for miles. It was, to quote Sophie Blanchard, a “sensation incomparable.” 


I wrote...

Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard

By Deborah Noyes,

Book cover of Lady Icarus: Balloonmania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard

What is my book about?

Before Amelia Earhart, there was French aeronaut Sophie Blanchard, the first woman to earn her living in the air. While no one knows the fate of Earhart, a terrified crowd looked on as Sophie Blanchard met her end in a tragic blaze of glory over the streets of Paris in 1819. But first, Blanchard made nearly 70 spectacular flights, survived a revolution, and became a court favorite of the emperor Napoleon and later the King of France. A product of the balloonomania that swept Europe in the late 18th century—inspiring countless artists, authors, and dreamers—Blanchard was a frightened, nervous girl who became a fearless legend in the skies. Her story, set against the thrilling backdrop of early human flight, is richly illustrated with more than 50 images.

Book cover of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Almost all the Tintin books are a delight, but this one has always been my favorite. It gets the mixture of suspense and humor just exactly right. In this one, Tintin stumbles into a mystery, which starts small and grows into a terrific hunt for a lost pirate treasure. The everyman who’s pulled into adventure by coincidence or mistaken identity is something that appeals to me because it reminds me that even if we’re not private eyes or secret agents we’re constantly adventure-adjacent! The Secret of the Unicorn reminds me that adventure is largely a matter of attitude: Tintin ends up at the center of adventures because he’s always curious and game – are you?!

The Adventures of Tintin

By Herge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Adventures of Tintin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic graphic novel. Tintin stumbles across a model ship at the Old Street Market. Only it isn't just any model ship-it's the Unicorn, carved by one of Haddock's ancestors, and it holds a clue to finding pirate treasure!

Who am I?

In my opinion, a good adventure story does two things at once: it compels you to turn pages, while, paradoxically, also enticing you to get off the couch and go out into the beautiful, magical world, pregnant with unlimited possibilities, right outside your door, just waiting for you to notice it. I’ve hitchhiked, I’ve been lost in the jungle, I’ve sailed, I’ve run whitewater rivers, and I’ve written and drawn New Yorker cartoons and picture books. I hope these books are as hard for you to put down as they were for me, and when you do put ‘em down, it’s only to throw on your rucksack and head out in search of adventure!


I wrote...

Red Scare: A Graphic Novel

By Liam Francis Walsh,

Book cover of Red Scare: A Graphic Novel

What is my book about?

Peggy is scared: She's struggling to recover from polio and needs crutches to walk, and she and her neighbors are worried about the rumors of Communist spies doing bad things. On top of all that, Peggy has a hard time at school and gets taunted by her classmates. When she finds a mysterious artifact that gives her the ability to fly, she thinks it's the solution to all her problems. But if Peggy wants to keep it, she'll have to overcome bullies, outsmart FBI agents, and escape from some very strange spies!

The Stench of Honolulu

By Jack Handey,

Book cover of The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure

Written by legendary Saturday Night Live writer Jack Handey, this is a trippy book dense with hilarity, quite literally joke after joke, which still somehow flows into an actual story, albeit a weird one. I’d suggest that you only need to read the first sentence of the blurb to know if it’s for you or not. "Are you a fan of books in which famous tourist destinations are repurposed as unlivable hellholes for no particular reason? Read on!"

The Stench of Honolulu

By Jack Handey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stench of Honolulu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary Deep Thoughts and New Yorker humorist Jack Handey is back with his very first novel-a hilarious, absurd, far-flung adventure tale.

The Stench of Honolulu

Are you a fan of books in which famous tourist destinations are repurposed as unlivable hellholes for no particular reason? Read on!

Jack Handey's exotic tale is full of laugh-out-loud twists and unforgettable characters whose names escape me right now. A reliably unreliable narrator and his friend, who is some other guy, need to get out of town. They have a taste for adventure, so they pay a visit to a relic of bygone…

Who am I?

As a stand-up comedian myself, I find a lot of so-called funny books to be hugely disappointing. In these days of authors wanting their amazing works listed in every possible category on Amazon, you often find books in the humor sections which have severely mistaken ‘a somewhat light tone’ or ‘occasional moments of levity’ for being actual comedies. And don’t even get me started on the reams of literotica with covers featuring musclebound torsos that fill up any search for something supposedly funny. Kindly f*ck off, writers of the latest Billionaire Bad Boy Romance—you do not belong here. Instead, here are some books that will actually make you laugh.  


I wrote...

Sam, Jake and Dylan Want Money: A Badly Behaved Comedy

By Sam Bowring,

Book cover of Sam, Jake and Dylan Want Money: A Badly Behaved Comedy

What is my book about?

When a failed writer, a part-time redhead and a violent jerk all live together in the worst apartment block in the known universe, what desperate degeneracy will result? Will they be able to make a buck selling illegal seafood to children in the park? Or solve the problem of their broken air con by blowing up the very sun itself? Or avoid their spineless waft of a landlord, to whom they’ve never paid a shred of rent? Or what?

Find out the answers to these, and other dumb questions you would have never thought to ask, in this stupid collection of unnecessary tales.

Daughter of the Pirate King

By Tricia Levenseller,

Book cover of Daughter of the Pirate King

This book can be described in one word: Fun. From a ship crewed by female pirates to a quest for treasure, it has all the witty dialogue and adventure to match the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but instead features a fierce, female captain named Alosa who has mad skills and a way of looking at the world that will make you laugh out loud and cheer her on. 

This is the first in a duology, so it’s also not too much of a commitment to read, unlike some longer series. Both books are equally fast-paced and enjoyable. If you’re like me, you’ll be ready to grab your pirate hat and strap on your sword by the end of this book.

Daughter of the Pirate King

By Tricia Levenseller,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Daughter of the Pirate King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you want something done right...When her father, the ruthless Pirate King, discovers that a legendary treasure map can be found on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows that there's only one pirate for the job - herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her welcome on the ship. After all, who's going to suspect a girl locked in a cell...But Alosa has skills enough for any three pirates, and has yet to meet her match. Although she has to admit that the surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive first mate,…

Who am I?

I dreamed of being a fairy tale princess at a young age, and although I never received my glass slipper, I still have a highly active imagination. This is probably why fantasy books are my favorite, and I’ve read extensively in this space. I’m also a huge Disney and Harry Potter nerd. While I might not win a trivia competition on these topics, I could definitely hold my own. To be honest, immersing myself in another world is my favorite form of escapism and the number one way I relax and unwind after work. I’ve read many, many books in my life and can quickly tell you the ones I love the best.


I wrote...

Never Forgotten

By Kelly Risser,

Book cover of Never Forgotten

What is my book about?

Meara Quinn is about to find out there are worse things than moving to a tiny oceanside town before her senior year. Like discovering there's a secret being kept from her and knowing it's a life-changer. 

After experiencing vivid visions of her absentee father, Meara decides she deserves answers. With the help of her new friend Evan, a guy she happens to be falling for, she embarks on a journey in the hopes of unlocking family history and finding her true self. But when she meets a handsome stranger at a local club who knows far more about her than he should, her world is again shaken. In him, Meara may have uncovered the key to the very secret that will reveal not only who she is... but what she is.

Twelve Mile Bank

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

The Cayman Islands are my favorite place in the world, so a mystery featuring a female divemaster on Grand Cayman is right up my alley. AJ Bailey, the protagonist, is a realistic portrayal of a woman in a man’s world. Many books in the tropical islands have female protagonists, but they are often gun-toting, knife-wielding super-models, not realistic women like Harvey’s protagonist. 

The diving details are spot on; the dive site descriptions are accurate; and the thrilling story will keep you turning pages to the very end. A great start to a super series.

Twelve Mile Bank

By Nicholas Harvey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Twelve Mile Bank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A mysterious shipwreck. A ruthless treasure hunter. A race against time.

Cayman Islands divemaster AJ Bailey is searching for a long forgotten WWII U-boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Armed with nothing more than an adventurous spirit and her late grandfather’s tale, she's determined to find the submarine and the secret it protects.

When a wealthy treasure hunter shows up with a ruthless crew, AJ becomes entangled in a frantic duel to find the precious piece of history. Diving into the path of merciless killers at treacherous depths, she must fight to keep her grandfather’s dream - and…


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

The Secret

By Byron Preiss, Sean Kelly, Ted Mann, John Palencar (illustrator), John Pierard (illustrator), Overton Loyd (illustrator), JoEllen Trilling (illustrator)

Book cover of The Secret: a Treasure Hunt

In my book, the hero enlists his students in a treasure hunt using a book by Byron Preiss called The Secret as a guide. In 1982 Preiss traveled to twelve spots in North America, at each of which he buried a ceramic casque. Each casque contained a key that could be redeemed for a jewel. To find a casque, the seeker had to match one of twelve paintings to one of twelve poems. The hunt has lasted four decades and involves thousands of players. Only three of the twelve hiding places have been found. Be careful! The Secret has drawn in much more cynical readers than you.

The Secret

By Byron Preiss, Sean Kelly, Ted Mann, John Palencar (illustrator), John Pierard (illustrator), Overton Loyd (illustrator), JoEllen Trilling (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The tale begins over three-hundred years ago, when the Fair People—the goblins, fairies, dragons, and other fabled and fantastic creatures of a dozen lands—fled the Old World for the New, seeking haven from the ways of Man. With them came their precious jewels: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls... But then the Fair People vanished, taking with them their twelve fabulous treasures. And they remained hidden until now...

Across North America, these twelve treasures, over ten-thousand dollars in precious jewels in 1982 dollars, are buried. The key to finding each can be found within the twelve full-color paintings and verses of THE…

Who am I?

For much too long a perennial student, I hold degrees in Anthropology, Arabic Studies, and Library Science. I’ve studied nine languages and lived or traveled on five of the seven continents. I do not hunt tangible treasure—gold or jewels or sunken ships; I hunt knowledge. My love for rooting out treasure troves of information began with my first job. I held passes to the Library of Congress stacks, where I tracked down sources on Ethiopian history. After months of unearthing mostly obscure references, I came upon the mother lode—the great explorers’ accounts. It was like finding a chest of doubloons. I was hooked on the treasure of the mind.


I wrote...

Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

By M. S. Spencer,

Book cover of Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

What is my book about?

Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.

Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city. Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.

Letting Go!

By Dr. Sharie Coombes, Ellie O’Shea (illustrator),

Book cover of Letting Go!

Grief, unfortunately, is a part of life. Western culture has a habit of ignoring and minimizing grief in detrimental ways. When we gently turn toward the difficult stuff in life, we can “feel and deal” in ways that benefit mental health. There are many books about grieving the death of a loved one (a list for another day, perhaps), but few acknowledge the other intense and life-altering kinds of loss and change that children are grieving. Dr. Coombes’ book is much more inclusive–plus, it delivers a treasure trove of activities to help children (and adults) navigate this challenging part of being human. The delightful doodles will appeal to upper elementary and quite a few tweens and teens.

Letting Go!

By Dr. Sharie Coombes, Ellie O’Shea (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letting Go! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These writing, craft, and doodling activities are designed to offer children support through experiences of loss, change, disappointment, and grief by using creativity to combat negative feelings and help them work through difficult times.

Who am I?

My super-power is making brain science accessible and entertaining for children and adults alike. I am living this out as an author, mental health counselor, and the founder of BraveBrains. In addition to training parents and professionals, I have the joy of sharing my passion and expertise through podcast appearances, blogs, and articles. The lightbulb moments are my favorite, and I'm committed to helping people bring what they learn home in practical ways. I write picture books because the magic of reading and re-reading stories light up the brain in a powerful way. But don’t worry…I always include some goodies for the adults in the back of the book.


I wrote...

What's Inside Your Backpack?

By Jessica Sinarski, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of What's Inside Your Backpack?

What is my book about?

Zoey Harmon just wants to feel light-hearted and carefree. Unfortunately, she keeps getting weighed down by pesky “books” in her backpack, like Worry and Shame. Much to her surprise, she’s not the only one! Zoey learns that the adults in her life deal with these difficult feelings too! Luckily, they have some bright ideas that can help her set aside the books she’s not meant to carry! Will it be enough to help her with the biggest book of all?

While there are no quick fixes for all of life’s complex problems, What’s Inside Your Backpack? highlights some of the ways we can nurture resilience in body and mind.

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