top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Bushell

My three best adventure based books to read

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Whilst international travel is restricted, reading about adventures can be just as inspiring…

Today, September 6th 2020, is ‘Read a Book Day’ and whilst many of us are faced with heavy international travel restrictions worldwide, it feels like a great day to read about being in the great outdoors and exploring.

Below are my three best adventure based books that you should have on your bookshelf, they will all take you on an adventure page by page.

Number Three:

Step by Step – Simon Reeve

I first came across Simon Reeve many years ago watching one of his early travel adventures for BBC television, called ‘Meet the Stans’. He is a British travel journalist and author.

Where some of the adventures Reeve has been on are incredible, what is a really remarkable story is his own personal life journey. A man who was lost with no real prospects at the end of his school life and someone who was not sure at all where to turn next. Coming from the brink of suicide, hiking Glencoe in Scotland to working his way into the newspaper business before eventually getting his TV opportunity is an inspiring story for everyone to read.

Reeve talks in detail about how the September 11th attacks had a profound affect on his career and tells tails from some of his most epic adventures around the world whilst filming documentaries such as “Places That Don’t Exist’, ‘Equator’ and ‘Tropic of Cancer’.

Number Two:

Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

I first read this book after a trip I went on to Nepal. I walked the bustling streets of Kathmandu utterly immersed in the feeling of adventure thanks to the hundreds of hiking stores and travellers preparing to either tackle Everest’s base camp or indeed, attempt an Everest summit themselves.

The air of excitement running through the city’s streets and lanes was palpable. With many bookstores dotted around, I came across this book and when I returned home I began to read. I could not put the book down, frantically turning each page to continue the incredible story. Having just walked the streets the author, Jon Krakauer talks about in the early chapters I was encapsulated from start to finish.

Into Thin Air is the personal account of Jon Krakauer’s summit of Mount Everest in which he joined Rob Hall’s ‘Adventure Consultants’ expedition before tragedy struck with a storm hitting the mountain on summit day. Eight climbers died, including expedition leader, Hall.

Originally Krakauer was meant to write an article for Outside magazine but as the events unfolded during that fateful May day in 1996, Krakauer decided the story needed to be told in long-form, the result of which is Into Thin Air.

Krakauer’s account details his journey from originally only meaning to hike to Everest base camp to write the magazine article on the commercialisation of the mountain, to being inspired to attempt a summit climb and joining Rob Hall's team.

The book received some criticism for how Krakauer told the story of certain elements of the expedition such as not mentioning that team members were receiving weather reports about the incoming storm. These criticisms are talked about by Krakauer in the 1999 edition of the book.

Into Thin Air is the basis of the 2015 feature film, Everest.

Number One:

A Race Too Far – Chris Eakin

The sheer grit and determination of offshore sailors has always impressed me and I’m fascinated by those who are able to circumnavigate the world’s oceans non-stop single-handed. Nowadays, even though it is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination, you can solo circumnavigate the world non-stop in just 42 days.

Back in 1968, just one year after British sailor Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to single-handed circumnavigate the world, stopping only once in Australia and returning home after nine months at sea to a hero’s welcome, there was only one milestone left to conquer at sea. To circumnavigate the world single-handed non-stop.

The Sunday Times newspaper devised the ‘Golden Globe’ round-the-world race in which nine sailors committed to taking part. The race was to be an incredible test of endurance and mental strength. Out of those nine sailors that started however, only one finished the race, Sir Robin Know-Johnston, one of Britain’s most celebrated sailors.

A Race Too Far tells the remarkable story of the nine competitors as events unfold during the 1968 race. Whilst every sailor goes through their own trials and tribulations, the real tragic part of the story comes in the form of amateur weekend sailor, Donald Crowhurst.

Wanting to achieve something life-changing for his family and win a healthy sum of money for his efforts he set about building a boat capable of getting him around the world. His voyage however was doomed from the start, and the story of what happened is both truly unbelievable and tragic in equal measure.

Chris Eakin tells the story of the Golden Globe race with brilliant detail, with multiple narratives across the nine competitors, race organisers, the sailor’s families and journalists.

A Race Too Far was the basis for the feature film, The Mercy, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz.

All three of these books I have enjoyed tremendously. Each have their own brilliant narratives, focus on the human being’s lust for adventure and are hugely inspiring in their own ways. Over to you, enjoy the reading!


bottom of page