Wednesday, March 31, 2010

National Geographic Top 100 Adventure Books

Just stumbled upon this. It’s from a few years back, but it’s pretty timeless. See full list here.
It’s worth saying straight off that it’s focussed on adventure rather than, simply, travel. By adventure they mean exploration or survival, and excluded books that didn't involve “at least a measure of physical risk or audacity”. I would quibble and say that almost any travel writer exposes him/herself to some sort of danger – like crossing a street in Hanoi or entering a bar in Rio! In any case, the likes of Bill Bryson, Pico Iyer, Paul Theroux, Colin Thubron, Bruce Chatwin, Dervla Murphy, Jonathan Raban etc are not included. Still, it’s quite a list. Interestingly, a good third of them are from the 19th Century or earlier, when any travel was an adventure (btw, a book that really should have featured here is George Kennan’s excellent Tent Life in Siberia which I’ve just finshed).

Top of the list is Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World - his account of Scott's doomed journey to the South Pole. To my surprise, I've only read half a dozen or so from the total.


  1. Well, I've only read 8 of them. Agree that the term adventure is a bit misleading, some here don't seem any more adventurous than many missing from the list

  2. I know, maybe there's simply a Top 100 Travel Writing Books list somewhere. If not, I reckon you and I could make a fair attempt... sometime.