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12 Best Non-Fiction Adventure Books

A book guide to non-fiction adventure books that will inspire you

When it comes to non-fiction adventure books, readers are often seeking tales that provide inspiration, insight into the human spirit, and a window to experiences far from ordinary. 

You might be asking what stories offer the most authentic perspectives or simply where to start. 

You’ve landed on the right page. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite coffee table book and adventure books that inspired me the most. 

a pin with a woman reading by the fire one of the best Non-Fiction Adventure Books

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Psssst…!!?? Can’t you get enough reading books? Have a look at my other posts:

Top Non-Fiction Adventure Books – My top picks

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1. In the Heart of the Sea

by Nathaniel Philbrick

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I just finished reading “In the Heart of the Sea” by Nathaniel Philbrick and it’s the true story behind Moby Dick, so it earns its place among the best adventure non-fiction books out there. 

Philbrick brings in a lot of detail, which at times is almost too intense, but it paints the picture of what the crew went through. 

I appreciated the personal anecdotes mixed with the facts—it made it relatable. If you’re into epic books about the sea with a historical twist, give this one a shot.

2. The Revenant

by Michael Punke

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You know, “The Revenant” by Michael Punke is one of those non-fiction adventure stories that you just can’t put down.

It’s like you’re in the 1820s American wilderness, trudging through the snow alongside Hugh Glass. 

What got me was the sheer determination of the guy after that brutal bear attack; it completely redefines survival for me. 

Punke’s writing balances these details with this raw, untamed energy that makes every moment of Glass’s ordeal intensely real. 

If you’re into survival stories books based on true stories where nature tests the human spirit, this book is a must-read; it’s a wild ride, without a doubt.

3. The Lost City of Z

by David Grann

- 12 Best Non-Fiction Adventure Books

I couldn’t help but get drawn into “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann, it’s one of those best books like Into the Wild that just grips you. 

The tale of Percy Fawcett’s obsession with the Amazon and his quest for an ancient civilization was equal parts thrilling and haunting. 

Grann’s blend of historical details and personal adventure makes you feel like you are trekking through the jungle alongside the explorers. 

It’s fantastic how he interweaves different timelines, giving a sense of the past’s immediacy. 

If you’re into adventure stories with a dash of mystery, this book is a historical treasure trove worth exploring.

4. Never Cry Wolf

by Farley Mowat 

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Reading Farley Mowat’s “Never Cry Wolf” felt like stepping into the untamed wilderness. It’s honestly a standout amongst the best nonfiction adventure books I’ve read. 

Mowat’s exploration the world of the Arctic wolves challenges every stereotype through keen observation and unexpected humor. 

It’s incredible how the book paints the intimacy of life in the wild and the surprising discoveries about wolf behavior. 

Rather than just presenting facts, Mowat immerses you in the experience alongside him, blending science with a captivating narrative. 

If you still need to add it to your reading list, trust me, you’re missing out on one of the best wilderness survival books.

5. A Voyage for Madmen

by Peter Nichols

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I absolutely had to share “A Voyage for Madmen” by Peter Nichols with you. It’s an epic tale that’s cemented its spot on my list of favorite adventure nonfiction books. 

Nichols captures the essence of solo sailing’s challenge with such vivid storytelling that you almost feel the ocean spray. 

The book does an incredible job of profiling the sailors; you get to know them as if they were your eccentric uncles with a penchant for the sea. 

Each page is drenched in the sailors’ intense emotional and physical voyages that grip you. 

Honestly, it has that rare power to make you ponder over your safe harbors and possibly brave the wilds of life’s adventures.

6. Kon-Tiki

by Thor Heyerdahl

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Have you heard about “Kon-Tiki” by Thor Heyerdahl? It’s one of those top nonfiction adventure books that practically drags you out to sea with its narrative. 

The story is wild—this guy builds a raft to sail across the Pacific to prove ancient people could have done it. 

It’s not just the voyage that’s inspiring; it’s the sheer determination and the hands-on approach to history that gets you. 

7. The Puma Years

by Laura Coleman

- 12 Best Non-Fiction Adventure Books

I just finished “The Puma Years” by Laura Coleman, and it’s such a compelling read in adventure non-fiction books. 

Laura dives into her unexpected journey at an animal sanctuary in Bolivia, and you feel every bit of her transformation along with the rescued pumas. 

Her narrative is honest, shedding light on the complexities of wildlife conservation without shying away from her vulnerabilities. 

It’s a refreshing blend of personal growth and vivid rainforest life that makes you consider our connections with nature. 

If you’re in the mood for something heartwarming and thought-provoking, this could be your next favorite book.

8. A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson

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Bill Bryson nailed the essence of trekking the Appalachian Trail in “A Walk in the Woods.” 

It’s one of those books about outdoor adventures that make you laugh out loud while delivering a decent punch of hiking knowledge. 

His blend of personal stories and facts about the trail kept me hooked. He felt like he was right there with you, sharing his misadventures over a campfire. 

If you’re slightly into nature walks or hilarious travelogues, this book should be on your to-read list!

9. Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Aron Ralston

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You’ve got to check out “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston — it’s an unbelievable tale that belongs on any list of the best survival books non-fiction. 

How he describes his harrowing experience trapped in the canyons is raw and real; I was gripped from start to finish. 

It’s intense, but this undercurrent of resilience and sheer determination is what inspired me the most.

Plus, it’s an eye-opener about the risks of adventuring alone. You’ll seriously walk away with a whole new appreciation for the power of the human spirit.

10. Seven Years in Tibet

by Heinrich Harrer

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Non-fiction adventure books have always gripped me, and “Seven Years in Tibet” by Heinrich Harrer was no exception. 

It’s like stepping into Harrer’s shoes, experiencing his audacious escape from a POW camp and his subsequent years in Tibet. 

The landscape descriptions are so vivid that you almost feel the chill of the Himalayas. More than just travel, it offers a deep look into Tibetan culture before everything changed. 

I totally recommend it if you’re looking for an epic yet intimate narrative and it’s one of the adventure books for adults everyone must read. 

11. Miracle in the Andes

by Nando Parrado

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Miracle in the Andes is one of those true adventure books that catches you its harrowing tale of survival. 

Nando Parrado, the author and survivor, takes us through an emotionally rich journey following a plane crash that strands his rugby team in the Andes Mountains. 

His raw narrative conveys the resilience and determination of the human spirit against impossible odds. 

Parrado’s profound reflections on life and mortality resonate long after turning the final page.

12. The Perfect Storm

by Sebastian Junger

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The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger is among the best adventure books I’ve picked up. 

It’s a riveting non-fiction tale that plunges you into the experiences of fishermen caught in an unforgiving oceanic storm. 

With every page turned, Junger masterfully conveys the crew’s desperation and the raw power of nature. 

What stands out is the depth of research that lays bare the brutal reality of these kinds of high-seas adventures. 

If nonfiction adventure books for adults are your thing, this has to be on your list!

My final thoughts on the top non-fiction adventure books

Woman Standing Beside Book Store, sustainable travel, looking for the best Non-Fiction Adventure Books

As I wrap up this exploration of non-fiction adventure books, it’s clear that these narratives hold the key to unlocking a world of discovery, resilience, and cultural richness. 

Through the pages of these captivating true stories, readers are entertained and transported to the heart of real-life adventures. 

The significance of non-fiction adventure literature lies in its ability to bridge the gap between imagination and reality, inviting us to embrace the diverse tapestry of human experiences.

I invite you to embark on your literary journeys and let these books be your passport to a world of boundless exploration.”

FAQ about the best non-fiction adventure books

What are the best non fiction adventure books of all time?

Some of the best non fiction adventure books of all time are Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, Touching the Void by Joe Simpson or The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger.

What are the best non fiction adventure books for young adults?

Some of the best non fiction adventure books for young adults are A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, or No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits by Jordan Romero.

What are the best true adventure books?

Some of the best true adventure books are Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read, or Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston.