A couple of buddies recently asked me for a few recommendations of “epic stories”. Here is my list of favorite books and audio title that qualify as epic adventures, survival, resilience and wilderness experiences that will change your life.
Adventure Titles Worth a Read
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The story of Chris McCandless who in 1992 walked into the Alaskan wilderness to never return. This was one of the very first first adventure stories I’d ever read. I subscribed to Outside Magazine and received a copy of Jon Krakauer’s award winning article on Chris McCandless’s disappearance. This story also became a box office indy-hit but the book invites you into a place the movie cannot take you. Long live Alexander Supertramp.
To Build a Fire by Jack London
Classic survival short story where the Yukon Territory is always harder than any man. If you’ve never read this one, start with this one. You will feel the plight of the main character’s desperate need to build a fire for his survival after his sled falls into a creek. A great story to read around a fire.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The story is told through the eyes of Buck, the sled dog, in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s. I read this story in part to my son when he was in middle school on a few of our Men’s Town road trips.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
The mind boggling epic survival story of famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and their twenty-two month struggle to survive the Arctic. The story is set in the age of exploration as the British race to conquer and discover unfound places of the earth. Amazing story. One of my all time favorites.
Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson
The story is about Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates on a never-to-be repeated ascent of Siula Grande.
The movie is just as gripping, but the book puts you alongside Joe Simpson as he crawls to his rescue.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Although it was made into a recent hollywood movie, I’d still recommend the book. The story of Louis Zamperini’s WWII survival story and redemption. Powerful! I’ve listened to the fourteen hour audio book at least twice.
Undaunted Courage:Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West
The Story of Lewis and Clark by Stephen Ambrose. An account constructed by Ambrose using personal journals from the men apart of the journey to discover a water passageway to the Pacific Ocean.
Book | Audio Abridged | Audio Unabridged
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Erik Greitens
A series of letters between two Navy Seals working through the hardship of re-entry into civilian life.
Book | Audio version
“For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing’s holy grail: to stand atop the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest.”
Book | Audio Unabridged
Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death by Laurence Gonzales
Phenomenally compelling stories ranging from a Navy Seal drowning to children being rescued in the woods. Gonzales unpacks the science behind Who Lives, Who Dies and Why. Listen to my podcast with the author.
Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience by Laurence Gonzales
Survival experiences change a person permanently. Some people thrive and some people barely survive after their survival experience. Gonzales lays out the differences between the two survival groups highlighting the characteristics and choices of those who move forward and thrive. Fascinating.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell
Now a blockbuster movie, the book still reads like a Texan Navy Seal’s first person account of how the hell he survived a gunfight in Afghanistan. Shocking and human.
Book | Audio Unabridged
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts
It’s about taking time off from everything to travel. From six weeks to three years, Potts advocates for a simplistic sauntering instead of blitz-paced assaults on visiting new places. Spoiler alert: Unless you have unending wealth, you won’t be staying at many Westin hotels if you follow Rolf’s plan. But you will experience adventure as you allow each trip to unfold.