A DOZEN TALES OF DERRING-DO
It all began with Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Journey. That audiobook started me on a journey of seeking books chronicling the courage of men and women the world around. Although some of the best stories took place in the extremities of the world such as both Poles, mountain tops and deep caves, books like Letters of a Woman Homesteader or Alaska Nellie captured my attention and didn't let go. These were pioneering women who not only battled the elements, wildlife, but men's bruised egos jealous of their accomplishments. So from the frozen Greenland tundra to the Land Down Under, from the desert to the ocean, from a South American mountain peak and the skies over Africa to a cannibal-inhabited valley, here are a dozen of my favorite adventure memoirs. NOTE: These are not listed in any special order.
This book started it all. Once I read Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage , true life adventure memoirs had me hooked! Reading about Shackleton and his crew's bravery inspired me.
Mountain climbing disaster books get repetitious after a while. Similar stories, different mountains....but I loved this one for Joe Simpson's humility and courage while another bonus is the quality of writing. Most thrill seekers don't write as well as Simpson does in Touching the Void.
Take one motherless daughter, a frequently absent father, surround her with the wilds and beauty of Kenya, teach her how to survive indigenously and voila! you discovered Beryl Markham. There's nothing this lady couldn't do! Rescue pilot, adventure, a true female adrenaline junkie. West with the Night is a fun read.
One of my all-time favorite books. This is a turn-of-the-20th-century account of retired sea captain Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World. Slocum meets South American headhunters, Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson at her island habitat, weathers perilous storms....A delightful read!
Lost in Shangri-la What to do when a plane crashes in a mountain-encased valley in an area of New Guinea where evidence of cannibals abounds? Its WWII and the base camp is busy fighting a war in the Pacific when a pleasure trip to Shangri-la turns positively hellish.
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
Greenland. What a misnomer for the part of this ice-covered country where WWII planes get disoriented in snowstorms crashing into glaciers and frozen tundra. However, its makes terrific reading material with its Arctic heroes, daredevils, dog sled teams and its never-before (and probably never-since) rescue attempts.
Kon-tiki Okay, so Thor Heyerdahl's migration theories have been conclusively disproven...Who cares! I loved this book for its crazy derring-do. You have to be nuts to cross a healthy stretch of ocean on a log raft, right?
Skeletons on the Zahara offers shipwreck, capture by desert nomads, survival and sometimes not. One of those books that stay with you a long, long time and impress you with the power of man's will to live.
Letters of a Woman Homesteader How many women could homestead in the newly-opened Western territory and survive, let alone thrive? I loved reading every one of these letters. Another spunky lady driven to conquer the land and who finds love in the process.
A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska Hannah Breece is a spinster schoolteacher who doesn't allow her marital status to label her. Instead she seeks adventure while doing what she loves, educating children and adults eager to learn. Inspirational.
LISTS:THE DERRING-DO DOZEN
(in no special order)
1. National Geographic's Top 100 Adventure Books
2. Amazon's Top True Adventure Books
3. Outside Magazine's Top 25 Books for the Well-read Explorer
4. Library Thing's Top 100 Adventure Books
5. Goodreads Trailblazing Women Adventurers List
6. Good Non-fiction Books for Teens (Downer's Grove Library)
7. Kirkus Best Non-fiction Books for Children
8. The Essential Adventure Library for Men
9. More Magazine's Ten Outdoor Adventure Books Not to Miss
10. WSJ's Recommended Outdoor Adventure Books
11. National Outdoor Book Awards 2012 Winners List
12. Telegraph's Nature Books to Nurture a Sense of Adventure (kids)
* The May Edition of New Books Reviews