I have completely neglected this blog for the last few months. But now I’m back and I have a list of great adventure books that have come out over the last few months.
There are a few biographies and books for younger readers on this list. A couple of them concerned forced adventures, journeys endured rather than enjoyed. This is an important aspect of adventure writing that often gets overlooked. Not all adventures are positive. The Lightless Sky is about a boy who is a refugee from Afghanistan and his escape from that country and the danger that faced him there.
There are also several books for younger readers. I’m particularly interested in The Fox and the Star and Anna and the Swallow Man.
Michael R. Canfield
Drawing extensively on Roosevelt’s field notebooks, diaries, and letters, Canfield takes readers into the field on adventures alongside him. From Roosevelt’s early childhood observations of ants to his notes on ornithology as a teenager, Canfield shows how Roosevelt’s quest for knowledge coincided with his interest in the outdoors. We later travel to the Badlands, after the deaths of Roosevelt’s wife and mother, to understand his embrace of the rugged freedom of the ranch lifestyle and the Western wilderness. Finally, Canfield takes us to Africa and South America as we consider Roosevelt’s travels and writings after his presidency. Throughout, we see how the seemingly contradictory aspects of Roosevelt’s biography as a hunter and a naturalist are actually complementary traits of a man eager to directly understand and experience the environment around him.
by Johnathan Franklin
On November 17, 2012, a pair of fishermen left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. That night, a violent storm ambushed them as they were fishing eighty miles offshore. As gale force winds and ten-foot waves pummeled their small, open boat from all sides and nearly capsized them, captain Salvador Alvarenga and his crewmate cut away a two-mile-long fishing line and began a desperate dash through crashing waves as they sought the safety of port. Fourteen months later, on January 30, 2014, Alvarenga, now a hairy, wild-bearded and half-mad castaway, washed ashore on a nearly deserted island on the far side of the Pacific. He could barely speak and was unable to walk. He claimed to have drifted from Mexico, a journey of some seven thousand miles.
“438 Days” is the first-ever account of one of the most amazing survival stories in modern times. Based on dozens of hours of exclusive interviews with Alvarenga, his colleagues, search-and-rescue officials, the remote islanders who found him, and the medical team that saved his life, “438 Days” is an unforgettable study of the resilience, will, ingenuity and determination required for one man to survive more than a year lost and adrift at sea.
by N. H. Senzai
A map, two train tickets, and a mission. These are things twelve-year-old Maya and her big sister Zara have when they set off on their own from Delhi to their grandmother’s childhood home of Aminpur, a small town in Northern India. Their goal is to find a chest of family treasures that their grandmother’s family left behind when they fled from India to Pakistan during the Great Partition. But soon the sisters become separated, and Maya is alone. Determined to find her grandmother’s lost chest, she continues her trip, on the way enlisting help from an orphan by named Jai.
by Coralie Bickford-Smith
The Fox and the Star is the story of a friendship between a lonely Fox and the Star who guides him through the frightfully dark forest. Illuminated by Star’s rays, Fox forages for food, runs with the rabbits, and dances in the rain—until Star suddenly goes out and life changes, leaving Fox huddling for warmth in the unfamiliar dark. To find his missing Star, Fox must embark on a wondrous journey beyond the world he knows—a journey lit by courage, newfound friends, and just maybe, a star-filled new sky.
by Dominic Ziegler
Black Dragon River is a personal journey down one of Asia’s great rivers that reveals the region’s essential history and culture. The world’s ninth largest river, the Amur serves as a large part of the border between Russia and China. As a crossroads for the great empires of Asia, this area offers journalist Dominic Ziegler a lens with which to examine the societies at Europe’s only borderland with east Asia. He follows a journey from the river’s top to bottom, and weaves the history, ecology and peoples to show a region obsessed with the past—and to show how this region holds a key to the complex and critical relationship between Russia and China today.
by Stephen R. Bown
Among the explorers made famous for revealing hitherto impenetrable cultures—T. E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger in the Middle East, Richard Burton in Africa—Knud Rasmussen stands out not only for his physical bravery but also for the beauty of his writing. Part Danish, part Inuit, Rasmussen made a courageous three-year journey by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska to reveal the common origins of all circumpolar peoples. Lovers of Arctic adventure, exotic cultures, and timeless legend will relish this gripping tale by Stephen R. Bown, known as “Canada’s Simon Winchester.”
by Joseph Marshall III
Jimmy McClean is a Lakota boy—though you wouldn’t guess it by his name: his father is part white and part Lakota, and his mother is Lakota. When he embarks on a journey with his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, he learns more and more about his Lakota heritage—in particular, the story of Crazy Horse, one of the most important figures in Lakota and American history. Drawing references and inspiration from the oral stories of the Lakota tradition, celebrated author Joseph Marshall III juxtaposes the contemporary story of Jimmy with an insider’s perspective on the life of Tasunke Witko, better known as Crazy Horse (c. 1840–1877). The book follows the heroic deeds of the Lakota leader who took up arms against the US federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Along with Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse was the last of the Lakota to surrender his people to the US army. Through his grandfather’s tales about the famous warrior, Jimmy learns more about his Lakota heritage and, ultimately, himself.
by Virginia Zimmerman
Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, this novel has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues. Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.
by Steve Kemper
Frederick Russell Burnham’s (1861–1947) amazing story resembles a newsreel fused with a Saturday matinee thriller. One of the few people who could turn his garrulous friend Theodore Roosevelt into a listener, Burnham was once world-famous as “the American scout.” His expertise in woodcraft, learned from frontiersmen and Indians, helped inspire another friend, Robert Baden-Powell, to found the Boy Scouts. His adventures encompassed Apache wars and range feuds, booms and busts in mining camps around the globe, explorations in remote regions of Africa, and death-defying military feats that brought him renown and high honors. His skills led to his unusual appointment, as an American, to be Chief of Scouts for the British during the Boer War, where his daring exploits earned him the Distinguished Service Order from King Edward VII.
by Gavriel Savit
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.
And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.
The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.
by Bill Bryson
Following (but not too closely) a route he dubs the Bryson Line, from Bognor Regis in the south to Cape Wrath in the north, by way of places few travelers ever get to at all, Bryson rediscovers the wondrously beautiful, magnificently eccentric, endearingly singular country that he both celebrates and, when called for, twits. With his matchless instinct for the funniest and quirkiest and his unerring eye for the idiotic, the bewildering, the appealing, and the ridiculous, he offers acute and perceptive insights into all that is best and worst about Britain today.
by Gulwali Passarlay
In 2006, after his father was killed, Gulwali Passarlay was caught between the Taliban who wanted to recruit him, and the Americans who wanted to use him. To protect her son, Gulwali’s mother sent him away. The search for safety would lead the twelve-year-old across eight countries, from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan through Iran and Europe to Britain. Over the course of twelve harrowing months, Gulwali endured imprisonment, hunger, cruelty, brutality, loneliness, and terror—and nearly drowned crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Eventually granted asylum in England, Gulwali was sent to a good school, learned English, won a place at a top university, and was chosen to help carry the Olympic Torch in the 2012 London Games.
In The Lightless Sky, Gulwali recalls his remarkable experience and offers a firsthand look at one of the most pressing issues of our time: the modern refugee crisis—the worst displacement of millions of men, women, and children in generations. Few, like Gulwali, make it to a country that offers the chance of freedom and opportunity. A celebration of courage and determination, The Lightless Sky is a poignant account of an exceptional human being who is today an ardent advocate of democracy—and a reminder of our responsibilities to those caught in terrifying and often deadly circumstances beyond their control.
by Andrew S. Chilton
THE BOY is a nameless slave on a mission to uncover his true destiny.
THE GOBLIN holds all the answers, but he’s too tricky to be trusted.
PLAIN ALICE is a bookish peasant girl carried off by a confused dragon.
And PRINCESS ALICE is the lucky girl who wasn’t kidnapped.
All four are tangled up in a sinister plot to take over the kingdom, and together they must face kind monsters, a cruel magician, and dozens of deathly boring palace bureaucrats. They’re a ragtag bunch, but with strength, courage, and plenty of deductive reasoning, they just might outwit the villains and crack the goblin’s puzzle.