Real life adventure and survival titles

I enjoy the comfort of my middle class home in the West End, but when the sun goes down a good read about adventure and survival can vicariously transport me into a whole other world…a world of raw living and potential death. And all true-to-life stories. What are the life lessons these books are teaching me, I keep asking. Stay safe, or risk something for what it may bring? What do I need to risk? So much to ponder.

Years before watching Les Stroud’s  ‘Survivorman’ religiously on TV, I vividly remember reading Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors and later, closer to home, Paddle to the Amazon. I know I was hooked with non-fiction adventure and survival stories. And thankfully I still am. Have you read any of these titles?

UnknownAlive: The Story of the Andes Survivors  bv Piers Paul Read
“In 1972 a plane carrying a team of rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the forty-give original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. For ten excruciating weeks they suffered deprivations beyond imaging, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable. And to survive, they were forced to do what would have once been unthinkable…”

index-1.aspxPaddle to the Amazon: the ultimate 12,000-mile canoe adventure by Don Starkell
“It was crazy. It was unthinkable. It was the adventure of a lifetime. When Don and Dana Starkell left Winnipeg in a tiny three-seater canoe, they had no idea of the dangers that lay ahead. Two years and 12,180 miles later, father and son had each paddled nearly twenty million strokes, slept on beaches, in jungles and fields, dined on tapir, shark, and heaps of roasted ants. They encountered piranhas, wild pigs, and hungry alligators. They had lived through terrifying hurricanes, food poisoning, and near starvation. And at the same time they had set a record for a thrilling, unforgettable voyage of discovery and old-fashioned adventure.”

index.aspxWind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“….captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of th most popular works ever written about flying.”


index.aspxThe Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
“Cherry-Gerrard, who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott to the Antarctic on the explorer’s doomed quest for the South Pole, recounts the unforgettable journey across forbidding, inhospitable terrain. He was also a member of the search party that ultimately discovered Scott’s frozen body along with his last notebook entries…this tale of adventure stands out as a literary accomplishment as well as a classic of exploration.”

index-1.aspxInto Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
“When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn’t slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds…”

index.aspxInto the Wild by Jon Krakauer
“In a compelling book that evokes the writings of Thoreau, Muir, and Jack London, Krakauer recounts the painting and tragic mystery of 22-year-old Chris Mccandleuss who disappeared in April 1992 into the Alaskan wilderness in search of a raw, transcendent experience. His emaciated corpse was discovered four months later.”

index-1.aspxThe Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
“A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon…What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett and his quest for the Lost City of Z?”

index.aspxTouching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson
“Joe Simpson, with just his partner Simon Yates, tackled the unclimbed West Face of the remote 21,000 foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in June 1995. But before they reached the summit, disaster struck. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non-climbing companion that Joe was dead. For three days he wrestled with guilt as they prepared to return home. Then a cry in the night took them out with torches, where they found Joe, badly injured, crawling through the snowstorm in delirium.”

UnknownAdrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan
“…an autobiographical account of the second solo voyage Callahan attempted on the twenty-one-foot yacht he had designed and built, the Napoleon Solo, and his harrowing two-and-a-half-months adrift on a five-foot inflatable raft after the yacht collided with a whale and sank.”

index-2.aspxThe Voyage of The Northern Magic: A Family Odyssey by Diane King Stuemer
“Ever dream of selling up and running away to sea? Diane Stuemer and her husband, Herbert, were once a typical suburban couple entering middle age, with a comfortable home and three boys under twelve. A year later they had sold their business, rented out their house, and were setting out to circumnavigate the globe in a 40-year-old yacht. Their entire sailing experience consisted of six afternoons on the Ottawa River. Over the next four years, squeezed into quarters no bigger than the Stuemer’s old bedroom, the family of five would become seasoned mariners. They would battle deadly storms at sea and evade real-life pirates. Dodge waterspouts and lightning strikes and witness the bombing of the USS Cole. See the staggering beauty of Borneo’s rainforest, and its destruction from logging. Be arrested at gunpoint and entertained like visiting royalty. In all, they would visit 34 countries and cover 35,000 nautical miles.”

index.aspxWave by Sonali Deraniyagala
“A brave, intimate, beautifully crafted memoir by a survivor of the tsunami that struck the Sri Lankan coast in 2004 and took her entire family. Sonali has written an extraordinarily honest, utterly engrossing account of the surreal tragedy of a devastating event that all at once ended her life as she knew it and her journey in search of understanding and redemption.”

And lastly:

index-1.aspxWild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
“A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe–and built her back up again.”

– Lyle

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