In May of 2004, National Geographic Adventure magazine did the world a great service by creating a list of the most compelling adventure books ever published by man.
It might seem an impossible task to rank 100 great, but very diverse, books in terms of fine gradations of greatness. Yet anyone can tell you why they prefer one book over another. And that’s what our panelists did. We asked them to assign a number of points to each book, taking several factors into account: the book’s pure literary merit; its “adrenaline factor,” or the level of excitement they felt reading it; and its impact on our history and culture. When we tallied the scores, we found the books that rose to the top were those that succeed on more than one front: great writing about great deeds.
Looking over the list, I see that I have read perhaps a half-dozen of the hundred, which is its own sort of special blessing. For this means that my enjoyment of literature must now undergo a Renaissance. If I were to complete one of these books every month, the supply is vast enough that I should still have an eight year supply of non-fiction adventure books to read. And that is something worth rejoicing over.