The Adventure Library is no longer an active book club. In fact, most of the books are now worth a lot more than their original price. But I am very happy to have been a member. It’s one of my favorite selections of books, and I now own most of them, in matched bindings.
In the days when I actually had enough cash to indulge myself for a frivolous purchase every so often, I signed up for the Adventure Library. Every 2 or 3 months they would send me a book, bound to match all the others, which contained one of the great stories of a adventure, past or present.
The bindings have a canvas-like spine and partial covers, with the remainder of the cover featuring a monochrome print of an image that is appropriate to the book. They originally sold for just under $30 each, but the first one was discounted, and I think you got one free books with 4 or 5 purchases, so it worked out to be a little less. Now, if you can find them at all, they cost anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the condition.
I own 24 of the books, but the series supposedly consists of 30 books. I know three of the ones I am missing, but I’ve never been able to find out what the other three were. There is almost no information about the series on the web. Therefore, I am listing the 27 known books here, alphabetically.
Adrift by Steven Callahan
Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read
Annapurna by Maurice Herzog
The Bounty Mutiny by William Bligh
Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins
Cooper’s Creek by Alan Moorehead
Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative & The Mountain of My Fear by David Roberts
Eiger: Wall of Death by Arthur Roth
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure by James West Davidson & J. Rugge
K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles Houston and Robert Bates
The Long Walk by Slawomir Rawicz
Man-Eaters by Jim Corbett
Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel
No Picnic on Mt. Kenya by Felice Benuzzi
Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart
Running the Amazon by Joe Kane
Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum
A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles A. Lindbergh
Voyager by Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan
Wah-to-yah and the Taos Trail by Lewis H. Garrard
We Die Alone by David Howarth
West With the Night by Beryl Markham
The White Nile by Alan Moorehead
The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Each is an amazing feat of human endurance. Some end in death, others in a celebration of living through an ordeal, or successfully completing a quest. There are mountaineering tales, survival stories after disasters, explorations, boating, and great airborne accomplishments. Each one is a great read.
I have to confess that I happened to read three in a row that ended in the death or severe injury to one of the persons involved. I changed reading material for a while, feeling that I needed to read a few stories where everyone came home whole!
In 2003, they decided to close off the series. Their reasons were two: economics and available material. In the letter I received they said that they were never able to quite achieve the number of subscriptions they needed to really make it viable, and secondly they said “there comes a point when to continue means to lower your standards.” The publisher was Edward L. Burlingame. He stated that he had devoted eight years to collecting the works, getting new forewords written and publishing the series.
The premise of this book club appealed to me immediately, and I was never disappointed in a selection. I am really sorry that the series ended.
If anyone reading this article has a clue as to the identity of the other three books, I’d sure appreciate it if you would leave a comment.
Update On Jul 18, 2010: I have found the names of the other books in this series. They are:
Alone by Richard Evelyn Byrd
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
Travels in West Africa by Mary Henrietta Kingsley
Darwin and the Beagle by Alan Moorehead