To Boldly Go: Real Life Adventures in Memoir and Memory

We’ve gathered memoirs and biographies about real life adventures for your summer reading.

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon / Craig Nelson. Chronicles the American space program’s quest to put a man on the moon, from the origins of the NASA program to the day the “Eagle” lunar module landed on the moon, making Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong the first humans to walk on the moon.

West with the Night / Beryl Markham. The memoirs of Beryl Markham, who grew up in East Africa, became a bush pilot in Africa, and in 1936 made the first solo flight east to west across the Atlantic.

Into Thin Air: A personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (also available on Audiobook) / Jon Krakauer. Details Krakauer’s experience in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a storm. (796.5 KRAKAUER)

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth / James M. Tabor. Tabor chronicles the adventurous efforts of two scientists who attempted to discover the deepest cave on the planet and recounts the experiences of American Bill Stone, who explored southern Mexico’s Cheve Cave, and Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk, who explored the Republic of Georgia’s Krubera.

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and his Mysterious Disappearance / David V. Herlihy. Herlihy’s gripping narrative captures the soaring joys and constant dangers accompanying renowned high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist Frank Lenz in the days before paved roads and automobiles. (B LENZ)

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis / Timothy Egan. Edward Curtis was dashing, charismatic, a passionate mountaineer, a famous photographer – the Annie Liebowitz of his time. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his great idea: He would try to capture on film the Native American nation before it disappeared. (B CURTIS)

Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell, Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia / Janet Wallach. Turning her back on her privileged life in Victorian England, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), driven by her innate curiosity, journeyed the world and became fascinated with all things Arab. Armed with a love for its language and its people, she not only produced several books based on her experiences but became instrumental to the British foreign office.

The White Darkness (also available as an Audiobook) / David Grann. Traces the South Pole expedition of a decorated British special forces officer, an admirer of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition and descendant of one of Shackleton’s crew, who in 2015 risked his life to walk across Antarctica alone.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl / Andrew Blackwell. Equal parts travelogue, expose, environmental memoir, and faux guidebook, Blackwell careens through a rogue’s gallery of environmental disaster areas in search of the worst the world has to offer–and approaches a deeper understanding of what’s really happening to our planet in the process.

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