by Julie Oreskovich
The thrill of scaling the biggest mountain, sailing single-handedly around the world or exploring the deepest, most uninhabitable jungles is addictive to some. For the rest of us, the appeal lies in staying safely at home and reading a great book about unbelievable feats.
It's hard to say which account is most remarkable. Is it the tale of the woman who went hiking in the mountains, fell off a cliff and broke both legs but survived by dragging herself to safety for four days with only her hands? Or is it the story about the young girl who witnessed the murder of her family while on a sailboat and jumped overboard to escape and survived four days bobbing in the ocean? It's fair to say that each one of these survival books will amaze you from start to finish.
A word of warning to the faint of heart: the following list of books will increase your blood pressure, make you sit on the edge of your seat, gasp in horror and amazement, and ultimately cheer for the resilient nature of the human being.
See our video review of Adrift: Seventy Six Days Lost at Sea› Play Video
Lost in the Jungle
Stranded for weeks in the Amazon without a knife, map or survival training and lived on wild fruit to survive.
Skeletons on the Zahara
Shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by nomads, sold into slavery and forced to walk the desert.
As Far as my Feet Will Carry Me
Josef M. Bauer
Sentenced to 25 years of labor in a Siberian lead mine, Forell escapes and travels 8,000 miles in barren, frozen wilderness.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Ralston gets wedged between a boulder and a canyon wall with little water or food and commits an extreme act to save himself.
Angels in the Wilderness
Lost in the Sierra mountains, Racina falls 60 feet, breaks both legs and pulls herself to safety with her hands.
Alone: Orphaned in the Ocean
Tere Jo Duperrault
A child witnesses murder of her family while on a sailboat, jumps overboard to escape and survives four days in the ocean.
Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea
After his sailboat sank in the Atlantic, Callahan spent 76 days in a five-foot inflatable raft, drifting 1800 miles before his rescue.
Red Sky Mourning
Tami Oldham Ashcraft
Fifty ft seas, hurricanes, and rolling boats - Ashcraft regains consciousness after 27 hours covered in blood with her partner vanished.
Michael J. Tougias
An enormous storm strikes, sweeping two into the sea - remaining crew stay aboard as boat is slowly torn apart by the rampaging ocean.
The Wreck of the Medusa
After boat sinks and commander claims the few lifeboats, the rest are herded onto a makeshift raft where mayhem, mutiny and murder ensues.
Touching the Void
After climbing a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes, climber falls off vertical ledge, breaks leg and survives being cut from a safety rope.
Dr. Jerri Nielsen
Doctor working in Antarctica finds lump in her own breast, performs a self-administerd biopsy, and gives herself chemotherapy.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Trapped in ice for five months, Shackleton & his men survive on a diet of dogs, penguins and seals.
Racing With Death
Following the deaths of other members of his party, the author was left to struggle hundreds of miles back to base alone.
The Worst Journey in the World
A gripping account of an expedition gone disastrously wrong - this is the story of the Scott expedition to the Antarctic.
Island of the Lost
Shipwrecked on Auckland Island, the crew survives and thrives while another crew sucummbs to starvation and cannibalism 20 miles away.
In 1783 a ship is wrecked on the coast of southeast Africa. Most on board survive, including women & children and discovered they weren't alone.
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Based on a true story, the book is about a 12 year old who escapes death and finds herself totally alone on a harsh, desolate island.
An account of how the author answered an ad for a "wife" to spend a year on a tropical island with a writer.
Piracy and betrayal frame the epic story of solitary endurance that inspired Daniel Defoe's classic novel, Robinson Crusoe.
Camping only 14 miles from the Mount St. Helens volcano when it erupted, two people endure hot ash, rolling boulders and falling trees.
Left for Dead in the Outback
After being abducted, drugged, then left for dead, Ricky survived for three months on leeches, grasshoppers, frogs and plants.
A young woman's odyssey through the deserts of Australia, with no one but her dog and four camels as companions.
Through the Brazilian Wilderness
In 1914, Roosevelt and his party paddled and carried their canoes down a 950-mile river. Men died, boats were lost.
The Lost City of Z
A man dedicates his life to finding a lost city buried in the depths of the inhospitable Amazon jungle.
Gonzales describes the "stages of survival" and reveals the essence of a survivor—truths that apply not only to surviving in the wild but in everyday life.
Surviving the Extremes
Travelling to four of the most extreme natural environments, can he pick up enough tips from the indigenous people to survive?
Last Breath: The Limits of Adventure
Stark reveals exactly what we're getting ourselves into when we choose to live - and die - at the extremes of endurance.
Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival
Francis M. Ashcroft
Full of scientific information, beautifully written, and packed with many fascinating digressions.
The ultimate book on how to stay alive-based on the principal of keeping the body's core temperature at a lively 98.6 degrees.
Lord of the Flies
A group of boys stranded on a desert island - a classic novel of primitive savagery and survival.
Life of Pi
A young boy survives seven months in a lifeboat with a hungry 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
A tale of a shipwrecked Englishman who finds himself stranded on an island -- a story of survival, self-reliance, adventure, and faith.
A thirteen-year old boy survives a plane crash and becomes stranded, alone, in the desolate Canadian wilderness.
Henry De Vere Stacpoole
Two young children shipwrecked on a tropical island fall in love and survive on the bounty of their remote paradise.