Time for Adventure

Well, my spring course on the Classic Adventure Novel is over, and I think I can speak for my students in saying a good time was had by all. We ended up reading the following: King Solomon’s Mines, Kidnapped, The Time Machine, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Story of the Amulet, Kim, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Lost World, Tarzan of the Apes, The Man Who Was Thursday, and The Thirty-Nine Steps. All these books were published between 1885 and 1915. I had intended to close with Captain Blood, but we ran out of time.

Summer has always seemed to me the time to read adventure stories.
In the fall, mysteries are called for; in winter, it’s ghost stories; spring should be devoted to comic novels and romances. But summer is synonymous with adventure. I suppose this goes back to our childhoods when those three months after school let out seemed wild with infinite possiblity--a time for building treehouses and forts, playing capture the flag, day-long squirt-gun battles, camping out in the backyard, running away from home, and all the other wonderful exploits of childhood. Life never is quite so delicious again. Indeed, all in all, it reads better than it lives.

So let me ask the Reading Roomers: What adventure novels do you like, of whatever time period? Do you have a particular favorite that you recommend to friends or that you go back to? Tell us which one and why. Will you be reading any adventure fiction this summer? What titles? Please share your thoughts.

- Michael Dirda

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