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Five Adventure Stories For Book Clubs

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje is everything you could want in an adventure tale. Set in the early 1950s, it’s the story of an eleven-year-old boy’s sea voyage from Colombo to England. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean, the narrator and his ragtag group of friends are exposed to the magical worlds of jazz, women, and literature.

Of course, there’s a mystery, too—a shackled prisoner on board the ship whose crime and fate will haunt the narrator forever. Click to read an excerpt from The Cat’s Table and to download our reading group guide. Plus, enter our Michael Ondaatje sweepstakes for your chance to win a collection of his books.

Inspired by The Cat’s Table, we’ve compiled a list of great adventure books that are perfect to read with your reading group!

Jamrach's MenagerieJamrach’s Menagerie
Written by Carol Birch

Nineteenth-century London comes vividly alive in this story a street urchin named Jaffy Brown. After a close call with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals. As the years pass, Mr. Jamrach recruits Jaffy and another boy named Tim to capture a fabled dragon during the course of an epic three-year whaling expedition in the East Indies. But when a violent storm sinks the ship, Jaffy and Tim are forced to confront their relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains. Jamrach’s Menagerie is a truly gripping novel about friendship, sacrifice, and survival.
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His Dark MaterialsHis Dark Materials
Written by Philip Pullman

Lyra is an orphan living in a parallel universe in which science, theology, and magic are entwined. The epic story that takes us through the three novels is not only a spellbinding adventure featuring armored polar bears, magical devices, witches, and daemons, it is also an audacious and profound reimagining of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Like J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis before him, Phillip Pullman has invented a richly detailed and marvelously imagined world, complex and thought-provoking enough to enthrall adults as well as younger readers.
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Written by Herman Melville

“As a revelation of human destiny it is too deep even for sorrow”, was how D.H. Lawrence characterized Moby-Dick. Set aboard a whaling ship captained by the monomaniacal Ahab, this great adventure of the sea and the life of the soul is the ultimate achievement of a stunning period in American letters.
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Robinson CrusoeRobinson Crusoe
Written by Daniel Defoe

This classic story of a shipwrecked mariner on a deserted island. Fleeing from pirates, Robinson Crusoe is swept ashore in a storm possessing only a knife, a box of tobacco, a pipe-and the will to survive. His is the saga of a man alone: a man who overcomes self-pity and despair to reconstruct his life; who painstakingly teaches himself how to fashion a pot, bake bread, build a canoe; and who, after twenty-four agonizing years of solitude, discovers a human footprint in the sand… Consistently popular since its first publication in 1719, Daniel Defoe’s story of human endurance in an exotic, faraway land exerts a timeless appeal.
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