Ask anyone writing a book, and they’ll tell you that coming up with a classic run-of-the-mill ending is hard. Yet, there is a specific genre of books that challenges this idea and provides that a book should have dozens of potential endings–more than that–a reader should have control over the plot and endings along the way. This genre is known lovingly as “choose your own adventure.”
“Choose Your Own Adventure” Books at a glance.
- To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
- Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure
- Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?
- Trial of the Clone
Once a staple of an 80’s and 90’s childhood, these books were formatted so that after a few pages of reading, a choice would be presented. You would make your choice, which would, in turn, lead to other decisions, which could lead to any number of endings.
Many of us forgot about the existence of these books long ago, thinking they were a genre reserved for the mystery of childhood. Yet, this genre persists well into the modern-day, with a whole slew of books being geared directly towards the adult audience. No longer are these fun choose-your-own-destiny novels reserved for those under the age of 18. The best choice is your adventure books now exist for adults.
Ready to embark on your next harrowing novel adventure? We’ve rounded up a few of the best “choose your own adventure” books for adults and teaching resources below and included a handy buying guide to help you get started.
The Best “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books For Adults
1. To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
by Ryan North
Hold a love of classic literature, yet crave a bit of excitement that’s adjacent to old-school plot points? ‘To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure’ by Ryan North puts you in control of a classic story. You start as the Prince of Denmark, still reeling from the death of your father. Even worse, your mother has just gotten remarried to your uncle. How do you go about handling such a tricky situation?
This “choose your own adventure” book takes you on a hilariously illustrated adventure through Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, ‘Hamlet,’ offering you the choice to decide the fate of these beloved characters. You’re in full control of Hamlet’s choices, which can lead to some rather interesting outcomes. Any fan of classic literature will enjoy diving into a familiar story in a completely new format. Additionally, you do not have to be familiar with the original to enjoy this story fully.
It is a clever take on an old story that takes you on a wacky and often hilarious ride to retell a tale for the ages.
You can get this book on Amazon or rent it for 80% cheaper on RedShelf.
by Nicholas Bourbaki
Are you someone who often catches yourself, asking, “What if?” Most of us do. Many of us spend much of our days wondering if making a different decision could have somehow altered the entire course of our lives. Nicholas Bourbaki’s novel ‘If’ is one of the best “choose your own adventure” books for adults because it forces you to address those sorts of existential ideas head-on.
As the book begins, you are a nameless protagonist, a dreamer from the Northern half of California. At the end of each chapter, you’re presented with a choice and forced to make a big decision. These decisions don’t just move along the plot; they shape your entire identity as a character as the novel quickly veers towards twenty-two possible endings.
Unlike a traditional “choose your own adventure” book, every choice you make in ‘If’ affects the literary style of the book as well as the plot itself. It is a novel that is interactive in every sense of the word. Choices can take you to rural Guatemala, Berlin, or even Manhattan. With each choice you make, the novel changes form, asking you what the limits are on freedom and just how much of a person’s life is really in their control.
While not for everyone, this book is great for deep thinkers who love to reflect on life, freedom, and the power of choice.
3. Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure
by Emma Campbell Webster
The characters put forth by Jane Austen may just be some of the most beloved and memorable of all time. Yet, many of us can’t help but think, “What if our well-loved Jane Austen novels ended a bit differently?” ‘Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure’ by Emma Campbell Webster finally allows lovers of Jane Austen and classic literature to take these iconic characters and choose their own Jane Austen style adventure.
You’ll begin your journey as Elizabeth Bennet, eager and looking for a suitable partner for marriage, as most heroines in an Austen novel do. As you make your way through your choices in ‘Lost in Austen, you’ll quickly find that nothing is as it seems, nor is it a straight path from page one to your Mr. Darcy. With each new choice, you might find yourself in “Emma,’ ‘Sense and Sensibility’ or any novel that Jane Austen ever wrote. It is a new take on a classic genre that Austen and romance lovers will love.
Of course, what makes this one of the best to “choose your own adventure” books for adults is the effect your choices will have. While your choices will determine your overall journey, success in the novel will depend on how you perform in five categories: accomplishments, intelligence, confidence, connections, and fortune. On several pieces of paper, you will draw up lists for each of the five categories. You begin with high scores for Intelligence and Confidence, but low scores in fortune, accomplishments, and connections. You must try to improve your score to increase your chances of marrying well.
This is a unique spin on the genre that any Austen lover will appreciate. We couldn’t have loved it more.
4. Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?
by Max Brallier
Much like those old schools, “choose your own adventure” ‘Goosebumps’ books back in the ’80s and ’90s, ‘Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?’ takes you on a creepy ride that you won’t soon forget. As one of the best “choose your own adventure” books for adults, author Max Brallier modeled his book on the classic “choose your own adventure” books of Edward Packard without all of the profanity and ultra-violence. We loved every minute of this interactive zombie tale.
Zombie novels, in general, tend to be quite interactive, with various choices often leading to a myriad of bone-chilling consequences. What Brallier does differently offers a clever approach to CYOA: you can choose to do all the “wrong” things to see where you end up, or you can try to be the smartest person in the room. Can a know-it-all end up on top in a zombie apocalypse? Well, we can’t give that away, but Brallier begs the question well.
Though scary and a bit unsettling at times, ‘Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?’ is hilariously smart and a bit bonkers. It is a book that is thorough and well-plotted without taking itself too seriously.
5. Trial of the Clone
by Zach Weinersmith
Sci-fi fans or those who love Netflix series such as “Black Mirror” will fall in love with ‘Trail of the Clone’ by Zach Weinersmith. This is a choosable pathway gamebook that actively allows you to make choices, interact with the world around you, and navigate through over 500 scenes that include thousands of potential new pathways.
We found that the novel gives readers a choice to simply read through to the end, or fully interact with the book’s game by keeping track of items, battles, and overall statistics. Unlike some “choose your own adventure” books, this one challenges you to reread the book many times to catch the secrets hidden along the way.
The book wonderfully combines elements of role-playing, interactive fiction, and modern video games. In the novel, you begin as a clone created in a lab during a rather dystopian society. As you make choices, your character will gain stats and new abilities. You can choose to keep track of these stats or simply let the book work itself out on its own. This is a book that easily doubles as a game, resulting in a very fast-paced and hilarious story full of twists and turns.
What’s more, the book also has an app to integrate technology into your read. While this “choose your own adventure” book for adults probably won’t suit those who aren’t fans of the sci-fi genre, those who love a bit of futuristic dystopia will quickly find it to be a fun read.
How To Find The Best Choose Adventure Books For Adults
Keep Reading Tastes In Mind
What some may tout as the best “choose your own adventure” book for adults may fall flat for you. The reason? Different people have vastly different reading tastes. Enjoy stories that fling you forward at breakneck speed. Others love dark humor or a bit of comedy.
Pacing. How quickly a book moves can determine whether or not you will like the book at all. Are you someone who likes a page-turner, or do you love a long book that takes months to finish?
Characterization. In a “choose your own adventure” book for adults, characterization can be everything. How does the author treat the characters? How are they described? Do you want a character you can relate to or not?
Storyline. A “choose your own adventure” book can take on many different plot-points, yet they still have a certain plot orientation. Some are character-driven; some are action-oriented. Others are absurd or complex. What sounds most appealing to you?
Frame and tone. What’s the overall mood of the book? Is it dark and stormy? Perhaps, heartwarming. Not what kind of mood you most enjoy in a book before you buy.
Style. How could you describe the author’s overall style? Is it intricate and complex or sparse? Is it conversational or poetic? The style you like best will determine whether or not you’re going to enjoy the book.
If you’re not sure where to start, think back on your favorite stories and go through this list. Odds are if you loved a certain book or genre, there were a few reasons why. Before you buy the best, “choose your own adventure” book for adults, think about what you want in a book, and what kind of reading tastes you might have.
Find Your Preferred Genre
Even avid readers and book lovers will have preferred genres. Odds are if you love a good classic romance, you’re probably not overly keen on horror, sci-fi fantasy, or living books. Even if you are, you probably prefer one genre over another. One way of narrowing down the best to “choose your own adventure” books for adults is to consider which genres tend to encapsulate your favorites. Each genre tends to hold its norms and characteristics. For example, mysteries tend to be fast-paced and thrilling, while fantasy tends to be quite intricate and filled with dense characterization.
If you choose a book genre that does not grab your attention, there’s a high chance that you might not enjoy the book. Stick to your preferred genre or genres. If you know you love horror novels, go with a “choose your own adventure” book that takes you on a suspenseful and bone-chilling ride. If you know you’re not a fan of romance or a bit of cheese, steer clear of those novels in that genre. It might seem like you’re limiting yourself, but in reality, you’re just narrowing the odds of finding a book you’ll enjoy.
“Choose Your Own Adventure” Books FAQ
Q1: Do “choose your own adventure” books, only offer two endings?
No, most “choose your own adventure” books for adults that offer dozens of possible endings, some even offer hundreds of possible endings. The number of endings a “choose your own adventure” book will possess depends on the author’s choices and the overall genre of the book. For example, horror and sci-fi books tend to have a greater variety of endings than other types of “choose your own adventure” books.
Q2: Can you reread a “choose your own adventure” book for a new ending?
One of the best parts of a “choose your own adventure” book for adults is that all of the choices and plot-points rest in your hands. With that said, most authors write novels in such a way that you can go back and reread the book to make entirely different choices. Making new choices will lead you to a new ending. If you don’t like the ending you land on after the first read, you can easily go back and try again. That’s the beauty of a “choose your own adventure” novel; there is no right or wrong choice to make!
Q3: Are “choose your own adventure” books longer than a regular book?
Generally, “choose your own adventure” books that are the same length as an ordinary book. Some are short, and others are long. Generally, expect anywhere from 350 to 400 pages. Additionally, some “choose your own adventure” books will include pictures or illustrations, while others will not. There is a lot more freedom for authors to make their own creative decisions when crafting a “choose your own adventure” book. Find a good reading chair and sink into the story.
Q4: How can I use a “choose your own adventure” book as a classroom activity?
Reading comprehension is a big part of every school curriculum. We have some ideas on how to use a “choose your own adventure” book as a classroom activity. Depending on the genre, prepare your students. Write the book title on your board and let your students create a mindmap.
- Words that are crossing their mind when reading this title
Then, read out loud the first page of the story. Discuss again with your students and compare the information from the first page with their mindmap. Read together to a point in the story where they have to make a decision. Let them discuss and write down how the story could continue. This exercise is not only good to build creativity, but it also helps your students to learn to make decisions as a group. Let the groups present their stories. This exercise can take several hours and can be stretched over a couple of weeks.
The Bottom Line
The best “choose your own adventure” books for adults can vary based on your tastes and preferred genre. Still, we rounded up some of the best of the best to help you find your own adventure book that thrills and delights. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to read or “choose your own adventure” book, which is why they stand to be so much fun. If you want to tap into a bit of childhood nostalgia or simply take control of a book’s plot and ending, this genre can be a serious source of entertainment!