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 adventure.” Before we talk about the best “choose your own adventure books for adults,” let’s jump back 30 years.
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. Decisions lead to any number of endings. Many of us forgot about these books’ existence 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 geared directly towards the adult audience. No longer are these fun choose-your-own-destiny novels reserved for school kids. The best choice is your adventure books now exist for adults and can be used as teaching resources in higher grades.
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 Top 5 “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books for Adults 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
The 5 Best “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books For Adults
1. To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure
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 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.
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 California’s Northern half. 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 book’s literary style and 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
The characters put forth by Jane Austen maybe 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 “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?
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 books of Edward Packard without all of the profanity and ultra-violence. We loved every minute of this interactive zombie tale.
In general, Zombie novels tend to be quite interactive, with various choices often leading to many 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
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 over 500 scenes that include thousands of potential new pathways.
We found that the novel gives readers a choice to 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 let the book work itself out on its own. This book 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.
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 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 take control of a book’s plot and ending, this genre can be a serious source of entertainment!