So you're a kid on your way to visit your uncle, when
suddenly you find yourself trapped in a mysterious, time-traveling cave. Or abducted by aliens. Or headed directly for the bottom of the sea. One wrong move, and you could be devoured by sharks, trapped forever in the future, or executed for space crime. If any of this sounds familiar, you probably read those choose your own adventure books back in the day (and you almost definitely cheated by keeping your thumb between the pages, just in case you made the wrong choice). Those books were a big part of our childhoods. But what if we told you there were choose your own adventure-style books for grown-ups , too?
Look, if you want to re-read the classic choose your own adventure books
as an adult, that's totally fine too. You're never too old to be eaten alive by ant-people. But there are actually a few game books specifically designed for all ages or for slightly more mature readers. You can go on literary adventures through Shakespeare or Austen, role-play as a lazy slacker, or fight your way through a high octane fantasy world. Just get your thumb ready, in case you make the wrong choice and need to backtrack. Here are 23 choose your own adventure books for adults. We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 To Be or Not To Be: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North
You're the Prince of Denmark, and your dad has just died. Even worse, your mom has already gotten remarried...
to your uncle (gross!). How are you going to handle that? Or are you going to skip all the Hamlet angst and roleplay as Ophelia instead? To Be or Not to Be is a clever, hilariously illustrated adventure through Shakespeare's famous tragedy, with you in control of all of Hamlet's choices (or lack thereof). 2 Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster
As Elizabeth Bennet, you're looking for a fortuitous and loving marriage. But as you make your way through the choices of
Lost in Austen, you might find that it's not a straight path from page one to Mr. Darcy. Along the way you might stop by Emma, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and pretty much every other novel that Jane Austen ever wrote. 3 Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz
OK, to be fair,
Choose Your Own Disaster is more of a memoir in the style of a choose your own adventure book than anything else. You're not going to get eaten by a yeti or trapped in outer space with this one. But if you're looking for an adventure that's just a little bit closer to home, this long-form personality quiz combines humor with unflinching honesty as one young woman tries to find herself amid the many, many choices that your 20s have to offer. 4 A Girl Walks Into a Bar: Your Fantasy, Your Rules by Helena S. Paige
Let's be real here. When you hear the words "choose your own adventure" and "adult" you start thinking about interactive erotica. Don't try to deny it. Lucky for you, Helena S. Paige has already beat you to that idea with the steamy
A Girl Walks Into a Bar. Will you chat up a rock star? Get to known the bartender a little better? Follow a mysterious woman to a second location? The choice is in your hands in this fun, flirty gamebook. 5 Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
A missing traveller takes center stage in Rick Moody’s
Hotels of North America. Told through the collected hotel reviews the man left throughout his long career, this inventive novel allows readers to enjoy the story in two ways: chronologically, by skipping around in the book to read the reviews in the order in which they were written, or from the first page to the last, to pick through a jumbled tangle of a life. 6 Infected by James Schannep
Speaking of gross,
Infected puts you smack dab in the middle of a horrific zombie apocalypse. Will you survive? Or will you die and rise again? For fans of creepy adventure and zombie fiction, Infected is a fun ride with quite a few unexpected endings. 7 If by Nicolas Bourbaki
You start out as a nameless young dreamer from northern California. At the end of each chapter, you are presented with a choice. But unlike most choose your own adventure stories, each of your choices in
If affects the literary style of the book as well as the plot. It's a slightly different kind of gamebook, but a fascinating take on an interactive novel with a whole slew of different endings to choose from. 8 My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
If you've ever been frustrated by a romantic heroine's choices, this book is for you. With
My Lady's Choosing, you hold the power to control our heroine's fate: Will she fall for the beefy highlander, Captain Angus McTaggart? Will she chase after the scandalous Lord Garraway Craven? Will she become a “traveling companion” to the daring Lady Evangeline? It's up to you to create your own outrageously fun romance. 9 Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Will you choose chocolate or vanilla? Mind-reading or time-travel or killer robot?
Meanwhile takes the simplest of choices and spins them into a zany, adorable graphic novel that is fully under your power. Lead Jimmy through puzzles and mysteries as he tries not to destroy the universe in his quest for ice cream. 10 Into the Dungeon by Hari Conner
From illustrator Hari Conner comes this short adventure book that takes readers deep into the bowels of a loot-filled dungeon. Grab a pen and paper to trace your steps, and get ready to solve puzzles, strike it rich... or have an awful misadventure.
11 Pretty Little Mistakes: A Do-Over Novel by Heather McElhatton
With 150 different endings, you're definitely going to want to take a few "do-overs."
Pretty Little Mistakes starts with your high school graduation and lets you find your own path through the rest of your life (just like real life, except that you can start over). Will you end up in a luxurious mansion? As an award-winning scientist? Pecked to death by ducks? You'll just have to read through and see for yourself. 12 What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower by Margaret Killjoy
You're just a steampunk character living in a fantastical steampunk city, when you suddenly find yourself entangled in the political struggles of gnomes and goblins. Or maybe you're taking to the air in a balloon to drink absinthe and hobnob with the wealthy. Or you could abscond with your lover and hide in some caverns. It's all on the table in Margaret Killjoy's wildly imaginative
What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower, an "adventure book of your own choosing." 13 Beauty Queen Blowout by Lilla and Nora Zuckerman
Take on the role of beauty pageant contestant in this branching-path book from sisters and
Fringe writers Lilla and Nora Zuckerman. The host is gross, and the other contestants will do whatever it takes to win, but can you choose your way to the top? Find out in Beauty Queen Blowout. 14 Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
An interactive book that’s also the memoir of one of the country’s most beloved actors? You betcha. Neil Patrick Harris’
Choose Your Own Autobiography makes it easy for readers to skip around to the parts of his life they actually want to read about. It’s pretty considerate, when you think about it. 15 Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar
Another literary branching-path novel, this winner of the National Book Award for Translation allows readers to enjoy a straightforward narrative... but one that only tells half the story. The second half of
Hopscotch lives up to its name, asking readers to skip through the novel’s “extra” chapters to dig into the heart of the hero’s story. Far more than the tale of an Argentinian expat bouncing between odd — very odd — jobs, Julio Cortázar’s 1987 novel is an experience you have to read to believe. 16 You Are a Cat! by Sherwin Tija
Sherwin Tija’s choose your own adventure novel puts you in the body of the cat you’ve always wanted to be. Go from a streetwise stray to the four-legged therapist of a family on the brink in this “Pick-a-Plot!” book.
17 Behind Closed Doors by Alina Reyes
An erotic novel in two parts,
The Butcher author Alina Reyes’ Behind Closed Doors lets readers choose a gender to “play” as, as they move through a sexy and surreal environment. 18 Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny by M.E. Kinkade
Can you survive the zombie apocalypse? That’s the goal in M.E. Kinkade’s
Undead Rising, a branching-path novel containing dozens of scenarios that explore what would happen if zombies took over New York City. 19 The Wandering by Intan Parmaditha
Readers take on the role of a Jakarta-based English teacher with a yearning for adventure in Intan Paramaditha’s
The Wandering. This branching-path novel’s myriad endings range from delightful to grotesque, and they challenge readers to think about who gets to be what in our increasingly global society. 20 The Office Adventure by Mike MacDonald and Jilly Gagnon
A “choose your own misery” book by writers of
The Onion, The Office Adventure is perfect for any interactive-fiction fan stuck in a job they hate. It’s less an adventure than a super relatable day-in-the-life, but you’ll enjoy it nonetheless. 21 Time Travel Dinosaur by Matt Youngmark
Your job as a time-traveling detective is surprisingly boring, but a major shift in the world’s timeline brings some much-needed entertainment into your life in this branching-path experience. When a mad scientist turns dinosaurs into the sentient world’s evolutionary ancestors, it’s up to you to find out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.
22 Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance by Riane Konc
Looking for something a little less sexy and a lot more sweet? Check out Riane Konc’s
Build Your Own Christmas Movie Romance, which puts you in the director’s chair of your very own Hallmark movie. 23 Choose Your Own Death by Marianna Shek and Tara Brown
Eldritch evils abound in Marianna Shek and Tara Brown’s
Choose Your Own Death. Goultown is a place full of smiles — literally. Smiley faces are popular tattoos and graffiti tags. But when one of the little ‘burg’s only children dies under mysterious circumstances, it’s up to her five friends to figure out what’s really going on in this interactive story.
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This article was originally published on
May 25, 2018