10 ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books For Adults, Because It's Way More Fun To Mess Up Your Life In Book Form
So you're a kid and you're 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, and/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 I told you there were Choose Your Own Adventure-style books for grown-ups, too?
I mean, 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 out there that are specifically designed for all ages, or for slightly more mature readers. You can go on literary adventures through Shakespeare or Austen, roleplay 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:
'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).
'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.
'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 manages to combine humor with unflinching honesty as one young woman tries to find herself amid the many, many choices that your twenties have to offer.
'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.
'INFECTED: Will YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?' 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.
'If' by Nicholas 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.
'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 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.
'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.
'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 let's you find your very 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.
'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."