Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Polar Reading TBR List

In answer to a couple of questions as to why I've been so obsessed with polar-themed reading, it's because I've been working away at a list of Polar themed books since March, the beginning of International Polar Year. I was inspired by all the scientific studies that would be occurring, along with my everpresent fascination with Edwardian explorers and the Arctic/Antarctic.
I haven't read as many as I'd planned, but it's a rather amorphous list, always changing as I go. I'm reading ya and adult fiction, as well as a few non-fiction choices. So far I've found some really amazing work, some by chance, books I've picked up solely because they had some connection to the Poles or arctic regions. But for the next year and a bit (until the end of IPY in March '09) here are some of the books that are on my radar:

1. The Ice Child / Elizabeth McGregor
2. The Solitude of Thomas Cave / Georgina Harding
3. The Frozen Deep / Wilkie Collins
4. Arthur Gordon Pym / Edgar Allen Poe
5. White / Marie Darrieussecq
6. Antarctic Navigation / Elizabeth Arthur
7. The Terror / Dan Simmons
8. The Survivor / Thomas Keneally (am half way through his excellent "Victim of the Aurora")

9. Troubling a Star / Madeleine L'engle

1. I May be some time / Francis Spofford (I'm about 1/3 through this one at present)
2. The Worst Journey in the World / Apsley Cherry-Garrard
3. Fatal Passage / Ken McGoogan
4. Lady Franklin's Revenge / Ken McGoogan
5. Skating to Antarctica /Jenny Diski

Anyone have any other suggestions? I've found a few really intriguing YA novels so far. There seems to be a fascination with Antarctica in particular, especially with Scott. It makes for good fiction!


  1. Ann Fadiman has essays on polar explorers in "Ex Libris" and "At Large and At Small."

    I believe Annie Dillard wrote something about the topic too.

    Some of the titles on my own Literature of Ice and Cold:

    Well, you know about the anthology edited by Susan Fox Rogers: Antarctica: Life on the Ice. Rogers recommended Sara Wheeler's Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica and the Apsley Cherry-Garrad title on your list.

    I enjoyed Gretel Ehrlich's This Cold Heaven - she spent about 7 years travelling back and forth to the Arctic region of Greenland. My sort of a write-up here -- if you're interested.

    The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule by Joanna Kavenna

    The Ice Cave: A Woman's Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic by Lucy Jane Bledsoe

    Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez. I heard good things about this book and I mooched it recently. I just need to set aside some time to read it.

    Hope you have fun with your Polar Readings! :)

  2. I'm currently reading Endurance. Here's an exerpt from the back:
    "First published in 1931, Endurance relates the riveting account of Sir Earnest Shackleton's doomed 1914-16 expedition to the Antarctic and its incredible rescue."
    I am enjoying it tremendously. You might also consider watching the BBC movie Shackleton.

  3. I wish I had some recs, but unfortunately, I don't. However, this is a really cool "project!"

  4. I read The Frozen Deep last January and really enjoyed it. An easy read but it asked some interesting psychological questions. I'd never read Collins before so it was a great introduction.

  5. Dark Orpheus - thanks for all the ideas! I have the Lopez book; I'd forgotten it, so thanks for reminding me. Your review of the Ehrlich sounds very intriguing.

    Petunia - I'm interested in the film Shackleton, so I think I'll have to count some dvds in on this list too.

  6. I have no recommendations either, sorry. But isn't it the best when you discover an interest and can follow it for a while through reading?

  7. Verbivore - I like Collins so am looking forward to this one; knowing that they performed it at Dickens' place makes it even more intriguing.

    Historia - thanks for the review. Sounds like a good choice!

    Dewey - I've been amazed at how many books I've found by looking at the bibliographies or 'thank-yous' in the books I have read; this is a project that could stretch on endlessly. It's quite enjoyable to be fascinated by fiction.

  8. Richard Adams, author of Watership Down and Shardik, wrote a non-fiction account of his trip to the South Pole region entitled, Voyage to Antarctica. Many photographs amplify the text. It's not engrossing reading but it is certainly interesting and educational.

    And I didn't see Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful novel, Antarctica on your list. He went down and spent time there on an NSF grant with the novel the result of his work. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, largely from an educational standpoint. It paved the way for his most recent trilogy about Global Warming.

  9. Jill - thanks for the 2 recommendations, both are new to me.


Thanks for stopping by ~ I always enjoy hearing your comments so please feel free to leave some!