Reading list

What to Read for Winter

Winter is the perfect time to curl up beneath a blanket with a good book, and this December, we’ve gathered not one, not two, but thirty-one wintry reads for you—one for each day of the month! From the newly released Journeys with Emperors, a fascinating look at decades of research on these iconic (and enormous) penguins, to the poetry collection In the Antarctic Circle, we’ve got books on science, archaeology, polar architecture, the history of exploration, and more. Featuring titles from Chicago and a number of our distribution clients and with wintertime books past, present, and even yet to come (the beautiful photographic journey Otherworldly Antarctica will arrive in April 2024), our snow day reading list will take you the tops of snow-covered mountains, across glaciers, and into icy seas—all from the comfort of your warmest reading nook.

Silhouette of a forest against a sky full of the green glow of the Northern Lights.

From Chicago

Otherworldly Antarctica: Ice, Rock, and Wind at the Polar Extreme

Edmund Stump

“An exquisite photographic and personal journey into the natural wonders of Antarctica’s interior. Stump is a consummate scientist and explorer, and this book is his love letter to the extraordinary continent to which he has devoted his career. Do not miss this opportunity to join him on the expedition.”―Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Guinness World Records’ Greatest Living Explorer and author of Climb Your Mountain and Shackleton

Journeys with Emperors: Tracking the World’s Most Extreme Penguin

Gerald L. Kooyman and Jim Mastro, with a Foreword by Jessica Ulrika Meir

“Informative sidebars, graphs, and charts explain technical terms in clear language. An annotated bibliography and gorgeous photos round out this treat of a book, which describes what it was like to live among emperor penguins and the challenges and rewards of research in the Antarctic. This book will have armchair travelers, penguin lovers, Antarctic enthusiasts, and science readers rejoicing.”―Booklist

Tropical Arctic: Lost Plants, Future Climates, and the Discovery of Ancient Greenland

Jennifer McElwain, Marlene Hill Donnelly, and Ian Glasspool

“Ice-covered Greenland was named misleadingly by tenth-century Norse settlers hoping to attract others. But at the time of the dinosaurs, the label would have been accurate, judging from the fossilized plants intricately reconstructed and pictured in this fascinating study by palaeobotanists McElwain and Glasspool, with scientific illustrator Donnelly. They warn that current greenhouse-gas emissions are becoming comparable in impact to the volcanic emissions that triggered the collapse of Triassic Greenland’s flora.”―Nature

Higher and Colder: A History of Extreme Physiology and Exploration

Vanessa Heggie

“Extreme physiology remains an important aspect of study as we set our sights ever outward (to polar regions), upward (to the Moon and Mars), and downward (to the deep ocean). With Higher and Colder, Heggie reminds us that such work can offer extraordinary stories about how science is practiced while challenging the scientific community to consider adopting institutional changes that ensure that everyone can participate and is recognized for their contributions.”―Science

Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean

Joy McCann

“This bracing history charts the myths, the exploration, and the inhabitants of the all-too-real and wild circumpolar ocean to our south. It’s a vast and potentially unwieldy subject that McCann deftly distills to its essentials, from the ocean’s winds and icy currents to the krill that sustain its depths and the albatross that cruise its skies.”―Sydney Morning Herald

Extreme Conservation: Life at the Edges of the World

Joel Berger

“Conserving wildlife at the extreme edges of the natural world, whether in the Arctic, Tibet, or Mongolia, presents huge challenges, from potholed roads (or no roads) to hypothermia, bear attacks, and even arrest. In Extreme Conservation, Berger . . . takes us on a journey to some of the most remote places on the planet, and introduces us to some of its rarest animals.”―National Geographic

Unfreezing the Arctic: Science, Colonialism, and the Transformation of Inuit Lands

Andrew Stuhl

“By ‘unfreezing’ Stuhl means rejecting the notion of a North frozen in time—a sentiment certain to find hearty agreement among northern scholars. He also joins other historians in presenting a transnational view of the north, and emphasizing the evolving social and political roles of science. Bridging the histories of colonialism, resource management, military activity, and Indigenous self-determination, Stuhl focuses on Alaska and northwest Canada, including the Beaufort Sea, Mackenzie Delta, and surrounding region.”―Canadian Journal of History

The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture

Michael F. Robinson

“Robinson casts a fresh light upon some of the most important blanks on our map of the role of popular sentiment, nationalism, and the rising mass media, in the evolution and valuation of Arctic exploration. He demonstrates a keen eye for significant detail, and a deep engagement with his primary sources, which promise strong work to come. It is to be hoped that he will soon make a second and more extended expedition.”―Arctic Book Review

Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure, Text-only Edition

Arthur Conan Doyle

“The editors Lellenberg and Stashower build a succinct introduction around the as yet unknown author’s ‘sudden impulse’ in early 1880 to sign on to an Arctic whaler. . . . What does Dangerous Work have in common with Moby-Dick? A few of a hundred possible answers: Both books disguise great depth beneath the cloak of an adventure story. Both offer accounts of what was once a major industry, comparable in relative terms to today’s oil industry. Both should be read from cover to cover, shared with friends and revisited in front of a warm fire. And both, for different reasons, are books to treasure, the kind that kindle and rekindle a love of words and a feeling of irredeemable debt to the men behind them.”―New York Times Book Review

Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions

Chris Linder

“Oceanographer Linder had so much fun taking photographs on his first expedition to study the turbulent waters around Greenland that it changed the course of his career. Instead of conducting his own research, he now documents the work of other scientists. His Science on Ice, with essays by science writers, is a terrific introduction to the thrills and challenges of doing research in the Arctic and Antarctic. The beauty is stunning, the cold formidable. Sightings of polar bears, walruses, and penguins liven up the daily routine. This is a picture book for science geeks.”—Boston Globe

Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance

Mariana Gosnell

“This astonishingly boring-sounding book turns out instead to be an astonishment. . . . Engaging, literate, mischievously written. . . . [Gosnell] grills and at times ribs grandiose scientists; marvels at, flatters and notes the historical idiocies of some polar explorers; and gets to the bottom of what would really happen if global warming melted the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.”—New York Times, Books of the Times

The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

Robert McGhee

“What McGhee has accomplished in this enthralling book is both a canvas of our imaginary Arctic . . . and a history and anthropology of the real thing. . . . We meet heroism, stupidity, greed, smallpox, and Christianity, not to mention a dead narwhal mistaken for a unicorn.”—Harper’s

Iceman: Uncovering the Life and Times of a Prehistoric Man Found in an Alpine Glacier

Brenda Fowler

“Elegant and informative. . . . The Iceman now lies in a specially constructed museum in Bolzano, capital of the Italian Tyrol. Some quarter of a million people have been to see him, and many would no doubt prefer to have his dry relics enlivened with tales of prehistoric passion. But Fowler shows how a different kind of satisfaction can derive from careful science done well. The results may not be as sensational, but there is something wonderful about being sure about anything that happened up in the mountains so long ago.”—New York Times Book Review

From Reaktion Books

Polar Bear

Margery Fee

“Outside of the Arctic, humans have rarely understood polar bears. But we have repeatedly projected our own ever-shifting values onto them. This is one of the messages driven home by Fee’s Polar Bear, a historical, cultural, and biological meditation on a majestic animal whose fate is entwined with humanity’s. . . . Engaging and deeply philosophical discussion of an animal she sees as immeasurably valuable but widely misunderstood. . . . Richly illustrated with archival and modern day images, packed with scientific and historic facts, and driven by Fee’s forceful views, which skirt the mainstream and offer a different perspective.”―Anchorage Daily News

North Pole: Nature and Culture

Michael Bravo

“In North Pole, his exhaustively researched new book, Bravo delves into the history of that northward obsession. . . . When we’re in the North, we continue to work in a realm of, at best, known unknowns. The climate is changing. The magnetic North Pole is migrating. But, as Bravo reminds us, our fascination with the North Pole remains fixed.”―Literary Review of Canada

Glacier: Nature and Culture

Peter G. Knight

“Among the many victims of climate change are glaciers. The huge bodies of dense ice that form on land and are constantly moving from the force of their own weight no longer cover as much of Earth’s surface as they once did. In Glacier, geographer Knight discusses not only the science of glaciers but also their importance and influence on the environment, weather, and even art and culture. Featuring more than 100 illustrations, Glacier pays homage to one of Earth’s most majestic, yet fragile, features.”―Physics Today

Ice: Nature and Culture

Klaus Dodds

“Transform[s] ice from frozen water into something remarkable: a substance always on the edge of our understanding. Once the instability of ice made it something to be claimed and conquered; today, however, this quality is inextricable from human interference. ‘The tone of the conversation’ about ice, Dodds writes, has been imbued with ‘a profound sense of loss.’ With the disappearance of ice comes the loss of cultures and languages that have evolved to express its complexity.”―Times Literary Supplement

South Pole: Nature and Culture

Elizabeth Leane

“Weaves together mythology and tales of ancient speculation, the sledging journeys of the early twentieth century, scientific investigations, environmental issues, political negotiations, and new challenges of tourism. Leane draws on stories from researchers to describe what it is like to live in a place where every direction is north. A fascinating journey from ancient Greece to the modern day on an unexpectedly rich theme.”―Cosmos

From UCL Press

Antarcticness: Inspirations and Imaginaries

Edited by Ilan Kelman

“Orientated around the construct of Antarcticness, [this book] brings together a range of exciting scholars and artists to consider the contemporary Antarctic. In its diversity, originality and beauty it is a triumph. If you want to know why to care about the future of Antarctica, read it.”―Alan D. Hemmings, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

The North American Arctic: Themes in Regional Security

Edited by Dwayne Ryan Menezes and Heather Nora Nicol

While security itself is not an outdated concept, our understanding of what constitutes human-centered security has shifted dramatically. Contributors explore this shift, looking at new regionally specific threats through the subjectivities and spaces under discussion. Providing a much-needed framework, The North American Arctic helps readers understand the impact of new developments in security in this region at both the level of community and the broader scale.

The Spectral Arctic: A History of Ghosts and Dreams in Polar Exploration

Shane McCorristine

“Open[s] up new ways of viewing how the search for the Northwest Passage and the loss of Franklin and his men had profound spiritual impacts on British society, and which goes into greater detail than most books of the ways that spiritualist fads during an era of rapid modernization affected the search for the missing ships.”―Anchorage Daily News

Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North

Edited by Ilan Kelman

“Just as living in the Arctic forces you to confront your own limitations and stretch yourself beyond what you know, this book guides you out of your comfort zone to assess the physical, spiritual, cultural and, environmental realities that make up this vast region. I am reasonably convinced that all examinations of the Arctic should follow this template. Only good things happen when the natural scientist considers the Indigenous understandings of place, the artist considers the unique views offered by science and technology, and the anthropologist becomes educated by both. This is the true spirit and success of Arcticness. . . . I hereby dub Arcticness a work of ‘awesomeness’ and highly recommend it to anyone―professional researcher or not―who is seeking a well-rounded and diverse view of the state of being Arctic.”―Arctic

From Autumn House Press

In the Antarctic Circle

Dennis James Sweeney

“We might consider this a prose-poetic play, discovered in scorched fragments. . . . Hints of Samuel Beckett and William Gass (snow, wind, eternity, terror) haunt this book. ‘You will learn,’ the narrator warns: ‘In a whiteout you cannot see shadows, but that does not mean the edges are not there.’”—The Millions

From Bodleian Library Publishing

Penguin’s Way

Johanna Johnston, with Illustrations by Leonard Weisgard

“The illustrations alone warrant this handsome new edition of Johnston and Weisgard’s satisfying deep dive into the world of emperor penguins, first published in 1962. Weisgard’s dappled print technique wonderfully evokes a snowy Antarctic clime, and his penguins are, true to their name, majestic. Johnston, too, found nobility in the crazy-seeming passing back and forth of eggs between parents and the ‘miracle’ of yearlings who come back home wearing a new, golden patch of feathers.”—New York Times Book Review

From the Grolier Club

Adventures in Polar Reading: The Book Cultures of High Latitudes

David H. Stam

“Stam is a very lively writer, and what could have been a forced march through a topic as potentially barren as the pack ice proves to be quite fertile, providing polar history geeks with an unexpectedly fascinating examination of an aspect of shipboard life that has received insufficient attention.”―Anchorage Daily News

From HAU

Arctic Madness: The Anthropology of a Delusion

Pierre Déléage

“This book offers a fascinating analysis of Emile Petitot’s life in the Canadian Northwest. As in the Amazon or the Congo, madness and hysteria affected some explorers and missionaries suddenly confronted with inner solitude. Although Petitot was an exceptional ethnographer of the Dené peoples, his case remains a sad yet intriguing example. In this book, Déléage carefully explores his writings and provides insightful views on his delirium, illustrating both a generic mental dysfunction and an idiosyncratic personality.”―Frédéric Laugrand, coauthor of Inuit Shamanism and Christianity

From Museum Tusculanum Press

The Frozen Saqqaq Sites of Disko Bay, West Greenland: Qeqertasussuk and Qajaa (2400–900 BC)

Bjarne Grønnow

“An important event in the archaeology of the North American Arctic. It provides by far the most detailed description of Early Paleo-Inuit technology ever produced, and the high quality of the research and writing are matched by generally excellent photographs, graphics and production quality. . . . Perhaps its most important lesson is one that should have been obvious all along: people cannot live in the Arctic without a complex and specialised technological repertoire.”―Antiquity

From Park Books

Ice Station: The Creation of Halley VI. Britain’s Pioneering Antarctic Research Station

With an Essay by Ruth Slavid and Photographs by James Morris

“Antarctica is on Earth, but it feels alien—a vast, cold, rapidly melting desert populated by scientists and emperor penguins. So it makes sense that today’s Antarctic research stations look a lot like spaceships: They’re often the only things protecting their inhabitants from inhospitable places people really shouldn’t be living in. Only recently, though, they’ve become works of fine art, and Ice Station helps drive that point home.”―Wired

From Scheidegger & Spiess

The Glacier’s Essence: Greenland—Glarus. Climate, Science, Art

Martin Stützle and Fridolin Walcher

In May 2018, Swiss artist Stützle and photographer Walcher joined a Swiss research campaign investigating the current state of Greenland’s retreating glaciers. Blending the essence of glaciological and geophysical research with contemporary art, this book shares that journey. Prints and photographs are featured alongside three easy-to-read essays offering a concise survey of the findings of the 2018 expedition, while a fourth essay comments on Stützle’s and Walcher’s works and explores current trends in climate art.

From UBC Press

When the Caribou Do Not Come: Indigenous Knowledge and Adaptive Management in the Western Arctic

Edited by Brenda L. Parlee and Ken J. Caine

“As a case study, the book provides a clear illustration of how environmental change interacts with changes in livelihoods and culture. . . . Readers are given a vision of how traditional approaches to fostering resilience can inform adaptive co-management of complex ecological systems. Recommended.”―Choice

From UPNE/ForeEdge

Ice Ship: The Epic Voyages of the Polar Adventurer Fram

Charles W. Johnson

“The author has put together a compelling story about the three larger-than-life characters, Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup, and Roald Amundsen, who carried out extraordinary polar adventures, to both north and south, in the ice ship. The book is divided into four parts, the first three of which are devoted to the expeditions in which Fram served as both transport and home for many years.”—Arctic

All of these wintry books are available from our website or your favorite bookseller.