Polar Ponderings

hat The first polar exploration related book I read was The Birthday Boys, Beryl Bainbridge’s fictionalised account of Scott’s last expedition; I was absolutely enthralled. But the Ice really claimed me when I picked up Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, now one of my favourite works of all time. I’m not really sure what it is about this subject that fascinates me so much, but reading polar themed literature, history and biography has become a bit of a thing for me in the past few years, I can’t get enough of it.

This section records all my Antarctic and Arctic related reads to date. Unlinked titles are ones I’ve read but haven’t yet reviewed on this site. If you can recommend any more for the list please do make a suggestion!

Polar reads, listed by Title and Author



Antarctic Navigation by Elizabeth Arthur

“At the Mountains of Madness” in The Complete Collection by H.P. Lovecraft

The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Dead Men by Richard Pierce

Mrs Chippy’s Last Expedition 1914-1915 by Caroline Alexander

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

The Nature of Ice by Robyn Mundy

The Pole-Seekers by Meredith Hooper

Pym by Matt Johnson

“Sur” in The Compass Rose by Ursula K. Le Guin

Victim of the Aurora by Thomas Keneally

When Nights Were Cold by Susanna Jones

White by Marie Darrieussecq


Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure by Admiral Richard E. Byrd

Alone On The Ice: The Greatest Survival Story In the History of Exploration by David Roberts

‘Birdie’ Bowers of the Antarctic by George Seaver

Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard by Sara Wheeler

A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott by Louisa Young

The Longest Winter: Scott’s Other Heroes by Meredith Hooper

Polar Wives by Kari Herbert

Pole Dance by Tom Avery

Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski

South: The Story of Shackleton’s 1914 – 1917 Expedition by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton

Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler

An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean – Antarctic Survivor by Michael Smith

With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson, Explorer, Naturalist, Artist by Isobel E. Williams

The Voyage of The Discovery by Captain Robert Falcon Scott

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard



Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Ice Road by Gillian Slovo

One Day The Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead by Clare Dudman

On the Proper Use of Stars by Dominique Fortier

The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding

The Still Point by Amy Sackville

The Terror by Dan Simmons

The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett


The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler

Polar Wives by Kari Herbert


The Ghost of Piramida directed by Andreas Koefoed

Unidentified / Fictional Icescapes

Ice by Anna Kavan


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