8 books to read before your trip to Antarctica!

As the last unpopulated continent, Antarctica is a land of great mystique. Tales of epic adventures and misguided expeditions fuel a romanticized vision of the world’s southernmost terrain. For the bold travelers headed there, reading up about the history of Antarctic exploration will contextualize what it means to step foot on the continent. Here are 8 books to read before your journey south!

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (Alfred Lansing)

For many, Sir Ernest Shackleton is the hero of early Antarctic exploration. Though he failed in his ambitious Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, he managed to bring his entire crew home safely after a year and a half stranded in the harshest of conditions. Lansing’s Endurance is a meticulously researched chronicle of this journey, incorporating interviews with 10 of the surviving crewmembers into a fast-moving narrative. A classic of polar literature, this fascinating read will redefine for you the limits of human (wait for it…) endurance.

The Storied Ice (Joan N. Boothe)

Few visitors will venture past the Antarctic Peninsula, so Boothe focuses her narrative on the history of this region. Thorough research and accessible writing make this an enjoyable and informative read, and no other text will be more relevant to your voyage along the peninsula.

Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine (Jason C. Anthony)

Jason C. Anthony approaches familiar stories through an exciting, new lens: food! This book retells the history of Antarctica explorers through their stomachs. Dishes like “hoosh,” a mixture of meats, fat, and snow, will make you cringe, while a description of Anthony’s preparation for 300 meals in Antarctica will make your mind spin. If nothing else, this book will give you a special appreciation for the high-quality food aboard your cruise to the seventh continent!

End of the Earth (Peter Matthiessen)

To prepare for Antarctica’s natural wonders and rare wildlife, delve into naturalist Peter Matthiessen’s End of the Earth. His writing is vibrant but concise, illustrating scientific phenomena as if they were poems. This is a delightful way to learn about the continent’s flora and fauna before you embark.

Terra Incognita (Sara Wheeler)

Author Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica in 1995, sponsored by the U.S.National Science Foundation. Her witty prose weaves together her own experiences with those of the first Antarctic explorers. Vivid details invite you into the world of scientific research on the continent, and leave you with a fuller picture of this unique world.

Race to the South Pole (Roald Amundsen)

The other hero of Antarctic exploration, Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the south pole and the first to traverse the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. Amundsen recorded his experiences in this volume which incorporates his scientific findings within a broader historical context. Archival photographs punctuate his writing, an element of realism in an otherwise fantastical tale.

South: The Story of Shackleton’s Last Expedition, 1914-1917 (Ernest Shackleton)

If you devoured Endurance and are looking for an in-depth, personal account of Shackleton’s failed but miraculous Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, crack open a copy of South. Shackleton’s journal entries provide an unparalleled insight into his leadership strategies and survival techniques. Though the minutiae of his journey can slow down the narrative, Shackleton’s unedited, first-person perspective makes this a worthwhile read.

Antarctic Peninsula: A Visitor’s Guide (British Antarctic Survey)

A broad introduction to a little bit of everything, this volume is the perfect one-stop-shop for all things Antarctica. Detailed graphics and breathtaking images will prepare you for unique phenomena you’ll witness on your cruise. Seven chapters elaborate on distinct themes: geography, exploration, geology, climate and weather, glaciology, sea ice and icebergs, and plants.

Before you depart, stop by Freestyle’s Bunker (866 Gobernador Paz, Ushuaia) and take a look through our mini-library! Our shelves are full of guidebooks, novels, and non-fiction books for you to borrow during your trip.

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