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What Books to Read if You’re Keen on Northern Expeditions

It was a nice, sunny afternoon. Old childhood dreams of exploration and challenging expeditions were long since replaced by plans to visit parents or spend quiet evenings with friends. You were lazily surfing the internet when all of a sudden, your attention was caught by a traveling website – let’s say it was

After thorough research, you decided to go North, far North. Apart from the obvious questions – where to start, what to pack, and how much it costs, there are other, less pressing but still essential points to consider when planning a grand adventure. Preparations for a Northern expedition require a fair bit of homework, both physical and mental.

People are different, and so are their reasons for wanting to go North. To pick up the most suitable source of information, each person should understand their motives for embarking on such a journey. Once decided, find what occupies your mind most when you think of the North, and get ready!

Practical Approach

If there are questions like “what kind of boots to pack,” “I wish I had a survival kit for travelers,” and “how to treat ice burns,” our advice is to start with instructive books.

It’s not a pessimistic thing to do; it’s a realistic one. Forget “we attract what we fear” and all those positive thinking ideas. The more you feel anxious before departure, the better prepared you’ll be. Experienced travelers will agree that preparation is hardly ever in vain.

Consider the books about the type of equipment you might need, basic medicine, and a set of rules for those who travel North. Pay attention to:

  • The SAS Handbook of Tracking & Navigation by Neil Wilson
  • Travelers’ First Aid Handbook by Red Cross
  • Polar Exploration: A Practical Handbook for North and South Pole Expeditions by Dixie Dansercoer

If there’s no time to read left, send any burning questions to


The flora and fauna of the Northern regions are a magnet for many curious minds. You might be the next Maria Sibylla Merian, deeply in love with nature and eager to examine every little part of it. And some star constellations are only visible from the North pole. Needless to say, many will go there to study climate change. In this case, focus on natural science literature.

●     Natural History of the Antarctic Peninsula by Sanford Moss

  • The Climate of the Arctic by Rajmund Przybylak
  • The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend by John MacDonald

History and Politics

Who owns the North pole? Why have we never heard of its president? And were there any wars?

Northern territories have a fascinating history. Cold and inhospitable, quite often, they hide their riches in their icy depths – crude oil, for instance. Imagine what that could do to people with power. Whether you read about the Vikings, medieval expeditions or the modern era – it’s a topic for hot discussions. If you’re keen on the idea of a Northern expedition, consider the following books:

  • A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration, and Exploitation by John McCannon
  • North Pole: Nature and Culture by Michael Bravo

Adventure Books

There’s nothing to be ashamed of: adults can enjoy adventure literature just as much as children (if not more). Such books are a passage back to the carefree days when our dreams were gradually starting to form. To sail the sea on a pirate ship or to find a way to the pyramids of Egypt – what was your dream activity?

The good news is that adventure books often contain essentials on how to survive in extreme circumstances. Especially when they’re autobiography-based. Luckily, a large number of books dedicated to the Northern theme are based on real-life examples.

Getting really excited about the journey? Here’s something to ask for in a bookshop:

  • The First Crossing of Greenland by Fridtjof Nansen
  • In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Art Life

Booking a Northern expedition for an Instagram selfie is a doubtful motive. Being a professional photographer or cameraman, on the other hand, is an excellent pretext to go. Did you know people organize weddings there? There are no limits whatsoever.

Anyone could do with a little inspiration nowadays, and here are some books that give you the idea of how exquisite the northern landscapes are. They’re also likely to describe the technical requirements and how to store cameras in severe weather conditions.

Because these books are tastefully designed, they may be a good present for someone special:

  • Northern Light: The Arctic and Subarctic Photography of Dave Brosha by Dave Brosha
  • Last Days of the Arctic by Ragnar Axelsson
  • Polar Night by Mark Mahaney

Bonus Book

The last but not the least important point. Life can become a real challenge sometimes. One of the solutions to cope with it is to leave behind the mess for a while. Traveling is a great way to do this. But instead of running away, there are books connected with the North that magically touch on the subject of human life and its purpose.

Before embarking on a solitary journey to the North, read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (or watch the movie under the same name). One significant thought that can make your experience a little bit warmer is the idea that “Happiness is only real when shared.”

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s your first expedition or tenth, it doesn’t matter – everyone will find a new approach to the North and things to read about it. It’s a multi-layered subject that can be looked at from different angles and still remain a mystery.

Since we will all face global warming sooner or later, it’s high time to have a glimpse at the North – while we still have it.










Jeff Campbell