Christmas is a time when becoming an armchair explorer is preferable to the real deal! For me it will be the only vacation I have had for a long time solely together with the family. I used to hate this time, when I didn´t have my own family. Therefore it was hard being on an expedition during this vacation time. I just felt a great loss.Now, I am happier than ever. And, I hope, but doubt it, that I will have at least a few hours for reading. For pleasure. I say that, because all the books I read when not on vacation, have to do with my work. I will bring The Idiot, one of Fjodor Dostojevski´s most entertaining books. This books make my spine freeze and for this reason I´d like to suggest 5 excellent, chilly and bone freezing books to read over Christmas. Books that have given me a lot of pleasure!
The chosen one´s are books any human being who is contemplating an Arctic or Antarctic trip should read. Unfortunately I can only offer books in English, which is sad, because they´re mainly written by people who haven´t grown up in these freezing environments and for this reason really don´t have a clue how to behave, but their books makes a great dramatic read!
1. The Worst Journey In The World by Aspley Cherry Gerrard. This is of course a classic in every way. It has all the freezing drama you can imagine. Apsley was one of the members of tragic Robert Falcon Scott´s 1920-13 South Pole Expedition, which became a race between them and the Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen. A must read no matter what! I brought this book with me on my Kolyma expedition 2004-5 and it was thoroughly read it during the Christmas break that Johan Ivarsson and I took in Srednekolymsk in -54 degrees Celsius. We learned a lot from the book.
2. The First Crossing Of Greenland by Frithjof Nansen. Pretty much all the knowledge we have about Polar travel kind of originates from the experiences and knowledge that Frithjof Nansen picked up on this amazing journey he did with Harald Johansen, who was also part of Amundsen South-Pole Expedition when he was the first to reach this Pole. But Nansen was so much more than an explorer of course, but this book deals with the first real polar Expedition. And Amundsen learned a lot from his experiences, which made his journey to the South Pole so much easier.
3. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog. This is for me the best mountaineering book of all time. And it is full of bone freezing drama which makes a great read. Herzog passed away a few days ago and that made me remember this great read!
4. Imperium by Ryszard Kapuchinski. This is a book about the Soviet union and Russia written by one of the best story tellers who has ever been alive. Every sentence needs digesting, every word triggers your imagination and intellect. It is full of frosty description of this vast continent, which is so hard do understand by the West.
5. The North-West Passage: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the ship “Gjøa” 1903–1907 by Roald Amundsen. This is a great book by Roald Amundsen about the first passage of the North-West Passage. And it should be read carefully by all these Brits writing books to try to rescue Robert Falcon Scott´s tragedy and reasons for it on Antarctica. Roald Amundsen new extreme tempratures, how to ski and what to do. This books will clarify why he and the Norwegians reach the Sout Pole first. On is a great read. Especially when he writes about the local Inuit (Eskimo´s).
Trust me on these books. I know how it is to freeze. See this little film below!
Do I detect a bit of pedestrian prejudice amongst this list?
What about “South Pole Ponies,” the amazing story of the horses used by Shakleton and Scott in their attempts to reach the South Pole?
And here’s a link to the study regarding the meat-eating horses used at both Poles.
Keep this up and we’ll make you spend the night outside of the literary igloo, Mikael.