5 Books about the Arctic and Antarctic to Cool Off With This Summer

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Kristen McDeavitt

Staff Writer

Kristen McDeavitt is a queer writer and backpacker. After graduating from UC Berkeley with an English degree, the usual sense of adventure took them to Wyoming, Texas, and Alaska, where they currently live in a tent by a glacier.

It’s 100 degrees out. Best case scenario, you’re eating ice cream by a swimming pool or relaxing inside an air-conditioned public library. Worst case scenario, you’re drenching your T-shirt in sweat stains. Either way, now’s the time to submerge yourself in the icy pages of these books about the Arctic and Antarctic.

Cool off this summer with books about the Arctic and Antarctic.   book lists | cold books

Books about the Arctic and Antarctic

Endurance by Alfred LansingEndurance by Alfred Lansing

This harrowing true story recounts the Antarctic voyage of the Endurance, a ship whose crew was stranded for over a year and lived to tell the tale. By combining the crew’s diary entries and narrative, Lansing creates an unbelievable tale of survival. Let’s just say it will make you appreciate the summer heat.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North by Blair BravermanWelcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North by Blair Braverman

In her coming-of-age memoir, Braverman describes growing into herself as an outdoorswoman while learning to drive sled dogs in Norway and Alaska. Braverman must find her place in the unforgiving arctic and among the men who claim it. In spite of freezing temperatures and misogyny, Braverman carves out a space for herself in a cold world.

The Shipping News by Annie ProulxThe Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Proulx’s novel centers around a man who, devastated by loss, lovelessness, and failure, decides to move to Newfoundland. Over time, Quoyle makes a home for himself by the icy sea. Although not exactly the Arctic, Newfoundland is brimming with mystery and magic just under the surface of the ice on its seas. Proulx weaves a tale at times tragic, often supernatural, and always beautiful.

The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-CloutierThe Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

This memoir by Inuk activist Watt-Cloutier explores the connections between saving traditional Inuit culture and the planet as a whole. Using her own life as an example, she argues that the Arctic is deeply tied on both human and environmental levels. By preserving one, you save the other. 

Antarctica by Kim Stanley RobinsonAntarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

Using a rapidly changing climate as the background for his science fiction novel, Robinson translates environmental uncertainty into the lives of his characters. Once the international treaty protecting Antarctica has ended, politicians, corporations, explorers, and activists must fight over the fate of this frozen land. Robinson’s vivid descriptions of Antarctica bring the frozen continent to life.



Although it’s still too hot for you to snuggle up with any of these books, use them to cool off. Maybe trade that cup of tea for, well, iced tea.