The best out of the ordinary books about the North

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a passion for northern places ever since I was a kid. I prefer locales that boast plenty of nature and not very many human beings. I’ve been to Greenland 15 times, but only once to Paris and never to Rome (Rome in New York State once). The more remote the locale, the better. Which is why I’ve only once been to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, but several times to almost never visited villages in East Greenland.


I wrote...

At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic

By Lawrence Millman,

Book cover of At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic

What is my book about?

We live in a time when violence in the name of religion is commonplace. But it’s not just a contemporary phenomenon. In 1941, the remote Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay experienced nine killings by newly converted Inuit on the assumption that the victims were Satan. A putative God and a putative Jesus were the primary killers.

In addressing these murders, I couldn’t write about the past without writing about the present, so the book also addresses our current obsession with all things digital and argues that this obsession is not unlike a destructive religion. As people walk along now, they pay attention only to their iDevices, not the natural world.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Woman in the Polar Night

Lawrence Millman Why did I love this book?

I’m recommending it for several reasons. First, it’s a splendid read. Second, it presents a view of the Arctic from a woman’s rather than a man’s point of view – not a common thing, at least not in the 1930s, when the book was written.   Third, I felt so strongly about the book’s merits that I got it back into print and wrote an introduction to it, too. 

By Christiane Ritter,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Woman in the Polar Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Conjures the rasp of the skin runner, the scent of burning blubber and the rippling iridescence of the Northern Lights..." Sara Wheeler, author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica

"Ritter manages to articulate all the terrible beauty and elemental power of a polar winter" Gavin Francis, author of Empire Antarctica

In 1934, the painter Christiane Ritter leaves her comfortable life in Austria and travels to the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen, to spend a year there with her husband. She thinks it will be a relaxing trip, a chance to "read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least,…


Book cover of True North: A Journey Into Unexplored Wilderness

Lawrence Millman Why did I love this book?

It’s a richly lyrical, indeed Thoreauvian account of life in Labrador in the late 1920s. Among other things, the author and his life go on a long trek in the dead of winter and experience a remarkably different way of life – and mostly a rewarding one – from their previous way of life down south. I might add that the now-deceased author was a dear friend of mine.

By Elliott Merrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked True North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The enthralling memoir of a 1930s couple whose passion for nature led them on a winter’s-long hunting trek through one of the most remote regions of Canada
 
While many people dream of abandoning civilization and heading into the wilderness, few manage to actually do it. One exception was twenty-four-year-old Elliott Merrick, who in 1929 left his advertising job in New Jersey and moved to Labrador, one of Canada’s most remote regions.
 
True North tells the captivating story of one of the high points of Merrick’s years there: a hunting trip he and his wife, Kay, made with trapper John Michelin…


Book cover of The Golden Grindstone: One Man's Adventures in the Yukon (Arctic Adventure)

Lawrence Millman Why did I love this book?

I’m recommending this book because I think it’s the best book ever written about the Klondike Gold Rush. During his numerous adventures, the main character, George Mitchell, finds something far more valuable than gold. The book was so little known that I felt obliged to get it back into print as well as write an introduction to the reissue.

By Angus Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Golden Grindstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fearless explorer searches for gold on the rugged Canadian frontier in this adventure classic.


Book cover of Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

Lawrence Millman Why did I love this book?

This is a book whose relationship with toxic chemicals in the Arctic is much the same as the relationship Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring has with toxic chemicals down south. Ms. Cone does an expert job of documenting how these chemicals have gotten into the Arctic’s food web and affected wildlife as well as the Arctic’s Native peoples.

By Marla Cone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silent Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traditionally thought of as the last great unspoiled territory on Earth, the Arctic is in reality home to some of the most contaminated people and animals on the planet. Awarded a major grant to conduct an exhaustive study of the deteriorating environment of the Arctic by the Pew Charitable Trusts (the first time Pew has given such a grant to a journalist), Los Angeles Times environmental reporter Marla Cone traveled across the Arctic, from Greenland to the Aleutian Islands, to find out why the Arctic is toxic. Silent Snow is not only a scientific journey, but a personal one. Whether…


Book cover of Snow Man: John Hornby in the Barren Lands

Lawrence Millman Why did I love this book?

Snow Man offers a portrait of John Hornby, an Arctic adventurer who had no interest in being the first person to visit the North Pole or traverse the Northwest Passage, but who simply wanted to hang out in the Arctic in order to experience both hardships and delight. The book’s story deals with Hornby’s overwintering in an esker in the Central Canadian Arctic with a total novice, an Englishman named Critchell-Bullock. This 1931 book had been neglected, so I got it back into print and I wrote an introduction to it.

By Malcolm Waldron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snow Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the year spent by Englishmen John Hornby and James Critchell-Bullock in the Barren Lands of Canada's Northwest Territories in 1924


You might also like...

She Refused to Bow

By Farida Manekshah,

Book cover of She Refused to Bow

Farida Manekshah

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A personal memoir which introduces the supernatural in the most natural way.

A message which came in a dream and brought you wealth. A sadhu's warning. The presence you feel as you pray at a grave. A well that dries up. The vision you see as you peer out of the window of your cabin. A jinni. An ancient religion. When everything you say and do has consequence. Because nothing that is done can be undone.

She Refused to Bow

By Farida Manekshah,

What is this book about?

A personal memoir which introduces the supernatural in the most natural way.

A message which came in a dream and brought you wealth. A sadhu's warning. The presence you feel as you pray at a grave. A well that dries up. The vision you see as you peer out of the window of your cabin. A jinni. An ancient religion. When everything you say and do has consequence. Because nothing that is done can be undone.


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Interested in the arctic, explorers, and Svalbard?

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