100 books like 81 Days Below Zero

By Brian Murphy, Toula Vlahou,

Here are 100 books that 81 Days Below Zero fans have personally recommended if you like 81 Days Below Zero. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of North of Familiar: A Woman's Story of Homesteading & Adventure in the Canadian Wilderness

Bradford Smith Author Of Atlin Where Everyone Knows Your Dog's Name

From my list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every book on my list has a personal connection. I’ve either been to these locations, have had similar experiences, or have met the authors. The connecting threads of my list are perseverance over incredible odds, survival in a harsh landscape, and the courageous and undefeatable spirit of the characters. I love all these books because they tell great stories about amazing people in the land and environs that I have made my home for my entire life.

Bradford's book list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there

Bradford Smith Why did Bradford love this book?

Terry was my grade school teacher many moons ago. I love our shared history from that time but this book is so much more than a pleasant reminiscence. Learn what it was like teaching in an isolated Gwitchin First Nations village on the banks of the Porcupine River in Yukon, Canada, or homesteading on a lonely lake, miles from the nearest neighbor. Go on a dangerous bush plane flight, a perilous climbing expedition, or a moonlit dog team sojourn across a frozen lake. Terry chased bears out of her yard and navigated a throng of unruly seven-year-olds with the same calm and confidence. This book is a read, a reread, a share, and a great gift. 

By Terry Milos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1974, Terry Milos moved to rural northern Canada, to pursue her dream of homesteading. Following the seventies trend of the back-to-landers she and her partner left the city life for what they imagined would be a simpler existence. Sometimes humorous and often insightful, North of Familiar is the story of a woman who learned to hunt, fish, and live off the land in what most would consider an utterly hostile and unbelievably cold environment.

After a few months of cobbling together a living, Terry reluctantly leaves the north to further her education but with a dream of returning as…


Book cover of Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People

Bradford Smith Author Of Atlin Where Everyone Knows Your Dog's Name

From my list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every book on my list has a personal connection. I’ve either been to these locations, have had similar experiences, or have met the authors. The connecting threads of my list are perseverance over incredible odds, survival in a harsh landscape, and the courageous and undefeatable spirit of the characters. I love all these books because they tell great stories about amazing people in the land and environs that I have made my home for my entire life.

Bradford's book list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there

Bradford Smith Why did Bradford love this book?

William, an Inupiaq Alaskan native, grew up in a sod home on the shore of Kotzebue Sound above the arctic circle. Childhood was a traditional subsistence life, living off the land. Starvation, sickness, and death were real and present threats. His early life contrasted greatly with the rest of his life. William was a crucial negotiator in the Alaska Native land claims settlement, one of the largest and most important in U.S. history. He went on to serve in the Alaska state house and senate. A fascinating story of a struggle for equality and the fight for a better future. This is a classic David and Goliath epic. I’ve worked in Kotzebue and many other Alaska villages, and I see the fruits of Williams's labors everywhere I go. 

By William L Iggiagruk Hensley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fifty Miles from Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE

An alternately charming and harrowing account of over 50 years of one remarkable native Alaskan's life – from living off the land north of the Arctic Circle, to the Alaskan senate, Hensely is a huge hero to his community.

Born twenty-nine miles north of the arctic circle, William L. Iggiagruk Hensley was raised to live the seminomadic life that his Iñupiaq ancestors had lived for thousands of years. In this stirring memoir, he offers us a rare firsthand account of growing up Native Alaskan, and later, in the lower forty-eight, as a…


Book cover of The Firecracker Boys: H-Bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Roots of the Environmental Movement

Bradford Smith Author Of Atlin Where Everyone Knows Your Dog's Name

From my list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every book on my list has a personal connection. I’ve either been to these locations, have had similar experiences, or have met the authors. The connecting threads of my list are perseverance over incredible odds, survival in a harsh landscape, and the courageous and undefeatable spirit of the characters. I love all these books because they tell great stories about amazing people in the land and environs that I have made my home for my entire life.

Bradford's book list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there

Bradford Smith Why did Bradford love this book?

In 1958 Edward Teller, the father of the H bomb, and the United States Government wanted to explode six mega-ton bombs, forty miles from an Inupiat village on the coast of the Bering Sea in arctic Alaska. Project Chariot was to be the first in a line of proposed projects using nuclear bombs for creating info structure. The explosions were intended to create a deep-water port. Read how a small Inupiat village, a handful of scientists, and a few conservationists took on the US government and won, in the process, birthed the modern conservation movement in the United States. Well written, informative, inspirational, and a joy to read.

By Dan O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1958, Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb, unveiled his plan to detonate six nuclear bombs off the Alaskan coast to create a new harbor. However, the plan was blocked by a handful of Eskimos and biologists who succeeded in preventing massive nuclear devastation potentially far greater than that of the Chernobyl blast. The Firecracker Boys is a story of the U.S. government's arrogance and deception, and the brave people who fought against it-launching America's environmental movement. As one of Alaska's most prominent authors, Dan O'Neill brings to these pages his love of Alaska's landscape, his skill as a nature…


Book cover of Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska

Bradford Smith Author Of Atlin Where Everyone Knows Your Dog's Name

From my list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there.

Why am I passionate about this?

Every book on my list has a personal connection. I’ve either been to these locations, have had similar experiences, or have met the authors. The connecting threads of my list are perseverance over incredible odds, survival in a harsh landscape, and the courageous and undefeatable spirit of the characters. I love all these books because they tell great stories about amazing people in the land and environs that I have made my home for my entire life.

Bradford's book list on Northern wilderness and people who survive there

Bradford Smith Why did Bradford love this book?

This is an inspiring memoir depicting life in the arctic, living the traditional substance way of the Inupiat people. Kanter’s writing is top notch and he describes the arctic life as only one who has truly lived it can. I’ve traveled and worked in the land he loves and calls home. He nails the brutality and the rawness and the beauty and the wonder of that vast and harsh land. This book is personal and emotional and depicts a lifestyle, a land, and a culture that’s not often honestly portrayed in literature. I devoured this book and was left wanting more. I’ve met Seth and he is a great guy and a hell of a writer, in my opinion.

By Seth Kantner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shopping for Porcupine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seth Kantner's Ordinary Wolves told the story of a white boy raised in a sod igloo on the Arctic tundra. A heartbreaking vision of a vanishing world, it established Kantner as one of the nation's most original and authentic writers. Here, he returns to the setting of his debut novel with an autobiographical account of his own life in a rapidly changing land. Beginning with his parents' migration to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1950s and extending to his own attempts to balance hunting with writing, Kantner recalls cold nights wrapped in caribou hides, fur-clad visitors arriving on dog sleds,…


Book cover of The Tenth Air Force in World War II: Strategy, Command, and Operations 1942-1945

Carl Molesworth Author Of Flying Tiger Ace: The story of Bill Reed, China’s Shining Mark

From my list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carl Molesworth’s interest in China and the Far East dates back to childhood memories of stories told by his mother and grandmother of their experiences living in China during the 1920s. He acquired his interest in aviation from his father. Carl began researching the air war in the China-Burma-India Theater while working as a newspaper editor in the late 1970s and published his first book on the subject, Wing To Wing – Air Combat in China 1943-45, in 1990. Of his 14 subsequent books, nine have covered various aspects of air combat in the CBI.

Carl's book list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

Carl Molesworth Why did Carl love this book?

If you could only have a single book about American involvement in the air war over Burma during World War II, this would be the one. Ted Young’s history of the Tenth Air Force has it all, from high-level political maneuvering (and there was plenty of it) and seemingly endless reorganizations to in-the-cockpit combat accounts and a generous selection of photos and maps. He describes in detail the constantly shifting priorities and strategies faced by the Tenth Air Force, along with the many innovative tactics and techniques developed by units such as the First Air Commando Group. In addition, Young brings fresh insight into many of the officers who led the efforts in Burma, men such as Clayton L. Bissell. Young describes him as “a capable staff officer with broad administrative experience” who nevertheless was unable to establish a good working relationship with Claire L. Chennault, his more colorful counterpart…

By Edward M. Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tenth Air Force in World War II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War II, flying B-24 Liberator bombers on missions deep into Burma, B-25 Mitchell bombers attacking Japanese lines of communications, and P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, and P-51 Mustangs flying close support for General Joseph Stilwell's Chinese and American forces in northern Burma, the Tenth Air Force worked closely with the squadrons of the Royal Air Force to push the Japanese out of Burma. The first comprehensive history of the Tenth Air Force and the Army Air Forces, India-Burma sector, this book covers these operations in the context of Allied strategic objectives for prosecuting the war in China and Southeast…


Book cover of Masters of the Air: How The Bomber Boys Broke Down the Nazi War Machine

James B. Conroy Author Of The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War

From my list on making history live and breathe.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has enthralled me from a very young age, drawn as a child as I was to Vikings, cowboys and Indians, medieval knights, ancient conquerors, and mythological gods. After practicing law in Boston for 38 years, I retired to write history full time, not to string dates and facts together in a powder-dry mix but to try to breathe life into the vibrant men and women who enlivened their times and can shed a timeless light on the challenges of ours. Hard work though it is, I have never been so satisfied with life.

James' book list on making history live and breathe

James B. Conroy Why did James love this book?

I have read many excellent books about World War Two, but none has kept me shaking my head in awe like this stunning account of the decisive US bombing campaign against Germany. Masters of the Air is an intensely personal account of the impossibly brave men and boys – for boys they often were – who bombed Nazi Germany into defeat.

Most of them by far were wounded, killed, or imprisoned, often in appalling conditions, after bailing out of plunging aircraft. It is hard to imagine a more moving account of tenacious courage and unimaginable stress or a more thorough, intriguing presentation of the air war over Germany.

I could not get enough of this vivid, inspiring book.

By Donald L. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masters of the Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Seconds after Brady's plane was hit, the Hundredth's entire formation was broken up and scattered by swarms of single-engine planes, and by rockets launched by twin-engine planes that flew parallel'

Meet the Flying Fortresses of the American Eighth Air Force, Britain's Lancaster comrades, who helped to bring down the Nazis

Historian and World War II expert Donald Miller brings us the story of the bomber boys who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep. Unlike ground soldiers they slept on clean beds, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of the travelling Air Force bands. But they…


Book cover of Enterprise: America's Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II

Benjamin Hruska Author Of Valor and Courage: The Story of the USS Block Island Escort Carriers in World War II

From my list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to narratives where a group of individuals needs to collectively overcome a seemingly insurmountable challenge. And, as someone who loves reasonable outdoor challenges such as whitewater rafting trips, I love stories that combine the two. I have been lucky enough to partake in two private float trips of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. With no internet, or electricity for 16 days at a time, a carefully crafted book list is key for any river descend. All these books at their core are narratives of individuals digging in deep, and cultivating that collective human superpower known as teamwork, to overcome challenges many thought could not be overcome.

Benjamin's book list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges

Benjamin Hruska Why did Benjamin love this book?

I love this book for at its heart this is a story of the average American sailor waging war in the Pacific during World War II.

As an author of naval history, I understand it is all too easy to get bogged down in the writing about motivations of top commanders and the newest advances in military weaponry. Tillman successfully walks the thin line in telling the individual stories of the sailors of the Enterprise and how this single vessel fits into the greater campaign of the U.S. Navy against the Empire of Japan.

This book demonstrates that detailed military scholarship can retain a human face. 

By Barrett Tillman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Offering a naval history of the entire Pacific Theater in World War II through the lens of its most famous ship, this is the epic and heroic story of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, and of the men who fought and died on her from Pearl Harbor to the end of the conflict.

Pearl Harbor . . . Midway . . . Guadalcanal . . . The Marianas . . . Leyte Gulf . . . Iwo Jima . . . Okinawa. These are just seven of the twenty battles that the USS Enterprise took part in during World War…


Book cover of The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway

Barrett Tillman Author Of When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945

From my list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all Boomers, I grew up in the shadow of “The War.” My parents, relatives, and others participated in World War II to various extents; all were affected by it. Therefore, I absorbed the Pacific Theater early on. My father trained as a naval aviator, and among my early TV memories is the 1950s series Victory at Sea. My mother coaxed me early on, and an aunt was an English teacher, so I began learning to read before kindergarten. In retrospect, that gave me extra time to start absorbing the emerging literature. Much later I helped restore and flew WW II aircraft, leading to my first book.

Barrett's book list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific

Barrett Tillman Why did Barrett love this book?

Published ten years apart (1984 and 1994), John Lundstrom’s two-volume set was well worth the wait. 

His first installment set an exceptionally high bar with minutely detailed analysisoften including cockpit-to-cockpit matchups—of U.S. and Japanese aerial encounters. Volume One rightly peaks with the vital Battle of Midway in June 1942, while the second covers land and carrier-based operations at Guadalcanal from August to November.

Both volumes place the combatants in the context of time and place including their institutional backgrounds. With numerous veteran contributions dating from the 1970s, neither book could be written today.

By John B. Lundstrom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The First Team as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as one of the finest examples of aviation research, this comprehensive 1984 study presents a detailed and scrupulously accurate operational history of carrier-based air warfare. From the earliest operations in the Pacific through the decisive Battle of Midway, it offers a narrative account of how ace fighter pilots like Jimmy Thach and Butch O'Hare and their skilled VF squadron mates-called the `first team'--amassed a remarkable combat record in the face of desperate odds.

Tapping both American and Japanese sources, historian John B. Lundstrom reconstructs every significant action and places these extraordinary fighters within the context of overall carrier operations.…


Book cover of Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds

Colin D. Heaton Author Of The Star of Africa: The Story of Hans Marseille, the Rogue Luftwaffe Ace Who Dominated the WWII Skies

From my list on true stories of survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began reading about history as a child and fell in love with the WW II aviation stories. Later in life I was able to meet many of the men I read about, interview them, and then write my books with their first person accounts. The greatest satisfaction was putting former enemies together who I could prove had fought each other. The reunions were amazing.

Colin's book list on true stories of survival

Colin D. Heaton Why did Colin love this book?

I knew and interviewed General Robin Olds (he is in my next book out June 8th, 2021), and his daughter Christina. His story is a wonderful addition to the history of American airpower, leadership, and the character of a great man who defied the odds, and even his superiors rather than back down from what he knew was right.

By Ed Rasimus, Christina Olds, Robin Olds

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robin Olds was a larger-than-life hero with a towering personality. A graduate of West Point and an inductee in the National College Football Hall of Fame for his All-American performance for Army, Olds was one of the toughest college football players at the time. In WWII, Olds quickly became a top fighter pilot and squadron commander by the age of 22 - and an ace with 12 aerial victories. But it was in Vietnam where the man became a legend. He arrived in 1966 to find a dejected group of pilots and motivated them by placing himself on the flight…


Book cover of Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and His American Volunteers, 1941-1942

Carl Molesworth Author Of Flying Tiger Ace: The story of Bill Reed, China’s Shining Mark

From my list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carl Molesworth’s interest in China and the Far East dates back to childhood memories of stories told by his mother and grandmother of their experiences living in China during the 1920s. He acquired his interest in aviation from his father. Carl began researching the air war in the China-Burma-India Theater while working as a newspaper editor in the late 1970s and published his first book on the subject, Wing To Wing – Air Combat in China 1943-45, in 1990. Of his 14 subsequent books, nine have covered various aspects of air combat in the CBI.

Carl's book list on the Air War in the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII

Carl Molesworth Why did Carl love this book?

In my bookshelf alone I count eight unit histories of the American Volunteer Group, the storied band of American pilots and technicians who fought for China in the first seven months of America’s involvement in World War II. I’m sure there are more. But when I need to check a fact about the AVG, the first book I turn to is Daniel Ford’s 1991 work. Ford was the first author to research Japanese sources to tell the full story of the Flying Tigers, and for that he was roundly criticized by AVG veterans who felt he had denigrated them by revealing that Japanese records did not support all of the AVG claims of combat success. In my view, however, the important contribution of the AVG was not the number of enemy planes its pilots did or didn’t shoot down but instead was the morale boost its successes gave to an…

By Daniel Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Early in the Second World War, in the skies over Rangoon, a handful of American pilots met and bloodied the Japanese Army Air Force, winning immortality as the "Flying Tigers." Arguably America's most famous combat unit, they were hired to defend beleaguered China for $600 a month, plus $500 for each Japanese plane shot down--fantastic money in 1941, when a Manhattan hotel room cost three dollars a night.

To bring his prize-winning history of the American Volunteer Group up to date, Daniel Ford has drawn on the most recent U.S., British, and Japanese scholarship, providing new information about the Tigers,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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