12 books like South

By Ernest Shackleton,

Here are 12 books that South fans have personally recommended if you like South. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Worst Journey in the World

Ben Hunt-Davis Author Of Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

From my list on helping you achieve your goals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Olympic Gold Medallist rower, performance coach, facilitator, and keynote speaker passionate about high performance, teamwork, and the parallels between sport and business. In 1998 I was part of a consistently underachieving Team GB rowing eight, often placing 7th or 8th. We weren’t the strongest or most talented crew. By changing the way we worked as a team, we managed to turn it around to win Olympic Gold on the waters of Sydney in 2000. Since then, I've specialized in translating Olympic-winning strategies into business success. Specifically focusing on leadership and team development, I work with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them define their gold medal goals and supporting them in achieving them.

Ben's book list on helping you achieve your goals

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did Ben love this book?

This is a gripping account of expeditioner Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of the youngest members of Scott's team, recorded the experience of this adventure gone disastrously wrong. Despite the horrors that Scott and his men faced along the way, Cherry's account is filled with stories of resilience, belief in the human spirit, and to persevere in the face of adversity, no matter the cost. Through frostbitten flesh, teeth chattering so hard they spontaneously shatter in the cold of the air, to sweat freezing the instant it emerges from the pores – this is not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless it is certainly one of the most inspiring accounts of developing self-belief and pushing on in the face of brutal setbacks. 

By Apsley Cherry-Garrard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Worst Journey in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A firsthand account of Scott's disastrous Antarctic expedition

The Worst Journey in the World recounts Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard—the youngest member of Scott’s team and one of three men to make and survive the notorious Winter Journey—draws on his firsthand experiences as well as the diaries of his compatriots to create a stirring and detailed account of Scott’s legendary expedition. Cherry himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through Cherry’s insightful narrative…


Book cover of Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica

Ashley Shelby Author Of South Pole Station

From my list on the coldest place on earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Minnesotan, so I thought I was a cold-weather badass, but it wasn’t until my younger sister winter-overed at South Pole Station in the early 2000s that I realized that Minnesota is a balmy paradise compared with the ice chip at the bottom of the earth. Her adventures at 90 South inspired my interest in Antarctica, the history of how humans interact with extreme and dangerous natural environments, and the social dynamics of a community trying to survive in the most remote location on the planet. That interest grew so intense that I ended up spending four years researching and then writing a novel set on the seventh continent—South Pole Station.

Ashley's book list on the coldest place on earth

Ashley Shelby Why did Ashley love this book?

There is no book that better captures the unique human culture present at modern Antarctic research stations than the late Nicholas Johnson’s Big Dead Place, a frank, funny as hell, and at times savage chronicle of a year working support at McMurdo Station. Like my sister, who winter-overed at South Pole Station, Johnson worked in the galley, but it was the bureaucratic nonsense, present even at the farthest reaches of human civilization, that caught his incomparable eye for absurdity.

As I wrote South Pole Station, Johnson’s wry, searingly intelligent voice was always in my mind. To me, he is the epitome of the non-scientist drawn to the world’s most unforgiving workplace: a wry, brilliant journeyman whose humor had a razor-sharp edge but who cared deeply for the work he did and the people with whom he did it. This is my favorite book about Antarctica.

By Nicholas Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Johnson’s savagely funny [book] is a grunt’s-eye view of fear and loathing, arrogance and insanity in a dysfunctional, dystopian closed community. It’s like M*A*S*H on ice, a bleak, black comedy.”—The Times of London


Book cover of Ice Bound

Ashley Shelby Author Of South Pole Station

From my list on the coldest place on earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Minnesotan, so I thought I was a cold-weather badass, but it wasn’t until my younger sister winter-overed at South Pole Station in the early 2000s that I realized that Minnesota is a balmy paradise compared with the ice chip at the bottom of the earth. Her adventures at 90 South inspired my interest in Antarctica, the history of how humans interact with extreme and dangerous natural environments, and the social dynamics of a community trying to survive in the most remote location on the planet. That interest grew so intense that I ended up spending four years researching and then writing a novel set on the seventh continent—South Pole Station.

Ashley's book list on the coldest place on earth

Ashley Shelby Why did Ashley love this book?

Icebound is not a literary masterpiece nor is it a tale of exploration. It is, however, an essential Antarctic text, not just for the personal account found in its pages, but also because of the controversy still raging among Antarctic veterans regarding the decision to extract the author from Antarctica during the polar winter. Dr. Jeri Nielsen was the doctor at South Pole Station during the 1998 season. Her account of the challenges of polar medicine (Superglue is an essential medical supply at 90 South) and the stories of warm relationships with support staff at the station are fascinating. But the real story here is the diagnosis she made of her own breast cancer, which became a global news story when she was evacuated from the base during a dangerous winter flight.

Typically, there are no flights to South Pole Station during the polar winter due to exceptionally dangerous conditions…

By Jerri Nielsen, Maryanne Vollers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jerri Nielsen was a forty-six-year-old doctor working in Ohio when she made the decision to take a year's sabbatical at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station on Antarctica, the most remote and perilous place on Earth. The "Polies," as they are known, live in almost total darkness for six months of the year, in winter temperatures as low as 100 degrees below zero--with no way in or out before the spring.

During the long winter of 1999, Dr. Nielsen, solely responsible for the mental and physical fitness of a team of researchers, construction workers, and support staff, discovered a lump in her…


Book cover of Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine

Ashley Shelby Author Of South Pole Station

From my list on the coldest place on earth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Minnesotan, so I thought I was a cold-weather badass, but it wasn’t until my younger sister winter-overed at South Pole Station in the early 2000s that I realized that Minnesota is a balmy paradise compared with the ice chip at the bottom of the earth. Her adventures at 90 South inspired my interest in Antarctica, the history of how humans interact with extreme and dangerous natural environments, and the social dynamics of a community trying to survive in the most remote location on the planet. That interest grew so intense that I ended up spending four years researching and then writing a novel set on the seventh continent—South Pole Station.

Ashley's book list on the coldest place on earth

Ashley Shelby Why did Ashley love this book?

A gumbo of meat (often penguin), fat (typically blubber), and maybe some crushed-up biscuits, “hoosh” is the catch-all term used for meals of desperation cooked up and choked down by different historical expeditions, and it’s an apt title for Jason C. Anthony’s engaging and unique look at a slice of Antarctic living. Forget Shackleton’s heroics—what did he eat? How did early explorers survive on penguin eggs? Exactly how desperate does one have to be to eat seal brains? Why is baking at South Pole Station so difficult? Why was the Russian base Vostok stocked with so much vodka? (A question that probably answers itself.)

Anthony is a support staff veteran who has done a number of stints at various research stations on the seventh continent, and his wry narration—which weaves historical accounts with his own experiences—is great fun to read. I only encountered this book after South Pole Station was…

By Jason C. Anthony,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Antarctica, the last place on Earth, is not famous for its cuisine. Yet it is famous for stories of heroic expeditions in which hunger was the one spice everyone carried. At the dawn of Antarctic cuisine, cooks improvised under inconceivable hardships, castaways ate seal blubber and penguin breasts while fantasizing about illustrious feasts, and men seeking the South Pole stretched their rations to the breaking point. Today, Antarctica's kitchens still wait for provisions at the far end of the planet's longest supply chain. Scientific research stations serve up cafeteria fare that often offers more sustenance than style. Jason C. Anthony,…


Book cover of Never in Anger: Portrait of an Eskimo Family

Caroline McCullagh Author Of Quest For The Ivory Caribou

From my list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I started reading about people who lived in marginal places, such as the Eskimos of the far north and the Kung San of South Africa. Living a middle-class American life it was difficult for me to understand how people could not only live in those places but also love them. After I raised my children, my husband encouraged me to return to college, and I did, majoring in anthropology. I learned about the deep connections that bind all people—love of home and family. By learning about other people’s lives, much of what confused me about my own fell away. 

Caroline's book list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic

Caroline McCullagh Why did Caroline love this book?

Never in Anger was a life-changing book for me. It led me to my deep interest in anthropology and, ultimately, to me writing.

Jean Briggs was dropped off in Northern Canada to do her fieldwork for her PhD by studying an Eskimo (now Inuit) family. The bush pilot would be back to pick her up in a year! She wanted to study shamanism, but they refused to talk about what they considered their primitive past, so she studied the children instead.

Some of the book is about language acquisition, I skipped over that part when I reread it. What interests me is how she learned to understand and live in a culture so totally foreign to hers—an amazing journey for her and for me.

By Jean L. Briggs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never in Anger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1963, anthropologist Jean Briggs journeyed to the Canadian Northwest Territories (now Nunavut) to begin a seventeen-month field study of the Utku, a small group of Inuit First Nations people who live at the mouth of the Back River, northwest of Hudson Bay. Living with a family as their "adopted" daughter-sharing their iglu during the winter and pitching her tent next to theirs in the summer-Briggs observed the emotional patterns of the Utku in the context of their daily life.

In this perceptive and highly enjoyable volume the author presents a behavioral description of the Utku through…


Book cover of Peter Freuchen's Famous Book of the Eskimos

Caroline McCullagh Author Of Quest For The Ivory Caribou

From my list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I started reading about people who lived in marginal places, such as the Eskimos of the far north and the Kung San of South Africa. Living a middle-class American life it was difficult for me to understand how people could not only live in those places but also love them. After I raised my children, my husband encouraged me to return to college, and I did, majoring in anthropology. I learned about the deep connections that bind all people—love of home and family. By learning about other people’s lives, much of what confused me about my own fell away. 

Caroline's book list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic

Caroline McCullagh Why did Caroline love this book?

Peter Freuchen, a Danish explorer, first came to Greenland in 1906 and immediately fell in love with the land and its people. He spent the better part of the next 50 years there. He was a partner in adventure with the famous explorer of the north, Knud Rasmussen. Freuchen wrote many books, some of which have been translated into English, including novels.

I chose this one to recommend because it seemed a good place to start, but I love them all. Peter Freuchen’s Book of the Eskimos, a summation of much of what he learned over the years, was edited by his second wife, Dagmar, and published three years after he died in 1957.

By Peter Freuchen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Peter Freuchen's Famous Book of the Eskimos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Freuchen's Famous Book of the Eskimos [Mass Market Paperback] Peter Freuchen (Author)


Book cover of White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic

Caroline McCullagh Author Of Quest For The Ivory Caribou

From my list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I started reading about people who lived in marginal places, such as the Eskimos of the far north and the Kung San of South Africa. Living a middle-class American life it was difficult for me to understand how people could not only live in those places but also love them. After I raised my children, my husband encouraged me to return to college, and I did, majoring in anthropology. I learned about the deep connections that bind all people—love of home and family. By learning about other people’s lives, much of what confused me about my own fell away. 

Caroline's book list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic

Caroline McCullagh Why did Caroline love this book?

Inuit and Danish in heritage, Knud Rasmussen is one of the major stars of Arctic research. He led one of the most famous explorations of northern Canada, The Fifth Thule Expedition, and documented the lives and culture of the people who lived there.

This modern biography doesn’t have the drama and excitement of firsthand accounts, but it’s comprehensive and well-written. It has many interesting details of the lives of both Rasmussen and Peter Freuchen. Additionally, it gives readers a look at the larger context of politics and exploration in the first half of the 20th century.  

By Stephen Bown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Among the explorers made famous for revealing hitherto impenetrable cultures,T. E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger in the Middle East, Richard Burton in Africa,Knud Rasmussen stands out not only for his physical bravery but also for the beauty of his writing. Part Danish, part Inuit, Rasmussen made a courageous three-year journey by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska to reveal the common origins of all circumpolar peoples. Lovers of Arctic adventure, exotic cultures, and timeless legend will relish this gripping tale by Stephen R. Bown, known as "Canada's Simon Winchester."


Book cover of The Inuksuk Book

Caroline McCullagh Author Of Quest For The Ivory Caribou

From my list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I started reading about people who lived in marginal places, such as the Eskimos of the far north and the Kung San of South Africa. Living a middle-class American life it was difficult for me to understand how people could not only live in those places but also love them. After I raised my children, my husband encouraged me to return to college, and I did, majoring in anthropology. I learned about the deep connections that bind all people—love of home and family. By learning about other people’s lives, much of what confused me about my own fell away. 

Caroline's book list on adventure in the Arctic and Antarctic

Caroline McCullagh Why did Caroline love this book?

This one’s just for fun.

An inuksuk (plural: inuksuit) is a cairn of stones, sometimes small, sometimes huge, sometimes shaped like a human, built by the Inuit (and by you if you want to; the book includes instructions). They have many functions: to mark a meat cache, a good place to haul out your kayak, or a useful pass through mountains; to scare caribou into a hunting area; and even to act as a silent companion for a lonely person.

An inuksuk is the symbol on the flag of Nunavut, the relatively new Inuit territory, established in 1999 in northern Canada. This book, including many photos and drawings, gives the reader a good introduction to the historical and contemporary Inuit. 

By Mary Wallace,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An introduction to the many forms of the inuksuk structure

The image of a traditional Inuit stone structure, or inuksuk, silouetted against an arctic sky, has become a familiar symbol. Yet, for many, their purpose remains a mystery. In a stunning new book, artist and children's author Mary Wallace, in consultation with Inuit elders and other noted experts, gives a fascinating introduction in words, pictures, and paintings to the many forms of the inuksuk structure and its unique place in Inuit life and culture.


Book cover of South: The Endurance Expedition

Ben Alderson-Day Author Of Presence: The Strange Science and True Stories of the Unseen Other

From my list on understanding the uncanny feeling of felt presence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been either studying, researching, or teaching psychology since I was 16 – but before that, I was a reader. I have always been drawn to books that pose fundamental questions about the mind, and to this day I still go back to fiction and non-fiction that can generate ideas and hypotheses for new experiments. I’ve even used fictional stories in brain-scanning experiments to explore how the mind represents voices and characters: our findings show that we are experts at automatically simulating both the sound and the intention of other people when they talk in a story (even when the stories are very simple ones). 

Ben's book list on understanding the uncanny feeling of felt presence

Ben Alderson-Day Why did Ben love this book?

Some of the most famous felt presences are those that occur in survival situations under the name of the “Third Man”.

The name comes from a line in The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot, in which he recalled the story of Antarctic explorers being accompanied by a phantom figure. Tat story was Ernest Shackleton’s: at the end of the ill-fated Endurance expedition, Shackleton experienced something like a felt presence when crossing the interior of South Georgia Island to save the rest of his crew.

He recounts the story of the whole expedition in South, and it’s an amazing read. When I was writing my book, I was really struck by how good a psychologist Shackleton was: he was constantly trying to understand and motivate his crew, while being acutely aware of the impact of the situation and the environment around them.

At several points he directly comments on…

By Ernest Shackleton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First appearing in 1919, “South: The Endurance Expedition” is the gripping account of those who traveled with Sir Ernest Shackleton on his third expedition to Antarctica. In August1914, Shackleton set out with a crew of twenty-eight aboard the ship “Endurance” in an effort to become the first men to cross the vast Antarctic land mass, a grand plan that was given the lofty title “The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.” At the same time the “Endurance” set out into the Weddell Sea so that a group of six, including Shackleton, could traverse the vase continent, another ship, called “The Aurora” landed on…


Book cover of South!: The Story of Shackleton's, 1914-1917

Brenda Clough Author Of Revise the World

From my list on British explorers freezing to death in Antarctica.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a science fiction writer. If you write about time travel, one of the things you have to worry about is changing the past, the ‘gun for a dinosaur’ effect. If you go to the past and kill that dinosaur, will it affect the present? Maybe that dinosaur was the ancestor of all mammals. So, if you want to steal something from the past and bring it to now, you have to choose carefully. Something that has left no biological footprint. When I got that far, I remembered that Titus Oates walked off into the storm in Antarctica, never to be seen again, to save his companions. His body is still out there, frozen in a glacier … or is it?

Brenda's book list on British explorers freezing to death in Antarctica

Brenda Clough Why did Brenda love this book?

Ernest Shackleton was Scott’s rival and companion, the one who was smart enough not to die. A later Antarctic explorer, Sir Raymond Priestly, famously said, “For scientific discovery give me Scott. For speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen. But when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.” Shackleton’s last expedition was the stuff of legend. His ship the Endurance was trapped in the ice for ten months, and finally crushed by the ice and sunk. Shackleton marshalled his men to march across the floes dragging their boat, and then they sailed across the polar seas to Elephant Island where they finally were rescued more than two years after they set out. It’s an almost unbelievable feat.

By Ernest Shackleton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen, who, by a narrow margin of days only, was in advance of the British Expedition under Scott, there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings—the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea. When I returned from the Nimrod Expedition on which we had to turn back from our attempt to plant the British flag on the South Pole, being beaten by stress of circumstances within ninety-seven miles of our goal, my mind turned to the crossing of the continent, for I was morally certain that either…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ernest Shackleton, Antarctica, and survival?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ernest Shackleton, Antarctica, and survival.

Ernest Shackleton Explore 9 books about Ernest Shackleton
Antarctica Explore 49 books about Antarctica
Survival Explore 195 books about survival