The best books about the arctic 📚

Browse the best books on the arctic as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Over in the Arctic

Over in the Arctic

By Connie Roop, Peter Roop

Why this book?

This book is a fun, singalong read written to the tune of “Over in the Meadow” that introduces children to the world of arctic animals. Kids will quickly pick up on the tune and rhyming pattern and be able to read along with the story. The fun, jaunty story is also just the right length for a bedtime read-aloud.

From the list:

The best short rhyming picture books about animals

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Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

By Barry Lopez

Why this book?

I was the Arctic bureau chief (a one-person show) for a now long-forgotten news chain, living in the Northwest Territories of Canada when Lopez was there collecting stories for this book. It was fun to read because I had visited many of the places he explored and knew almost all of the scientists he profiled. What the book lacks because of its largely Eurocentric view of the polar world is made up by the fact it turned so many people onto the much neglected polar world.

From the list:

The best books on the nature and the environment

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

Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic

By Marla Cone

Why 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.
From the list:

The best out of the ordinary books about the North

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Book cover of A Winter Circuit of Our Arctic Coast: A Narrative of a Journey with Dog-Sleds Around the Entire Arctic Coast of Alaska

A Winter Circuit of Our Arctic Coast: A Narrative of a Journey with Dog-Sleds Around the Entire Arctic Coast of Alaska

By Hudson Stuck

Why this book?

The oldest of my choices, published in 1920, this classic account of an epic 2,000-mile dogsled journey in northern Alaska, written by an Episcopal missionary, still makes lists of the best books about the 49th state. A masterpiece of adventure and ethnography, with lyrical descriptions of nature, A Winter Circuit is the work of a man not only deeply and widely read about polar exploration and the history of the Far North, but also keenly aware of the social forces bearing down on Alaska’s Native peoples, and eager to support and defend their time-honed way of life.

From the list:

The best first-person books about the outdoors that should be better-known

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Book cover of The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and The North Pole, 1818-1909

The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and The North Pole, 1818-1909

By Pierre Berton

Why this book?

In the 19th century, it was believed that if a way could be found through North America’s ice barrier, beyond lay an open sea offering ships a shortcut to the Pacific.  The quest to find it became a litany of disaster, suffering, human spirit stretched to breaking point and heroic survival. Canada’s greatest historian, Pierre Burton, turns factual accounts into a riveting read, ‘a cliff-hanger with colorful characters’ as Newsweek described it. This is another book I hate to lend for fear I’ll never get it back.

From the list:

The best books about the Far North

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Book cover of The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

By Robert McGhee

Why this book?

This book by a distinguished Canadian archaeologist is the finest overview of the human history of the circumpolar region. Its twin concerns are the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and the impact of intruders from the south. It is unusual in its coverage of the Russian and Scandinavian Arctic. The excellent account of the Norse colonies in Greenland feeds into a compelling analysis (through the prism of trade goods) of Norse penetration into the territories of the Dorset and Thule peoples. 

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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