The best books on the Galápagos Islands

5 authors have picked their favorite books about the Galápagos Islands and why they recommend each book.

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Galapagos

By William Beebe,

Book cover of Galapagos: World's End

Almost one hundred years ago an extraordinary naturalist explored Galapagos for a few short weeks. The big surprise for me was that both his candid writing style and his boundless enthusiasm made me feel as though I was seamlessly transported into a Galapagos of yesteryear, when hardly anybody lived here. His exceptional eye for detailed observation may have surpassed even Darwin’s. His ability to convey his constant sense of wonder and discovery makes this book as fresh today as ever, except that some of the scenes he so vividly described are no more — succumbed to modern human activity in Galapagos — like being intimidated during his pioneering dives not by the masses of sharks, but by the toothy giant groupers that shadowed him at close range.


Who am I?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium, but my parents followed their dream to live a pioneering life close to nature, settling in the Galapagos Islands when I was just two years old. The raw yet gentle nature of these islands, combined with my parents’ artistic eyes and naturalist interests, plus contact with visiting scientists, taught me everything I needed to know to become the islands’ only resident nature photographer and writer at an early age. Although my travels have taken me to the remotest corners of all seven continents, with publications about many of them, Galapagos draws me back like an irresistible magnet. These islands made me who I am; they are my spiritual home.


I wrote...

A Lifetime in Galápagos

By Tui De Roy,

Book cover of A Lifetime in Galápagos

What is my book about?

The latest of my six large-format titles on Galapagos is a compilation of my best photography, above and below water, taken over a period of five decades, from my first (and still best) seabird shots when I was 16 to some of my latest experiments with time-lapse and star trails coursing above sleeping giant tortoises, to name a few. I have arranged those images into a collection of discreet topics accompanied by short, intimate essays describing those special moments and concepts that I have witnessed over the years. There is also an illustrated introduction giving an overview of my personal history.

Darwin in Galápagos

By K. Thalia Grant, Gregory B. Estes,

Book cover of Darwin in Galápagos: Footsteps to a New World

I had known the authors for decades, as friends and neighbors, so when their book came out it took me by surprise, even more so when I discovered just how outstanding it is. This is a remarkable blend of meticulously researched historical facts about the life of the great 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin, combined with sensitive commentary by retracing his Galapagos experiences step-by-step, as well as his life before and after. Every page is engaging, delving deep into his thoughts through his notes and correspondence, and his personal observations and how they led to his revolutionary theory of evolution.


Who am I?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium, but my parents followed their dream to live a pioneering life close to nature, settling in the Galapagos Islands when I was just two years old. The raw yet gentle nature of these islands, combined with my parents’ artistic eyes and naturalist interests, plus contact with visiting scientists, taught me everything I needed to know to become the islands’ only resident nature photographer and writer at an early age. Although my travels have taken me to the remotest corners of all seven continents, with publications about many of them, Galapagos draws me back like an irresistible magnet. These islands made me who I am; they are my spiritual home.


I wrote...

A Lifetime in Galápagos

By Tui De Roy,

Book cover of A Lifetime in Galápagos

What is my book about?

The latest of my six large-format titles on Galapagos is a compilation of my best photography, above and below water, taken over a period of five decades, from my first (and still best) seabird shots when I was 16 to some of my latest experiments with time-lapse and star trails coursing above sleeping giant tortoises, to name a few. I have arranged those images into a collection of discreet topics accompanied by short, intimate essays describing those special moments and concepts that I have witnessed over the years. There is also an illustrated introduction giving an overview of my personal history.

My Father's Island

By Johanna Angermeyer,

Book cover of My Father's Island

As a young girl, Johannah was my friend and neighbor, a quiet and pensive young woman with a strong artistic bent and at times a wicked sense of humor. Her book is an enchanting, at times whimsical, account of a teenage girl rediscovering for herself what had drawn her late father, whom she barely knew, and his three brothers to carve out a life in the remote Galapagos Islands pre WWII, as an antidote to the rising Third Reich.


Who am I?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium, but my parents followed their dream to live a pioneering life close to nature, settling in the Galapagos Islands when I was just two years old. The raw yet gentle nature of these islands, combined with my parents’ artistic eyes and naturalist interests, plus contact with visiting scientists, taught me everything I needed to know to become the islands’ only resident nature photographer and writer at an early age. Although my travels have taken me to the remotest corners of all seven continents, with publications about many of them, Galapagos draws me back like an irresistible magnet. These islands made me who I am; they are my spiritual home.


I wrote...

A Lifetime in Galápagos

By Tui De Roy,

Book cover of A Lifetime in Galápagos

What is my book about?

The latest of my six large-format titles on Galapagos is a compilation of my best photography, above and below water, taken over a period of five decades, from my first (and still best) seabird shots when I was 16 to some of my latest experiments with time-lapse and star trails coursing above sleeping giant tortoises, to name a few. I have arranged those images into a collection of discreet topics accompanied by short, intimate essays describing those special moments and concepts that I have witnessed over the years. There is also an illustrated introduction giving an overview of my personal history.

Galapagos Crusoes

By Bryan Nelson, June Nelson,

Book cover of Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone With the Birds

I can barely remember when, as a child in the mid-1960s, I met a young couple of biologists who had just spent a year living in a tiny camp among the seabirds of Galapagos, devoid of contact with the outside world. Part diary, part behavioral field notes, Bryan’s enduring book, Galapagos, Islands of Birds has just been rewritten and expanded into a brand-new edition by his widow, over 50 years later — a charming and timeless volume.


Who am I?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium, but my parents followed their dream to live a pioneering life close to nature, settling in the Galapagos Islands when I was just two years old. The raw yet gentle nature of these islands, combined with my parents’ artistic eyes and naturalist interests, plus contact with visiting scientists, taught me everything I needed to know to become the islands’ only resident nature photographer and writer at an early age. Although my travels have taken me to the remotest corners of all seven continents, with publications about many of them, Galapagos draws me back like an irresistible magnet. These islands made me who I am; they are my spiritual home.


I wrote...

A Lifetime in Galápagos

By Tui De Roy,

Book cover of A Lifetime in Galápagos

What is my book about?

The latest of my six large-format titles on Galapagos is a compilation of my best photography, above and below water, taken over a period of five decades, from my first (and still best) seabird shots when I was 16 to some of my latest experiments with time-lapse and star trails coursing above sleeping giant tortoises, to name a few. I have arranged those images into a collection of discreet topics accompanied by short, intimate essays describing those special moments and concepts that I have witnessed over the years. There is also an illustrated introduction giving an overview of my personal history.

Archipelago

By Monique Roffey,

Book cover of Archipelago

Monique Roffey takes you on a father-daughter escape trip sailing from Trinidad to the Galapagos in a sketchy boat to leave behind the loss and sorrow they experienced after a major storm. Thanks to Grace Carr, I was shaped into who I am as a writer and researcher in Trinidad, where I carried out my dissertation work. The Trini cadence for life and love is ubiquitous in this book—it also reminds me of the bond between me and my Dad and our mutual appreciation for a little risk and chaos.


Who am I?

Iʻve been travelling to islands before realizing I was seeking them. It was my political convictions that brought me to Haiti and Cuba, and later to Indonesia and Thai Islands due to my philosophical interests. When I headed to Greece for the first time it was to Corfu and the Peloponnese, my lineage, but also to Ithaca, Crete, the Cyclades, and eventually to Lesvos. Now I live in Hawaiʻi. I was attracted to the poetics of island landscapes, but as a scholar of space, society, and justice, I also understood that islands hold distinct sets of constraints and opportunities that require further study with intersectional and decolonial perspectives.


I wrote...

Sappho's Legacy: Convivial Economics on a Greek Isle

By Marina Karides,

Book cover of Sappho's Legacy: Convivial Economics on a Greek Isle

What is my book about?

It is an ethnographic and historical account that includes extensive interviews with Greek women cooperatives and micro-entrepreneurs, and the lesbian enclave in Skala Eresos on Lesvos. Set between Europe and West Asia, Lesvos offers an ideal setting to identify the subtleties of Northern European imperialism and the ethnicization of Greeks to demean Greek economic practices past and present. Sappho’s Legacy reveals that Greek island cultures hold robust forms of ancient and contemporary practices of hospitality, negotiated rather than contracted economic ties, and conviviality, that counter the neoliberal ethos. The volume combines post-colonial queer and feminist and lesbian analyses of space and economy to develop an understanding of Lesvos' island food system and the collective resistance it embodies across a diverse group of actors. 

Tales of a Female Nomad

By Rita Golden Gelman,

Book cover of Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Rita knew her marriage was struggling, but was shocked and hurt when her husband asked for a two-month break to see other people. But she agreed, and saw as many people as she could. She saw shoppers bustling through outdoor markets, past vendors hawking tropical fruits and mountains of spices. She saw children playing in hillside villages. She saw kindred spirits, traveling with no plan other than to experience the world.

Rita became a nomad with few possessions, but countless experiences. As I read Rita’s memoir, I found myself nodding in understanding as she described her infinite curiosity, and her fascination with beautiful places, and myriad ways of life. As Rita’s marriage ended, she discovered there’s more than one way to have passion in your life.


Who am I?

I love travelogues and wrote a dual POV travel memoir with my husband. Travel writing allows us to see the world through others’ eyes, and my favorites are by those who used travel as a way to escape or heal. I’m more invested when I know this person not just wants, but needs this journey. I understand this feeling. I empathize with them, I root for them, and I am happy for them when they reach their destination. I adore Eat, Pray, Love and Wild, and want to recommend five other memoirs that have stayed with me as examples of brave people who left home behind in search of something better.


I wrote...

The Backpack Years: Two Memoirs, One Story

By Stefanie Wilson, James Wilson,

Book cover of The Backpack Years: Two Memoirs, One Story

What is my book about?

Part travel, part romance, part failing at life, The Backpack Years intertwines two memoirs, charting Stef and James’s six-year journey from happily wandering to miserably settled and back again.

Stef left America to study abroad in Spain, letting loose and falling for a handsome local and travel. Travel won out. Fueled by debt and a deteriorating relationship with his father, James fled to Australia and found a better life. When Stef and James eventually meet at an Irish pub in Sydney, they ditch the single life to forge a path together. Spanning thirteen countries and four continents, The Backpack Years is a story about how far we’re willing to go to be with the one we love.

Wish You Were Here

By Jodi Picoult,

Book cover of Wish You Were Here

The pandemic hasn’t been ideal for the experience of wonder—and certainly not deep, intimate relationships with new people who could bring about your demise due to the virus. Picoult masterfully details a woman’s trek through this challenging early COVID terrain, which often appears as a dead end (absolutely no pun intended). But what she does with her circumstances unexpectedly leads her to magical places.


Who am I?

I am an editor and writer in New York. Over twenty-five years, I have edited novels for Harlequin Books. Ironically, the more romance I edited, the stronger my belief that I would remain single—and that was just fine. I am still shocked at how wrong I was and that you can still be surprised. I gravitate toward these kinds of stories, where characters wander into unexpected territory. My surprise came in the form of Sam Bloom, the class clown from high school, a boy I’d never thought I’d see again, much less date. We now share a last name, a remote, and an adorable blue-grey cat named Yossi. 


I wrote...

Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last

By Patience Bloom,

Book cover of Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last

What is my book about?

Why isn’t real-life romance more like fiction?

Patience Bloom asked herself this question, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like their heroines: That shy guy she had a crush on would sweep her off her feet and turn out to be a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Patience kept hoping. Years later she found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin itself. Every day, her fantasies came true—on the page. Her dating life, however, remained uninspired. She nearly gave up hope. Then one day Patience got a real-life chance at romance, but Sam lived thousands of miles away. Was it worth the risk? Could love conquer all?

The Galapagos Affair

By John Treherne,

Book cover of The Galapagos Affair

I grew up on Santa Cruz Island, and while Floreana Island was visible on the horizon, I only knew it as the place where mysterious things had happened to people. Only when I read this book did I begin to understand. While Europe was preparing for war in the early 1930s, William Beebe’s enchanting book about Galapagos, caused a bizarre set of adventurers to converge on this small island as their chosen Eden. Stranger than fiction, what ensued was a human-made hell instead, that fostered bizarre deaths and disappearances that have remained unexplained to this day. The author uses his scientific background to analyze the known facts and lets the reader fill in the blanks. This book was the basis for the documentary film, The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine.


Who am I?

I was born in Brussels, Belgium, but my parents followed their dream to live a pioneering life close to nature, settling in the Galapagos Islands when I was just two years old. The raw yet gentle nature of these islands, combined with my parents’ artistic eyes and naturalist interests, plus contact with visiting scientists, taught me everything I needed to know to become the islands’ only resident nature photographer and writer at an early age. Although my travels have taken me to the remotest corners of all seven continents, with publications about many of them, Galapagos draws me back like an irresistible magnet. These islands made me who I am; they are my spiritual home.


I wrote...

A Lifetime in Galápagos

By Tui De Roy,

Book cover of A Lifetime in Galápagos

What is my book about?

The latest of my six large-format titles on Galapagos is a compilation of my best photography, above and below water, taken over a period of five decades, from my first (and still best) seabird shots when I was 16 to some of my latest experiments with time-lapse and star trails coursing above sleeping giant tortoises, to name a few. I have arranged those images into a collection of discreet topics accompanied by short, intimate essays describing those special moments and concepts that I have witnessed over the years. There is also an illustrated introduction giving an overview of my personal history.

Shipped

By Angie Hockman,

Book cover of Shipped

The author's breezy writing style and snarky sense of humor were a winning combination for me in this book. Shipped revolves around the antagonistic relationship of marketing maven Henley and her remote colleague, Graeme, whom she spars with via e-mails. When the two of them are pitted against each other for a promotion, they come face-to-face for the first time on a cruise to the Galápagos.

I love it when a book transports me to an exotic locale and Shipped serves up glorious descriptions of the islands and the characters’ experiences there. Reading it is like taking a vacation!

Henley and Graeme are a couple worth rooting for, and their romance is a real roller coaster. So, hold on tight and enjoy the ride!


Who am I?

As an author, I run my own business and have a hand in all aspects of my product, from creation to promotion. My work is my passion, so I love to write (and read!) books about women who have that same dedication to their careers. I enjoy seeing these ladies strive for success and how they handle challenges along the way. And, of course, since RomComs are my genre, those challenges often involve a man because where else is a workaholic going to find her soulmate? The witty banter, sizzling sexual tension, snort-laugh moments, and surprising plot twists on the pages of all these books, including mine, are guaranteed to entertain you.


I wrote...

Straight from the Hart

By Tracie Banister,

Book cover of Straight from the Hart

What is my book about?

Romance concierge Vanessa Hart helps couples keep the spark alive but playing Cupid doesn’t leave this boss lady much time to lock down her own happily ever after. When Vanessa’s ex, celebrity publicist Alex Farr, reappears in her life with an intriguing proposition, she’d like to tell him where to stuff it. Unfortunately, her business is under attack and Vanessa needs the endorsement of Alex’s A-list client to keep it afloat.

All she has to do is save the marriage of Hollywood’s “It Couple” while working side-by-side with the man she once adored. Second chances may be the order of the day, but not for Alex and Vanessa. They’re done. Finished. Kaput. Vanessa just has to keep telling herself that until she believes it.

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