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Read Your Way Through the Arctic—Books to Complement Your Journey [Checklist with the Map]

22 October 2020

One of the most exciting and surefire ways of preparing yourself for a wonderful journey is to read about your intended destination in a book. Just imagine how amazing it might feel when you’re visiting the places the main characters of your favorite fiction interacted in. Thus, unknown locations become familiar and made-up or partially-fictional events become a reality. 

If you want to make the most out of your Arctic journey, here’s a list of books that revolve around the Arctic and some northern countries that you might be interested in. And all these books will only add to your traveling experience. Choose the book which is most appealing to you and have a safe and exciting trip to the real destination and imaginary one. 

Arctic journey with Ragnar
  1. The Terror by Dan Simmons 

Destination: the Arctic

No list about perilous Arctic expeditions can be complete without this literary masterpiece written by American author Dan Simmons. The Terror is a fiction that is based on true events and narrates about Franklin’s lost expedition, which completely perished under some horrible circumstances.

In the book, two ships—Terror and Erebus—set out on an expedition to the Arctic, which is led by a talented British captain Sir John Franklin. The main objective of the expedition is to discover the unfamiliar Northwest Passage in the Arctic. But, as was the case with almost every expedition back in the 19th century, the two vessels became icebound. Being hemmed in by ice for more than twelve months, the crew members of both ships experienced hardships in terms of provisions, health, and safety. 

But as you keep reading, you understand that there’s more to that than just the unfortunate happenstance. A strange inuit woman aboard Terror, mysterious disappearance of crew members, and finally a monster that follows the expedition and terrifies those who survived. And yet, you can’t fully grasp if this is something completely unfortunate yet of natural origin happening or if there’s something paranormal hiding behind the events onboard Terror and Erebus.

The Terror by Dan Simmons is a perfect book for those who love suspense, mystery, traveling and who truly want to find out the truth. 

Destination: the Arctic | Ragnar
  1. The Sagas of Icelanders

Destination: Iceland

Iceland is one of the eight countries in the world whose lands belong to the Arctic Circle. And to fully take in its cold spirit, you definitely should acquaint yourself with Iceland’s most iconic sagas—stories that depict historical events that took place in the country during the 19th – 11th centuries. They describe the lives of real people that inhabited Iceland during those times. 

They deal with various topics that are so connected to our reality and time: love triangles (Laxdæla Saga where two closest friends fell in love with the same woman), neverending family feuds (The saga of Gisli the Outlaw and The saga of Burnt Njáll), everyday lives (The Saga of the People of Laxárdalr) and many others. 

If you want to make a connection between the past and preset, you should definitely read the Sagas of Icelanders while traveling this beautiful country. 

Destination: Iceland
  1. Unformed Landscape by Peter Stamm

Destination: Norway

This book by a prize-winning author from Switzerland is only 170 pages long but evokes so many feelings and emotions. The story starts on a picturesque fjord in the northern part of Norway, where four countries Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway are intertwined together. A young woman named Kathrine, who has a small son from her first marriage, lives and works in Finnmark. When she discovers the bitter truth about her second husband, she sets off on the journey to the Arctic Circle and then to Paris. 

This is a bittersweet story of losing and finding hope, fleeting love, honest and hurtful yet liberating truth. This book is for everyone who wants to read a deep and meaningful story.

Destination: Norway
  1. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Destination: Canada

Jack London is a truly remarkable author who had his way with words and knew how to revive nature on the pages of his multiple works. His novel the Call of the Wild is set in Yukon, Canada and revolves around a dog named Buck, who was stolen from a well-to-do American family and sold as a sledge dog. 

Buck goes through a range of misfortunes where he has to keep his temper and tolerate some abusive situations, and ends up in the cold and wild Canada. The dog quickly learns how to stand up for oneself against several other dogs led by Spitz the husky who then he overcomes in a fight. 

The Call of the Wild is a story of remarkable beauty—the way the author describes the nature of Canada makes you feel as you were indeed in the harsh arctic surrounding somewhere far away from civilization.  

If you want to feel the real nature of the Arctic, the Call of the Wild is a very good pick for you.

The nature of Canada

Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelly 

Destination: Russia, Germany, Ireland, the Arctic

Mary Shelly established a canon with her groundbreaking novel Frankenstein whose main protagonist will captivate the minds of readers and viewers for many decades. 

Everyone, to varying degrees, is familiar with this sad story—a scientist named Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with reanimating a dead body, which he eventually did. But, frightened by the outcome, Victor leaves his creature to his own devices. Led by revenge, the Creature kills Frankenstein’s loved ones and flees to the Arctic and Victor’s pursuing him till the end. 

But it’s not a onefold story as you can empathize fully with all the characters of the book and it does make you think about different things, which makes the books worth reading. 

You can follow through the whole pursuit of the main character and antagonist and find out how the true story of the Creature and Victor Frankenstein ends. 

These were one of the best books set in the Arctic (or somewhere near), that will definitely complement your Arctic journey. They are so different but at the same time united by the majestic, hursh, and beautiful cold nature. 

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