Best Arctic Books & Travel Reading List

Our experts list their favorite Arctic books. Whether you are dreaming of a trip to the Arctic or are preparing for an Arctic cruise, our Arctic reading list will help you prepare for the adventure of lifetime.

Our Arctic book recommendations are perfect for travelers to the Arctic, North Pole, Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, Northwest Passage, Canadian Arctic. This Arctic reading list will enhance your travel with an impressive understanding of Arctic animals, natural history, Arctic exploration and more. Arctic and North Pole maps help you plan and track your adventure.

IN THIS POST – Arctic Books & Maps:
Best Books About the Arctic
Books About Arctic Exploration
Book on Arctic Animals
Arctic Maps
Arctic Travel Resources

A collage of book covers of the top Arctic books and recommended reading when preparing for an Arctic cruise.
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Best Books About the Arctic – Essential Reading

An essential reading list for anyone traveling to or interested in the Arctic. Our experts recommend their favorite books about Arctic natural history, wildlife and human interaction in northern lands.

Cover of A Naturalists Guide to the Arctic by E C Pielou

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Arctic

E.C Pielou

This book is a practical, portable guide to all of the Arctic’s natural history—sky, atmosphere, terrain, ice, the sea, plants, birds, mammals, fish, and insects—for those who will experience the Arctic firsthand and for armchair travelers who would just as soon read about its splendors and surprises.

Book cover of Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

Arctic Dreams

by Barry Lopez

This New York Times–bestselling exploration of the Arctic, a National Book Award winner, is “one of the finest books ever written about the far North” (Publishers Weekly).

Magazine cover of National Geographic  The Arctic Is heating up September 2019

The Arctic is Heating Up (Sep, 2019)

National Geographic Magazine

This single issue magazine will open your eyes to modern arctic challenges. A must read, especially aboard a National Geographic trip.

Arctic book cover of A Woman in the Polar Night by Chrsitiane Ritter

A Woman in the Polar Night

Christiane Ritter

Whether or not you ever plan a trip to the Arctic, A Woman in the Polar Night offers thoughtful reflections on isolation and the place the natural world holds in the human psyche.

A picture of the book cover of Never Cry Wolf : Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves by Farley Mowat

Never Cry Wolf : Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves

Farley Mowat

Mowat’s account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone-studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves (who were of no threat to caribou or man) and for a friendly Inuit tribe known as the Ihalmiut (“People of the Deer”)-is a work that has become cherished by generations of readers, an indelible record of the myths and magic of wild wolves.

Front and back photos of the book cover of The Magentic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle by Sara Wheeler

The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle

Sara Wheeler

Inspired by the spiraling shape of a reindeer-horn bangle, she travels counterclockwise around the North Pole through the territories belonging to Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, marking the transformations of what once seemed an unchangeable landscape. As she witnesses the mounting pollution concentrated at the pole, Wheeler reckons with the illness of the whole organism of the earth.

Best Books About Arctic Exploration

Books about Arctic Exploration are favorites of adventure travelers. Read tales of extreme conditions and hardship from the comfort of your small ship cruise or your couch. Arctic exploration books are sure to inspire a greater appreciation of the land and the people who first ventured into it.

Arctic book cover of The Last Viking by Stephen Brown

The Last Viking: The Extraordinary Life of Roald Amundsen

Stephen Brown

The most feted explorer of his generation, Amundsen counted the discovery of the Northwest Passage, in 1905, as well as the North Pole amongst his greatest achievements.

Cover of the book In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides

In the Kingdom of Ice

Hampton Sides

New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age

Cover of the book A history of Arctic Exploration

A History of Arctic Exploration: Discovery, Adventure and Endurance at the Top of the World

Juhu Nurminen, Matti Lainema

Filled with rare illustrations, this book on Arctic exploration tells stories of triumph and tragedy in the search for the fabled Northwest Passage and the race for the North Pole. An out of print favorite, sometimes used copies are available.

Cover of the book Innocents in the Arctic: The 1951 Spitsbergen Expedition by Colin Bull

Innocents in the Arctic: The 1951 Spitsbergen Expedition

Colin Bull

Driven by the desire for scientific discovery and adventure, ten naive young men ventured north to the nearly uninhabited, ice-covered island of Spitsbergen in 1951. Scientific progress ensued, but so did misfortunes wrought by calamitous weather, an unworthy ship, and an entertaining but ill-informed approach to arctic survival.

Book cover of Roald Amundsen's The North West Passage: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship Gjöa 1903-1907

Roald Amundsen’s The North West Passage: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship Gjöa 1903-1907

Roald Amundsen

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

Arctic book cover of Voyage of the Narwhal a Novel by Andrea Barrett

Voyage of the Narwhal: A Novel

Andrea Barrett

Capturing a crucial moment in the history of exploration—the mid-nineteenth century romance with the Arctic—Andrea Barrett’s compelling novel tells the story of a fateful expedition.

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Arctic Animal Books

Books about Arctic animals are essential to any successful Arctic trip. Find our top Arctic animal books about polar bears, field guides, birds and more to enhance your next trip. Learn about polar bears, birds, whales and wildlife of the arctic.

Cover of the Book Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species by Ian Stirling

Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species

Ian Stirling

Renowned Polar bear scientist Dr. Ian Stirling compresses 40 years of research on these iconic mammals into a new and comprehensive natural history. In accessible language, he explains their evolution, life history, behavior, how they are researched, and the current threat to their very existence.

Arctic book cover of the World of the Polar Bear by Norbert Rosing

The World of the Polar Bear

Norbert Rosing

The polar bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore in the world, uniquely adapted to thrive in the harsh environment of the Far North. In The World of the Polar Bear, renowned nature photographer Norbert Rosing follows the polar bear through each season of the year.

Cover of the book The Arctic A guide to coastal wildlife by Tony Soper

The Arctic: A guide to coastal wildlife (Bradt Travel Guide)

Tony Soper

An engaging and beautifully illustrated full-colour guide to some of the most exciting wildlife in the world in an area about to see a significant increase in visitor numbers as a direct result of changes in the ice cover of the Arctic Ocean. Bradt’s Arctic Wildlife is an ideal companion on board and on shore.

Book cover of The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North (Princeton Field Guides)

The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North (Princeton Field Guides)

Sharon Chester

The Arctic Guide presents the traveler and naturalist with a portable, authoritative guide to the flora and fauna of earth’s northernmost region. Featuring superb color illustrations, this one-of-a-kind book covers the complete spectrum of wildlife―more than 800 species of plants, fishes, butterflies, birds, and mammals.

Book cover of Wildlife of the Arctic (Princeton Pocket Guides) by Richard Sale

Wildlife of the Arctic (Princeton Pocket Guides)

Richard Sale

Wildlife of the Arctic is an accessible and richly illustrated pocket-sized photographic field guide to the birds, land and sea mammals, and plants and lichens of the northern polar region–including Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and Russia.

Front cover of the book A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife by Richard Sale

A Complete Guide to Arctic Wildlife

Richard Sale

This is the ideal guidebook to the wildlife of the Arctic, which is undergoing such a perilous change. Polar expert Richard Sale describes the ecological and human dynamics of the Arctic as a whole, with detailed information about the peoples of the region and their history.

A picture of Arctic Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Animals & Plants of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions

Arctic Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Animals & Plants of the Arctic and Subarctic Regions

James Kavanagh, Raymond Leung, Waterford Press

This beautifully illustrated guide highlights over 140 familiar and unique species. Laminated for durability, this lightweight, pocket-sized folding guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use by novice and expert explorers alike.

Arctic Travel Guide Books

Arctic travel guide books are full of interesting references and information and can be a great resource for Arctic travelers. Our experts hand picked our favorite Arctic guide books.

Cover of the Arctic travel guide book Svalbard: Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Franz Josef Land (Bradt Travel Guide)

Svalbard: Spitsbergen, Jan Mayen, Franz Josef Land (Bradt Travel Guide)

Andreas Umbreit, James Proctor, Roger Norum, Anika Paust

The Bradt guide to Svalbard, including Spitsbergen, Franz Josef Land and Jan Mayen, is a unique, standalone guidebook to this evocative Arctic archipelago

Guide book cover of Lonely Planet Greeland and the Arctic

Greenland & The Arctic (Lonely Planet Travel Guides)

Etai O’Carroll, Mark Elliott

Kayak past towering icebergs, dog-sled frozen tundra to picture-postcard villages, marvel at the midnight sun or dancing northern lights – Greenland and the Arctic are the perfect backdrop to an unforgettable experience. Whether you crave quiet solitude or bold adventure, this inspiring and practical guide takes you to the heart of the cold north.

Cover of the Rough Guide to Iceland

The Rough Guide to Iceland

Rough Guides

Practical travel guide to Iceland with a free eBook featuring points-of-interest structured lists of all sights and off-the-beaten-track treasures, with detailed colour-coded maps, practical details about what to see and to do in Iceland, how to get there and around, pre-departure information, as well as top time-saving tips, like a visual list of things not to miss in Iceland, expert author picks and itineraries to help you plan your trip. 

Cover of the Brandt Travel Guide Lapland

Lapland (Bradt Travel Guide)

James Proctor

This thoroughly updated fourth edition of Bradt’s Lapland is the only standalone guidebook in English to this wintry wonderland, a region spanning the northernmost fringes of Norway, Sweden and Finland where there are as many reindeer as people, it never gets dark in summer and never gets light in mid-winter.

Arctic Maps

Arctic maps to help you understand the polar region or track your route as you travel. Our experts have selected the best Arctic maps for your next trip.

Spitsbergen Explorer Map

Ocean Explorer Maps

Old school travelers like to track their route on a paper map. This one is great. This map covers the Spitsbergen Arctic archipelago now more commonly referred to as Svalbard. The map includes useful annotations; on the reverse there are excellent biographical summaries of 27 noted explorers plus brief descriptions and color photographs of the more common plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals.

North Circumpolar Region Wall Map

Natural Resources Canada

This bilingual map shows the geography of the northern circumpolar region, north of approximately 55 degrees, at a scale of 1:9 000 000.

Iceland National Geographic Adventure Map

National Geographic Maps

Let National Geographic’s Iceland Adventure Map guide you as you discover the pristine nature and unique scenery on this Nordic island. The expertly researched map, with its accurate and detailed information, is designed to meet the needs of adventure travelers.

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