Exploring the Arctic at NYPL: A Reading List

By Elizabeth Cronin, Robert B. Menschel Curator of Photography
March 14, 2024
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The New York Public Library's new exhibition The Awe of the Arctic: A Visual History, on display at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building through July 13, 2024, offers a visually dazzling survey of how the Arctic has been visually depicted, defined, and imagined over the past 500 years. It also invites us to consider how this history relates to our current understanding of the Arctic. To accompany the exhibition, this reading list offers a range of perspectives on this astounding region, including first-hand accounts, histories of expeditions to the Arctic, biographies of both its famous explorers and lesser-known heroes, classic literature, recent novels, children’s books, and contemporary artist’s monographs. Literature on the Arctic is as extensive as it is fascinating—this selected list is only the tip of the iceberg.

collage of five book covers

From Our Research Collections

Looking to explore further? We have even more titles in our research collections, which are accessible on-site to anyone with a library card. Find out how to access research materials and get started today. Check out the titles below to learn even more about the Arctic and its history—remember to wrap up warm!

Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic by Jennifer Niven

Arctic Heroes by Ragnar Axelsson

A History of the Arctic: Nature, Exploration and Exploitation by John McCannon

Keepers of the Ocean by Inuuteq Storch

Lady Franklin's Revenge: A True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Arctic History by Ken McGoogan

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

The Life and Times of Augustine Tataneuck: An Inuk Hero in Rupert’s Land, 1800–1834 by Rennee Fossett

Polar Explorations: To the Ends of the Earth by Sebastian Copeland

The Polar Silk Road by Gregor Sailer

Polar Wives: The Remarkable Women Behind the World's Most Daring Explorers by Kari Herbert

A Promise Is a Promise  by Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, Robert N. Munsch and Vladyana Krykorka

Siberian Summer by Olaf Otto Becker

This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich

A Woman in the Polar Night by Christiane Ritter

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.