Heat Wave Reading

10 Jul

We are in the midst of a heat wave. By many standards, this is nothing and I am being a weenie.

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I know it is hotter in many parts of the world. And yes, this is a dry heat, not a humid one, but I do not enjoy hot weather.

Right  now, it is winter in Antarctica. Here’s the forecast for McMurdo Station, Antarctica

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I don’t really want to be there either, but I can read about it and think cool thoughts, curled up with Nick Bertozzi’s  Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey.

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This is a short graphic novel which compresses the narrative, but provides a good introduction to the Antarctic adventure on the Endurance.  Bertozzi’s pen & ink drawings capture the bleakness of the environment and the situation, while portraying the camaraderie among the men. The book includes an Afterword and a variety of sources for readers who want to learn more.

Another really good book I read about surviving disasters in antarctica was  Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts.

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This story is about an Antarctic expedition you’ve never heard of, but it is way more dramatic than Shackleton’s. And it has a less happy ending. Here is the Goodreads summary:

On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface.

Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, “Which one are you?”

This thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic photographs, many never before published in the United States.

This book is written for an adult audience but good middle and high school readers could manage it. If you enjoy reading about Shackleton, I highly recommend this book. You will be in awe of Douglas Mawson’s will to survive.

And, maybe, you will feel a little cooler in the heat of the summer.

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