12 May 2010

On Ice in Antarctica Challenge

Just over a week ago we reached AntarcticaMarika, our new friend at Mc Murdo Station, has been answering our questions and leaving us wide eyed and slack jawed, there is so much about that far away continent about which we had no idea.  For example, we learned that there is a library in Antarctica:
The current residents of Mc Murdo Station, Antarctica (thanks
to Marika's blog 
Live from the Ice)--what
books would you leave for these fine folk to read?
"We have a library and it is awesome!  People bring a ton of books here and then donate them when they go off-Ice.  So, you'd be surprised at the collection we have.  (The Library) is the best place on station, as far as I'm concerned, because it's always quiet and usually you can be there completely alone.  In a tiny place such as this, even with so few people, you'd be surprised how difficult it is to get alone time."  
In honor of Marika who enlightened us on the Mc Murdo Station library, and how they acquire many of their titles, we offer the "On Ice in Antarctica Challenge."  If you could only bring a few titles to leave for future visitors to Mc Murdo Station, what books would you choose.  Remember, these amazing folks are ice bound for months at a time, so choose wisely!

Please use the following format for your comment:
Title of Book, Author, and your thoughts on the book --why you think an inhabitant of Antarctica would like to read this through the long winter.

In closing, a little fact that blew the Four of Us away: 
ANTARCTICA is a Desert!  Antarctica can be classified as a desert by this definition:  a region that has less than 254 mm (10 in) of annual rainfall or precipitation. In the interior of the continent the average annual precipitation (in *equivalent of water) is only about 50 mm (about 2 in), less than the Sahara.  Along the coast, this increases, but is still only about 200 mm (8 in) in *equivalent of water. Heavy snowfalls occur when cyclonic storms pick up moisture from the surrounding seas and then deposit this moisture as snow along the coasts. Unlike other deserts, there is little evaporation from Antarctica, so the relatively little snow that does fall, doesn't go away again. Instead it builds up over hundreds and thousands of years into enormously thick ice sheets.  (*this precipitation doesn't fall as water of course, but as snow, the "water equivalent" is the amount of water you would get if the snowfall were collected and melted.)  Quote from www.coolantarctica.com


  1. This short list would keep a person occupied for a while:

    a Books for Walls favorite: Moby Dick by Herman Melville because a challenge and a classic and a fantastic story to be read over and over.

    The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazney, this will keep any lover of fantasy busy for a while.

    The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I would like to have my own copy of this book back, but I cannot remember who I loaned it to... it's a classic and there are so many stories, good reading.

  2. I cannot decide between leaving classics or new stuff. So I will begin with one book and be back with more...

    Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, because I like the way this book feels in my hand --its pages are littered with post-its and every time I pick it up I am drawn into this story of community and perfect characters and a deep wisdom only Wendell Berry can conjure. And I imagine that if I were "On Ice" in Antarctica Port William is a place I would love to go in my mind.

  3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    They are really great books and you can read them over and over --people young and old and in between would like them.

  4. Anonymous8:48 PM

    Toot and Puddle by Hollie Hobbie --the original.

    Because my nickname is Toot and so I really love the book! I could read it one thousand or one billion times, its sooooo good. You can read it anywhere, if you like to travel or stay home --even in the library at Antarctica.

  5. Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson

    Maybe the last thing anyone in Antarctica wants to read about is more snow, but Guterson's work is breathtakingly poetic. I fell in love with this book years & years ago... there was a time when I bought it for at least one person every holiday season... although it delves into the remembrances of a historical period involving conflict between Japanese and American folk, its subject matter is timeless. The mysterious 'who done it' & court room drama storytelling beautifully complement the interracial love story and sadness surrounding the loss of this strong, dear, man. Guterson makes us feel the story, down deep.

  6. I have a sweatshirt that reads, "Meditate: Don't just do something, sit there!" For over 10 years I've been in the habit of starting each day with a brief meditation. I would want to continue that if I were in Antactica. I have used many books to get me going, but there are two that I return to over and over.

    One is, Listening to Your Life, Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner. (Thank you John, for already recommending him, though in another context.) I sent this to my literate godson once and he wrote back. "I cheated. I couldn't stop with one a day. I read it straight through."

    Two is, All Saints by Robert Ellsberg. Kenneth L. Woodward, Religion Editor of Newsweek , says of it, "A richly imagined collection of mediating figures in a spiritual communion of many faiths." Here, each day, you meet a new and fascinating person. Some with "Saint" in front of their names, but many without -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Dorothy Day, Mahatma Ghandi, Takashi Nagai -- people whose names are familiar, others you've never heard of before. But all who give insight to the power of the human spirit.

    Such an exercise gives food for thought throughout the day and, if you are in a situation where others might also participate in the same reading, the possibility of sharing thoughts and/or starting a really interesting conversation that has to do with something other than the weather.

  7. Revisiting some well loved classics...this summer I want to re-read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I would leave them behind for the Mc Murdo Station library in a heart beat.

    I would also leave behind A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. A visit to the warmth of India's climate, culture, and food would be a welcome escape. I completely enjoyed this book's honest look at contemporary India.

  8. I would leave behind The Mysterious Benedict Scoicity sieres writen by Trenton Lee Stewart.
    They are wonderful books that will make you think and explore (witch I love in books!).
    And exploring is just what will get your mind off of how cold you are!

  9. Books to leave for others at the McMurdo Station…hhhhmmm…three come to mind after much pondering.

    All Saints by Robert Ellsberg, is my first choice, like jolylynbarrett. A dear Jesuit friend said he gives this treasured book as a Christmas gift. Folks from all faiths, cultures, and ranks are highlighted as “Witnesses for Our Times” with quotes, a brief history and reflection. Truly inspiring reading for meditation as well as learning!

    Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson who is a real-life Indiana Jones character with a humanitarian goal in Taliban territory is my second.

    Mortenson’s quest for meaning, mission, as well as adventure might mirror and inspire the McMurdo Crew. The book would be a great read to discuss.

    The Oxford Concise English Dictionary with all the amazing word etymologies is my third choice. Great for word comprehension and for those long scrabble games on a snowy winter’s eve.

    Kudos to Marika and the whole McMurdo Crew!

  10. I would find it difficult to be anywhere for any length of time without poetry. So I would take with me books that I often take down from their shelf for reference, remembrance, and reflection. The Prophet, a book of prose poems by Kahlil Gibran; and a volume (complete if available) of the poetry of each of my four favorite poets: in alphabetical order: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Rainer Maria Rilke. And sometimes I would read aloud from them with others, and we would share our thoughts and insights, and I would leave the books behind so others could do the same.

  11. The Kabul beauty school by Deborah Rodriguez. It's about a woman in an environment very foreign to her, creating something amazing and fun. This popped into my head cause it is somwhere hot, I got a sense of isolation from how the women live and a bit of beauty never goes astray.

    A course in miracles I love what it promotes but wow it is big and has lots you need to do. Hopefully antarctica provides the peace and focus required.