North To The Night: A Spiritual Odyssey In The Arctic
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North To The Night: A Spiritual Odyssey In The Arctic

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  501 ratings  ·  85 reviews
In June of 1994 Alvah Simon and his wife, Diana, set off in their 36-foot sailboat to explore the hauntingly beautiful world of icebergs, tundra, and fjords lying high above the Arctic Circle. Four months later, unexpected events would trap Simon alone on his boat, frozen in ice 100 miles from the nearest settlement, with the long polar night stretching into darkness for m...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Mainstream Publishing (first published 1998)
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Cammie

Once in a great while you come across one of those books that you feel you must limit your daily reading because it is so good you don't want it to end. If you're looking for a fantastic read, check out "North to the Night: A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic", by Alvah Simon. My Dad sent this to me after he kayaked Ellsemere Island but passed away before I got around to reading it. I've always felt that people give you books because there is something they want you to know about them. I wish he...more
Cidherman
This is an excellent adventure story. I enjoyed it immensely and so have the people I have recommended it to. Read it! It is an amazing journey that you think these people are nuts for embarking on. At the same time you are so glad they did, and shared the triumphs and close calls with a vividly written account. This story really make you understand what the experience was like and how it felt to be there. ( not to mention, how happy you are that you weren't there!)
Jean
This is the story of a man (Alvah) staying alone on a sailboat frozen in in a harbor in the Canadian high Arctic through one entire winter. The initial plan was for him and his wife to be there, but she was called away to be with her father in New Zealand on his deathbed. As Alvah described his bouts with seeming insanity and irrationality, I wondered how long it would take him to realize it was CO poisoning. Lucky for him, it wasn't a terribly high concentration, because he never did figure it...more
Jason
Once you get past the first "ramping up" pages, the book is a fast and fun read. The author and his wife plan to ice themselves in their steel-hulled sailboat in the Arctic for a year. This planned adventure becomes a story of survival. A boat load of historical knowledge is given by the author throughout the book, but just enough as to not bore the reader with mundane information. An exciting read that will have you asking the author, "What the f*ck were you thinking?"
Marcia
I'm usually not a fan of "adventures of people who their common sense button turned off" but this one was different. Very moving story. Well-written. And while the goal was crazy, they made good, practical decisions along the way. I was happy for their success.
Patti
This is like no other story I have ever read. Synopsis does not mention he shares his experience unexpectedly with a beloved cat.
Marjorie
North to the Night: A year in the Arctic Ice reminded me of the dark winter Alvah Simon spent on the Roger Henry, frozen in the ice of Tay Bay - long and exacting. This memoir is focused on the minutia of Simon's survival. About half way through the book, the author's description of the winter darkness and extreme cold seemed interminable, and I considered putting it aside. But I didn't and was glad I persisted.

It was fascinating to hear his passionate and almost obsessive drive to spend that y...more
Kim Hay
Following his "Arctic dreams" that began with a photograph of the haggard crew of the ill-fated ship Endurance, Alvah Simon and his wife, Diana, set sail to winter in the high north. "We call them explorers, but I knew that look in their eyes," Simon writes of the early Arctic adventurers. "They were seekers, and that is a different thing." With self-discovery as a deeper agenda, the couple ventures into Tay Bay of remote Bylot Island; it is their ultima Thule--"the Last Unknown." Their small bo...more
Brook
October 21, 2007

Here’s the thing about North to the Night: I spent the whole book wishing death on our intrepid explorer and knowing it wouldn’t come. Before you cry “spoiler,” let me explain. North to the Night is the nonfiction, first person account of Alvah Simon, a guy from upstate New York who decided to spend a year living in the Arctic Circle on a 36-foot sailboat. As a narrator, he was annoying, arrogant, and unbearably smug.

I admit I did not start this book with the most open of minds....more
Al
Mr. Simon is a professional thrill-seeker, always pushing his personal limits to test himself. On the brink of calling it a career, and past 40, he opts for one more grand quest, to spend a winter frozen in Arctic Ice on a sailboat, despite his beloved (?) wife's trepidations and his own promises to her. Why does he do this? Don't ask. Still, she goes along. They prepare well, but of course, things happen. In the end, they overcome (or there would be no book). If the story were only half-true,...more
Julie
I saw this book on my sister's nightstand and asked to borrow it, although the subtitle looked iffy. I was pleasantly surprised to be carried away by the swift narrative. Highly recommended for anyone interested in arctic adventure stories and gripping description of overwintering above the Arctic Circle. The narrator is not lacking a sense of humor or proportion. He is aware that his "big adventure to remote places where people nonetheless live" motives could be seen as silly (not only by the n...more
Stephanie
Mar 20, 2010 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Schmerica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
For lovers of nature and great adventure stories, this memoir is for you. Alvah Simon and his wife Diana sailed the tropical southern seas for years on a small sailboat, landing wherever they pleased, earning what money they needed, then moving on again. One of Alvah's life goals was to sail north to the Arctic, get the boat frozen into the ice pack, and winter over through the dark and the cold and inaccessibility. This book is the tale of that winter, and it's a great one. Simon is a very stro...more
maggie
Oh oh - a book about boats - keels, rudders, outboard motors, rations and the 'dangers of the deep'. But although this book has all of these things, the writer describes so well the nature that surrounds him alongside his inner journey that we are drawn into this frozen world beyond our (well most of us) experience. Utterly absorbing and admirable.
Andrea
I don't normally read these kinds of books but something drew me to it. I think it was the fact he brought along a cat to share the adventure! I enjoyed the book so much I looked up the couple online and read about more of their adventures. Amazing and I wish them the best!
Ed Smiley
This is a travel adventure story. But it is far more than that. It is evocative of the deepest and most mysterious longings of the human race.

This is a book worth reading, and in my case at least re-reading.

The book describes an attempt of the author to confront his demons in one last great adventure to winter in the far north along with his wife. Without adding spoilers, I would say that the adventure takes several unexpected turns, in a very human spiritual confrontation with loneliness, fear,...more
Kristy
Great book. Really made me think about living, loving, and exploring and how that relates to my life. I would have liked to read more details about how they prepared for their trip and what a general schedule for them looks like. Basically I wish this book was hundreds of pages longer. I was sad when I finished it....now I need to go research more books about sailing, living remotely, and the arctic. After finishing this book I googled the author and discovered that he has a sailing blog. I also...more
Bruce
Nov 25, 2013 Bruce added it
Shelves: adventure
Excellent account of what it would be like to spend a year in the arctic, frozen into the ice in a small sail boat for a good part of it. From the personal side, (how to spend time whilst the long arctic winter passes, life with a cat in the arctic), to the technical side (Staying in touch with the outside world, keeping the boat from sinking) to the explorer side (adventures with polar bears, gyre falcons, arctic foxes) this is a fascinating story. I truly enjoyed this book.
Nancy
I loved this book, though like most of these true adventure novels, it's hard for me to imagine what motivates them to risk their lives the way they do. I particularly liked all the stuff in this book about the Arctic itself, the native people, the wild life, the danger of the ice, etc. Perhaps the only part I found hard to swallow is when he says he stared down the polar bear, shades of Davy Crockett. If that really happened, then this guy really is crazy.

Lindsay Eaton
This is an amazing book - the story of how Alvah and Diana Simon, together with Halifax the cat, sail their 36-foot steel cutter Roger Henry high above the Arctic Circle and winter in Tay Bay, Bylot Island. Great adventure story - very well-written - and full of fascinating detail about the landscape, the customs and culture of the Inuit people, the wildlife, sailing and heaps of other stuff - for me in was pretty much un-put-downable. Highly recommended.
William
Wonderful, beautiful, and thrilling story about a man's courage, determination, and spirituality. And a good geography lesson to boot. While some may think that the author and protagonist may have gone mad, in reality this is a tale of following your heart and its beckoning to the ultimate degree of soul searching and of geographic latitude. It's one of those book of which I have purchased several copies to give away to friends as gifts.
Kathy
This is definitely a unique tale about a man who decides it would be a wise idea to sail his boat into the artic and freeze his boat in the ice for the winter. Even crazier is that his wife agreed to go with him.

I couldn't put it down because I had to know what the experience was like, but I had a hard time feeling at all sorry for him, because well, maybe humans aren't supposed to do these sorts of things.

Worth reading.
Saadiah
Is Alvah Simon completely nuts? What kind of person decides it would be a great idea to spend an entire winter in a small yacht marooned in the Canadian ice far north of the Arctic Circle, in one of the world's least hospitable environments? Still - this book is a gripping read and almost makes you want to chuck in your day job, buy a boat and head "north to Alaska" (or Canada, even)... almost being the operative word here.
Seth Robins
Very extreme adventure. Planning for quesstimated, but unpredicted, technical issues and learning from the Inuit when things really get hairy. Modern high tech equipment proved less than adequate in certain circumstances. Speaks to "old school" solutions and "in the now" spot creativity. The author's efforts to learn everything necessary to survive, and his ability to "figure stuff out" on the fly is captivating.
Melanie
This book made me want to quit my day job and head off on an adventure. I liked how the writer acknowledged his ignorance of certain subjects pertaining to survival in the artic, and I also admire how he dealt with the locals - he wanted to be one of them, yet was fully aware of his outsider position. Very satisfying travel book - much more than your typical "I went here and did this" type of narrative.
Mindy
This non-fiction book was very interesting in that it was about something I knew little about and a situation I would never be in. There was more detail than I needed about the specifics of boating, but his description of the Arctic itself was fascinating. Why someone would ever willingly put themselves in the situation he put himself into is beyond me, so I loved reading about it.
Deb
Surprisingly well written narrative account of author Alvah Simon's spiritual journey/adventures while spending a year alone in the Arctic. A trek inspired by his, and his wife's, interest in studying primitive man's symbiance with nature and his ability to adapt to his environment. The book starts out a little slow, but the pace improves as you get further into the story.
Marsha
Alvah Simon wanted to go north into the Artic away from any hint of people. He ends up spending months on his sailboat frozen in the Artic Ice with his cat. The book is the story of his journey and how he survived. Right up there with "Into Thin Air" which I also liked. A well written non-fiction story of adventure and the human spirit
TJ
Alvah sails North into the Arctic to spend the winter aboard his sailboat - locked in ice in the pitch black of constant night.

The book is very interesting - tails of encounters with polar bears, fox, and arctic birds. The was a bit of a difficult read, which is why I didn't give it more stars, but definitely worth the read.
Chad
The story of adventurer and sailor, Alvah's Simon's trip to Arctic Circle. He spent the winter frozen in pack ice in near complete darkness. Its a great story of how humans can endure extremes both in terms of weather and solitude. It doesn't receive a perfect score because I found subtle references to religion to be annoying.
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North to the Night - a Year in the Artic Ice National Trust Handbook

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