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

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  726 Ratings  ·  110 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 September 22nd 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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John Legge
Dec 20, 2007 John Legge rated it liked it
Fascinating adventure story. Interesting to imagine such an extreme circumstance. But, also got tired of a story that began to feel very narcissistic.
Sep 10, 2008 Kristy rated it really liked it
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 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
Oct 30, 2008 Kathy rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 26, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing
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.

Ed Smiley
May 23, 2009 Ed Smiley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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,
Mar 20, 2010 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Schmerica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2010 Marcia rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 13, 2011 Jason rated it it was amazing
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?"
May 10, 2011 Jean rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2011 Al rated it liked it
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
Apr 22, 2014 Patti rated it it was amazing
This is like no other story I have ever read. Synopsis does not mention he shares his experience unexpectedly with a beloved cat.
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!)
Aug 19, 2012 Cammie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books

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
Sep 19, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it
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
Nan Shellabarger
Jan 11, 2013 Nan Shellabarger rated it liked it
Essential to rad if you like the frozen north. But I confess I liked the book but did not admire the author as a character.
Kim Hay
Jul 27, 2013 Kim Hay rated it really liked it
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
Jul 06, 2013 Norman rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
Incredibly self absorbed. I guess it's a good warning of what not to become.
Aug 20, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2013 Brook rated it it was ok
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.
Feb 28, 2016 Yrsa rated it really liked it
Heh, when I read this I was on an extreme journey of my own. I read it all within 36 hours, only sleeping for three of them. I also went to work. My sleep deprived state eventually led to inspiration: I decided to sleep outside and test the new sleeping bag, rated to 20 F. There's more to that story, but the point is, this book makes me want to get out of the house and do things. The poetry lies in the actions.
I seldom read nonfiction, but I'm glad I read this. It was a very easy read and hard t
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
Apr 14, 2016 Naresh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It starts with a simple, meaningless event. Then it stays. It grows vivid as the time passes. At times, it almost feels like you are there. That nagging feeling in the back of you head. It overwhelms everything else. A decision is made and the pieces fall into place.

North of the Night is the story of one such dream turned to reality. A sailor who had travelled throughout the world, yet wasn't satisfied. He hasn't challenged himself enough. How could he be satisfied, he has seen himself walking i
Liz Gillooly
Dec 20, 2014 Liz Gillooly rated it really liked it
A very interesting story about a man’s desire to spend a winter in the arctic aboard his boat. Having already circumnavigated for the past 12 years, he convinces his wife that he MUST travel north for one winter. I often found his whole thought process a little troubling and didn’t fully understand his deep desire to accomplish this feat, but he was a beautiful writer and the descriptions were amazing.
Karina van Schaardenburg
I would have divorced Alvah at about 10 different points in this book.
Aug 28, 2015 Michaeljhylton rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marilee Steffen
Jan 17, 2016 Marilee Steffen rated it really liked it
Alvah Simon describes his occupation as "adventurer". In the summer of 1994, Simon and his wife Diana set off from Camden, Maine in their 36 foot sailboat to explore and winter high above the Arctic Circle. Their journey takes them to Tay Bay where they are locked into the frozen sea ice for 5 months. Unforeseen circumstances leave Simon alone, 100 miles from the nearest settlement, battling blizzards, polar bears and unending darkness. His only companion is his cat, Halifax.
Apr 19, 2016 Bruce rated it liked it
There are all manner of categories that people can be divided into. One of them is those who tempt fate by taking unnecessary risks, and the other is those who live vicariously through them. I have both feet firmly planted in the latter group, so far be it for me to critique those who actually stick their necks out for my entertainment. Suffice to say I'll never understand the motivation of those who risk death for the sake of (fill in the blank.) I suppose it varies from person to person. Our m ...more
Rajiv Chopra
Apr 23, 2016 Rajiv Chopra rated it it was amazing
I have seen that some reviewers thought of Alvah Simon is a narcissist, and maybe his is.

Having said that, going into the Arctic, and spending the winter there is quite an achievement. I would like to bow three times to him, in the Japanese / Korean fashion. Respect, Respect, Respect

Respect for the lucid manner in which he writes. Without this, the book would have been one long drone. He does not make himself seem to be a hero. He does recognise his own urge to conquer new spaces.

Respect for h
Sep 12, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it
3.5 stars really. Great read but I'm not a big fan of the author and some of the choices he made in the book.
Chris Bartholomew
Aug 08, 2016 Chris Bartholomew rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable. A true story. Alvah and his wife have traveled the world by small craft exploring places and cultures that few of us will ever have exposure to. Yet Alvah feels his is missing a fundamental life experience. Heading north against his normally adventurous wife's misgivings he plains to overwinter as far north into the Artic as he feels he can push himself to go. The reader is given a key hole to peak through to see "cold" in a whole new way. The writer also shares enough of himself ...more
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