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The Future of Ice: A Journey Into Cold

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  196 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
This book was written out of Gretel Ehrlich’s love for winter–for remote and cold places, for the ways winter frees our imagination and invigorates our feet, mind, and soul–and also out of the fear that our “democracy of gratification” has irreparably altered the climate.

Over the course of a year, Ehrlich experiences firsthand the myriad expressions of cold, giving us mar
Paperback, 200 pages
Published November 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Matt Hlinak
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Evan Leach
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was assigned this book in college, but never fell for it. Well written, but this one just didn't click for me (although nature writing is not one of my favorite genres). 2 stars.
Brian Wasserman
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
the prelude is really good, but the rest of the book is decent
Jan 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Ehrlich is a nature writer that has never taken me where Dillard or others can, but there is beauty in her images. I read this book quickly and perhaps it deserves more. It is about global warming, how it is affecting the cold regions, and what would happen is we became “de-seasoned” as winter disappears. She writes about the tip of the Tierra del Fuego in Chile, last stop before Antarctica, and Spitsbergen, at the tip of the other side of the world; also about Wyoming and following migrating ar ...more
It is not like I forgot that Gretel Erhlich existed. I knew she had published new books since her book about being struck by lightning (A Match to the Heart), I just hadn't read anything by her for a really long time.

What a mistake. Now I will have to go back to find the books I haven't read. Ehrlich is a superb writer. She has a way with words that made me want to read The Future of Ice out loud. From the beginning of the book until the end I was so envious. I have no desire to write for public
Aug 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
The Future of Ice follows nature writer Gretel Ehrlich over one year as she travels around the world, from glaciers in Tierra del Fuego (Chile), to a farm in Wyoming, to the Arctic Circle, searching for, and living in, winter. This marvelous, crisp, novel is filled with deft anecdotes along the way, as Ehrlich contemplates the possibility of the world becoming “deseasoned” due to global warming. Her narrative is a lesson in eloquence; part lament, part memoir, part environmental politic: “Rain s ...more
Радославъ Симѣонов
Има ли фенове на Gretel Ehrlich? Или поне някой да я е чувал? Не? Е, тогава ще споделя съвсем кратко мнение за тази нейна книга. Купих си я съвсем случайно - привлече ме уникалната корица, която на всичкото отгоре е и твърда. Заглавието само по себе си събуди интереса ми. Темата за глобалното затопляне винаги ми е била много на сърце и това беше още една причина да разгледам по-подробно за какво става въпрос. Само с един бърз поглед ми направи впечатление интересният похват, който използва автор ...more
Edward H. Busse, III
NO SPOILERS!! The author takes on some of her travels around the world in some beautifully cold places - the Arctic, Wyoming, S. America, etc. During the story, she talks about the relationship humans have with cold, ice and snow and what those things can teach us. She spends a great deal of time pontificating about glaciers and what they can teach us about life, love, economics, etc. In addition, how humans are changing the environment through our own actions (global warming, climate change) an ...more
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: water, essays, outside
It seems like Gretel Ehrlich has led such a beautiful life. Lonely at times, painful at times, but quiet and far-reaching and beautiful. She is associated with open spaces, mountains, sea. Montana, Wyoming, Northern California. Greenland. Now all of these cold places. Tierra del Fuego! How extraordinary! How can I live my life more like hers? She went to film school at UCLA, then "worked in film" for ten years. After the death of her fiance, she moved to a sheep ranch in Wyoming, where she staye ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ehrlich's lovesong to winter, The Future of Ice is part travelogue, part prose-poetry, part memoir of a year in winter. Provoked by the idea that climate change and a warming planet might swallow winter, Ehrlich travels from pole to pole -- from the southern end of the world, Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia, to lonely islands in the Arctic -- to consider winter. She hikes Torres del Paine, waits out a moose in a cabin in Wyoming, and survives a turbulent boat ride in the Norwegian Arctic. The pros ...more
Lisa/Bluestem Cafeohlai
While I appreciate the imagery and Ehrlich's personalized - yet detached - account of her experiences throughout this book, I didn't find myself empathizing with most of her ideas and principles. The strong impression this book left on me was of a bag of personal troubles couched as a concern for climate change. I don't know if she was numbed by her feeling of helplessness, against what she perceived in the world of ice (or if she was just cold) but her stream-of-consciousness verse-prose cascad ...more
Apr 08, 2012 added it
I must be getting old, because I have less patience for this kind of thing than I used to. I love nature writing, I love the concept, and I was looking forward to this book, but I feel disappointed. Environmentalist commentary is grafted awkwardly onto an obsession with the beauty of cold places. Her arguments are non-specific and have all been made before. She offers no solutions.

When she is standing on back of a glacier, I don't feel any awe. Just jealousy that she got to be there and not me.
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009-books
This book makes me long for Winter. Ehrlich's poetic writing style brings a unique outlook to the cold months in various places on the planet. From her home into Wyoming, to the depths of the Arctic circle - Ehrlich makes it clear that winter is disappearing. Being in Colorado in February, this fact hits close to home as we have hardly had any cold this year. She also continually points out that we are damaging the planet beyond repair, and that we must realize what we are loosing before its gon ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: partly-read
Another serendipitous find: was searching the shelves for Librarian's picks. This is lushly written, sensitive, poetic, imaginative. A writer's journey, not a scientist's. I'm in a winter phase right now: saw Herzog's Encounters at the end of the World and find myself wanting to know more about extreme people in extreme conditions. Also interested in environmental issues, of course, and this fits that bill to a nicety. She's a little precious sometimes, but I'm finding it easy to read in bits an ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Elizabeth by: seeing her speak
Lyrical, evocative, intimate. This book travels with her as she explores what cold means to us in these days as we question the changes we are witnessing in climate. I saw her and David Buckland speak in Chicago in November and her breadth of knowledge and adventure and courage were clear and led me to seek out her writing. Within the extreme quiet of snow and ice which runs beneath this book, a sense of her intelligent grappling with the world and with grief melts and freezes in turn.
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Alternate title: Cold, Desolate Places and the People Who Love Them. This book is nothing if not highly poetic and personal. The contrast between the stark, frigid imagery and mentions of a past miscarriage, death of a loved one, and time spent in a coma is as jarring as the extreme cold she chronicles. This book was a gift from the author and gave me a lot of insight into her history and how it may have shaped her as a person.
I've loved several of Ehrlich's other books (esp. The Solace of Open Spaces) and think she is a gorgeous writer. I like The Future of Ice most when she talked about her own experiences, like hiking in South America or living in her cabin in remote Montana. But the parts where she waxes poetic on the symbolism of ice and water (which I'm sure was the original theme for this book) did not grip me as much. Still, I will continue to look forward to more from Ehrlich.
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book deals more with nature than science, so the publisher categorized it correctly. Gretel Ehrlich has a grasp of scientific data regarding climate change, but she tends to tread softly on the subject, and the narrative is dragged down by non-connecting thoughts. The chapters carry an ethereal taste, not altogether inappropriate for the subject matter.

For ice fans, I'd suggest Joanna Kavenna's search for the mythical nordic land of Thule, THE ICE MUSEUM.
Oct 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
The book promises a tour of the cold places (north and south) and reflections upon how they will change as the world warms. What it delivers is a tour of Gretel Ehrlich and occasional observations on snow, ice, glaciers.

I believe the choppy disconnected delivery is intended to be lyrical, but it isn't. Furthermore, it just highlights how often Gretel starts a sentence with "I".
Hugely disappointing and dull.
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gretel Ehrlich is probably my favorite nature writer. She writes about wildlife and seasons with the same passion as she discusses her own life, politics, and eastern philosophy, Annie Proulx meets Gary Snyder. In this book she writes about winter's embrace, survival and beauty in the absence of light and warmth. She begins in a tent in a blizzard, backpacks the Chilean Andes, hunkers down in Wyoming, canoes frozen rivers and sails the Arctic in Norway.
Nov 11, 2008 rated it liked it
An outdoorsy friend is a big fan of Gretel Ehrlich, and I too admire her grit and wanderlust. On the other hand, I don't want to hear that she slept on pebbles in her friend's Japanese garden after suffering a miscarriage. Um, why?

Her firsthand accounts of traveling to Tierra Del Fuego and Spitsburgen were fresh, but I found the poetic prose overwritten.
Miko Lee
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gretel Ehrlich is such a remarkable, poetic writer. I don't know why I forget that until I read another of her lovely books. This melancholy lyrical journal chronicles the devastation of global warming on a very personal level. Sections of this book I read multiple times like I was savoring a really delicious bite of exotic fruit.
May 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I guess I liked this book okay but... it was boring. I expected an analysis at some point of what would happen if winter disappeared or how far down that road we are as a planet but instead got fantastical descriptions of her travels in winter laden places. Which was okay but not for the entire book. On a whole, I would recommend going with something else.
Fred Rose
Hmm, not great. Her book on Greenland was much better, talked more about the place, the history, the people. This was more musing, relationship issues, and not as immersive. It is interesting though, that this book is 10 years old and was already talking about big changes in the Arctic from climate change.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
poetic, thoughtful meditation on climate change, winter, and the power of solitude. This is an incredibly beautiful, heart-breaking, yet hopeful, plea for us to recognize our place in the world and act to change our cultural environmental ethic.
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
I couldn't find the prose amidst the adjectives. This was just too hard to wade through, no matter how much I longed to read of glacier hikes and the search for winter. This one sent me off into Sleepville. Oh well.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Superb investigation and fact finding. Unfortunately written with a bit too much poetic wandering of the female mind. This woman lives the life that would kill a strong man but writes with a bit too many flowers in her hair.
Sarah Klaassen
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
lovely writing and economy of language
a touch of the personal alongside musings that are global in scope
gently yet firmly reminds us of the interrelationships of all things
has me rethinking my own bitter relationship with cold
my first encounter with Ehrlich, and here's to more
Chelsea Zwayer
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
It's beautifully written, but the book itself feels frozen. After a hundred pages of just going with the author's musings, I was impatient for a point that I only ever got glimpses of. One of those things that would have been more effective in shorter form. Still, have to love the poetry of it.
Amanda Witt
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful description of ice and snow in cold climates, with inspiring wording throughout.
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Gretel Ehrlich is an American travel writer, novelist, essayist, and poet born on a horse ranch near Santa Barbara, California and educated at both Bennington College in Vermont and UCLA film school. After working in film for 10 years and following the death of a loved one, she began writing full-time in 1978 while living on a Wyoming ranch where she had been filming. Her first book, The Solace o ...more
More about Gretel Ehrlich...
“Love life first, then march through the gates of each season; go inside nature and develop the discipline to stop destructive behavior; learn tenderness toward experience, then make decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell you; act accordingly.” 14 likes
“The retreat and disappearance of glaciers—there are only 160,000 left—means we're burning libraries and damaging the planet, possibly beyond repair. Bit by bit, glacier by glacier, rib by rib, we're living the Fall.” 3 likes
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