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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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,072 ratings  ·  140 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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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  1,072 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Joy D
“It is the Arctic’s very emptiness that makes it so fulfilling. To look upon or even only consider those vast horizons stretches both the imagination and the soul.”
- Alvah Simon, North to the Night

Non-fiction about a man, his wife, and his trusty cat (?!) that set out to spend the winter of 1994-1995 above the Arctic Circle in a steel cutter. In this memoir, author Alvah Simon attempts to explain the “reasoning” behind such a trip, though anyone who is not an adventure-seeking risk-taker at hear
Karina van Schaardenburg
I would have divorced Alvah at about 10 different points in this book.
Aug 18, 2012 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
Jan 11, 2013 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.
Mar 20, 2016 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
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since returning from my first trip above the 60 degree north mark - I've been obsessed with the beauty of the wide open space and the dearth of humanity. Literally the last place to run to on earth. This book was a perfect example of someone (a couple of someones) who took that notion and pushed the pedal to the floor. Crazy adventure - but he does manage to really capture the environment, it's people, flora and fauna, it's beauty and it's danger. If we're to believe this story to the lette ...more
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!) ...more
Steve Tompkins
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My wife got me this book from our favorite bookstore, Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, on a recent trip to the mainland. So much to love about it - Arctic adventure of the highest magnitude, a spiritual awakening, husband/wife dynamics. To sit inside and read this while a stormed howled outside these past few days was heaven.
John Legge
Dec 20, 2007 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.
May 10, 2011 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
Jan 13, 2011 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?" ...more
Liz Gillooly
Dec 20, 2014 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.
May 25, 2010 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. ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arctic, travel
Man goes to Arctic with kitten. Which is to say, someone out there designed this to be my perfect book. Gorgeous photos in the edition I read.
Aug 29, 2011 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.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
Incredibly self absorbed. I guess it's a good warning of what not to become. ...more
Margaret (Peg) Daisley
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best-written book I’ve read so far among the dozen or so “sailing adventures” books I’ve read recently in my attempts to catch up on the Literature of Sailing. I must admit, I came to North to the Night a skeptic — I’d just finished reading a so-called sailing adventure written by a retired Lothario whose main interests in Sailing the Seven – make that Two — Seas seemed to be in trying exotic alcoholic beverages with others who liked to party. His book, as its sub-title promis ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Alvah Simon and his wife, Diana, set off to experience the Arctic and to spend a winter there; their small sailboat encased in ice and darkness. After experiencing the peril of drifting icebergs and approaching winter they found a haven in Tay Bay, north of Baffin Island. Some haven! They were welcomed by an approaching monster of a bear. Soon the sun disappeared. Diana was called away to a family emergency and Alvah endured months of solitary darkness. Bears always loomed in the darkness whethe ...more
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one is a must read. When I originally looked at this book I thought it was going to be boring. A guy alone on his boat in the middle of the Arctic? Ugh.

But it was far from boring. Every page was an adventure. I loved reading about the Inuit people, and learned so much about them. I have a new respect for these rugged, hardy people, who I am ashamed to admit, up until now existed in my mind as cartoon Eskimos. Simon's decriptions of the Arctic wildlife was fascinating and as well as the t
Luke Bjorge
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was loaned this book by a good family friend who is an avid sailor and lives on a sailboat in the keys. I dutifully accepted this book figuring I’d never read it since I have exactly 0 experience on a sailboat. I am so glad I decided to give it try. I have read many, many books over the years in many different genres and by a vast variety of authors. I can honestly say that this was one of the most well written books I have ever read. It’s not action packed or choked with to many flowery words ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Before I started reading it, I saw a comment where someone said they would've divorced this man multiple times during the book, so that was on my mind while I was reading. The author was able to put the majesty and loneliness of the Arctic into words perfectly, but he also dove deep into love and his relationship. I think the relationship between Alvah and Diana is a great example of a deep and understanding relationship between two strong and adventurous people. I enjoyed the ...more
D Enderby
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written true adventure. Some parts hard to believe: I.e. Halifax enjoying the frozen ice so much, and jumping on the author's shoulders every few minutes to warm his feet while they are hiking. How?
Unconscionable ending when the author faces up close to a bear, to prove what?? No thought to what it would mean to his devoted wife, who had recently lost her father, if the bear had swiped a paw and killed him on the spot. Questionable whether she would then have been able to make it back alive
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The man verses nature archetype, at times, seems like the dead horse that continues to be beaten. However there are still true gems that arise. This is absolutely one of them. Mr. Simon's writing style draws you in, and truly illustrates the grandeur while also showing the less than optimal aspects of his adventure. It's an interesting perspective on life in the arctic that no docu-series will be able to illustrate, he balances the boredom, the extreme, and the menial tasks made far more difficu ...more
Bill H
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
An amazing modern day adventure story by a marginally qualified adventurer. The details and beauty of the arctic and the native Inuit were the highlight of the book. The writer was clearly not qualified for the trip and he is clearly very lucky to have survived which made it interesting throughout. I grew very tired of the constant undercurrent of him battling his personal demons from youth and family and using it as an excuse for bad decisions today. Maybe a good book for therapists, but it was ...more
Robert D
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Amazing Story

I found the entire story virtually impossible to put down. Having smiled many miles. Having spent many years living and traveling aboard our boats, I can only imagine such an adventure. The books I have read on heavy weather sailing, while fascinating, don’t begin to capture the elements of danger and fear and fascination I found in ready this book. Having read “Adrift” years ago, was great, but the experiences in the Article are another world! Supremely well done!
Robbie Bock
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh my God. Has to be one of the best books I have ever read. Obviously I love a sailing adventure, and when it’s combined with nature at its fiercest and finest, along with so many great and humble people, there’s no way it wouldn’t be great. I wish I had the courage—and the huge base of knowledge—that Alvah and Diana had. I hope to someday have an adventure even a quarter of there time in the Arctic.
Nathaniel Jackson
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought the book was worth the read. I sometimes questioned the author’s actions, but then again he set our for a purposeful “adventure.” I feel the author is lucky to be alive as he made a few risky uncalled for decisions, but as he states in his final pages he believes he was guided, and I guess given a pass, on some of his poor choices. The author’s commentary on the Intuit (eskimos) and the geography of the Arctic was quite good. Again, worth the read.
William Graney
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experienced. I was consistently impressed from beginning to end, in particular by the way the author kept the narrative fascinating even when there was very little actually going on and few people in the mix. That's not an easy thing to do and I zipped through this book in record time because I couldn't wait to get back to it whenever I had the chance. I've read a lot of polar adventures and I think this is one of the best. ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot about the Inuit people and arctic animals... never did it seem like an information dump when he shared his knowledge. I was captivated and constantly found myself sharing sections with my husband. There were a few errors such as using "they're" for "there are", which usually I dock stars for, but I did like this book a lot so I'm still going to give it 5. ...more
Russell Cambell
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I gave it three stars just little on the tech side of sailing . It was a story about a guy who did a very daring winter in the arctic, pushing his experience the the very limit of survival. I just can’t relate to a guy who would do that putting himself in danger just to prove himself. Other than that it was a great book. Great insights into the culture of Inuit people.
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Play Book Tag: North to the Night by Alvah Simon - 4 stars 1 11 Aug 16, 2018 08:55PM  

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