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Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The sketchbook has been the one constant in explorers' kits for centuries of adventure. Often private, they are records of immediate experiences and discoveries, and in their pages we can see what the explorers themselves encountered. This remarkable book showcases 70 such sketchbooks, kept by intrepid men and women as they journeyed perilous and unknown environments—froze ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by Chronicle Books
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book is gorgeous! It contains short biographies of various explorers and naturalists along with pages from their journals and sketchbooks that they kept on various outings. There are quick sketches, watercolors, photographs and written notes. This is a short read about some early explorers, some no longer well-remembered with a lot of artwork that is stunning.
UPDATE: Okay, so I haven't quite finished this - as noted before, this is something that should be read over a number of weeks, 2-3 entries at a time. But I'm almost done; and I just couldn't deal with my 1000th read book being the "graphic novel" (i.e., comic book) version of Game of Thrones. - much classier to have a grown-up book like this occupying that hallowed slot.

Beautiful and unique book for anyone interested in natural history and/or exploration - makes you wonder why no one put somet
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Didn't really know what to expect when I took this book out st the library... simply caught my eye and thought it looked interesting. What I found was page after page of incredible journal entries of the worlds greatest explorers through the last several centuries and a brief entry about their work. As I read through these passages I felt tremendous admiration for each individual's courage, perseverance, intelligence and their ability to take risks in the name of science. I also found their jour ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the layout and all the photos but I really wish there had been less white men explorers that I've read or heard about from other history books I've read and more women and POC. ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: art
A beautiful book but more historical and dense that I was in the mood for; great for anyone interested in art and history though!
Peter Tillman
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, art, travel
Beautiful book, featuring excerpts from 70 explorers' field journals and notes. Many are beautiful; some are more interesting than others. I enjoyed browsing the book.

The reproduction quality is good, but the illustration captions are in an imitation-typescript that I found really hard to read. The individual explorers range from famous to unknown (to me). The (typically) half-page potted bios of the explorers range from adequate to good; I read maybe a third of them. No ToC, but there is an ind
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another one of those beautiful, gorgeous books that I'm going to have to buy if I ever hope to give it the thorough reading and intense viewing and inspection that the sketchbooks in question really deserve. It makes me wonder about the pages that this book did NOT include. (And to wish that they didn't use such TINY print for the all-too-short descriptions of the explorers lives and deaths and adventures.

I also found myself wishing (and is mentioned in the author's foreword) that the field
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just fabulous. LJ review pending publication, but I will say that the intersection of adventure, art, and memoir doesn’t get any better than this. A really fun and immersive escape for sketchers, armchair explorers, and anyone with a love of adventure and illustration.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wonderful collection of stories and first-hand records (drawings, journal entries, collected artifacts) from some famous explorers, and from many more that were new to me, and who were just as fascinating. It spans centuries of explorers, both male and female, and succinctly summarizes their adventures into a snippet of information to paint a picture of their experiences.

Was nice to read about these with today's lens of cultural sensitivity, so that the explorers were either lauded for their
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book, one that warrants being picked up and read and examined in detail. It reminds me a great deal of "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady". Before photography, people sketched and drew and painted their discoveries and their natural history findings. I enjoyed reading this explorers' sketchbook, but I enjoyed looking at their drawings and paintings even more.

Highly recommended. The known explorers were enjoyable, and the unknown explorers (to me) were a real
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you know me, you know I love a good journal, so I enjoyed this book a lot—it's beautiful and has so many cool things in it. A little heavy on Antarctica and a little light on female explorers, which was disappointing because I'm sure females explore and I'm also sure we write about our travels. I don't know why there were so few, but it was still a gorgeous book to read. Learned of some cool explorers that I will need to read more about. ...more
Amy Dance
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
a beautiful book, just didn't have time 2 finish b4 due date. one thing, though, often the entries did not clearly state where in the world the exploration took place- I had to Google some locations I was unfamiliar with in order even know what continent it was on!
It would have been helpful if the entries said something like this: She travelled to (place) in the country of (place).
I will definitely get back 2 this book!
Stacy Tomaszewski
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful book offers samples of the writing and drawing of explorers from all over the world and going back centuries. Each entry — offered alphabetically — gives a little summary of the explorer’s life and work, and the rest is devoted to his/her own writing. As a nosy Parker, I love reading other people’s letters and journals, and this book allows a small glimpse into the daily life of extraordinary people. I particularly appreciate the number of female explorers who are represented and ...more
Viewpoints Radio
Being an explorer may seem like a childhood fantasy, but it’s a real thing people do. We talk to Dr. Huw Lewis-Jones about some notable explorers of the past and ways you can see the world through fresh eyes yourself. Listen here: ...more
David Hyder
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book. It is mainly a coffee table browser with enough text to provide some context. Some of the sketches are remarkable, some are mundane all are inspirational. Some challenge me to become better at observation. Others show that aside from fame, I have a good hand with pen and ink.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a treasure this book is with the stories of explorers, travelers, scientists, artists ,collectors all together in a book showcasing examples of their works in sketchbooks and journals with a brief description of where each traveled and what drove their passions in life. I am enjoying reading this visual guide and loving the stories behind the paintings,
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Journals/sketchbooks from explorers throughout history. So very interesting! Inspiring! Quotes beginning each brief biographical section are rich. Heavily illustrated with photos of actual journals. A book to read and ponder.
Deb Holden
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book filled with the ink, pencil and watercolors from many, many explorers. Most I had only heard about superficially. Interesting to read about each one and then see the actual work. Worth a look at and a great reminder of those who explored our world.
Jesse Richards
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these were really amazing and surprising.
Elizabeth Sund
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this beautiful book, but I wish it had even more pictures and fewer words. The producers of these coffee table books know we are just looking at the pictures, so let's not kid ourselves! : ) ...more
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, history
Marvelous, just marvelous!
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
fascinating and inspiring
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Can't say I read all of the text, but it was an interesting book to sit down and read for a bit. Obviously, the sketches are the main attraction.
Miss Kelly
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I really didn't get to read this book, but it is a wonderful Coffee Table read book. Beautiful sketches ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent look at the sketches and notes of some of the most prominent explorers of the 19th and 20th century. A delightful repast.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Lovely sketches, though it mostly just featured white men.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a book!
Jun 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, art
I appreciate the diversity of the explorers included in this work.
Natalie Waddell-Rutter
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed this book. It's not a book I wanted to sit down and read cover to cover. Instead, I would read about two or three explorers at a time and then scrutinize their sketches. The authors included a wide variety of artistic talent among the explorers. Some images were photorealistic reproductions of beautiful landscapes or organisms. Others were crude sketches of people or maps. All of them showed a moment in these people's lives they thought was important enough to put down on paper. ...more
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Se doctoró en la Univer­sidad de Cambridge y es historiador del me­dio ambiente y guía de expediciones. Pasa gran parte de su tiempo libre trabajando en regiones naturales, incluida la Antártida, y es un islomaníaco empedernido. Ha publi­cado dieciséis libros, incluyendo Imagining the Artic, Ocean Portraits, Explorers’ Sket­chbooks, The Sea Journal, The Conquest of Everest (con el que ganó el Prem ...more

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