Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “South Pole Station” as Want to Read:
South Pole Station
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

South Pole Station

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,202 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Do you have digestion problems due to stress? Do you have problems with authority? How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week? Would you rather be a florist or a truck driver?

These are some of the questions that determine if you have what it takes to survive at South Pole Station, a place with an average temperature of -54°F and no sunlight for six months a year. Coo
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 4th 2017 by Picador
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about South Pole Station, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about South Pole Station

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.47  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,202 ratings  ·  274 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of South Pole Station
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
I'll keep this one brief. Did you read and enjoy Fobbit? Put it in Antarctica with scientists (subtract war) and voila, you have South Pole Station.

I did not care for Fobbit, but I mildly enjoyed South Pole Station. It is mostly funny, dark but humanely funny. The South Pole takes less precendence than one might expect: it's focused on Cooper Gosling and her connections with her fellow FINGYs (fucking new guys) and the various individuals and tribes working and carving out lives at the bottom of
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Of course I'm biased, but I do know that five stars-worth of effort went into the book. Its literary value I will leave to others to determine.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a first novel and it shows somewhat - one weird pacing decision and a few startling flashbacks (too infrequent to make much sense,) too much infodumping with science at times, and it could have been shorter and told the same story - but overall I enjoyed this story about Polies working at "Pole." It starts out focused on Cooper, an artist who has been given a grant, working a the South Pole in hopes it will inspire her art after the death of her brother. Sometimes the focus shifts to ano ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William Liggett
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The cover and beginning of the book suggest a light-hearted devil-may-care account. Instead, I found the story growing deeper and darker the further I read. I found the descriptions of life at the South Pole credible in terms of the harsh physical setting and the quirky interplay among the personnel working there. I found the main character ill-equipped for what she was getting into and blame the flawed assessment process for allowing her to be selected. Once there, however, she had to experienc ...more
Monica Edinger
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having just been relatively near the South Pole, (that is, a few thousand miles at Cape Horn,) I came across this on Edelweiss and was intrigued. I ended up enjoying it very much --- it is smart, complex, and riveting. Like the main character and her father I've always found Pole stories fascinating, especially that of Scott's failed expedition and Shackleton's brilliant save. Will be really interested to see the response once it is out. (Have to say, I cringed at the mention of tourists who had ...more
Nahid Rachlin
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
South Pole Station is both engaging and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this novel.
Dede Ward
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of character-driven fiction, fans of fiction set in "exotic" locales
I received a galley of this book in a non-Goodreads giveaway and finished the book last week. I've only now had a chance to sit down to write a review. Where to begin? Imagine a place set at the most remote point of human habitation, the size of a nursery school, and filled with carpenters, cooks, astrophysicists, tech geeks climate researchers, artists, and construction workers. Now imagine them all packed into this research station in the middle of Antarctica, for months and months on end. Go ...more
Melissa Landis
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't like it at first but by the time I finished it I was having a hard time putting it down. The characters grew on me and it's an interesting idea of science and art alive at the South Pole. It's people living their lives and learning who they are.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: quirky individuals who love fun characters
SOUTH POLE STATION by Ashley Shelby plops an artist into a scientific community without an escape hatch. Eccentric hilarity abounds.

Cooper Gosling earns a fellowship as part of an artists and writers program to create a portfolio while living at the South Pole Station. Her father has always been obsessed with the South Pole, which rubbed off on Cooper and her twin brother David. Now she has the chance to live their dreams.

It doesn’t take Cooper long to realize there isn’t much to draw or paint w
Amy Haimerl
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. I actually turned date night with my husband into "reading books at the bar" because I had to see how South Pole Station ended.
The thing I love most about this book is the way Ashley brings her characters to life. With such a large cast, Ashely could have have easily written caricatures or two-dimensional characters to inhabit this world. But she didn't. Even bit players get fully realized.
At the end of every book I read, I always wonder: Which character would I
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
While I enjoyed the core story line and the writing, this book was just too cluttered with tangential material. There are long sections detailing backstory of certain characters that distracted from the main story. Without this, the book would have been 4⭐️s for me. It was a great look at life at South Pole and a critic of the politicization of science.
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, arc, march
Maybe interesting to you if you care what Bernadette might have done when she was in Antarctica.
Jamie Collins
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The style is a bit strange, but I rather liked this. It’s a novel about an artist who spends a year at the south pole as part of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers program. (I was dubious about this, but google tells me it’s a real thing.) The South Pole Station is populated with an assortment of odd personnel (scientists, construction workers, cooks, artists, etc.) doing darkly amusing things in an extraordinarily restricted environment.

The resident scientists are u
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: antarctica
I really enjoyed reading, "South Pole Station". And, recommend it to anyone who wants to read a book that is written by someone who is steeped in the knowledge and culture of the Polies!

The main character is a young lady who gets an opportunity to go down to the South Pole Station to paint. She is there with a program for artists. When she gets there.. a young man takes a liking of her.. and doesn't treat her like a fingy. (newbie). He tells her that he's there to take ice samples as he wants to
Because sometimes I’m just in the mood for something different. This novel included just a bit about everything... global warming.... ummmm I mean climate change, South Pole, Family tragedies, artistic interpretation, homosexuality, political interests... I could go on. One thing I will note, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, but I don’t think that was the author’s intention.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just. Wow. I was only twenty pages in and I knew this was going to be a wild ride. Beautifully written, multiple points of view, comedic and serious- this is a MUST READ OF 2017!


Follows an artist grieving her twin brother's suicide to the South Pole- a shared dream of theirs since they were little was to visit, and she finally makes the journey. This story was so wonderful and there is lots of discussion of global warming as she is at a scientific research station on an arts grant. Give th
Sep 22, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf

*Head hits desk, shakes self awake*


I guess this book is a no go for me....
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This was a slow burn—it took me almost 200 pages to get a grip on the characters and feel like they were real people but I’m glad I stuck with them to the end.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like the author (and main character), I, too, grew up hearing stories about polar explorations and I've read many books about South Pole explorers. So I read this in that context. While I was hoping for some glimpse of the beauty of the Pole, the claustrophobic encounters with "Polies" and their various foibles kept me reading. Though this place is seen by some as diabolical, and by others as paradise, it is also clearly a place where a collection of people can be driven a bit batty. Having to p ...more
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
“South Pole Station” by Ashley Shelby is silly, yet a bit academic. The story takes place in the real Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica (decommissioned in 2008), although Shelby took some liberties with her story. Shelby places nerdy and society misfits in the Station to study climate change. Not only are there academic scientists at the Station, but there are building and inter-structure support staff as well. To qualify for a position at the Station, the applicant must answer que ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Many parts of this book left me very confused because I am not a science oriented person. However
I will remember this story as it is different from any other that I have read. At the Amudsen-Scott scientific site in Antarctica l learned what the day to day regimen is. Getting dressed for the extreme weather, eating in the cafeteria, pursuing your various jobs or professions, coping with distinct and weird personalities of your fellow inhabitants are just a few of the ongoing difficulties. Reali
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book and read it while on vacation (I like to keep cool in the heat by reading books set in cold climates). I agree with the reviews that say some of the flashbacks were oddly placed making pacing somewhat awkward but I really liked Cooper and Sal and Bozer and Denise and there was a feel that I was getting a pretty accurate feel for the "polies". The climate change science plot line seems so right on point now and the author had some interesting points to make. I recommend this if ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
40% done.
I really wanted this book to be good, and it just is kinda there and I'm losing interest.
It's a novel without a clear plot with some vaguely interesting characters.
It has the feel of a memoir, makes me think of Orange is the New Black, and if it was I think it would be interesting because it would a least have the fact that it was a true story going for it.

90% done
WHY AM I STILL READING?? I'm so bored. I think I just like the background noise of the audiobook
I've never heard the word
Kerry Pickens
Sep 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2017
The story reminds me of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but it's not near as entertaining. l read this book for a book club, otherwise it would not have been my choice of reading matter.
When I started this job last year, this book jumped out at me, but I didn't have time to read it just then. But when I went to Antarctica myself over the holidays, you better believe I made time!

Cooper is an artist, and she's applied for a position as artist-in-residence at the Scott-Admunsen Station at the South Pole. (Unlike other stations scattered across the continent, this one is actually at the real South Pole. And yes, they have a pole, and yes, they move it every year as the actual south
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
More 3.5 stars, rounded up. What I liked: Antarctica. Polies. In fact, everything about the dysfunctional people who end up in the coldest continent, and worse, choose to winter over year after year. Ashley Shelby does a great job describing these characters, and the circumstances they find themselves in.

All the science, I didn't bother with. I'm not up on what they're speaking of, and I really don't care who's sponsoring the anti-climate change brigade. For me it's simple enough - even if man
Constance Spencer
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic complex book which further satisfied my curiosity into research at the South Pole that was piqued by Dr. Jeri Nielsen's book Ice Bound and her lecture series. It is another world down there in one of the most remote areas on earth - where the social and cultural structure is so unique. "Polies" are a group we will never be given entry unless we also risk our lives to -30 degree temperatures, 6 months of blackness and scientific exploration almost equal to the level of being an astronau ...more
DNF @ %5

So, I realize that I did not give this book even the slightest of chances. I probably could have fought my way through it if I felt up to it, but I just don't.

Basically I just really don't like the main character's crude, dry sarcasm. I hate the kind of humor that so far seems prevalent in this story. I strongly dislike Cooper's personality. So... Yeah.

Also, I really should have removed this from my TBR a while ago but I kept leaving it up solely because I like the cover a lot.

Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I really enjoyed this story. It's a look at a life in a very unusual environment, a treatise on the so called controversy over climate change, and a lot of lesser stories about life and relationships. There's a dose of science but it didn't feel overwhelming and there was no need to understand it in any depth. The range of characters was interesting and fun. It was certainly less emotionally wrenching than most of the books I've been reading.

The writing itself was nothing to get excited about,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica
  • Sea Wife
  • A Novel Murder (Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library, #1)
  • Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
  • An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
  • Tree Dreams
  • Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence, and Emperor Penguins
  • A Time for Murder (Murder She Wrote #50)
  • Millie the Cat has Borderline Personality Disorder (What Mental Disorder, #1)
  • Highfire
  • Strange as This Weather Has Been
  • Enchantments: A Modern Witch's Guide to Self-Possession
  • Bone by Bone
  • The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction
  • Svínshöfuð
  • Here Today, Gone Tamale (A Taste of Texas Mystery #1)
  • Tom Crean: Ice Man
  • Zen Bender: A Decade-Long Enthusiastic Quest to Fix Everything (That Was Never Broken)
See similar books…
Ashley Shelby is prize-winning writer whose fiction and essays have appeared in Slate, The Seattle Review, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Review, J Journal: New Writings on Social Justice, LitHub, Sonora Review, Post Road, Southeast Review, Third Coast, and other literary outlets. She's received the Red Hen Press Short Fiction Award, the Enizagam Short Story Award, the Third Coast Fiction Prize, ...more

News & Interviews

There are many ways to take action against racism. Reading in order to learn more about oppression and how to oppose it is just one of those ways...
136 likes · 118 comments
“My father's a frustrated explorer, so I'm on a first-name basis with a lot of dead men." "Yes, there's a whole generation of those kind of fathers, isn't there? Men cut out for Shackleton's adventures but forced to work as accountants or teachers...It's a bloody shame, actually. There's nothing left for them.” 1 likes
More quotes…