The worst journey in the world: Antarctica 1910-13 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
The Worst Journey in the World is a memoir written in 1922 by Apsley Cherry. The book focuses on Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole.
In 1910, the author was among a group of explorers that left Cardiff, the capital city and one of the principal areas of Wales, by ship on a journey to McMurdo Sound, Antartica. Cherry was singled out among the group and often bullied due to a lack of experience in the arctic and the belief that he had purchased his way aboard the vessel as assistant zoologist through the form of a £1,000 donation to the expedition.
Pushing beyond the targeted scuttlebutt, he caught the attention of then second-in-command Edward A. Wilson, who noticed his hard work and acute observational skills, and eventually accepted Cherry as his protege - selecting the inexperienced explorer to accompany him on a journey to recover eggs from the Emperor Penguin. The three-man team battled through temperatures falling as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit and returned from Cape Crozier barely alive but in possession of the eggs.
With everything in check, the ship kicked off preparations to embark on a new journey to the never-before-reached region of the South Pole. Throughout their trip, the captain selected support teams that would gradually turn and head back, leaving a smaller group of what he believed to be the most prepared for the final push toward the South Pole.
Cherry was eventually selected to return northward while the remaining team made their way south. While some of the group headed back to the base camp or returned to Britain, Cherry and a few others opted to stay in the arctic and meet the remaining explorers on their return trip.
Without giving too much away, things didn't go as planned - leading Cherry and his group to turn south again on what he describes as the "worst journey in the world".
You can listen to the book, available in the public domain, in its entirety through LibriVox.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Bruce Chatwin was hired in 1972 by the Sunday Times Magazine as an advisor on art and architecture. A year later he was interviewing 93-year-old architect and designer Eileen Gray in Paris. It was during this interview when he noticed a painting of South America on her wall - leading to a discussion of their mutual interest in the region and an agreement that he would one day travel there for the both of them.
It was a promise that came to fruition two years later when Chatwin flew to Peru and eventually Patagonia before sending a letter to his editor stating that he had traveled to do a story for himself, one that he always intended to write.
Over the next six months, he traveled the region interviewing people who moved to the area and framed it around the search for his own "piece of brontosaurus." As a child, he discovered the bone fragment of a giant sloth that a relative had sent his grandmother from a cave in Chilean Patagonia - opening up his earliest interest in far-off place.
In Patagonia is broken up into 97 different sections, ranging in size but some the length of a single paragraph, and follows a non-linear timeline that presents the reader with a sense of wandering. Fitting for a book that so often touches on the nomadic life while exploring the history of European exploration, the land and wildlife of Patagonia, and its native inhabitants.
You can find the audiobook on Audible.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley is a 1962 book written by John Steinbeck, author of other works such as East of Eden and Cannery Row and known for his imaginative writings. It's a novel that depicts a 1960 road trip taken by Steinbeck and his standard poodle Charley around the United States.
The trip was born out of the desire to see the country from a more personal lens, having written about it so often, and to answer questions he had concerning its people. However, his oldest son states that the adventure was due to his father's heart condition and the desire to see his country one more time. In a camper named after Don Quixotes horse, the duo kicked off their journey in Long Island, New York, following the outer border of the country in a counter-clockwise direction.
Steinbeck reflects on what he found along the way. Ranging from the American citizen at heart, racial hostility which plagues its lands, American loneliness he discovers, and an unexpected kindness of strangers.
As with all Steinbeck, this is an absolute must listen.
You can find it on Audible.