(Vintage, £8.99, 354pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Magnetic North, By Sara Wheeler
Friday 14 May 2010
Inspired by the gift of a Lappish antler bracelet, "more a bangle as the two ends didn't meet", Wheeler decided to make an icy, circular journey: "Siberia to Alaska to Canada to Greenland to Spitsbergen to Lapland and back."
Combining adventure and history, the result is one of the great travel books of our times – poignant, funny, a delight to read. In seedy Siberia, 80 per cent of villagers are drunk on any day. Amid the flowery carpets of Greenland, she experiences the Inuit "naarpog": "to take extravagant pleasure in being alive".
If gold were found at the North Pole, a local muses, "There'd be 500 Alaskan whores there inside three months." A final journey on a Russian icebreaker is enlivened by a "birch twig thrashing" in the sauna. "A girl can have a worse time at sea."
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Christmas 2014: The three most intriguing celebrity panto appearances
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Beyonce '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed and films daughter Blue Ivy in lo-fi homage to viral video
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage from Lana Del Rey rape video
X Factor 2014 results: Only The Young leave show in double elimination weekend
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services