This book created considerable controversy by the author going public with her medical condition, despite commitments not to call for special services in case of serious illness. Her cancer was the cause.
p. 30, discussing materials to bring to Antarctica: Do you like western novels? If so you can read mine. Otherwise, better take more to read. Also raises question of what music to bring: “you will get tired of the same music.”
p. 35, uses U.S. Antarctic Program Participant Guide issued by the NSF: There weren’t many books about Antarctica in the Cleveland bookstores, but I managed to pick up a Lonely Planet guidebook that had some good information.
p. 125: And to feed my soul, I threw in a book on the history of the world and a medical text.
p. 164: Concentrating in such an environment was difficult, reading was impossible. I found myself staring at a page, reading the same sentence over and over again. I often glanced forlornly at the shelves weighted with the fiction and poetry I had shipped here in the summer. In reality, I read very little outside of my medical textbooks.
One of the few books I was able to tackle during this time was Endurance [Lansing], the story of Ernest Shackleton’s incredible, failed expedition to cross Antarctica in 1914-15. He never achieved his goals, but he never lost a man to the Ice. His survival skills and leadership abilities were legendary. One of my favorite Shackleton stories took place after his ship, the Endurance, was trapped in the pack ice on the Weddell Sea. The crew had to abandon ship before the vessel was crushed, and the men could only bring their barest necessities. Shackleton set an example for them by pitching a handful of gold coins onto the ice while tucking a small book of Browning’s poems into his pocket. “I throw away trash,” he announced, “and am rewarded with golden inspirations.” [Nielsen goes on to talk about a favorite medieval Persian poem, “Hyacinths,” which she tacked on her wall at the Pole.]
p. 317: Shackleton’s use of Job 38.29, from a page torn from his Bible to keep with him on the ice: “Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of Heaven…the face of the deep is frozen.”