Lab Girl meets Why Fish Don’t Exist in this brilliant, fascinating memoir about a young scientist’s experience studying penguins in Antarctica—a firsthand account of the beauty and brutality of this remote climate, the direct effects of climate change on animals, and the challenges of fieldwork.
Naira de Gracia’s The Last Cold Place offers a dramatic, captivating window into a once-in-a-lifetime experience: a season living and working in a remote outpost in Antarctica alongside seals, penguins, and a small crew of fellow field workers. In one of the most inhospitable environments in the world (for humans, anyway), Naira follows a generation of chinstrap penguins from their parents’ return to shore to build nests from pebbles until the chicks themselves are old enough to head out to sea.
In lively and entertaining anecdotes, Naira describes the life cycle of a funny, engaging colony of chinstrap penguins whose food source (krill, or small crustaceans) is powerfully affected by the changing ocean. Weaving together the history of Antarctic exploration with climate science, field observations, and her own personal journey of growth and reflection, The Last Cold Place illuminates the complex place that Antarctica holds in our cultural imagination—and offers a rare glimpse into life on this uninhabited continent.