The Best Books about Galapagos to read while you’re there – by Stephanie Ward

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Stephanie Ward is a children’s author, travel blogger and tireless traveller whose trip to the Galapagos Islands sparked a career change from marketing to writing and inspired her first book, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. After living on three continents and visiting all seven, she currently lives in London with her husband and son. Here she recommends the best books to read on the subject of the Galapagos Islands.

“I love reading books about the place I’m visiting on vacation; it really allows me to immerse myself in the feel of the place and get a deeper understanding of what it’s about. If you’re heading to the Galapagos Islands, there is a vast array of things to read – from non-fiction to natural history, sci-fi to fiction. Here are a few books you’ll be sure to see under tourists’ noses in the Galapagos Islands and ones I recommend to either read beforehand or to pack in your suitcase!”

1. The Galápagos: A Natural History by Henry Nicholls

Journalist and broadcaster Henry Nicholls brings together natural history, ecology and personal travelogue in the pages of The Galapagos: A Natural History. A wonderful illustration of this awe-inspiring place, readers will be introduced to the origins of the land as well as the arrival of humans and the future challenges that face this unique island chain. Nicholls is also the author of Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of a Conservation Icon, a novel based on the islands’ most famous inhabitant, George the Giant Tortoise.

Note from Rachel –  Henry Nicholls also very kindly wrote a blog for us about his book – you can read it here.


2. The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

If you are ever going to read Charles Darwin, this is the time. While ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ only touches upon the Galapagos Islands, it’s Darwin’s actual journal about the journey that inspired his later works. ‘The Origin of Species’ focuses on the concept of natural selection and evolution, but is written for the general reader and is the book that created a momentous shift in scientific thinking. Both are surprisingly readable and perfect reading for a trip to the Galapagos Islands. If you like a more visual version, try the stunningly illustrated edition The Voyage of the Beagle: The Illustrated Edition of Charles Darwin’s Travel Memoir and Field Journal.

3. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

From one million years in the future, readers look back on the events in 1986 when the “nature cruise of the century” becomes an evolutionary journey. Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut focuses on a small group of morally-challenged people who are about to save the human race.

For the science fiction fan, this book is likely your best bet for a futuristic story set in the Galapagos Islands with a full serving of satire. Vonnegut fans love this book, but be warned, it’s for mature audiences due to profanity, sexual references and violence.

4. Galápagos: The Islands that Changed the World by Paul D Stewart

With dozens of stunning photographs, Galápagos: The Islands that Changed the World is a visual feast of all things Galapagos Islands. But it’s not just pretty pictures.

The engaging text narrates the history of the Galapagos Islands and touches upon human discovery, the endemic wildlife and ecological challenges ahead. A lovely book that can be both an introduction to and a coffee table souvenir of your trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Don’t forget the kids!

The Galapagos Islands are a wonderful and popular destination for family travel with a vast array of organised excursions and incredible adventures to keep young visitors fully engaged. Here are some books to prime their interest when preparing for your visit:

5. Where Are the Galapagos Islands? by Megan Stine

Part of the New York Times best-selling Where is? Series, Where Are the Galapagos Islands? is an engaging text written for 8 – 12 year olds. Authored by a veteran of non-fiction children’s book, this easily approachable book includes 80 illustrations that bring the islands to life within the pages.

Beginning before Darwin arrived, the book draws young readers into this mysterious place with vivid, adventurous writing.

6. Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin

From award-winning author and illustrator Jason Chin comes this highly acclaimed non-fiction picture book written for children 5 – 8 year olds. Island: A Story of the Galapagos is a beautiful book with stunning illustrations and a narrative that is more story-like than purely scientific.

It simply but thoroughly describes the history of the Galapagos Islands and introduces relevant scientific theories in a child-friendly way.

7. Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin by Stephanie Ward

Written for the very youngest explorers, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is a simple rhyming picture book that introduces the Galapagos Islands through a penguin who doesn’t like being cold.

Children learn about unique wildlife of the islands in the helpful back matter that includes a colourful map and snippets of information about the creatures Wally meets on his adventure. A fun story for children 3 – 5 years old.

We hope this list inspires you to read more about the Galapagos Islands and fire your imagination. If you have any suggestions or feedback, let us know!


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