Galapagos guidebooks & recommended reading

There are many Galapagos Islands travel guidebooks, field guides and literature both scientific and novels.

We have put together a hand selected list of the most important and most helpful resource books written about these enchanted Isles. Should you want to read on about a specific topic or just would like a coffee table novel related to your upcoming journey.

On most Galapagos boat cruises there is an onboard library but you may want to have your own copy to reference whenever you like.  

Galapagos: A Natural History   Michael H. Jackson   University of Calgary Press 5th Ed 1999
Widely regarded as the the best comprehensive guide to the islands wildlife and plant species with sections on human and geologic history as well. Easy to read without leaving out details, well-illustrated and includes an extensive bibliography and flora and fauna checklist.  If you only bring one book make it this one.

A Travelers Guide To The GALAPAGOS ISLANDS   Barry Boyce  Hunter Publishing  3rd Ed 1998
A good all around book covering many aspects of travel to the Galapagos.  Includes natural and human history, evolutionary theory, descriptions of each island and a great section on photography in the islands.  The section on chosing a tour is the only complete dicussion of this confusing topic we've seen.  The complexities of travel to the Galapagos are often deceiving at best and Boyce tackles them like a naturalist studying a unique species.

Galapagos, Discovery on Darwin's Islands   David Steadman   1988
Although dozens of photographs and full-color paintings adorn this volume, it is not a picture book but instead a highly personal and stimulating account of the islands and their contribution to evolutionary thought by a working scientist. All of the vertebrate species are illustrated.

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in our Time    Jonathan Wiener  1995
This prize-winning work is a look at the modern debate on the mode and rhythm of evolution as told through the story of Peter and Rosemary Grant and their work on Daphne Major.  Their remarkable research details evolutionary processes happening in much shorter time periods than previously thought possibly.

 Voyage of the Beagle    Charles Darwin  1989
The wide-eyed tale of a young man on a voyage that changed his life--and our way of thinking about the world.  First published in 1839, this description of the islands is still essential reading: evocative, insightful, and of more than just historical interest.

Galapagos, A Novel     Kurt Vonnegut  1999
Savagely funny, the narrator of this satire looks back from the future on the "nature cruise of the century," where he and fellow passengers inexplicably survive the extinction of the human race.

Field Guides:

A Guide to the Birds of the Galapagos Islands    Isabel Castro 1997, hard cover, 144 pages
This handsome guide describes and illustrates all the Galapagos birds, featuring 32 color plates and general information on habitats and evolution.

Flowering Plants of the Galapagos  Conley McCullen, Ghillean Prance (Introduction) 1999, paper 352 pages
A compact photographic guide to plants, including an overview of ecology and habitats, botanical checklist, and identification key.

Reef Fish Identification, Galapagos  Paul Humann 1993, Plasticised, 200 pages
A comprehensive guide to the fishes of the Galapagos, with hundreds of color photographs and brief descriptions.

A Field Guide to the Sea Stars and Other Echinoderms of the Galapagos
Cleveland P. Hickman 1998, Paper, 83 Pages
A spiral-bound field guide illustrating 62 species of sea stars, urchins, and sea cucumbers, including endemic species.

Seabirds; A Photographic Guide   Peter Harrison 1996, Paper, 317 Pages
A portable identification guide illustrating all the seabirds, many in a variety of plumage.

The Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins   Larry Foster 1983, Paper, 302 Pages
This essential guide features paintings illustrating each species, 130 black-and-white photos, and information on natural history and conservation

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