Books With Spines: Sailing

May 31, 2016 |  NAS

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Books With Spines: Sailing

May 31, 2016 | 


Gentle readers, thank you for sharing your suggestions for Books About the American Dream. We’re happiest to find out about books we’ve never heard of before, like Ole Edvart Rølvaag’s Giants in the Earth:

The book follows a Norwegian immigrants homesteading in the Dakota territory. They are ambitious and industrious, and sometimes crafty, in establishing their new lives. It captures the glories and hardships of the frontiersman spirit.

We imagine this book as a cross between Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! and the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, and we very much want to read it. And all the others too! Click here to see the list of Books About the American Dream that you recommended—and also the list of names of contributors.

This week the weather got warm and we walked out to the shoreline to watch the wind playing on the waves and the sailboats scudding in the East River. The old dream came over us—“One by one they went, and no one knew why they went save that they had a longing to behold the Sea.”—and we want to go out to the deeps. We want to sail—or at the very least to read some Books About Sailing. Will you suggest some books to quench our nautical desire?

The first book we thought of was Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum, a lovely memoir about—well, the title says it all. Second on our list is White-Jacket by Herman Melville, for an informed—and angry—account of an American Navy frigate in the 1840s where life was all too frequently the cat-o-nine-tails and the tar. Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling gives a more hopeful account of life on the ocean blue, where life on fishing boat makes a man of a spoiled brat. Then for the novel chock-a-block with nautical jargon, but still a rattling good tale of war at sea during the Napoleonic Wars, we like Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian—even if 20 sequels do loom after the first book. Finally, Admiral of the Ocean Sea by Samuel Eliot Morison, which is a biography of Christopher Columbus that emphasizes his achievement as a master sailor. Morison was a sailor himself, and knew what he was talking about.

What do you think are the best Books About Sailing? Why? Please tell us by the afternoon of Friday, June 3!

Image Credit: Ashley Thorne.