Sunday, March 13, 2011

List #1: Down to the Sea in Ships

Why this blog? I got a Kindle for Christmas. I was a skeptic, thinking nothing would ever replace my desire to own pulpy books that you can hold in your hand and put on shelf. But I quickly embraced the ease of digital books. Strange, though, it also renewed my interest in my old time descendants of Gutenberg. Why not embrace both?

I've gone over the shelves trying to to think of my books as a map of my brain. When and why did I buy this book? How many books did I buy on that subject and where did it take me next? I expect there must be a mapping tool out there that can tell you some thing about decades of my brain activity as tracked against my book buying. Amazon is probably working on it right now.

List #1: Down to the Sea in Ships.

I started as an armchair sailor thinking one day I'd work on ship for a passage. Or so I thought it sounded exciting. The pirates of Somalia have made it too exciting. Here's my bookshelf.
  • Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea, by Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1840). Now considered a classic book about the life of a sailor, the book tells of Dan's two-year sea voyage from Boston, rounding Cape Horn to California and doubling back around the Horn returning to Boston. Removes any thought you might have that sailors enjoy a romantic life of adventure. A hard life.
  • Steaming To Bamboola: The World of a Tramp Steamer, Christopher Buckley (1982). Recounts a 1979 trip aboard the tramp steamer Columbianna, where Buckley served as a merchant seaman. Funny and enjoyable.
  • Looking for a Ship, John McPhee (1990). McPhee joins a US Merchant Marine ship along with the second mate. A 42-day journey that takes him through the eastern Pacific. McPhee powers of observation are so developed that you never lose interest.
  • The Colombo Bay, Richard Pollak, (2004). Two days after 9/11, the author boards a fully loaded container ship in Hong Kong to travel west to Journey to New York.
  • Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic, Redmond O'Hanlon, (2006). O'Hanlon joins a commercial fishing vessel that ends up in a killer storm in the North Atlantic.

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