5 Awesome Seafaring Books


I got a few requests on my Challenge: Seafaring Challenge II post for recommendations of books about life on the high seas, and though I haven’t read nearly enough myself, it’s one of my very favorite subjects and so I think I can come up with a decent list.

For clarity’s sake, I’m defining “seafaring” as “1. travelling by sea, 2. working as a sailor.” So these’ll include books both about sailors and people who travel on the sea!

In no particular order:

1. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi

On a long, grueling journey from England to Rhode Island in 1802, a 12 year old changes from a prim and proper girl to a swashbuckling mate of a mutinous crew and is accused of murder by the captain.

Why it’s awesome:
You don’t get many stories about a young girl making her way from typical young gentlewoman to swashbuckling sailor, and this one is particularly intense. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything, including the increasingly mad captain’s violence towards the crew. Besides the thriller aspects, there’s also a lot of interesting information about ships and the people who sail them, plus life on the sea and all its perils. Charlotte is a particularly good character– strong and unwavering in her beliefs, as well as of course being adventurous and willing to do hard work. It’s a wonderfully fresh look at a coming-of-age story, and a ripping good yarn as well.

Continue on to read about #2-5!

2. Throne of Jade – Naomi Novik (Temeraire Book 2)

When Britain intercepted a French ship and its precious cargo–an unhatched dragon’s egg–Capt. Will Laurence of HMS Reliant unexpectedly became master and commander of the noble dragon he named Temeraire. As new recruits in Britain’s Aerial Corps, man and dragon soon proved their mettle in daring combat against Bonaparte’s invading forces.

Now China has discovered that its rare gift, intended for Napoleon, has fallen into British hands–and an angry Chinese delegation vows to reclaim the remarkable beast. But Laurence refuses to cooperate. Facing the gallows for his defiance, Laurence has no choice but to accompany Temeraire back to the Far East–a long voyage fraught with peril, intrigue, and the untold terrors of the deep. Yet once the pair reaches the court of the Chinese emperor, even more shocking discoveries and darker dangers await.

Why it’s awesome:
I’m actually writing a review for this; it should be up, er, soonish. Anyway, much of the book is spent on a ship, with some great battle scenes and other sorts of ship-ly intrigue.

3. I Go By Sea, I Go By Land – P.L. Travers
Um. I can’t find any and my book is at home! But here, have the cover:

Why it’s awesome:
It pushes three of my buttons all at once: children during WWII, sea voyages, and journal-writing! It’s a really sweet story about three siblings travelling from their home in England to their new (though temporary) home in America, and it’s very nicely told through journal entries the oldest child writes (I’ve, er, forgotten her name). Unfortunately it’s out of print now, but you can find copies online or at a library, probably.

4. The Swiss Family Robinson – Johann D. Wyss

Swept off course by a raging storm, a Swiss pastor, his wife, and four young sons are shipwrecked on an uncharted tropical island. Thus begins the classic story of survival and adventure that has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812.

Why it’s awesome:
Well, it’s really only awesome when combined with the visuals from the 1960 Disney movie. That treehouse? Total architecture crack. I love it, and the book is fun to read, too. Only a small part is spent on the ship, but I’m counting it anyway!

5. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower – C.S. Forrester (and all the other Hornblower books)

“The King’s latest bad bargain” grows from a pale, seasick youth into a brave, selfless leader in an adventure that ends with capture by the Spanish and a mission that gains him respect among the enemy’s forces, as well as Britain’s.

Why it’s awesome:
Okay, how could it not be? The Hornblower books are pretty much the staple seafaring novels, like, ever. And luckily they’re really good! Problems with continuity, of course, but really exciting and fun to read. Anyway, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is the first book in the series if you go by Hornblower’s life order and not published order (it’s the sixth published book).

Which seafaring books are your favorites?

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0 thoughts on “5 Awesome Seafaring Books”

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of this challenge and I
    want to do it. Thanks for the link.
    I came looking for your Thursday Tea feature, I was going to do one myself and link to you. But I spent the entire day in bed so it’s too late but I will do it next week. I had some Apricot Peach Oolong today, a new one for me and it was lovely.

    1. Yay, how wonderful! 😀 I look forward to seeing which books you end up using.

      I’m sorry about the delay for Thursday Tea; I only just realized how late it was myself! It’s up now, though. *cough*

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