Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Maritime Reading Challenge

2015 Maritime Reading Challenge
Andrew Wyeth

It's been ages since I've suggested a Reading Challenge, and this one is a bit personal.  First, I adore Andrew Wyeth art and have been slowing collecting a few pieces (reproductions, of course).  My favorites are his ocean and ship images(even decrepit ones like above). Actually, ESPECIALLY the old and decrepit ones.  

At the same time, I recently saw a PBS Special on Sting's new production on Broadway, The Last Ship.  I bought the soundtrack. I am a bit obsessed (of course, hearing an eight-year-old sing sea shanty songs from the backseat is fun too!).  About this same time I was reading Brian Doyle's novel The Plover that just knocked me out: top 5 of my forever book list easily.  

Lastly, I've been spending more time than usual at my local favorite gorgeous beach and there is something so mysterious and visceral about the waves and rocks that I have the ocean on my brain. This reminds me of advice from a sage poet when I shared a ocean poem with him: he basically said, don't bother, it's all been said, as everyone feels this way about the sea. So let's see what's been said before! Can any author or poet describe the atmosphere of the sea that matches our own?

As a kid, I was lucky. We camped by the ocean each summer.  I confess that for far too long, I used to see the distant ocean oil-rigs lit up at night beyond the Channel Islands and thought that they were drive-in theaters on Hawaii.  Yep, smart kid.  It was at this beach, Refugio, west of Santa Barbara, that I first read Island of the Blue Dolphins, a true-story from Scott O'Dell that is a childhood classic now and that has set me (and a gazillion other kids)on a course for saltwater romanticism.

In my obsession with Andrew Wyeth I discovered his father had illustrated and edited Sea Story Collections.  Incidentally, the entire Wyeth family apparently are outrageously gifted artists.  Sadly, my family just creates long-term grudges!

So, it's still January, it's early, so it still counts!  Jump in!  Instructions below:  ***

2015 Maritime Reading Challenge

Any titles related to the sea or ships (both commercial and military), in any time period, in any region.  Nonfiction is fine, poetry is great, fiction is better! Classics like Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, The Old Man and the Sea, etc are obvious choices.  We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen is a recent title that is amazing, related to Danish seafaring. The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye is another such title focused on Lake Superior.  Another surprise is the book Longitude: by Dave Sobel, a nonfiction look at how men figured out how to navigate by longitude and not just latitude.

The Pilothouse Chart company lists these titles (some are mentioned above)in their top 10 of nautical fiction:  (
  • Grey Seas Under by Farley Mowat
  • Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (I could not get through this book....)
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brien
  • Spartina by John Casey
  • The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  • The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
  • Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes (out of print but still possible to find)
Entirely imaginary titles for completing parts of the Challenge:

  • Captain: read five books and list them on this Challenge entry page (see tab above for link)
  • First mate: four books
  • Navigator:  three books
  • Cabin boy: two books, and the knowledge that "In cases of shipwreck or starvation from prolonged be-calming, they are the first to be eaten by higher-ranking crewmates. (International Fellowship of Royal Privateers website)

***Any mention of the ghastly "Pirates of the ..." movie series constitutes an immediate expulsion from the Challenge for obvious reasons.  But, please feel welcome to mention a film or series or even exhibition related to the maritime world and maybe someone else can enjoy it too.

Sign in with name, means of contact, location by country, and goal in the comments section below.

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