Posted by: Mish | May 31, 2010

From Arctic to Whaling

“Do you ever read a word or phrase that sparks a specific place or setting in your mind and makes you crave to read a book with that type of place/setting in it?”

It happens pretty frequently, but feeding a particular craving can take awhile just because of all the books I want to read.  It’s a viciously fun cycle. In My Life With the Eskimo, anthropologist and Arctic explorer Vilhjálmur Stefánsson mentions quite a bit about the whaling industry, its decline, and its impact on the area. It was all very interesting. It also got me thinking about finally reading that whale of a tale, Moby Dick. Now a year later, I’m going to read about Captain Ahab for the first time. I’m quite enjoying the book thus far. I didn’t know until the introduction that Herman Melville sailed on a whaling voyage or that he was taken by cannibals, which adds more of a realness to the story.

“Though the world scouts us as whale hunters, yet does it unwittingly pay us the profoundest homage; yea, an all-abounding adoration! for almost all the tapers, lamps, and candles that burn around the globe, burn, as before so many shrines, to our glory!” (p 117)

Both books have gotten me hyped up for sailing season- so very happy to see boats in the still frigidly cold water. Soon I’ll be hoisting the sails, bunkering down in the berth,  saying things like “starboard” and “aye aye, Captain”, and of course, enjoying cold beers on the deck.

Any suggestions for other nautical works of fiction? I like reading them this time of year.



  1. I’ve never heard of this. Sounds interesting!

    Here is mine

  2. When you say nautical fiction, the first book that comes to mind is a children’s one called ‘The Ship of Adventure’ – bunch of kids on a ship; they buy a ship in a bottle; the bottle breaks; lo-behold! They find a treasure map. Highly recommended. 🙂

    Sorry, that’s all I can think of right now.

  3. although they are modern, and non fiction, and about smaller creatures than Moby Dick, I enjoy Linda Greenlaw books.
    The Hungry Ocean…All Fisherman Are Liars…The Lobster Chronicles..
    skip her mysteries.

  4. Imagine reading Moby Dick whilst out at sea. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? (Thus speaks a land lubber; I guess if you were out at sea you would be sailing not reading.)

    Anyway, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Foretopman is fantastic; a novella, and nothing like taking on Moby Dick. I have always had a soft spot for Captain Maryatt, particularly his Mr Midshipman Easy. Wonder how easy that is to get hold of these days?

    And Coral Island is vaguely nautical too…

  5. Cookiecrumbles: I really enjoyed that in my youth. Thanks though.

    Sarah: That would be fun! Having crew-mates around is handy for reading while sailing. Your suggestions are in the reading pile and I now have all but Billy Budd for my mobi-reader. Project Gutenberg is so handy sometimes. I prefer real books, but it saves shelf-space and cash. Thanks.

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