By the Sea, On the Sea: Fiction and Non-fiction

There is something that draws many of us to the sea. This list offers books about the sea, what has happened both in it and around it.

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island

By Linda Greenlaw

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A young woman is the skipper of a lobster boat off a small island off the coast of Maine. You will learn more than you ever thought you'd want to know about lobsters! A very interesting memoir about lobsters, boats, and a very small island.
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Stern Men

By Elizabeth Gilbert

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On two remote islands off the coast of Maine, the local lobstermen have fought savagely for generations over the fishing rights to the ocean waters between them. Young Ruth Thomas is born into this feud, the daughter of one of the greediest lobstermen in Maine. Eighteen years old, as smart as a whip, and irredeemably unromantic, Ruth returns home from boarding school determined to throw her education overboard and join the "stern men." As the feud escalates, she helps work the lobster boats, brushes up on her profanity, and eventually falls for Owney Wishnell, a handsome young lobsterman.

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A Field Guide to the Atlantic Seashore

By Kenneth L. Gosner

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This book used to be subtitled "Invertebrates and Seaweeds of the Atlantic Coast from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Hatteras." It helped me identify comb jellies and a few other weird beasties near Chesapeake Bay.

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Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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"In this inimitable, beloved classic--graceful, lucid and lyrical--Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh's musings on the shape of a woman's life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership."

Also available in large print and on audio.

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The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

By Sebastian Junger

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It was the storm of the century, boasting waves over one hundred feet high--a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm."  When it struck in October 1991, there was virtually no warning. "She's comin' on, boys, and she's comin' on strong", radioed Captain Billy Tyne of the Andrea Gail off the coast of Nova Scotia, and soon afterward the boat and its crew of six disappeared without a trace. In a narrative taut with the fury of the elements, Sebastian Junger takes us deep into the heart of the storm, depicting with vivid detail the courage, terror, and awe that surface in such a gale. Also available on audio.

On Film:
The Andrea Gail's struggle with a ferocious Northeastern storm is brought to life in the 2000 movie adaptation of Junger's book, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Diane Lane.

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The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II

By Herman Wouk

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Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life--and mutiny--on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. The novel inspired the now-classic film, starring Humphrey Bogart, as well as a hugely successful Broadway play.

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Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft

By Thor Heyerdahl

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Am going to cross Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come? Reply at once.

That is how six brave and inquisitive men came to seek a dangerous path to test a scientific theory. On a primitive raft made of forty-foot balsa logs and named Kon-Tiki in honor of a legendary sun king, Heyerdahl and five companions deliberately risked their lives to show that the ancient Peruvians could have made the 4,300-mile voyage to the Polynesian islands on a similar craft. On every page of this true chronicle from the actual building of the raft through all the dangerous and comic adventures on the sea, to the spectacular crash-landing and the native islanders hula dances each reader will find a wholesome and spellbinding escape from the twenty-first century. Actual film from the expedition is available on an Academy Award-winning documentary.

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Women Sailors & Sailors' Women: An Untold Maritime History

By David Cordingly

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"In this illuminating historical narrative, maritime scholar David Cordingly shows that in fact an astonishing number of women went to sea in the great age of sail. Some traveled as the wives or mistresses of captains. A few were smuggled aboard by officers or seaman. A number of cases have come to light of young women dressing in men's clothes and working alongside the sailors for months, and sometimes years. In the U.S. and Britsh navies, it was not uncommon for the wives of bosuns, carpenters, and cooks to go to sea on warships. Cordingly's tremendous research shows that there was indeed a thriving female population--from female pirates to the sirens of legend--on and around the high seas."

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The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists are Unraveling the Mysteries of our Favorite Crustacean

By Trevor Corson

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A fascinating study of lobsters and their sex lives (!), trapping lobsters and studying lobsters and lobster wars and lobstermen and.... You get the idea!

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The Silent World

By Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Frédéric Dumas

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"Before becoming the man who introduced us to the wonders of the sea through his beloved television series, Jacques Cousteau was better known as an engineer and the inventor of scuba. He chronicled his early days of underwater adventure in The Silent World—a memoir that was an instant, international bestseller upon its publication in 1954. Now, National Geographic presents a 50th anniversary edition of this remarkable book, allowing readers to once again travel under the sea with Cousteau during the turbulent days of World War II."

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