04 June 2014

What Do You Read On Your Boat?

Like most other folks, we keep a log on our boat which records important information like what time we dropped the hook and where, when we picked up the anchor and where we're heading to next, how many nautical miles we did during the day, notes on the weather etc. It also contains really unimportant stuff like what we ate and what books I read. Clearly, I place a certain priority on food and entertainment.

We had brought some books with us, but those quickly ran out and I found the best and cheapest (i.e., free) way to get new books was the book exchanges at marinas. Usually, you can find book exchanges in the laundry rooms. Which is handy, when you're trying to entertain yourself while your laundry spins around and around in the machines. They usually consist of a relatively small stack of books, so your pickings are slim.  The best book exchange I came across was up in Whangarei at the Town Basin Marina where they have an entire wall dedicated to their books. Unfortunately, I lot of the books are in languages I can't pronounce, let alone read, but there is still a vast selection of English language books.

When you don't have too much choice as to what you're going to read, you find yourself reading things you wouldn't normally check out of the library or buy. You know, the types of books that read like they're written in anticipation of being optioned and turned into a movie. As you read along, you can imagine in your head the hottest movie stars in Hollywood as the various characters, because you know that is exactly what the author was imagining when s/he wrote the book. Some of the books I picked up and read were stupid. Others were really enjoyable in a can't put you down even though I know how you are going to end way. I even caught Scott reading one of these types of books and he rarely reads fiction. He told me it was stupid, yet he kept reading it. 

So here is what I read on our boat this summer. Have you read any of these? If so, did you like them? And what do you read when you're out cruising and where do you get your books?

  • Caribbean by James Michener (Great inspiration for when we get our next boat and go sailing there.)
  • Alaska by James Michener (His books are great to read when you're traveling as they're long and take a while to get through, plus you feel like you're learning something. After reading this, I decided we needed to go sailing in Alaska.)
  • Rascals in Paradise by James Michener (Inspiration to go sailing in the Pacific islands.)
  • Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (I loved this one!)
  • Blindsight by Robin Cooke (The first of a few by him I read. He seems very popular in the book exchanges.)
  • Marker by Robin Cooke (After reading this I've decided that I really don't want to get admitted to hospital, ever.)
  • Catalyst Blue by Robert Baylus (I can't say that this was my favorite.)
  • Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (One of his I hadn't read before which I bought for $1 in Idaho last time I was there.) 
  • Dakota Born by Debbie Macomber (I picked this one up because Scott is from North Dakota, it really didn't seem anything like how he described growing up there - no mention of lefse or lutefisk at all.)
  • The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman (This was the second in a trilogy, sadly the first and third weren't next to the washing machine.)
  • Innocent Blood by PD James (Not what I expected, didn't seem like the other books of hers that I've read.)
  • The Uplift War by David Brin (Another one that was in the middle of a series and I wish the other books had been next to the dryer as I enjoyed it.)
  • The Parsifal Mosaic by Robert Ludlum (Boring, I possibly didn't finish this.)
  • Explorers, Whalers & Tattooed Sailors Gordon & Sarah Ell, eds. (Really interesting collection of historical writings about the exploration and colonization of New Zealand.)
  • Omerta by Mario Puzo (One of those I stayed up late to finish.)
  • Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali (Great book!)
  • Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier (I was expecting something along the lines of her books that got turned into Hitchcock films. Definitely wasn't that, but very enjoyable nonetheless.)
  • The Second Lady by Irving Wallace (Another one of those compulsive reads.)
  • And some book whose title I didn't write down by the author of the Spenser novels


  1. I haven't seen a moa lately and it's been a while since our last visit to Kawau Island (Sally loved to chase them), but I did want to say that I'm most impressed with your reading list! I've been really bad about picking up books lately but, when I do, I try to read something that was forced down me in high school English class. Come to find out, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is my favourite novel and John Steinbeck is actually readable. I also have one to recommend, "The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty" by Caroline Alexander. It's brilliant!

    1. Sally probably still has great dreams about chasing critters in NZ. Hope she is doing better - your last post got me all teary eyed.

      I wouldn't be too impressed with my reading list - much it just reflects the best that the marina book exchanges have on offer! I don't feel too bad about reading trashy novels when I can pick them up for free :-) I haven't read Steinbeck since high school either - probably not a bad author to try again. And I'll check out Caroline Alexander's book - it is important to know about mutinies if you're going to live on a boat!

  2. At the fear of sounding very nerdy, I like to read the technical manuals and stuff about how things work on boats. This is very said. But, I have been in heaven on Cream Puff (new to us) reading all the operation manuals. Otherwise I enjoy reading trash. And, I mean trash. I love to pick up a trash book and will always read all of it. Once I start, I have to finish - I am sort of OCD about that. I read it and complain the whole time. It drives Cindy crazy.

    Cindy is the bright one. She likes to read history, especially about places we plan to go or are visiting. She has read all the James Michener books. She even read a book that was 20,000 pages (just seemed like it) on the building of the Panama Chanel. It was the fattest book I've ever seen. It sounded very interesting as I got the nightly recap. No way I could have got through that.


    1. I know exactly what you mean about having to finish those trashy novels - you know they're trashy, you generally know how they're going to finish but you can't help yourself - you have to read all of it, sometimes staying up late at night to finish them. My hat off to Cindy - I've never been able to read history books without feeling like I'm back in school. Scott is the smart one in our family - he reads all of that history and other non-fiction stuff.


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