I’ve learned a ton from reading books about sailing. Here are a few of my favorites.
Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor by Paul Lotus
Probably the first book I read about sailing, because it was available free as an e-book. The book is still available for free online, but it is also available in paper back format HERE.
This book was the best find ever. I was completely enchanted, and couldn’t stop reading it from the moment I started. My mom was concerned about the amount of time I was spending sitting in front of a computer while I read it.
One thing I’ve always remembered from the book was the author’s description of his life philosophy: “Do something different. Look at what everyone else is doing, and do something different.”
This is excellent for those looking to learn because it covers the authors journey from having no sailing experience at all, right up to completing his circumnavigation. It provides a very realistic insight into the day to day life of long distance sailing.
Sailing aside, the author is a pretty cool guys. He designed spacecraft components for the NASA Space Shuttle, and created a mathematical model of the solar system used during the Viking Mars lander program. His best-known program is "Apple Writer" the first word processor for personal computers.
Flirting With Mermaids by John Kretschmer
The nine page introduction alone is worth the cost of this book. Perhaps best said in the words of the author: “It is a book about living a passionate, adventure-filled life on your own terms.”
It is packed full of wisdom and inspiration for anyone who has felt like they just don’t fit right.
“My freedom is the ability to shake off the grip of society’s expectations.”
“Life is something to be devoured because at any moment it might be snatched away… you have to seize life by the throat… pursue your dreams relentlessly, recklessly. It is too much of a gamble to waste time.”
"If there is any advice, any lurking pearl of wisdom hidden in this book, it's something as simple as how to go sailing at all costs while steering clear of the stealthy nine-to-five routine that slyly steals the only thing you own in life: your time.”
"Dreams are private and fragile creations, we make them, live them, or ignore them. Dreams are, as much apart of sailboats as teak planks and sistered oak frames, rusty steel plates and the toxic chemicals that make up a fiberglass hull."
“I have always insisted on steering my own course, a wayward course that invariably runs counter to conventional wisdom.”
Maiden Voyage By Tania Aebi
I really didn't like this book, but it’s pretty inspirational. The author left New York City knowing hardly anything about how to sail the boat. For example, she had to call her dad on her first night out to learn how to anchor. She even learns to navigate while on the trip.
So I thought: “If this girl can sail around the world, I can at least make it down the East Coast!”
Sailing Books on AudibleThe Boy Behind The Gate
I felt like I was chancing an audible credit on this one, but I ended up really enjoying this audiobook. After I finished it I couldn't help but look up the author to see what he is up to now. It's narrated by the author and he does a really great job telling the story.
It pains me to recommend this audio book, but it's one of the few books, audio or otherwise, that I've come across about circumnavigating on a catamaran. Also, it's difficult to like a book that basically mocks and ridicules me as a cruising sailor. The target audience for this book is apparently people who hate sailing and sailors.
So why even recommend it? Because despite it's flaws, it's really an enjoyable, well written story.
Sailing, Yachts and Yarns
This book is a collection of op-ed sailing articles all by the same author. They were published in a UK magazine, and as an American it was interesting to get a UK perspective on sailing. These short stories pack a punch. They grab your attention and are quick paced.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
I'm really not into survival stories. I got this book for Christmas and I was totally blown away. There is so much more to the story than I ever imagined. If you have never read this, I highly highly recommend it.
Child Of the Sea
This book it noteworthy for being told from the perspective of a child. My four year old son loves this book, but I think a large portion of his interest comes from hearing children's voices in the story. As a story, it's okay.
This is the book behind the year 2000 movie "The Perfect Storm". The movie ends with the main character ending up in a life raft. The book primarily focuses on the time spent IN the life raft. If you have a life raft aboard your boat, this book provides a good idea of what it's actually like to be stranded in one. I didn't think of a wool sweater as survival gear until I read this book!
Educational Sailing Books
Sailing: The Basics: The Book That Has Launched Thousands by Dave Franzel
The title is pretty self explanatory. This book provides a very good balance between telling you what you need to know, without boring you with minor details that really don't matter. If you don't know anything about sailing, this is a great place to start.
Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-to for Survival in Extreme Conditions, by Lin and Larry Pardey
There are many many books on survival at sea. This is the only one I have read so I don’t have any comparison. However, the Pardeys are accomplished, respected sailors, AND they write well. In many other cases it seems you only get one or the other. Their book Cruising in Seraffyn is also pretty good, but I found it hard to relate to. They are rather "old fashioned" and set in their ways. But it's still a good book.
Awesome Travel and Adventure Books:
The Beach by Alex Garland
You might be familiar with the terrible movie version of this book that stared Leonardo DeCapprio. The book is FAR better. It's one of my favorite books. It doesn't include anything about sailing, But it has a lot about traveling and adventure.