I think the first book I read that really planted the dream of sailing in me was a book by John Kretschmer called Flirting with Mermaids.
I just picked it up at random in a book store, it has a good cover, a great title, and the first chapter was really easy for me to relate to.
Here are a few great quotes from the book:
"Dreams are private and fragile creations, we make them, live them, or ignore them. Dreams are, however, as much apart of sailboats as teak planks and sistered oak frames, rusty steel plates and the toxic chemicals that make up fiberglass mat..."
Or this one is great:
" 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. You may not want your sons and daughters to read any further."
Another great book is by Paul Lutus, called "Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor".
When I first read this book it was available only in word processor format. Paul allowed people to download the book onto their computers for free. The book is still available for free online, but it is also available in paper back format HERE.
This is a great book to learn from, as 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.
Paul Lutus 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.
Now that I know his book is available as a book, I'll be buying it as soon as I'm done with this post!
If you are in need of a confidence boost, check out Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi. I really didn't like this book all that much, it makes my list only because while I was reading it I realized: "if this bozo can drift around the world, I can at least make it down the East Coast!"
By the time Tania returned home she was definitely a very experienced sailor, but when she first started out, she had hardly any experience at all. Honestly I'm surprised she made it back at all.
Do not do what she did. You may not be so lucky.
These last two are more about practical education than good stories.
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 all you need to know, without boring you with minor details that really don't matter. If you don't know anything about how to sail but want to... this book is your answer.
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 it is not really possible for me to compare this books virtues verses anothers. 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.
A great book for anyone with a wandering spirit is 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.