poppenhuis (grace_poppy) wrote in sailhistory,

books and hello

Hello, I'm a newcomer.  I'm excited to find this community!  I've seen other communities about ship things, but they either seem to be too technical for me or too focused on the Napoleonic wars.  Mind, I do love the Napoleonic wars very much, and I'm interested in technical things about sailing even though I don't really understand, but I also love stories of whaling, fishing, shipwrecks, immigration, merchant travels, and especially exploration.  I love the history and people and events much more than the actual ships and the sailing.  (Is that heresy?)

And by the way, I'm excited to talk about In the Heart of the Sea.  I really loved that book!  It took me a while to get into it, but then I got totally hooked.  I finished reading it on a plane trip to visit my best friend, and I actually cried on the plane (very discretely).  And then I was desperately finishing the last several pages as I walked through the airport to go find her, reading as I walked though the halls and rode the escalator and the little shuttle train to the terminal...  I thought I would have to hide somewhere for just a few minutes to finish reading it before I met up with her, but fortunately (ha) she wasn't there yet, so I got to finish while waiting for my luggage.

Right now I'm reading Motoo Eetee: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World which is a fiction book I picked up at my used bookstore.  It sounds sort of similar, with conflicts of power and desperation.  Has anyone read it?  I've only just barely started.  I hope it will be good.  I also picked up Caroline Alexander's The Bounty.  I hardly know anything about the Bounty incident.

Has anyone read The Island of the Day Before?  I revere that book.  Umberto Eco is awe-inspiring, even though his writing is sometimes difficult to read because he's just so incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable.  It takes place during the race to find a way to calculate longitude.

Other stuff - I first got interested in the age of sail by seeing the Benjamin Britten opera Billy Budd, and then read the Herman Melville novella it's based on.  (It takes place aboard a British man o' war in 1797 and deals with impressment, mutiny, articles of war, etc.)  Then I read Island of the Day Before.  Then I started watching and reading the Horatio Hornblower series, and more recently the Patrick O'Brian books.  (So yes, I do love the Napoleonic wars.) 

In parallel events, I had always loved Robert Falcon Scott (a very distant relative of my family, so I'm told) and had grown up with stories about him, listening to Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antartica, etc., and more recently I fell in love with Shackleton.  And I began reading more about other explorers, especially in the polar regions, and then randomly picked up In the Heart of the Sea (because the desperation reminded me of Shackleton's boat journey, etc.) and so on to the present.

And in another parallel, I fell in love with the Scottish islands (Hebrides, Orkneys, Shetlands) and took a naturalist and history cruise of them.  I absolutely love the archeology of those islands, and their isolation.  They're inevitably connected with the sea, were first inhabited by the Vikings, many of them.  And that got me interested in other Viking regions too - the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Denmark, etc...  And then the people's lifestyle on the islands, catching birds and fish.  Fascinating.

There are so many books I must read!
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