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So You Want To Be a Captain? Some Literary Inspiration to Help Motivate You

Source: Mariners Learing System, By Captain Bob Figular

Here a few of the classics out there that will take you right on the water without leaving your home. If you are pursuing your captains license or just want to read a great story about man’s interaction with the sea, you can’t go wrong with these three.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (1950) by C. S. Forester

You can’t have a list of sea fiction without including Horatio Hornblower. This is the first book in chronological order where we meet Hornblower. It must be noted that this was not the first book Forester published. That would be Beat to Quarters in 1937. In Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Horatio Hornblower begins his career in the Royal Navy. He suffers from seasickness, but his mathematical skills make him a natural at nautical analysis. He is derided by some but ultimately becomes acting Lieutenant by the end of this novel. The novel has ten self-contained chapters and is a joy to read for anyone wishing to read historical fiction about naval life. The author of the next book on this short list often said he recommended Hornblower to everyone literate he knew.

The Old Man and the Sea (1952) by Ernest Hemingway

This was the last major work by Hemingway and won the Pulitzer Prize along with countless satisfied readers. It details the struggle of an old man by the name of Santiago who is on the hunt for a large marlin. He has been under pressure to catch something as he has not caught anything in over eighty days. Finally on the eighty-fifth day, Santiago catches hold of the marlin, and the novella follows Santiago’s fight with the mammoth beast and the sea. Hemingway’s terse prose once again dominates this love story of man and nature. If you want to gain a better understanding of man’s relationship with the sea, there is no better place to start than this award-winning story.

Master and Commander (1969) by Patrick O’Brian

Skip the Russell Crowe movie. Nobody can capture a sea battle scene better than Patrick O’Brian. The historical fiction novel takes place during the Napoleonic Wars and is loosely based off Lord Cochrane. It chronicles the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephan Maturin as they try to stay alive and serenade the sea with music. This is the first of 21 books, and you should definitely start from the beginning. This book is heralded for its realism and detail. If you want to feel like you’re in the Royal Navy in the 1800s, read O’Brian.

What are your sea-inspired books?


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