The recent controversy over The Modern Library’s list of the 100 greatest novels in English inspired editors here at Ocean Navigator to discuss the greatest books of the sea. In no particular order, we came up with what we believe to be the 10 greatest nautical fiction books ever written. Still to come will be a list of nautical nonfiction and nautical movies.
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville: The granddaddy of American literature follows the adventures of Ishmael aboard the ill-fated whaling vessel Pequod.
Grey Seas Under, by Farley Mowatt: An ocean salvage tug crew battles the seas of the North Atlantic recovering grief-stricken ships.
Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad: A British merchant sailor is haunted by a cowardly act performed in his youth while aboard a steamer in the Indian Ocean.
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway: A battered old salt braves the ocean alone and captures a giant fish.
Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling: An aristocratic snot gains life experience after accidentally landing a berth aboard a New England fishing schooner.
Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian: The first of the 19-book Aubrey Maturin series describes the sea-borne adventures of an affable British captain and his surgeon shipmate during the Napoleonic wars.Spartina, by John Casey: A down-on-his-luck Rhode Island fisherman struggles to finish his home-built boat and head for sea.The Sea Wolf, by Jack London: A battle between good and evil begins when a refined castaway is rescued by the seal-hunting schooner Ghost and becomes an unwilling sailor under the brutal Wolf Larsen.The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers: In The Annapolis Book of Seamanship; John Rousmaniere called this book "probably the only spy story whose solution lies in a tide table."
The Wreck of the Mary Deare, by Hammond Innes: A captain with a past battles to save his ship and then his reputation against a marine insurance scheme to frame him for the loss of the merchant ship Mary Deare.