Holiday Book Recommendations 2019

Holiday Book Recommendations 2019

Hi, I’m Christian Williams and it’s the
2019 holiday gift-giving season, and I recommend giving books–so this year let’s goover a few sailing novels. We’ve already treated probably the best
contemporary novelist of our time, Patrick O’Brien, and I dare not even
mention “Moby Dick”, the great piece of literature that confounds every attempt
to compete with it, or even my own book, my own new novel, “Rarotonga ,”,which
it’s just out a month ago. I’ll put those the description and the links at the end
of this video. But, you know something has changed in the books that we read about
sailing and the sea. They’re mostly nonfiction now, I think because the
adventures that we follow today in the news and on television are quite
different than they were at the heyday of the imaginative story, whereas everybody goes off adventuring now with a GoPro camera, people are quite literate, they
keep notes, in many cases they are sponsored, and the result is an almost
endless stream of true adventure stories. But the non-fiction books that we read
by the hundreds leave something out, and that is the imaginative capacity and
capability of a novelist taking on the same subjects. And at the turn of the
century nearly a hundred and twenty years ago this was the stock and trade of
communication, and I have four to recommend. The first is Joseph Conrad’s
“Typhoon.” This book is “Typhoon” and other tales, it also
includes several other good short stories. But the story “Typhoon” has always
been a favorite of mine. It’s about Captain Macwhirr a rather stolid man,
unimaginative,who is the captain of a pretty beat-up freighter crossing the
China Sea with a cargo of 200 Chinamen yes
puh-leeze all four of these books were written about 1900 and they they have
the assumptions and attitudes of the time which personally as a reader I
accept as you know it’s there Geist their spirit of their time and we can
learn from it without imitating it in any case those Chinamen present quite a
problem to a ship at the height of a typhoon and Conrad is very clever about
describing how this unimaginative captain pulls through there’s a
terrifying scene in it at least for me they think they’ve gone through the
worst of the typhoon because the Sun came out and the winds dropped down and
captain McCoy returns to his maid and says the worst is yet to come
of course on the other side of the anticyclone typhoon by Joseph Conrad
another classic which I was unfamiliar with until last year of the period is
Erskine child errs the riddle of the sands a record of secret service for
some reason everybody read this book had read this book but may vibrant
impassioned witty intelligent and shamelessly prejudiced in the manner of
the day well they’re all like that I I’m I wasn’t entirely persuaded by the spy
aspect of the riddle of the sand by Erskine charters what I liked was
something completely unfamiliar to me which is that this story takes place in
a 30-foot but with bilge keels you know so that it can sit upright when the tide
goes out in an area of the world that our European friends probably are very
familiar with but I’m not and that is this the the tidal sands off the great
estuaries at about the intersection of Holland and Germany
just south of well what used to be called schleswig-holstein I guess
they’re these big rivers like the Elbe are estuaries and they go into the North
Atlantic there and form vests and banks that go out ten miles offshore so
you can anchor 10 miles off shore of the fishing Island and when the tide goes
out as this book describes us for as far as the eye can see there are nothing but
sand banks and you can navigate these channels by if you if you know just
where they lay which just might be important in wartime were so Carruthers
and Davies the heroic occupants of this this leaky 30-foot boat hope to discover
for their secret service and well Treasure Island by Robert Louis
Stevenson is supposed to be a children’s book of course and there are more
children among us than we thought if that’s true because I reread this last
year on a long car trip in which I was alone it was completely charmed once
again you know this is the introduction to the world by Robert Louis Stevenson
of Long John Silver and the stories told through the eyes of young Jim and he
happens to come into possession of very important information about the treasure
map and here’s how here’s how he does it by falling into an apple barrel
I got bodily into the Apple Barrel and found there was scarce an apple left but
sitting there in the dark what with the sound of the waters and
the rocking movement of the ship I had either fallen asleep or was at the
point of doing so when a heavy man sat down with rather a clash close by the
barrel shook as he leaned his shoulders against it and I was just about to jump
up when the man began to speak it was silvers voice and before I had heard
dozen words I would not have shown myself for all the world but lay there
trembling and listening in the extreme of fear and curiosity for from these
dozen words I understood that the lives of all the honest man aboard depended of
on me alone now these guys knew how to tell a story
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson Captains Courageous by Rudyard
Kipling another book written about in about 1900 we’ve all heard of but if you
haven’t reread it lately it will bring a tear to your eye Captains Courageous
said I don’t have the book with me is as you probably recall the story of young
Harvey who’s about 15 who falls off an ocean liner and is rescued by a
Gloucester fisherman skippered by one Disko troop one of the coolest guys in
the history of the sailing literature and and here is the introduction to
here’s the introduction to Harvey he was dressed in a cherry colored blazer
knickerbockers red stocking scented bicycle shoes with a red flannel cap at
the back of his head after whistling between his teeth as he eyed the company
of men aboard the steamship he said in a high logs voice say it’s thick outside
you can hear them fish boats squawking all around us say wouldn’t it be great
if we ran one down well it is after that that he falls overboard into the
clutches and the rescue of one of those Gloucester singers Captains Courageous
is a wonderful book it’s also a sensational e good a movie to the
highest standards made by Victor Fleming directed by Victor Fleming with Spencer
Tracy as Manuel and it contains that is Captains Courageous to the movie real
footage of Gloucester or fishing schooners in action on the Grand Banks
and especially of their their race home at
the Gloucester at the end of the story now nonfiction books still dominate and
I thought to bring along this year for that you might not have heard about and
the first of these is something I was introduced to a book I was introduced to
only five or six years ago by my friends in the Pacific Northwest called the
curve of time by M Wiley Blanchette or however she pronounces they’re written
in 1927 Blanchette is a woman who moved to Vancouver and her and they had a
25-foot motorboat and her husband went off on it one day and never came back a
drought nobody knows why they had five children instead of selling the boat
which I think most people would do out of grief she took her five children for
the next 15 years six of them on this boat and lived for months at a time in
summers exploring British Columbia and in the 1920s she’s a wonderful writer
evocative not sentimental and the thing she puts her five children through and
they do it without complaint are extraordinary they’re called all the
time their anchor often slips they go off hiking to visit Hermits they discuss
with some alacrity and period sensibilities the Indians of the time
and British Columbia changed entirely since then and this book is a wonderful
evocation of what it was like before a civilization really got its grip the
curve of time and Marley Blanchett of nonfiction books curiously two years
before the mast very well-known but for some reason the half dozen of my friends
reported reading this again within the last couple of years it’s by Richard
Henry Dana jr. and as you recall two years before the masses he would he was
a college student in Harvard at the time and I think he was diagnosed with bad
eyesight and they said you need a sea voyage young man so he signed on before
the mast on a ship that collected skins off of the California coast and it’s
true that the people I’m citing who’ve read it live in Southern California why
we don’t know what work is today these guys are unloading seal skins waist-deep
all winter working 1215 hours a day and mmin insight into what it was like to go
sailing ship as you were summer job back then
nothing beats said to us before the mass and it’s quite well written to Rockwell
Kent is a famous artist as as you know an illustrator and this is a book of his
about his it’s called North by East and it’s the story of his yachting voyage to
Greenland and this book has told the story of an actual voice to Greenland in
a small boat of a shipwreck there of what if anything happened afterwards
some of which may or may not have happened not to knock Rockwell Kent’s
imagination but this is supposed to be a first-hand account
I cite it because if you can find in addition with his prints in it and I
think you can online it’s an actor an extraordinary you know when it comes to
illustration you can’t beat Rockwell Kent at 2:30 in the afternoon we left
our Anchorage we didn’t sell out we were towed
tired of waiting for a win ashamed of inaction embarrassed by abort of leave
takings we wanted only to get out of it and off to see rockball Kent the
pictures alone are worth the price of admission North by East well here’s a
book I’ll bet you haven’t heard of which has affected me greatly it’s called the
boy me and the cat by Henry M Plummer well my father gave minister says in
February 1981 the crews of the mascot 1912 to 1913 the mascot is a a small
gaff rig cat boat that father and son Henry I’m Plummer and Henry Plummer jr.
sail down the intercostal waterway to florida it’s written in a delightfully
naive style I think this book was lost for a long time until its it was
recognized for what it is which is a really good account with a cute as it
were title the boy me and the cat the cat comes to well I won’t tell you what
happens to the cat Scotty I think is his name what I will tell you is why I can
hardly read this book now without extreme emotion here’s the dedication
written and written to 13 to 14 year old boy to my companion Henry M plumber jr.
who with unfailing patience bore with my fretful exert exactions and was ever
ready to lend a willing hand who joined me in love for Scotty and in grief at
her death that’s the cat – this boy who is my joy my pride well alright let’s try that again
without the emotion to this boy who was all to this boy who is my joy and my
pride this log is lovingly dedicated by his father very nice
the boy me and the cat but some years later when the book was rediscovered by
publishers the the New Bedford Massachusetts of May 9th 1928 reported
the following mr. plumbers sun and reamp lubber jr who appears in this book was
an aviator in the great world war killed in action when you read the book you
have to know these guys on a lighter note let’s move our perspective
worldwide and from this very bunk here in this very harbor in Southern
California and that we will do and this is a great gift for anyone who keeps
talking about sailing around the world Jimmy Cornell’s world cruising routes
this this book this book should not feel out to exist because it tells you how to
sail around the world and to anywhere you want to with the directions and even
waypoints in the newest edition and I think that I think that if you give this
to somebody his wife’s going to say George what are you reading that book
about world cruising routes like Jimmy Cornell here’s one root PS 106 Queensland to
Papua New Guinea there are two main routes crossing the Coral Sea from
Queensland to Papua New Guinea one that goes direct to the capital port no no no
we oughtn’t to read that too often wanderlust gets going and I think that
now we’ve finished this essay of Christmas books I shall go home instead
of sailing around the world take a nap thanks for listening you

13 Replies to “Holiday Book Recommendations 2019

  1. Mr. Williams, terrific reviews, thank you! as it happens, I just read Treasure Island again recently, at 63, and it was fantastic. Not so much for sentimental reasons, but for the youthful emotions I could recall… adventure, excitement and sheer terror 🙂 And I totally agree with you about World Cruising Routes! Its the sailing book I most often pull out – for voyage daydreams.

  2. The slightly derogatory tone towards everyone bringing a go pro is not unwarranted.

    There are quite a few who falsely create drama through editing and cinematography. Frankly, I appreciate both the mundane and the controlled or mitigated chaos of your escapades. They seem much more legitimate

  3. Hey mr. Williams,, love yor channel. While not great literature some of the fiction books written by alistair mclean, especially the first novel was really good . About the convoys to mansk in wwll. He was a limey sailor in the war. I read it when i was fourteen.

  4. Nothing better than getting lost in a good book. Here's one to add – James A Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific".

  5. I'm inspired to chase a few of those down, thanks, Christian. As Claud Worth, the great gentleman sailor and one-time owner of a gaff rigger called Tern II, said, "One good tern deserves another". So here is a recommendation for you if you haven't already etc: South Sea Vagabonds by Johnny Wray.

  6. Mr. Christian Williams, I'm supposing that I may have not thank you enough for all your updates over the years! I am however thanking you now, and not because of all my thumbs up but to the contrary. I not only believe you to be an amazing man, but most genuinely interesting so to say the least. I am just a simple man who could only watch and learn as you sailed to even uplift your daughter in noncritical ways. I am not a writer nor have I set as much to pen and paper as you may tell, but I am here today to say thank you for being here if only for one day at a time. The cast has cooled and the die is broken, to a world that will never learn what you have forgotten. Please find some small comfort in knowing you are not alone, and that these really are the best of times throughout mans greed. The lord will take care of the rest.

  7. I liked Conrad a lot. He was an amazing writer, especially when you consider English was his second language. Another writer at the same time was Somerset Maugham. He has a great collection of short stories, many of which are nautical related and take place in the Pacific or Indian ocean. Look for his two-volume collection under the title East and West.
    I have about 30 nautical themed books at home. My favorite is probably the first one I ever bought decades ago. The book is an anthology, Great Adventures in Small Boats by David Klein and Mary Louise King. Alan Villiers has a great anthology too, Of Ships and Men. The way of a Ship by Villiers is a wonderful description of the sailing ship and how they sailed.
    The Silent World by Jaques Cousteau is very well written. Three men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome is still funny 100 years later.

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