Ten sea adventures not featuring a character named Ahab

  1. Typee, by Herman Melville
    It was Melville’s first book, and based on his life as a captive in the South Seas. Riveting stuff, and way more popular in its day than his later doorstop Moby Dick.
  2. Horatio Hornblower series, by C.S. Forester
    This series, following the life and career of a young straight arrow in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars is, to use TONY Music writer Hank Shteamer’s word, “unputdownable.”
  3. Afloat, by Guy de Maupassant
    A protg of Flaubert who was eventually killed off by syphilis, Maupassant crafted a tale of obsession and a severe case of cabin fever.
  4. High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes
    Hughes made quite a living writing tales on the high seas, and this was one of his best. Pirates, ladies and more pirates.
  5. Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini
    Often overshadowed by the Errol Flynn movie of the same name, the book is a landmark of swashbucklehood.
  6. Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
    Ghosh’s story of colonial India, diverse language and spiritual awakenings is, awesomely, only the first part in a planned trilogy.
  7. Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana Jr.
    Dana’s diary of a dreary sailor’s life became an instant classic upon its publication, and is enough to make one think twice about running away to sea.
  8. The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin
    Dude invented evolution (sort of). Just goes to show what a man and his boat can do.
  9. Typhoon, by Joseph Conrad
    No offense to Nabokov, but Conrad is the best English-as-a-second-language writer, and this high-seas tale proves it.
  10. Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum
    We all, at times, dream of dropping everything, jumping in a boat and taking off for parts unknown. Slocum actually did it.