Written by Aimee Stern
July 2019

In a corner of the Marina Cafe in Boynton Beach, FL, where I live, a giant bookshelf is filled with mysteries, adventure novels, biographies and much more. Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and a busy charter fishing dock, boaters borrow books and donate them daily. Owner Scott McKay opened the café last year to create a community that comes together over New York deli food, the Boston Red Sox (Scott hails from Connecticut), literature and a shared love of life on the water.

Marinalife’s Book Club is designed to do much of the same. We picture our readers sprawled on deck chairs under an azure sky, waves lapping at their boats, a good book in one hand and a frothy drink in the other. Our selections are culled from boaters’ suggestions, maritime sections in bookstores and the internet. We hope you enjoy our best summer reads: seaworthy edition.

Epic Adventures

Master & Commander
by Patrick O’Brian

This nautical historical novel is part of a series set largely in the era of the Napoleonic Wars. It chronicles the adventures of young Jack Aubrey who was just promoted to the rank of Master and Commander, and Stephen Maturin, a destitute physician and naturalist whom Aubrey appoints as naval surgeon.

Song of the Sirens"Song Of The Sirens" | Best Summer Reads: Seaworthy Edition | Best of Lists | Marinalife
by Ernest K. Gann

One of the great adventure writers tells of the boats that owned him through storms, looming sandbars, novice-to-veteran seafarers, airy badinage while waist-deep in deck wash and a variety of imaginative machines. Salty, manfully philosophical at times, with some of the most hilarious machines afloat, this is a brisk, spinnaker-smacking sail.

The Perfect Storm
by Sebastian Junger

In 1991, the fishing crew of the Andrea Gail set out on their toughest adventure. This book tells the story of the men and their families before and during the perfect storm. Like their fathers and those before them, their lives are interwoven with the sea. They know the danger but go, because “It’s the money. … If I didn’t need the money, I wouldn’t go near this thing,” says the character Sully.

The Water in Between: A Journey at Sea
by Kevin Patterson

Recovering from a broken heart and a stint in the Navy, Kevin Patterson had never sailed before but buys a 37-foot sailboat. He finds a veteran sailor to help and sets sail for Tahiti. At first Patterson relies heavily on the other sailor, but then he single-handedly sails his boat across the North Pacific and through a perilous four-day gale, truly testing himself against the elements.

Sailing Down the Mountain
by Ben Harrison

Ben and Helen Harrison were a young married couple in the 1970s when they chucked it all and left a cozy life in San Francisco for Costa Rica to build a 38-foot sailboat. With no experience building a boat and barely speaking Spanish, they had to build it pronto, get it down
a mountain to the water and sail to Key West where they now live. A heartwarming tale filled with laughter and adventure.

Salty Humor

Three Men in a Boat
by Jerome K. Jerome

First published in 1889, Three Men in a Boat shares the story of Jerome and his friends George and Harris who decide that a jaunt up the Thames River would suit them. They cannot predict the mayhem and troubles that lie ahead.

Narrow Margins
by Marie Browne

This laugh-out-loud book shows something positive can be found even at the worst of times. Faced with losing everything after the collapse of the Rover Group, Marie Browne moved her long-suffering husband Geoff, chaotic children and smelly, narcoleptic dog to a houseboat in search of a less stressful, healthier way of life.

There’s a Yacht More to Life
by Cynthia Zvanut Hovey & Winston A. Hovey

This couple abandons corporate jobs in San Diego and end up as captain and chef on 100-foot mega yachts. Handling millionaire yacht owners and charter guests makes hurricanes look like child’s play, and keeps you laughing and wanting more.

Crunch & Des: Classic Stories of Saltwater Fishing
by Philip Wylie and Karen Wylie Pryor

Tales of a Miami charter boat captain and his mate in the 1940s that are a lot saltier and more believable than Hemingway. Charter guides share the magic and excitement of saltwater fishing.

Women on the Water

The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See

This thoughtful novel is set in a world where women are in charge and engage in dangerous physical work while men take care of the children. The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the history that shaped their lives.

A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found my Heart in the Middle of the Ocean"A Pearl in the Storm" | Best Summer Reads: Seaworthy Edition | Best of Lists | Marinalife
by Tori Murden McClure

“In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing.” Tori McClure sets out solo in a 23-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly killed by a series of violent storms, she is forced to signal for help and return home. Later she is hired by Mohammad Ali, who tells her she does not want to be known as the woman who “almost” rowed across the Atlantic. ml

Aimee Stern is president of Brave Now PR, which helps senior leaders tell their stories and share them.

Independent Bookstores with Seaworthy Summer Reads

Bunch of Grapes Bookstore
Vineyard Haven, MA


For more than 40 years, this locally owned bookstore has cultivated a community of writers and readers with an impressive collection of fine books and year-round events.

Maritime Bookstore & Museum
Mystic Seaport, CT

860-572-5386, mysticseaport.org

One of the country’s most comprehensive selections of maritime books that includes new and rare volumes and a children’s section.

Burtons Bookstore
Greenport, NY

631-477-1161, burtonsbooks.com

Adjacent to Long Island wine country, this gem offers readings and events with local authors.

Politics & Prose at The Wharf
Washington, DC

202-488-3867, politics-prose.com/wharf

An offshoot of the beloved store in Northwest Washington, DC, hosts frequent events and a staff who reads everything.

Books & Books at the Studios of Key West, FL

305-320-0208, booksandbookskw.com

Owned and operated by Judy Blume and her husband George, this readers’ paradise hosts an incredible selection of books and draws top-notch writers for speaking events.

Faulkner House Books
New Orleans, LA

504-524-2940, faulknerhousebooks.com

Specializes in rare editions, many works by William Faulkner and New Orleans Southern charm.

La Jolla, CA

858-454-0347, warwicks.com

The country’s oldest bookseller (founded in 1896) has an iconic feel and large selection of great books.

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