Books To Read While Sailing | Become A Cruiser
Finding Books To Read While Sailing

Books To Read While Sailing

Reading is one of my favorite past times. It drives my family insane when I’m immersed in a good book. I really get into it, the world can implode around me, and I don’t really care.

Click Here If you are interested in my list of Sailing Books to read while sailing. Click Here If you are interested in my list of Travel Books to read while Sailing.

When we decided to move onto the boat, I was very concerned about finding books. I should not have worried at all. Books are not something I am ever short of. Deciding what to read next is the hard part.

So, the question is paper or ebook? Well, the answer is a bit of both actually.

We do have a selection of paper books on the boat. But, I usually use my Kindle or iPad when I’m reading for pleasure.

eBooks and Reading for Pleasure.

The most popular eReaders are the Kindle, Nook, and the Kobo. I have been a Kindle fan since they first came out. I got one for Christmas and it changed my life.

I know some people say they don’t like the feel of not holding a book in their hands. I used to be in that category until I gave the Kindle a try. It is as easy to read in bright sunlight as in the dark.

When I lived on land I loved that the Kindle app on my phone would sync with my Kindle. I could carry on reading from where I left off, even if I didn’t have my Kindle with me. I know some people dread Costco on a busy day with long check-out lines. I always thought, yay! 30 minutes of reading time.

Constantly buying new books can get expensive, but there are options to access free books for Readers and tablets for more information go to page 3 of this post.

Finding Books To Read While Sailing
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So How Do I Choose What To Read?

For me, the hardest part of reading with access to so many books is what to read next. When I was on land, I used to love going past the bookstore to browse. My local bookstore’s ‘Top Picks’ were exactly the type of books I loved to read. I still take a look online from time to time to see what they are currently recommending when I need a little reading inspiration.

I have signed up with Goodreads, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I have found some great book suggestions, and it is quite good at steering me in the right direction to find my next favorite read.

We seldom go to marinas but when we do. I love going past the book swap. I have found many great reads hiding in Book Swaps.

Here is my recommended list of Sailing Books to read while sailing. For my recommendations for Travel Books to read while Sailing, Click Here. If you want to know more about accessing free books for your Reader, Click Here.

My Reading Recommendations

Finding Books To Read While Sailing
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My Favorite Sailing Books

Take a look at these must-read sailing books. I read so many amazing sailing books before we became cruisers, I thought I should share some of my favorites. These are a handful of my favorite books about sailing and cruising.

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

Ann and Steve took the leap, bought a 42ft boat, and left the rat race. This is their story as they explore the Caribbean from the Bahamas to Trinidad. Ann loves to cook and the book is littered with wonderful local recipes she picked up along the way.

A Sail of Two Idiots – Renee D Petrillo

Inexperienced Renee and Michael share the lessons they learned after they bought a catamaran and set sail from Miami to Grenada. The book is a hilarious how-to guide with a bunch of “what not to do” advice too.

A Voyage for Mad Men – Peter Nichol

In 1968, nine sailors set off on the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. This never accomplished feat would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one crossed the finish line. The others’ fates were madness, failure, and death.

A World of My Own – Robert Knox Johnston

If you liked “A Voyage for Mad Men”, this is a must-read. This is the story of Robert Knox Johnson, who won The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968. He was the first man to sail around the world non-stop, single-handed. Here is his story.

Casting Off – Emma Bamford

This is the story of how 31-year-old Emma, a journalist for The Independent, runs away from her land life. She joins a stranger and his cat on a yacht in Borneo. This entertaining read shows it is possible to break free and find love on your own terms.

Close to the Wind: An Extraordinary Story of Triumph Over Adversity – Pete Goss

On November 3, 1996, Pete Goss departed on the Vendée Globe nonstop, a single-handed round-the-world yacht race. Even though his sails were destroyed and navigation equipment was useless, he turned into hurricane-force winds, to rescue a near-dead man on a life raft somewhere in the Southern Ocean, after hearing a mayday call on Christmas day. This amazing story will keep you flipping the pages.

Desperate Voyage – John Caldwell

In 1946 John was desperate to get back to his wife at the end of the Second World War. He spent ten days learning the basics of navigation and sailing from a book. He departed Panama aboard a 20-foot boat on a 9,000-mile journey. Within 500 miles of Panama, he had already been shipwrecked once and had his boat’s engine and cockpit destroyed by an angry shark, yet he chose to press on. This is the amazing story of his journey.

Kon-Tiki – Thor Heyerdahl

Heyerdahl was a biologist who was intrigued by Polynesian folklore. He believed that the South Sea Islands were settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. To prove his theory, he and five other adventurers departed Peru in 1947 on a balsa log raft for a 4,300-mile journey across the Pacific Ocean.

Learn How To Start a WordPress Sailing Blog


I get so many emails on how to start blogging and how to set-up & configure WordPress that I decided to make a quick ‘How-To’ Guide. If you’re thinking of starting up a sailing Blog this should get you started on the right track.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel   

Fiction – This is a story of young Pi, a zookeeper’s son. After a shipwreck, he is stranded on a liferaft with an orangutan, a hyena, a wounded zebra, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The story is about how he and Richard Parker survive together for 227 days whilst lost at sea. This is one of my all-time favorite reads.

Love With a Chance of Drowning – Torre DeRoche

This hilarious story is about Torre a city girl who is terrified of everything to do with the ocean. Despite her plans, she falls in love with a gorgeous sailor who is about to leave on his voyage to sail around the world. She takes the leap, follows her heart, and joins him. You will love this book.

Maiden Voyage – Tania Aebi

Tania was an 18-year-old, unambitious bar fly whose father gave her the option of a college education or a 26ft sloop. She chose the boat, but the catch was she had two years to sail around the world alone. This is her story.

Sailing Alone Around the World Illustrated – Joshua Slocum

In April 1895, Joshua Slocum set off alone from Boston on a thirty-six-foot wooden sloop. He sailed more than 46,000 miles over three years as he circumnavigated alone. His journey remains unmatched in maritime history for its courage, skill, and determination.

The Proving Ground – G. Bruce Knecht

This is the story of the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. 115 boats departed on the 630 mile Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. The fleet sailed into a massive storm with hurricane-force winds and eighty-foot waves. Five yachts and six lives were lost. The largest-ever peacetime search and rescue effort in Australia managed to save 55 sailors. This book focuses on three yachts and their crews.

Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey – Wendy Hinman

The adventures of Wendy and Garth who spend seven years in the Pacific on their 31ft boat. With few of life’s necessities on board. they learn how to manage the obstacles life throws at them with teamwork and a sense of humor.


Here is my recommended list of Travel Books to read while sailing. For my recommendations for Sailing Books to read while Sailing, Click Here. If you want to know more about accessing free books for your Reader, Click Here.

travel books 1 Books To Read While Sailing
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My Favorite Travel Books

Below are some of my favorite travel books to read while sailing and exploring the world. There are so many great travel books to recommend that I had a hard time choosing which ones to put on my list of favorite travel books.

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

This spectacular novel takes you into the cruelty and corruption of the caste system in India. Two tailors, a widow, and a young student are forced to share a cramped apartment. The characters move from distrust to friendship to love. This book is a testament to the human spirit.

A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle

Peter, his wife, and two dogs follow his dream and buy a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in remote Lubéron. This book is a hilarious account of the tribulations he faces as he settles into his year in Provence.

A Year in the Merde – Stephen Clarke

This is a hilarious book about a 27-year-old British ex-pat who spends a year in Paris.

“The antidote to Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence), this almost memoir will appeal equally to Francophobes and Francophiles” – The New York Post

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres

The story is set on the Greek Island of Cephallonia during world war II. When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiancé – a member of the underground go unanswered, she falls in love with the charming, mandolin playing Captain of the Italian occupied forces stationed on the island.

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

After her divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert leaves her successful American life. She takes a year long journey to find herself. Her first stop is Italy, where it’s all about the food. Then onto India, where with the help of a Guru, and a Texan cowboy, she works on her spiritual side. And in Bali, she accidentally falls in love.

Eurydice Street : A Place in Athens – Sofka Zinovieff

Sofka fell in love with Greece when she was a student. Years later, she returned for good with an expatriate Greek husband and two young daughters. This book is a lovely, funny story of her first year of working out how to be an Athenian.

How Not to Travel The World – Lauren Juliff

Lauren suffered from debilitating anxiety and an eating disorder. She had just had her heart broken. With no life experience (she had never eaten rice) she set off to travel the world alone. This is the memoir of her absolutely disastrous trip. She was about to give up when she met a gorgeous New Zealander.

In a sunburned country – Bill Bryson

Australia! Where the weather is scorching, the People are amazing, and just about everything wants to kill you. This is a funny, fact-filled Australian adventure, that is a must-read.

Lands of Lost Borders : A Journey On The Silk Road – Kate Harris

Between studying at Oxford and MIT Kate and her school friend Mel embark on a cycle journey down the fabled silk road, cycling through some of the most remote places on earth. This award-winning book is a journey of breaking through the boundaries we set for ourselves.

London – Edward Rutherford

I read this epic historical fiction novel the first time I visited London. Rutherford cleverly takes you through 2000 years of London’s history while telling the story of the fates and fortunes of half a dozen families as they pass from generation to generation.

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

This is one of those books that changes your life forever once you have read it. The story is about Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who sets out in search of treasure. He meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist who all help him on his quest. His journey turns into the discovery of finding the treasures hidden within one’s self.

The Island – Victoria Hislop

Alexis travels to Crete to find out about her mother’s past. When she gets there she finds that her history is intimately connected to the deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. This is a magnificent, heartbreaking read.

The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See

This story is about the friendship of two women from opposing backgrounds. They are hadenyeo and work in the Korean Island of Jeju’s dive collective. The story takes place over decades, starting during Japanese colonialism followed by World war II and the Korean war. This is a fascinating, heartbreaking testament to what friendship can survive and the cruelties of war.

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide – Anthony Bourdain

In this travel guide, Anthony Bourdain introduces you to some of his favorite places. How to get there, what to do, or what not to do, what to eat, and where to stay. Written in his practical, frank, entertaining manner. If you love Anthony Bourdain this is defiantly worth a read.

Under the Tuscan Sun : At Home In Italy – Frances Mayes

Twenty years ago, Frances Mayes, a widely published poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer, bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. This is her story. This wonderful book has persuaded many travelers to get off the couch and go and explore the world.


For my recommended list of Sailing Books to read while sailing, Click Here. For my recommendations for Travel Books to read while Sailing, Click Here.

books to read while sailing
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Accessing Free Books For Your eReader

Get A Library Card

Before leaving land get a library card. Library cards allow you to access eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines. Some even give access to movies and music.

Libraries allow you to download books onto your device for 21 days. If the book is not available you can put a hold on it and will receive an email when it is available for download.

Many libraries offer free membership to residents. Some libraries have reciprocal borrowing organized with other libraries allowing access to a larger library.

Things to Remember When Getting a Library Card

  • Ensure the library card allows access to the eLibrary materials.
  • Ask if they have reciprocal borrowing, and confirm you can access all eLibrary materials.
  • The eLibrary catalog has a good selection of the type of books you are interested in.
  • The hold times for materials you’re interested in works for you.
  • Make sure that the eLibrary format is compatible with your device.
  • Check that you don’t have to visit the library to get your library card renewed.

Don’t worry if you have already left and have not signed up for a library card.

You Can Get Non-Resident Library Cards

In order to access the following resources, set your VPN Service to the USA. For more information about how to do this read our post on How to Keep Your Data Safe When Cruising.

Below is a list of US libraries that offer non-resident library cards. Please note this service is only available for people who have a US Address and government-issued ID.

Library NameAnnual eCard FeeeLibrary Collection
Orange County Library (Florida)$125138,000 Titles
Brooklyn Public Library (New York)$50167,000 Titles
Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina)$4523,000 Titles
Houston Public Library (Texas)$4037,000 Titles
Fairfax County Library (Virginia)$2744,000 Titles
US Libraries Offering Non-Resident Library Cards

How To Read The Library Book

You will need to download an app to access the library’s collection. Different libraries use different apps. Some Libraries will enable downloading books to your Reader, although not all libraries are set up for this. You can read the book on the library app you downloaded.

If you don’t have a library card, take a look at Scribd. It costs $9.99 to access to their eLibrary.

Free Book Resources

Some websites offer free ebooks. They don’t charge to download eBooks but do ask for support in the form of a donation.

Looking for great literature, go to Project Gutenberg. They focus on older books with expired US copyright.  

Open Library is an open, editable library catalog. It is like Wikipedia in that you can add to it. They say “If you love books, why not help build a library?”

If you have any book recommendations for me please add them to the comments below, I am always on the hunt for my next favorite book. I hope this has been helpful. Happy Reading.

Books to read while sailing
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Nic

Hi, I’m Nic! Our Family of four have been out cruising since 2016. We have sailed about 15,000nm, almost halfway around the world. We sold everything, took the leap of faith, and bought a 10-year-old Lagoon 380 ex-charter catamaran. We’ve fixed every system on the boat, often more than once. Cruising has been such a wonderful, positive experience for our family that I want to share my tips to help you Become a Cruiser.


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