The best books about adventure on the High Seas

The Books I Picked & Why

Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Why this book?

If I have a passion in life that rivals literature and education, it’s the sea. This book might have started all of it at once. The imagery, the gothic atmosphere, the use of allegory, and the depth of the characters are just stunning and it is rightfully counted as one of the greatest novels ever composed.


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Le Comte De Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas

Book cover of Le Comte De Monte Cristo

Why this book?

Whenever someone asks, c’est mon roman préféré. Un adventure sans égal – le drame, les personnages, les enjeux. It’s hard to imagine a serialized novel like this one capturing the public imagination to the degree that Game of Thrones did recently back in 1845, but that’s exactly what happened. You had to get the next chapter quickly because you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing spoilers about the latest installment.


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Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Book cover of Treasure Island

Why this book?

In keeping with books that influenced me to write Off The Map – and this is going back to 2003 when I started the novel – Treasure Island is high up there. I was usually discouraged to find a book that lacked a female character at all but when it comes to Treasure Island it’s just that perfect, succinct, exciting boys’ adventure you don’t get anymore.


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Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens

Book cover of Great Expectations

Why this book?

Yes, I know it lacks the sea, but Off The Map has a female lead for a reason and this book is it. I didn’t like Pip. He was arrogant, rude, and selfish. But Estella was so enchanting! She might have been an early crush for a 12-year-old me and I wanted a book that was about her, not Pip. She was a huge influence in how I created Chanel in Off The Map – the power and confidence in herself, and yet that sense of claustrophobia and isolation because the time and the place just don’t work for her.


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Jamaica Inn

By Daphne du Maurier

Book cover of Jamaica Inn

Why this book?

Off the Map is a tribute and to me the greatest tribute novel of all times is Jamaica Inn. It’s clearly a love letter from du Maurier to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but given a much greater darkness and gravity. She breathed la vie de la vérité into Bronte’s vision and in doing so became every bit as influential as Bronte did with her novel. You read Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark or Blood Meridian – there’s the pale-faced preacher as the leader of the mysterious trio and as Judge Holden, respectively. A tribute to a tribute. Amazing, beautiful, worthy work.


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