92 books like Jack Tar

By Roy Adkins,

Here are 92 books that Jack Tar fans have personally recommended if you like Jack Tar. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Moby-Dick

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


Book cover of Erebus: One Ship, Two Epic Voyages, and the Greatest Naval Mystery of All Time

Katie Daysh Author Of Leeward

From my list on to get lost at sea with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author of queer historical fiction and I love to explore stories set on the sea. I adore the drama of it, the beauty, the awe, the timelessness, and the wild backdrop that allows characters to confront themselves and their journeys. Having lived by the sea all my life on an island rich with nautical and smuggling history, it has never been far away from me. I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction; both have strongly influenced my own writing. The books on this list capture the diverse reasons I am drawn to sea tales!

Katie's book list on to get lost at sea with

Katie Daysh Why did Katie love this book?

As well as the characters who populate nautical stories and the sea itself, ships have such a vivid voice.

This non-fiction book follows HMS Erebus from her early journey to Antarctica to her eventual disappearance in the Canadian Arctic. I have a small obsession with polar exploration and this book captures the drama, the terror, and the mystery of it.

Michael Palin’s sensitivity to the historical issues and the real figures is very moving, especially the moment when the primary documents stop and all that is left to tell these men’s tales is a note in a desolate cairn.

I want to also sneakily recommend AMC’s adaptation of Dan Simmons’s The Terror, a TV show based on these events, which has some of my favourite writing in any piece of media.

By Michael Palin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Erebus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER: the remarkable true story of the exploration ship featured in The Terror

In the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, HMS Erebus undertook two of the most ambitious naval expeditions of all time.

On the first, she ventured further south than any human had ever been. On the second, she vanished with her 129-strong crew in the wastes of the Canadian Arctic, along with the HMS Terror.

Her fate remained a mystery for over 160 years.

Then, in 2014, she was found.

This is her story.
_______________
Now available: Michael Palin's North Korea Journals
_______________…


Book cover of Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation, 1793 - 1815

Julian Stockwin Author Of Balkan Glory

From my list on understanding the Age of Sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wanted to go to the sea ever since I can remember. In the hope of having the nonsense knocked out of me, my father sent me at the tender age of fourteen to the ‘Indefatigable’, a tough sea-training school. This only strengthened my resolve for a life at sea, and I joined the Royal Navy at 15. My family emigrated and I transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and saw service around the world.  Although I no longer have an active involvement with the navy, I sail in my imagination through my sea-faring novels.

Julian's book list on understanding the Age of Sail

Julian Stockwin Why did Julian love this book?

This book holds a special place in my bookshelves. Reprinted many times it is a classic reference to the period. Lavery’s description of life at sea is unparalleled, depicting a world far removed from the hardships and cruelty that is often attributed to conditions on the lower deck.

By Brian Lavery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nelson's Navy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick O'Brien provides the forward to this edition of the most successful Conway Maritime title. This book is the perfect guide to Nelson's Navy for all those with an interest in the workings of the great fleet. The book is eminently readable and is the first single-volume work to cover in such depth this vast and complex subject. Written by one of the world's leading authorities on the sailing navy the book contains considerable original research to give a clear and authentic picture of the Senior Service as a whole. With a foreword by one of the most successful maritime…


Book cover of Seamanship in the Age of Sail: An Account of the Shiphandling of the Sailing Man-of-War 1600-1860

Julian Stockwin Author Of Balkan Glory

From my list on understanding the Age of Sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wanted to go to the sea ever since I can remember. In the hope of having the nonsense knocked out of me, my father sent me at the tender age of fourteen to the ‘Indefatigable’, a tough sea-training school. This only strengthened my resolve for a life at sea, and I joined the Royal Navy at 15. My family emigrated and I transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and saw service around the world.  Although I no longer have an active involvement with the navy, I sail in my imagination through my sea-faring novels.

Julian's book list on understanding the Age of Sail

Julian Stockwin Why did Julian love this book?

A useful companion to Lavery’s Nelson’s Navy – my personal copy is quite well-thumbed! The book offers a definitive guide to every aspect of the handling of a man-of-war, explaining just how the ships of Nelson’s navy were actually sailed. Superb line drawings by the maritime artist Mark Myers enhance the text. 

By John Harland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seamanship in the Age of Sail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Numerous successful reprints of contemporary works on rigging and seamanship indicate the breadth of interest in the lost art of handling square-rigged ships. Model makers, marine painters, and enthusiasts need to know not only how the ships were rigged but how much sail was set in each condition of wind and sea, how the various maneuvers were carried out, and the intricacies of operations like reefing sails or 'catting' an anchor.

John Harland has provided what is undeniably the most thorough book on handling square-rigged ships. Because of his facility in a remarkable range of languages, Harland has been able…


Book cover of Broadsides: Caricature and the Navy 1756 - 1815

Julian Stockwin Author Of Balkan Glory

From my list on understanding the Age of Sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wanted to go to the sea ever since I can remember. In the hope of having the nonsense knocked out of me, my father sent me at the tender age of fourteen to the ‘Indefatigable’, a tough sea-training school. This only strengthened my resolve for a life at sea, and I joined the Royal Navy at 15. My family emigrated and I transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and saw service around the world.  Although I no longer have an active involvement with the navy, I sail in my imagination through my sea-faring novels.

Julian's book list on understanding the Age of Sail

Julian Stockwin Why did Julian love this book?

I’m greatly drawn to the caricaturists and satirists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In the days before the internet they were often vehicles for witty, sometimes very pointed, commentary on all aspects of society. This book, with prints from the National Maritime Museum, focuses on the Royal Navy during the later eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

By James Davey, Richard Johns,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Broadsides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Broadsides explores the political and cultural history of the Navy during the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through contemporary caricature. This was a period of intense naval activity - encompassing the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, and the War of 1812. Naval caricatures were utilised by the press to comment on events, simultaneously reminding the British public of the immediacy of war, whilst satirising the same Navy it was meant to be supporting. The thematic narrative explores topics from politics to invasion, whilst encompassing detailed analysis of the context…


Book cover of Nelson's Navy in 100 Objects

Julian Stockwin Author Of Balkan Glory

From my list on understanding the Age of Sail.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wanted to go to the sea ever since I can remember. In the hope of having the nonsense knocked out of me, my father sent me at the tender age of fourteen to the ‘Indefatigable’, a tough sea-training school. This only strengthened my resolve for a life at sea, and I joined the Royal Navy at 15. My family emigrated and I transferred to the Royal Australian Navy and saw service around the world.  Although I no longer have an active involvement with the navy, I sail in my imagination through my sea-faring novels.

Julian's book list on understanding the Age of Sail

Julian Stockwin Why did Julian love this book?

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy was the largest employer in the world. It maintained a fleet of close on 1,000 ships, including over 100 line-of-battle ships, and was responsible for the entire organisation of maintaining them at sea. Through his evocative selection of 100 objects Glover takes you back in time to share his admiration for a golden age when Britain ruled the seas.

By Gareth Glover,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nelson's Navy in 100 Objects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Royal Navy of Nelson's time was such a huge organisation, that it is sometimes hard to comprehend its full scope. Indeed, during the Napoleonic Wars it was by far the largest employer in the entire world.

Not only did the Royal Navy maintain a fleet of close on 1,000 ships, including over 100 line of battle ships, but it was also responsible for the entire organisation of maintaining them at sea. From the recruitment of crews, the maintenance and protection of bases throughout the world, the production and delivery of food supplies to feed this vast fleet and the…


Book cover of The Far Side of the World

Katie Daysh Author Of Leeward

From my list on to get lost at sea with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author of queer historical fiction and I love to explore stories set on the sea. I adore the drama of it, the beauty, the awe, the timelessness, and the wild backdrop that allows characters to confront themselves and their journeys. Having lived by the sea all my life on an island rich with nautical and smuggling history, it has never been far away from me. I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction; both have strongly influenced my own writing. The books on this list capture the diverse reasons I am drawn to sea tales!

Katie's book list on to get lost at sea with

Katie Daysh Why did Katie love this book?

Patrick O’Brian is the master of nautical fiction. I enjoyed every one of his Aubrey—Maturin series but this one shines out.

I believe that, in maritime fiction, the sea should be its own character, and this book brings to life every face of it. His intricate prose captures the daily life onboard Napoleonic-era ships in painstaking detail and throws the reader into a totally immersive world.

But mostly, I love how this book embodies the friendship between Jack and Stephen. Although they are such different characters, they have such a beautiful connection and when they are separated from their ship, they rely on each other to survive.

I love exploring the various relationships of men and women, in platonic, familial, and romantic senses. 

By Patrick O'Brian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Far Side of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The war of 1812 continues, and Jack Aubrey sets course for Cape Horn on a mission after his own heart: intercepting a powerful American frigate outward bound to play havoc with the British whaling trade. Stephen Maturin has fish of his own to fry in the world of secret intelligence. Disaster in various guises awaits them in the Great South Sea and in the far reaches of the Pacific: typhoons, castaways, shipwrecks, murder, and criminal insanity.


Book cover of Mutiny on the Spanish Main: HMS Hermione and the Royal Navy's Revenge

Katie Daysh Author Of Leeward

From my list on to get lost at sea with.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author of queer historical fiction and I love to explore stories set on the sea. I adore the drama of it, the beauty, the awe, the timelessness, and the wild backdrop that allows characters to confront themselves and their journeys. Having lived by the sea all my life on an island rich with nautical and smuggling history, it has never been far away from me. I like to read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction; both have strongly influenced my own writing. The books on this list capture the diverse reasons I am drawn to sea tales!

Katie's book list on to get lost at sea with

Katie Daysh Why did Katie love this book?

This non-fiction book about the mutiny on HMS Hermione was a massive inspiration behind Leeward which features a fictional mutiny in the Caribbean.

I read it after listening to a podcast featuring Angus Konstam and was instantly hooked. The historical events were shocking and brutal and had far-reaching political consequences at the time. Angus Konstam describes them so cinematically and with such intriguing historical detail that I absolutely devoured the book.

I became immersed in my own research and started imagining what it would have been like on those ships – both the Hermione and the Surprise which hunted her down. 

By Angus Konstam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mutiny on the Spanish Main as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A vivid account of a forgotten chapter of British naval history.' Dan Snow, Historian, TV Presenter and Broadcaster The true story of one of the most notorious mutinies in naval history, which provided inspiration for Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin and C.S. Forester's Hornblower novels. In 1797 the 32-gun Royal Navy frigate HMS Hermione was serving in the Caribbean, at the forefront of Britain's bitter sea war against Spain and Revolutionary France. Its commander, the sadistic and mercurial Captain Hugh Pigot ruled through terror, flogging his men mercilessly and pushing them beyond the limits of human endurance. On the night of 21…


Book cover of Master and Commander

Tristan Nettles Author Of The Shepherd: A Bronze Age Tale

From my list on books to read when living on a small island.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading, mostly due to a speech impediment that left me awkward and shy. I was lucky enough to experience world travel at a young age. My parents' divorce set me on a different path. Five middle schools and seven high schools later, I volunteered as a Marine Corps infantryman. I left the USA in 2015 to travel the world, from Micronesia to Nepal to Honduras and even Ukraine, where I fought with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. 

Tristan's book list on books to read when living on a small island

Tristan Nettles Why did Tristan love this book?

This book is the penultimate adventure story set on the high seas during the Napoleonic Wars. The characters are expertly made and presented around a plot line that takes every pain to stay true to the truth of past events while still offering the reader a series of novels that will keep even the greenest of landlubbers glued to their seats.

By Patrick O'Brian,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Master and Commander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of a life aboard a man-of-war in Nelson's navy are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.


Book cover of Beat to Quarters

C.W. Lovatt Author Of The Adventures of Charlie Smithers

From my list on historical fiction of the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was very young, in our tiny hamlet on the Canadian prairies, I recall riding with other children in the Dominion Day parade. Each child was given a little flag to wave, but even then I noticed that while half were given the old dominion flag, the other half were waving the Union Jack. I couldn’t put it into words then, naturally, but later I recognized it as a feeling of being part of something grand – something far larger than myself or even my own country. Those were the dying days of the Empire and the world has moved on, but a fascination for our history lingers to this day.

C.W.'s book list on historical fiction of the UK

C.W. Lovatt Why did C.W. love this book?

Forester is the perfect author for a young reader of Historical Fiction, pertaining to the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars in particular. The action is so riveting you’ll swear you can hear the crash of the broadsides, and the defiant growls of the salty tars as they weigh into the enemy with cold steel. However, his real gift is his knowledge of those stately old square-riggers in which Horatio Hornblower sailed. Indeed, I was so engrossed, that by the time I finished the series, I felt that I had a working knowledge of them from stem to stern.

By C. S. Forester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beat to Quarters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called "as gripping and realistic a sea tale as you are likely to run across" by the New York Times, C. S. Forester's Beat to Quarters finds Hornblower faced with a near-impossible mission off the coast of Nicaragua.
June 1808, somewhere west of Nicaragua -- a site suitable for spectacular sea battles. The Admiralty has ordered Captain Horatio Hornblower, now in command of the thirty-six-gun HMS Lydia, to form an alliance against the Spanish colonial government with an insane Spanish landowner; to find a water route across the Central American isthmus; and "to take, sink, burn or destroy" the fifty-gun…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the British Royal Navy, Horatio Nelson, and naval history?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the British Royal Navy, Horatio Nelson, and naval history.

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