10 books like The Perfect Storm

By Sebastian Junger,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Perfect Storm. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Endurance

By Alfred Lansing,

Book cover of Endurance

This is one of the best survival guides ever, and one of the most compelling looks into how human beings do or don’t accept a disastrous situation and (literally) flow with it. It’s the story of the explorer Ernest Shackleton and his crew, after their ship, the aptly named Endurance, got stuck in the Antarctic ice and then crushed by it. They were stranded, through the permanent darkness of the polar winter, on floating ice floes—with only blubber to eat, and no fiber at all (you work out the consequences). No shelter. No light. Water and waves underneath you. But they avoided going insane, and Shackleton figured out when to fight (the ice and the sea, in this case)—and when not to fight, in order to drift.

Endurance

By Alfred Lansing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible…


In the Heart of the Sea

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

A small lifeboat is spotted off the coast of Chile in 1821, below the gunnels skeletal men cling to a pile of human bones. Nathaniel Philbrick opens his National Book Award-winning story with an almost incomprehensibly brutal scene and rarely takes a breath for the remaining 300-odd pages. Considered to be the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is the true story of a ship stove in by a whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the harrowing survival of some of its crew. 

In the Heart of the Sea

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked In the Heart of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The epic true-life story of one of the most notorious maritime disasters of the nineteenth century - and inspiration for `Moby-Dick' - reissued to accompany a major motion picture due for release in December 2015, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy.

When the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket in 1819, the unthinkable happened. A mere speck in the vast Pacific ocean - and powerless against the forces of nature - Essex was rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale, and her twenty crewmen were forced to take to the open sea…


The Drowned World

By J.G. Ballard,

Book cover of The Drowned World

There’s no storm in J.G. Ballard’s masterpiece of post-apocalyptic fiction, just the aftermath. This was another book that I read at a highly impressionable age and return to every so often, especially when I’m writing something disaster-related. It takes place in a London flooded by climate change: a science team is dispatched to the feverish swamp that was once a great city, where they’re confronted by pirates and other dangers.

It always blows my mind that Ballard wrote the book in 1962, well before the current debate over the climate. The thrilling set-pieces aside, it’s also a chilling reminder of how nature can still topple even the mightiest cities.

The Drowned World

By J.G. Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A debut novel, set in London in the near future. The capital city has been flooded and transformed into a tropical location where social aberrations only serve as an indicator of the level of corruption of the modern mentality.


Shutter Island

By Dennis Lehane,

Book cover of Shutter Island

Islands in fiction are often remote and isolated, their inhabitants cut off from any outside help and having to rely upon only themselves for survival or escape. A U.S. Marshal goes to an island to investigate the disappearance of a murderous patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, in another terrifyingly clever book chock full of twists and turns. I’m drawn to stories that are gothic and hugely atmospheric and mysterious, and this book has all of that and more. Lehane described it as “a hybrid of the works of the Brontë sisters and Invasion of the Body Snatchers,and I can’t think of a better way to describe it! I’m always trying to wrongfoot and surprise a reader with shock reveals that they hopefully don’t see coming – I definitely did not see the end of Shutter Island coming at all! 

Shutter Island

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Shutter Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basis for the blockbuster motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island by New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane is a gripping and atmospheric psychological thriller where nothing is quite what it seems. The New York Times calls Shutter Island, “Startlingly original.” The Washington Post raves, “Brilliantly conceived and executed.” A masterwork of suspense and surprise from the author of Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone, Shutter Island carries the reader into a nightmare world of madness, mind control, and CIA Cold War paranoia andis unlike anything you’ve ever read before.


Farthest North

By Fridtjof Nansen,

Book cover of Farthest North: The Epic Adventure of a Visionary Explorer

Years before Shackleton and his crew became locked in the ice in Antarctica, Fridtjof Nansen his crew, and more than one hundred dogs got their ship stuck at the opposite end of the earth. But they did it on purpose. Before the modern understanding of oceanic currents, Nansen proposed that if he let his ship become locked in the polar ice, he and his crew would drift, very slowly, all the way to the North Pole. Three years later he and one other emerged shipless, frozen, and covered in walrus skin on a rocky island above the arctic circle. His ship? Safely on its way back to Norway. What happened in-between is almost unbelievable. 

Farthest North

By Fridtjof Nansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"If Outside magazine had been around during the first turn of the century, Fridtjof Nansen would have been its No. 1 cover boy." The Chicago Sun-Times In September of 1893, Norwegian zoologist Fridtjof Nansen and crew manned the schooner Fram, intending to drift, frozen in the Arctic pack-ice, to the North Pole. When it became clear that they would miss the pole, Nansen and companion Hjalmar Johansen struck off by themselves. Racing the shrinking pack-ice, they attempted, by dog-sled, to go "farthest north." They survived a winter in a moss hut eating walruses and polar bears, and the public assumed…


Adrift

By Steven Callahan,

Book cover of Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

The waves were high, and the wind gusting, but it was nothing Steven Callahan’s little 21-foot sailboat hadn’t seen before. He had sailed her across the Atlantic once before and was aiming for the Caribbean when he bedded down for the night. He awoke to a cabin full of raging seawater and had only minutes to escape before the boat he had designed and built went to the bottom. He had an inflatable raft, a small amount of food and water, and a soaking-wet sleeping bag. Not much else. This raw first-person account of surviving alone in the middle of the ocean on a life raft reads like the transcript of the nightmare every sailor who heads out to sea has the night before leaving port. 

Adrift

By Steven Callahan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Perfect Storm, before In the Heart of the Sea, Steven Callahan’s dramatic tale of survival at sea was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than thirty-six weeks. In some ways the model for the new wave of adventure books, Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small sloop capsized only six days out. “Utterly absorbing” (Newsweek), Adrift is a must-have for any adventure library.


Dead Astronauts

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Book cover of Dead Astronauts

And now for something completely different: this novel takes place in a world already ravaged by disaster. Not all of this book’s protagonists are human—there’s a blue fox lurking around with a mysterious purpose, and even the people have been… enhanced, let’s say. The narration is surreal and mythic and almost abstract at moments.

Dead Astronauts won’t be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea. But if you’re riding out a storm (either internal or external), this one can perhaps serve as an excellent tone poem to see you through, one filled with some truly mind-bending ideas and characters. This is one of the books that helped center me during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when we were all locked inside.

Dead Astronauts

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters - Grayson, Morse and Chen - shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit.

A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own.…


The Two-Bear Mambo

By Joe R. Lansdale,

Book cover of The Two-Bear Mambo

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a funny mystery/thriller series, I always do my best to steer them toward Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series. Hap Collins is a wisecracking good ol’ boy with liberal leanings, while his best friend Leonard is a Black, gay, conservative war veteran. They bumble and punch their way through mysteries that usually involve long-buried, lethal secrets.

The Two-Bear Mambo is arguably the most cinematic of the Hap and Leonard books, and that’s because the two are searching a small Texas town for Hap’s ex-girlfriend—a town at risk of serious flooding. The climactic fight in a graveyard is an over-the-top melee of rushing water, bones, and death. Solving mysteries is even harder when you have to prevent yourself from drowning in the biggest natural disaster to hit Texas in years. 

The Two-Bear Mambo

By Joe R. Lansdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Two-Bear Mambo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Florida Grange, Leonard's gorgeous lawyer and Hap's former lover, has vanished while in pursuit of the real story behind the jailhouse death of a bluesman's son. Hap and Leonard investigate and end up in a part of East Texas that has Klan wannabes, an exhumation in a voodoo graveyard, and murder.


Mighty Storms of New England

By Eric P. Fisher,

Book cover of Mighty Storms of New England: The Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards, and Floods That Shaped the Region

Eric Fisher has been Chief Meteorologist at WBZ-TV in Boston since April 2013, and was an on-camera meteorologist for The Weather Channel before that. In this 2021 book, Fisher is able to strike the perfect balance between the “what’s so” and the “why” behind these historic storms (as well as with other types of natural disasters affecting New Englanders). This rare quality, augmented by his meticulous research of historical accounts of these events, including the impressive array of meteorological records broken along the way, enables him to present an enjoyable, educational read—especially for the interested layperson. 

Mighty Storms of New England

By Eric P. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mighty Storms of New England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New England landscape has long been battered by some of the most intense weather in US history. Discover the legendary storms that have devastated New England, including: the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 that killed 564 people; the Worcester Tornado of 1953; the Snow Hurricane of 1804 that demolished orchards and killed dozens of sailors off the coast; and the Blizzard of 1978 that brought Boston to a standstill for weeks.


The Lace Reader

By Brunonia Barry,

Book cover of The Lace Reader

This book has everything, Mystical Irish lace, touches of magic, a lovely romance, chilling family dysfunction, and a fabulous extra character in the guise of Witchtown, USA—Salem, Massachusetts. Towner Whitney comes back to Salem for the funeral of a beloved relative and ends up having to cope with demons from her past in a gorgeous, evocative seaside setting. The ending was a complete surprise to me, one of those Whaaaat? moments that are so rare and so thrilling, and which I keep trying to get to in my own books!

The Lace Reader

By Brunonia Barry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawn by family. Driven by fear. Haunted by fate.

Would knowing the future be a gift or a burden? Or even a curse...?

The Whitney women of Salem, Massachusetts are renowned for reading the future in the patterns of lace. But the future doesn't always bring good news - as Towner Whitney knows all too well. When she was just fifteen her gift sent her whole world crashing to pieces. She predicted - and then witnessed - something so horrific that she vowed never to read lace again, and fled her home and family for good. Salem is a place…


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