18 books like We, the Navigators

By David Lewis, Derek Oulton,

Here are 18 books that We, the Navigators fans have personally recommended if you like We, the Navigators. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands Before European Contact

Christina Thompson Author Of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

From my list on Polynesian history.

Who am I?

A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Christina Thompson has traveled extensively in the Pacific, including through most of the archipelagoes in Polynesia. She is the author of two books about Polynesia: a memoir of her marriage to a Māori man called Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and a history of the ancient voyagers of the Pacific called Sea People. She edits the literary journal Harvard Review and teaches in the writing program at Harvard University Extension. 

Christina's book list on Polynesian history

Christina Thompson Why did Christina love this book?

I like to think of Patrick Kirch as “Mr. Pacific Archaeology”—no one has written more, or more winningly, about Polynesian prehistory—and On the Road of the Winds is his introduction to the field. First published in 2002 and reissued in an updated edition in 2017, this elegant, eminently readable survey not only covers the history of archaeology in Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia but explains how the archaeological findings of the past half-century relate to discoveries in biology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, botany, and countless other fields.

By Patrick Vinton Kirch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Road of the Winds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the earth's surface and encompasses many thousands of islands, which are home to numerous human societies and cultures. Among these indigenous Oceanic cultures are the intrepid Polynesian double-hulled canoe navigators, the atoll dwellers of Micronesia, the statue carvers of remote Easter Island, and the famed traders of Melanesia. Decades of archaeological excavations, combined with allied research in historical linguistics, biological anthropology, and comparative ethnography, have revealed much new information about the long-term history of these Pacific Island societies and cultures. On the Road of the Winds synthesizes the grand sweep of human history in…


Book cover of Islands and Beaches: Discourse on a Silent Land

Christina Thompson Author Of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

From my list on Polynesian history.

Who am I?

A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Christina Thompson has traveled extensively in the Pacific, including through most of the archipelagoes in Polynesia. She is the author of two books about Polynesia: a memoir of her marriage to a Māori man called Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and a history of the ancient voyagers of the Pacific called Sea People. She edits the literary journal Harvard Review and teaches in the writing program at Harvard University Extension. 

Christina's book list on Polynesian history

Christina Thompson Why did Christina love this book?

The Australian historian Greg Dening was one of the great creative thinkers of the late twentieth century, and his influence is everywhere in the modern history and anthropology of the Pacific. Dening, who died in 2008, was especially fascinated by ambiguous interactions and encounters between people from different worlds. One of his earliest books, Islands and Beaches, focuses on the period in the Marquesas when Europeans first arrived, bringing God, guns, germs, and a whole host of other complications. At once sparklingly and scholarly, it tells the vivid story of this tragic and consequential period in Polynesian history.

By Greg Dening,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Two Worlds: First Meetings between Maori and Europeans, 1642-1772

Christina Thompson Author Of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

From my list on Polynesian history.

Who am I?

A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Christina Thompson has traveled extensively in the Pacific, including through most of the archipelagoes in Polynesia. She is the author of two books about Polynesia: a memoir of her marriage to a Māori man called Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and a history of the ancient voyagers of the Pacific called Sea People. She edits the literary journal Harvard Review and teaches in the writing program at Harvard University Extension. 

Christina's book list on Polynesian history

Christina Thompson Why did Christina love this book?

Two Worlds, by Dame Anne Salmond, is another crossover work—part history and part anthropology. The author, an eminent New Zealand anthropologist, uses her knowledge of traditional Māori culture (what people believed, what they ate, how they lived) to flesh out the historical record left by early European visitors to Aotearoa/New Zealand. The result is a rich, authoritative account of encounters that for far too long have been described from only one point of view.

By Anne Salmond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anne Salmond's brilliant study of first contact between Maori and European explorers - a trail-blazing achievement in narrative New Zealand history.

'Professor Salmond has written a remarkable book. Remarkable for its meticulous research, for its ability to grip the reader's attention; but most of all, remarkable that no-one has done anything quite like it before in the exploration of New Zealand history.'
-Naylor Hillary, The Press

Two Worlds is Anne Salmond's award-winning account of the first points of contact between Maori and European explorers. It is a provocative, penetrating examination of those dramatic first meetings, casting them in a completely…


Book cover of Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors: The Discovery and Settlement of the Pacific

Christina Thompson Author Of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

From my list on Polynesian history.

Who am I?

A dual citizen of Australia and the US, Christina Thompson has traveled extensively in the Pacific, including through most of the archipelagoes in Polynesia. She is the author of two books about Polynesia: a memoir of her marriage to a Māori man called Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All and a history of the ancient voyagers of the Pacific called Sea People. She edits the literary journal Harvard Review and teaches in the writing program at Harvard University Extension. 

Christina's book list on Polynesian history

Christina Thompson Why did Christina love this book?

This handsome coffee table book with short, topical essays by Ben Finney, Geoffrey Irwin, Sam Low, and others is focused on Polynesian voyaging. Richly illustrated with paintings, photographs, and maps, it brings together the major threads: oral traditions, canoe design, navigational methods, theories of settlement. Most of the content can be found elsewhere, but the presentation is impressive; if you wanted just one book to browse through, this would be a fun one to have.

By Professor K. R. Howe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The discovery and settlement of the islands of the Pacific is the last and greatest story of human migration. The daring explorers who crossed the vast ocean that covers a third of the earth’s surface were the world’s first deepsea sailors and navigators. Thousands of years before any other peoples left the sight of land, they were venturing across unknown seas to settle far-flung islands.

This richly illustrated account of Pacific voyaging, past and present, examines the very latest findings from world authorities. These fascinating insights are interwoven with superb photographs, artifacts, maps, and diagrams, which together tell a story…


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

Tyler LeBlanc Author Of Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion

From my list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again.

Who am I?

I grew up on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the raging Atlantic ocean. Both of my grandfathers spent their lives at sea. The power, and fear, that the ocean inspires has been a constant in my life, and most recently while working on Acadian Driftwood. Spending years working on a story so closely tied to tragedy, and the sea, I’ve consumed a lot of nautical disaster stories. While not everything on the list is a disaster (Nansen got his ship stuck in the ice on purpose) each story will make you rethink whether you ever want to head out to sea.  

Tyler's book list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again

Tyler LeBlanc Why did Tyler love this book?

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. 

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. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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…


Book cover of Voyage

Dan E. Feltham Author Of Under the Southern Cross

From my list on stories of the sea.

Who am I?

I learned to swim at age two; the oceans became my lifetime playpen, and sailboats my adult toys. I began to sail at age 14 and put away my soggy deck shoes at the age of 70. Now at age 88, I write about those adventures—stories of wartime Vietnam, aerial exploration in North Africa, the Persian Gulf, ports of Mexico, and racing or cruising sailboats to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bermuda, Mexico, Panama, the Caribbean and stops along the way. Life-long friends, romance, islands, and every kind of ocean weather fill my memories. Climb aboard my pages at my website and sail through a portion of my life.

Dan's book list on stories of the sea

Dan E. Feltham Why did Dan love this book?

We know Sterling Hayden mostly as a Hollywood movie actor – at least 40 film roles. Hollywood was his income, sailing was his love. At 6 ‘4” he was bigger than most in his life’s accomplishments. I think of him first as a maverick adventurer and a proponent of personal freedom, then second as an actor, and finally as a terrific author, that being his true legacy and one I would be glad to emulate. He lived a more than a full life and in his final days settled in Sausalito, CA and in 1976 wrote Voyage. He lived much of his life on ships and sailed around the world twice and more, so he knew about what he wrote in Voyage.

The paperback version that I treasure in my library is 700 pages of fine print and each page a detailed education about a ship, her crew,…

By Sterling Hayden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A magnificent epic of the sea and a dynamic portrait of turn-of-the-century America.—Publishers Weekly


Book cover of Daughter of the Reef

Dan E. Feltham Author Of Under the Southern Cross

From my list on stories of the sea.

Who am I?

I learned to swim at age two; the oceans became my lifetime playpen, and sailboats my adult toys. I began to sail at age 14 and put away my soggy deck shoes at the age of 70. Now at age 88, I write about those adventures—stories of wartime Vietnam, aerial exploration in North Africa, the Persian Gulf, ports of Mexico, and racing or cruising sailboats to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bermuda, Mexico, Panama, the Caribbean and stops along the way. Life-long friends, romance, islands, and every kind of ocean weather fill my memories. Climb aboard my pages at my website and sail through a portion of my life.

Dan's book list on stories of the sea

Dan E. Feltham Why did Dan love this book?

I read this story while doing research for my own books about how life on islands like Tahiti used to be hundreds of years ago, prior to any contact with the Western World. The sea was master and anyone lucky enough to be cast ashore after a hurricane was blessed by the Gods—even a princess from a different coral island. Clare Coleman did years of research to write a series of three fascinating books that take you to the days before South Pacific discovery—of voyaging outrigger canoes, native taboos, pagan rituals, exotic dancing, and romance. The book is as good as any description of what Jacques Rousseau referred to as the culture of the ‘Noble Savage’.

This first of Coleman’s Ancient Tahiti series, continues with Sister of the Sun and Child of the Dawn, is perfect reading for anyone that loves island history, native lore, and adventure.

By Clare Coleman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A chief’s daughter is storm-tossed onto the strange land of Tahiti in a novel that “shows that the ancient South Pacific can be a dangerous paradise” (Publishers Weekly).

In the first volume of the Ancient Tahiti series, Tepua, the daughter of a chief sails from her coral atoll home toward her planned, and ritually mandated, marriage. But she never reaches her destination because a violent storm damages her vessel and leaves her stranded on the shores of Tahiti, a land previously unknown to her. She is made unwelcome because of her foreignness and is victimized because of her weakness and…


Book cover of Adrift

Dan E. Feltham Author Of Under the Southern Cross

From my list on stories of the sea.

Who am I?

I learned to swim at age two; the oceans became my lifetime playpen, and sailboats my adult toys. I began to sail at age 14 and put away my soggy deck shoes at the age of 70. Now at age 88, I write about those adventures—stories of wartime Vietnam, aerial exploration in North Africa, the Persian Gulf, ports of Mexico, and racing or cruising sailboats to Hawaii, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Bermuda, Mexico, Panama, the Caribbean and stops along the way. Life-long friends, romance, islands, and every kind of ocean weather fill my memories. Climb aboard my pages at my website and sail through a portion of my life.

Dan's book list on stories of the sea

Dan E. Feltham Why did Dan love this book?

A true story of love, loss, and survival at sea. The author’s book cover pretty much tells the true story. There you see two lovers, their heads bowed, and below their profiles the wreckage of a dismasted sailboat, a solitary female figure searching the now calm but empty horizon—the aftermath of pounding rain, gigantic seas, and 140-knot winds. One critic wrote, "this book is life-affirming, a saga of human survival, a tale of loss and victory, proof of the resilience of the human spirit." I totally agree. Be ready to shed a tear or two and maybe read all night. Hollywood made a movie of this book, so it must be a good read.

For the uninitiated sailor, the definition of terms at the back matter is excellent, and learn what happens to a 44’ sailboat in a hurricane. It ain’t pretty, but it is inspiring.

By Tami Oldham Ashcraft,

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?

THE HEART-STOPPING MEMOIR, NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING SHAILENE WOODLEY AND SAM CLAFLIN, AND DIRECTED BY BALTASAR KORMAKUR (EVEREST)

A compelling, at times devastating, ultimately inspiring account of how much can go wrong on the ocean and how, miraculously, one woman conquered her own fears.

'An inspirational and empowering read' Shailene Woodley

Young and in love, their lives ahead of them, Tami Oldham and her fiance Richard Sharp set sail from Tahiti under brilliant blue skies, with Tami's hometown of San Diego as their ultimate destination. But the two free spirits and avid sailors couldn't anticipate that less than…


Book cover of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia

Ann Göth Author Of Volcanic Adventures in Tonga: Species Conservation on Tin Can Island

From my list on sweeping you to remote islands in the South Pacific.

Who am I?

I am an Australian writer with a passion for all books about the South Pacific. Thirty years ago, I embarked on a two-year mission to the Kingdom of Tonga, and soon after, my job as a naturalist on cruise ships took me to many beautiful, fascinating, and often very remote island nations in that region. Nowadays, my jobs as a writer, scientist, high school teacher, and mother leave little room to navigate to that beautiful part of the world, but I continue to read whatever seems even slightly related to the South Pacific Theme. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Ann's book list on sweeping you to remote islands in the South Pacific

Ann Göth Why did Ann love this book?

Having lived with Polynesian people on remote islands for 17 months, I always wondered where they originally came from and how their fascinating culture evolved.

This book enlightened me as it beautifully describes how the earliest Polynesians reached these far-away islands with amazing seafarer skills but no written tradition or metal tools at hand. I came across this book when it won the 2020 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction and can only agree that it is very well-researched and written in an easy-to-understand way. 

By Christina Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A blend of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Simon Winchester's Pacific, a thrilling intellectual detective story that looks deep into the past to uncover who first settled the islands of the remote Pacific, where they came from, how they got there, and how we know.

For more than a millennium, Polynesians have occupied the remotest islands in the Pacific Ocean, a vast triangle stretching from Hawaii to New Zealand to Easter Island. Until the arrival of European explorers they were the only people to have ever lived there. Both the most closely related and the most widely dispersed…


Book cover of The Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies

Toby Lester Author Of The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America

From my list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and an editor with eclectic interests. I’ve published two books of popular history—Da Vinci's Ghost (2012), about Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and The Fourth Part of the World (2009), about the map that gave America its name. I’ve also written extensively for national publications on such topics as the sociology of new religious movements, privacy protection in the Internet age, the Voynich manuscript, the revisionist study of the Qur’an, the revival of ancient Greek music, and alphabet reform in Azerbaijan. I’m presently a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 1988-1990, I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen.

Toby's book list on geographical ideas behind the age of discovery

Toby Lester Why did Toby love this book?

When the story of Christopher Columbus gets told, it’s typically as a tale of his having sailed west to get quickly to the east. But in this gorgeously produced, exhaustively researched study, Nicolás Wey-Gómez argues that to understand Columbus and his story properly, you have to understand it as a story about voyages to the south. Columbus inherited a powerful set of assumptions about the nature and peoples found in southern latitudes, and it’s those assumptions, Wey-Gómez contends, that allowed Columbus and the many Europeans that followed him to the New World to justify their various colonial enterprises.

By Nicolás Wey Gómez,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A radical revision of the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas that links Columbus's southbound route with colonialism, slavery, and today's divide between the industrialized North and the developing South.

Everyone knows that in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic, seeking a new route to the East. Few note, however, that Columbus's intention was also to sail south, to the tropics. In The Tropics of Empire, Nicolás Wey Gómez rewrites the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas, casting it as part of Europe's reawakening to the natural and human resources of the South. Wey…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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