Books as Holiday Gifts, 2019


Member III
Terrific list! Thanks for the reminder to revisit old friends and subscribe to new ones.

If I may, please humbly add The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck to the list. I've been working on the audiobook and am thoroughly entertained.

Here is a bit about Steinbeck, Ricketts, the voyage, and the ship.

And here is a brief excerpt describing the attributes of the "Hansen Sea Cow", their dinghy's outboard.

[FONT=&amp]"We come now to a piece of equipment which still brings anger to our hearts and, we hope, some venom to our pen. Perhaps in self-defense against suit, we should say, “The outboard motor mentioned in this book is purely fictitious and any resemblance to outboard motors living or dead is coincidental.” We shall call this contraption, for the sake of secrecy, a Hansen Sea-Cow—a dazzling little piece of machinery, all aluminum paint and touched here and there with spots of red. The Sea-Cow was built to sell, to dazzle the eyes, to splutter its way into the unwary heart We took it along for the skiff. It was intended that it should push us ashore and back, should drive our boat into estuaries and along the borders of little coves...."[/FONT]

  1. Incredibly lazy, the Sea-Cow loved to ride on the back of a boat, trailing its propeller daintily in the water while we rowed.
  2. It required the same amount of gasoline whether it ran or not, apparently being able to absorb this fluid through its body walls without recourse to explosion. It had always to be filled at the beginning of every trip.
  3. It had apparently some clairvoyant powers, and was able to read our mind, particularly when they were inflamed with emotion. Thus, on every occasion when we were driven to the point of destroying it, it started and ran with a great noise and excitement. This served the double purpose of saving its life and of resurrecting in our minds a false confidence in it.
  4. It had many cleavage points, and when attached with a screwdriver, fell apart in simulated death, a trait it had in common with opossums, armadillos, and several members of the sloth family, which also fall apart in simulated death when attached with a screwdriver.
  5. It hated Tex [the Western Flyer’s engine mechanic], sensing perhaps that his knowledge of mechanics was capable of diagnosing its shortcomings.
  6. It completely refused to run: (a) when the waves were high, (b) when the wind blew, (c) at night, early morning, and evening, (d) in rain, dew, or fog, (e) when the distance to be covered was more than two hundred yards. But on warm, sunny days when the weather was calm and the white beach close by— in a word, on days when it would have been a pleasure to row—the Sea-Cow started at a touch and would not stop.
  7. It loved no one, trusted no one. It had no friends.

Happy Christmas to all; fair winds for the new year,



Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
In case it’s not obvious, “The Log” is a condensed version of the original “Sea of Cortez.” Mostly with the biology and some philosophizing stripped out. I have “The Log” as a trade paperback and the full version as an e-book. It would be better the other way around, but it’s hard to find a printed copy of “Sea of Cortez” these days.

As a compromise, one might consider adding Rickett’s other famous work, “Between Pacific Tides,” subsequent editions updated by later authors.


Member III
... but it’s hard to find a printed copy of “Sea of Cortez” these days.
A signed first edition goes for about $8K and other used copies and reprints start at about $100-125. (Suddenly the ebook version is a bit more attractive.)

...As a compromise, one might consider adding Rickett’s other famous work, “Between Pacific Tides,” subsequent editions updated by later authors.
Great suggestion! I do miss the science illustrations and feel they would add tremendously to the experience. (How do I get on your gift giving list?)

Steinbeck did say they had a bottle of whiskey in their stores for medicinal purposes. It seemed to have worked too as they drank it at a dockside festival before they left and nobody go sick while on on the trip.

And FWIW, there was a "Seahorse" outboard manufactured by "Johnson" available at the time and vintage versions are about still selling at about $60 bucks on craigslist, go figure.

The Curve of Time made it into the audiobook library too. Thank you for the recommendation.

Personally, I think Christian should take up narrating audiobooks full-time. I think he'd be quite good at it and we could make a lot of jokes about having a voice and face for radio (nudge, wink). :devil:




Member III

Just a couple of footnotes to Christian's excellent list:

Joseph Conrad began writing after serving many years as a merchant seaman. Fans of Typhoon will probably enjoy my favorite: The Secret Sharer. It's actually a novella. Many other nautical novels and stories by Conrad, of course.

Erskine Childers, author of The Riddle of the Sands, was a soldier, sailor, parliamentarian and Irish revolutionary. In 1922, the British arrested him for possession of a handgun, and sentenced him to death. His last words were directed to the members of the firing squad: "Take a step or two forward, lads, it will be easier that way."

And now my own recommendation: The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby. The autobiographical story of a young university graduate who, in 1937, quits his first job in an advertising agency to ship aboard the giant four-masted barque Moshulu for a round trip from London to Australia.