10 Books that Bring the Smell of the Sea

Here is a list of our favorite books about sea! If you’re longing to be on the sea, these adventures will bring that dear salty smell to your home. If you’re reading them on a great sea holiday while sipping your evening drink and feeling the breeze, they will awaken all your senses to immortalize the moment.

10 Books that Bring the Smell of the Sea

10. Star of the Sea - Joseph O’Connor

The Star of the Sea is set against the Irish Famine of 1845-49. The book tells about a 26-day journey of a group of people trying to escape social injustice and corruption with the hope of finding a better land to live a better life. While dreaming of a new beginning in New York, the sorrows of the past haunt them, together with a mysterious murderer on the ship. Not an ordinary detective novel but a fine example of modern Irish literature, the Whitbread Laureate book is enriched with a sailor’s touch and experiences.

9. Barro Blanco - José Mauro De Vasconcelos

A heartwarming story, full of the joy of life, peace, and longings… Our hero, the Gypsy Chicao has lived through various unlucky events, nevertheless he is a happy, sprightly lad, a strong and courageous mariner, and a passionate lover. He sees the sea and the wind as his brothers, but sometimes things just don’t go his way. Brazilian author Vasconcelos takes us to a journey in his homeland’s coasts, vividly depicting love, grief, longings and quagmires of this far away but familiar geography.

8. The Sailor from Gibraltar - Marguerite Duras

A man who works in a job he doesn’t like and lives with a woman he isn’t happy with, meets a truck driver while on a journey to Italy with his girlfriend. The man travels with the truck driver for a while and their conversations become a revelation for him, resulting in his moving to a village on his own. There, she meets Anna, a rich widower, who suggests that they search together for the love of her life, a sailor from Gibraltar. Their voyage on Anna’s boat becomes the story of a woman and a man; the passion now is not what is sought, but the search itself...

7. The Cruise of the Dazzler - Jack London

Finding his life monotonous and boring, the foolhardy Joe runs away from home to become a seaman, only to find himself in the middle of pirates. The Cruise of the Dazzler tells about a youngsters adventures learning about life, while Jack London’s narrative flows with impressive details about the sea and seamanship.

6. The Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

Having a well-deserved place among modern children’s classics, The Treasure Island is based on an imaginary map that Stevenson had drawn for his son. Serialized in 1881 in a children’s magazine called Young Folks, the book has become a great adventure for the children since then. The novel tells about our hero Jim’s treasure hunt that starts when he finds a map belonging to an old sailorman who stays in the family’s inn.

5. Mediterranean - Panait Istrati

Mediterranean is one of the best loved works of Panait Istrati, nicknamed the Gorky of the Balkans. Its hero Adrien Zagrofi is born to a poor family and grew in difficult circumstances, but never gave up his dreams, just like Istrati himself. Leaving his homeland Romania and everything else behind with high hopes to become a rich man, 22-year old Adrien visits Istanbul, Alexandria, Beirut and Syria in an adventurous journey where he makes many friends. In every line you get more and more into Adrien’s world and love him for all he is. An impressive and engrossing novel bringing the warm breeze of the Mediterranean.

4. Kon-Tiki - Thor Heyerdahl

Yes, we had also suggested you to see its film, indeed. But this book had taken its place in our bookshelves and our hearts long before the film was made. Published in 1948, Kon-Tiki is the story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and friends crossing the Pacific Ocean in 1947, on a raft made with the technique of very old times. It all started with anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl’s controversial theory, suggesting that the people of Polynesian Islands had settled there by sailing to these islands from South America. Heyerdahl’s theory was met with criticism as his colleagues found such a journey impossible. So he decided to try sailing from South America to Polynesia under exactly the same conditions as people had back then. Heyerdahl goes to Peru with his friends, where they build a raft and set sail to 8,000-kilometers of adventure. Kon-Tiki’s 101-day-long crossing is full of exciting details.

3. The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In 1955, while Gabriel Garcia Marquez was working in El Espectador newspaper, he had written the news-story about a big shipwreck in a fourteen-day serial. The articles took the form of a book in 1970. The story focuses on mariner Luis Alejandro Velasco’s life-or-death struggle. 
The destroyer Caldas of the Colombian Naval Force was struck by a storm in the Antilles, and eight people of the crew got lost in the dark sea. The authorities could only be notified of the disaster 120 minutes later, when the ship reached Panama. The US military force –controlling the Panama Canal- and the aid agencies in the Southern Caribbean region immediately started searching for the shipwrecked. As none could be reached in four days, the rescue efforts were ended and the lost sailors were declared dead. One of those lost sailors, Luis Alejandro Velasco, was found a week later, in the throes of death on an empty beach on Northern Colombia. 
While reading The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, how Velasco struggled on an empty raft with no food or water, you’ll feel the power of the oceans through Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magical language.

2. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas - Jules Verne

Every child should delve into Jules Verne’s world. And those who’ve already become adults before reading Verne should close that gap – whatever their age! With a great language, Jules Verne’s classical science-fiction book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas illustrates the infinity of the seas. It’s impossible not to get excited while reading Captain Nemo and naturalist Pierre Aronnax’s quest of the lost continent of Atlantis and their voyage all the way to the South Pole. And no doubt, a boat is the best place you can be while reading this fantastic adventure on the submarine Nautilus.


1. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

Described by D.H. Lawrence as ‘the best book about the sea,’ Herman Melville’s world-famous novel Moby Dick is about Captain Ahab’s battle against a big white whale. As he sees the whale -Moby Dick- to be the reason why he has lost his leg and his ship, Captain Ahab chases the whale in the ocean to get his revenge. Ahab sees the whale like a symbol of all the evil in the world. 
The book is also famous for Captain’s aphorisms that will stay in your mind. And Melville provides detailed information about seafaring and whales, worth reading for its own sake.