Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nautical Happenings

In honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, I have been planning to post a selection of piratical books that I have enjoyed.

You might not know this based only on my reading habits, but I am really big into swashbuckling. Give me high boots, a poofy shirt, and a skinny sword any day. It doesn't show up in my reading as much as in the movies I like, but still, in my heart I am the swooning maiden on many a Harlequin cover, as long as there's a ship in the background.

So let me give you a little taste of some of my favorite pirate books, for readers of all ages, in no particular order.

The Sweet Trade, by Elizabeth Garrett.
This novel covers the well-documented and oft-accounted story of Mary Read and Anne Bonny, two notorious female pirates of the 18th century. I have a vague idea of the parts that are literally factual, but I don't know how much of the personalities are captured.

I do like, though, that the book contains another of my favorite tropes--the girl-disguised-as-boy. If I remember correctly, Anne Bonny is just a swashbuckling lass tooling around with Calico Jack and his pirate crew, and Mary Read was a sailor who had been disguised as a man for years and living a soldier's life, and who eventually fell into pirating.

Another worthy thing about this book is the sense of balance it gives. Pirating is not seen as glorious and delightful--a lot of their crew are drunks and louts, a lot of people's lives are hurt. You see the freedom and the violence, and I think that's an unusual balance to find in a pirate book.

The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists, by Gideon Defoe.
British humor, Charles Darwin, an a great deal of ham. There's some cross-dressing in here, too, used to more humorous effect. The Keystone Cops on the high seas. Very funny, and you should read this.

I Love My Pirate Papa, Laura Leuck.
This one is for the little kids--a picture book about a little boy and his stuffed hippo, and the life they lead on the pirate ship where they live with his Pirate Papa and his fearsome crew.

Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber, by L.A. Meyer.

This is the third in the Bloody Jack series, but I include it because it actually involves privateering. Jacky knows her way around a ship, and these books are all funny and delightful and full of swashbuckling and hijinks. This is one of those series where I sometimes wonder why all books aren't like Bloody Jack. Kris, if you're reading this and you've never read this series, you should go out right now and do it.

Okay, the hour is getting late, and if I want this to make it online on the actual occasion of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, I need to hop to it. If anyone has swashbuckling book recommendations for me, though, I'll take them with thanks!


**Correction and apology:
it's INTERnational Talk Like a Pirate Day. So sorry, to all those non-American pirates out there!

1 comment:

Laurie K said...

So timely! I just saw this exhibit at the Field Museum: and wanted to read more about Mary Read and Anne Bonny, who were mentioned a couple of times. I have added a bunch of these books to my to read list.