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First edition, first printing of Herman Wouk's The Caine MutinyThe oceans, the seas, and lakes and rivers along with ships, boats, rafts and submarines have provided authors with inspiration since Jason’s Argo and Noah’s Ark. Non-fiction books feature stories of almost unbelievable hardships, bravery and endurance. The names of these famous ships alone need little introduction – the Bounty, the Titanic and the Mary Celeste have fascinated generations of readers.

When considering fiction, there is so much to choose from. Moby Dick is often classified as one of the great studies of obsession and humanity, Treasure Island is THE classic adventure story but Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is also a thrill a minute. And then there’s Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny and William Brinkley’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Last Ship, the unique voyage in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Arthur Ransome’s children’s classic Swallows and Amazons, and Erskine Childers’ genre-defining spy novel, The Riddle of the Sands. Haul in any of these wonderful books or dive into our list of 20 collectable nautical books.

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10 Collectable Nautical Non-Fiction Books

The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters by Marshall Logan The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters
Marshall Logan

One of the first books published after the unsinkable ship sank – illustrations and survivor stories.

I Was Graf Spee's Prisoner by Captain Patrick Dove
I Was Graf Spee's Prisoner
Captain Patrick Dove

A vivid 1940 account of a British prisoner on board the feared German WWII battlecruiser.

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft
Thor Heyerdahl

Heyerdahl’s account of his historic 1947 voyage across the Pacific in a tiny wooden raft.

South by Sir Ernest Shackleton
Sir Ernest Shackleton

With the Endurance locked in ice, Shackleton journeyed 800 miles in a 22-foot boat to find help.

PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II by Robert Donovan
PT 109: John F. Kennedy in World War II
Robert Donovan

JFK’s heroics after his torpedo boat was hit by a Japanese destroyer helped launch his political career.

The Life of Vice-Admiral Bligh by George Mackaness
The Life of Vice-Admiral Bligh
George Mackaness

Published in 1931, this book describes the Bounty mutiny and the rest of Bligh’s amazing career.

C-Six Ten Years as the Doctor of the QE2 by Nigel Roberts
C-Six Ten Years as the Doctor of the QE2
Nigel Roberts

A memoir from 1988 – check out the copies with two dustjackets (English and Japanese).

The Mary Celeste and Other Strange Tales of the Sea  by J.G. Lockhart
The Mary Celeste and Other Strange Tales of the Sea
J.G. Lockhart

The disappearance of the Mary Celeste’s crew in 1872 remains one of the greatest seafaring mysteries.

The Log of the Cutty Sark by Basil Lubbock
The Log of the Cutty Sark
Basil Lubbock

Still on show in London, the Cutty Sark was the world’s last tea clipper. Contains 59 illustrations.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
The Perfect Storm
Sebastian Junger

Junger’s 1997 interpretation of what happened to the Andrea Gail trawler in the ‘storm of the century.’

10 Collectible Nautical Novels

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
C.S. Lewis

Published in 1952, the third Narnia novel sees Prince Caspian embark on a nautical quest.

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
The Cruel Sea
Nicholas Monsarrat

From 1951, this story of the North Atlantic convoys and their escorts became a classic.

Jaws by Peter Benchley
Peter Benchley

The thriller from 1974 that culminates with the Great White pitted against the crew of the Orca.

Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
Master and Commander
Patrick O'Brian

1969 saw the first Jack Aubrey novel. It became a mega-selling series.

English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
English Passengers
Matthew Kneale

Won the Whitbread Prize in 2000, this story features a voyage to Tasmania.

The Sea-Wolf by Jack London
The Sea-Wolf
Jack London

A psychological thriller featuring a memorable captain – first printing of 40,000 sold out immediately.

Captains Courageous: A Story of the Grand Banks by Rudyard Kipling
Captains Courageous: A Story of the Grand Banks
Rudyard Kipling

Published in 1897, the spoiled son of a tycoon learns some hard lessons on a fishing boat.

The Happy Return by C.S. Forester
The Happy Return
C.S. Forester

Forester’s first Horatio Hornblower novel from 1937. First editions are scarce.

The African Queen by C.S. Forester
The African Queen
C.S. Forester

A classic from 1935 and yes we know the African Queen plied her trade on a river and not the sea.

Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach
Run Silent, Run Deep
Edward L. Beach

The best submarine novel ever written. Published in 1955 and penned by a WWII commander.

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