Christopher Caswell,
The Quotable Sailor
(Lyons Press, 2004)

I wonder why Jim didn't like it.

My copy of The Quotable Sailor, picked up in a used bookstore for $2.99, is inscribed on the first page:

"Merry Christmas, Jim!
Love, Colleen

Apparently, Jim decided not to keep it. His loss.

Collections of quotations are by their nature hit and miss affairs. Any good collection, on any topic, will provide pearls of wisdom or wit that the reader has never before seen or heard. At the same time, every collection at some point lets the reader down, omitting some key phrase or source that absolutely must be included.

The Quotable Sailor draws its quotations from varied sources: authors, poets, philosophers, sailors, political figures and more. Topics include sailing, the sea, sailors, boats, weather, engines, racing and philosophy.

Those who appear in these pages range from singer Jimmy Buffett to naturalist Rachel Carson, from President John F. Kennedy to authors Joseph Conrad, Jack London and Herman Melville, from philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau to the poet Homer.

I was vaguely disappointed not to see anything from the likes of Forester, O'Brian or Pope, although Douglas Reeman (aka Alexander Kent) makes one appearance.

But, all in all, it's a nice collection to keep handy, to browse when you have a few moments to kill. There are words of praise and loathing for the sea, but all are heartfelt.

Unlike Jim, I think I'll keep it.

book review by
Tom Knapp

1 November 2014

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