December 2002/January 2003
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  - All of this month's books have extracts available to read online -

I must apologise for the hiatus in SR. I am embarrassed to admit that this has been due to an inability on my part to be able to concentrate on some very difficult books which I had been reading - one of them I think took me more than a month to get through ten pages ( but I still haven't given up on it yet). During the summer I fell into very good company with a number of shipmates, one of whom-the redoubtable Butchy Butch, first mate aboard S.Y. Belle Aventure, I am indebted to for introducing me to December's book of the month. "In The Heart of the Sea"as you will discover naturally leads on to "Moby Dick" and suddenly the decemba-flava becomes quite salty (makes a change from mince pies).

Simon's Reader Archive:

September, 2009
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April, 2008
December, 2007
July & August, 2007
December, 2006
March, 2006
September, 2005
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December, 2004
October, 2004
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December, 2003
October, 2003
April & May, 2003
December, 2002 & January, 2003
September & October, 2002
July & August, 2002
May & June, 2002

Simon's Library >>


"The Last Grain Race"
by Eric Newby

This book is truly invigorating , told in the first person it is the tale of E.N.'s introduction to commercial shipping as an apprentice seaman aboard the Finnish square rigger S.V. Moloshu in 1938. Previous to this journey he had been working in a London advertising agency. At the age of eighteen he suddenly finds himself with no previous experience "op the rigging" 100 feet above the deck in a pair of slippery leather soled shoes. Take it from there, and it is a real joy to read this first-hand account in modern English of a way of life that sadly no-longer exists.

"The Perfect Storm"
by Sebastian Junger

I'm hoping that you didn't see the movie; if you did, try to forget it. This book is altogether a more serious and potent piece of work. Told in the quiet mood of retrospect, Junger puts the 1991 Halloween gale and those who were caught up in a desperate fight for survival in the terrifying face of nature into personal, historical and fascinating meteorological perspective.

by Peter Benchley

And if all that's not enough for you. Try this 70's thriller - it'll keep you up through the night.




"Moby Dick"
by Herman Melville

Since I finished my A level Eng.Lit. I have avoided reading the classics, they always seemed like homework. However have been meaning to read Melville's great work for some time now. I apologise in advance for the mixed metaphor, but this book certainly is a mouthful - Crikey!

I found certain chapters almost impossible to stay focused on and I will admit to skipping, at times entire passages such as digressions on the merits of certain biblical figures and their classical counterparts. I honestly couldn't have made it through otherwise. Nevertheless, on the whole this is a glorious and inspired composition, Humanity's strength and frailty, the smallness of man in the big world, all told in impressive and sonorous prose.

"In The Heart of the Sea"
by Nathaniel Philbrick

his is the true story of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex and her crew, which in 1820 was struck and sunk by a rogue sperm whale nearly 2000 miles out into the pacific ocean. The story which inspired Melville to write 'Moby Dick" It is also an epic tale of the 93 days of hardship bravery and sacrifice, as the crew in three 20 foot boats, attempted to reach the safety of land with inadequate food and water. Ultimately it is the story of the handful who actually survived - eating the flesh of their dead shipmates, that Philbrick tells - with dignity and compassion.