reading recommendation: In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Disclaimer: I love history.

This was a book I had saved for the holiday break a few years ago because I knew I'd become hooked and completely disregard normal life until I reached the end. I've never read Moby Dick--gasp--but this incredible true story of heartbreak and triumph inspired Herman Melville's tale. I love reading and learning about historical tragedies and struggles because of the strength and courage that comes to light when people are put in truly difficult circumstances. And this novel did more for me than simply teach me about a historical event. I walked away from the book feeling encouraged and inspired to face my own storms in life because of the way the group of young men came up with solutions to survive and focus on their end goal.


Goodreads summary: In the Heart of the Sea brings to new life the incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex—an event as mythic in its own century as the Titanic disaster in ours, and the inspiration for the climax of Moby-Dick. In a harrowing page-turner, Nathaniel Philbrick restores this epic story to its rightful place in American history.

In 1820, the 240-ton Essex set sail from Nantucket on a routine voyage for whales. Fifteen months later, in the farthest reaches of the South Pacific, it was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale. Its twenty-man crew, fearing cannibals on the islands to the west, made for the 3,000-mile-distant coast of South America in three tiny boats. During ninety days at sea under horrendous conditions, the survivors clung to life as one by one, they succumbed to hunger, thirst, disease, and fear.

In the Heart of the Sea tells perhaps the greatest sea story ever. Philbrick interweaves his account of this extraordinary ordeal of ordinary men with a wealth of whale lore and with a brilliantly detailed portrait of the lost, unique community of Nantucket whalers. Impeccably researched and beautifully told, the book delivers the ultimate portrait of man against nature, drawing on a remarkable range of archival and modern sources, including a long-lost account by the ship's cabin boy. At once a literary companion and a page-turner that speaks to the same issues of class, race, and man's relationship to nature that permeate the works of Melville, In the Heart of the Sea will endure as a vital work of American history.


  1. I will now forever trust your book recommendations, since this is also a wonderful book!

    1. Ha. Don't worry, I won't recommend The Awakening. ;)