Book insights about marine and coastal topics

 The objective is connecting noteworthy literature that shapes public consciousness with our big thoughts on Coastal and Marine Systems. Here is the Task List. Select ONE of these seven books and read it. Any edition of these books will do. 1. The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod. Henry Beston. 1928: This volume is the chronicle of a year the author spent in a small beach shack on Cape Cod. It is a time and place that no longer exists in the modern world. I, personally find the narrative enchanting. Beston’s work is given credit for building public support to create the Cape Cod National Seashore. 2. The Sea Around Us. Rachel Carson. 1951: This is the second volume in Rachel Carson’s triology about the sea and was her first best selling book. This was the book that made her a household name and established her as one of the most important science writers in 20th century America. Of course marine ecology has advanced in the last 65 years, but this book remains a valuable piece of literature. 3. The Log from the Sea of Cortez. John Steinbeck. 1951: This book clearly follows up on our lesson of the same locale. It is the only volume in our list written by a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is Steinbeck’s narrative of the expedition he and Ricketts took ten years earlier. 4. The Windward Road. Archie Carr, 1956: This book is a memoir/travelogue of sorts by an early and preeminent scholar of sea turtles. It is very much about place, people, and ecology. The settings are all around the Caribbean, but especially Trinidad and Costa Rica. This book was brought to my attention by a member of this class last year. A bit of a WARNING here: the author uses the local names for species which in one case uses the n-word and other includes the word jew. Although he is not speaking about people at all, I wanted to warn you. (And I am glad to say reading the n-word in this day and age is a little shocking, even in a historical text.) Later in the book he uses an expression for a Chinese man, which is considered derogatory today, but that does not seem to be his intent. To me the author seems to discuss the people and cultures he comes across respectfully, but if any of you have an anthropological interest, this could be the topic for an essay. The Caribbean is a highly rich and diverse cultural region. 5. Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay. William W. Warner. 1976: This is a Pulitzer Prize winning book that details life on our beloved Chesapeake Bay. It, like all the others is an intimate examination of a culture and time that is strange to folks from the city. I will say that this book is really about watermen, which is to say it pays scant attention to the women of the place. I think this is unfortunate and misses something important, but as a chronicle of Chesapeake crabbing I commend it. 6. Hatteras Journal. Jan Deblieu. 1987. This book is based on the experience of the author’s first year after having moved to the Outer Banks. She still lives there. It comes later in the history of the Hatteras National Seashore and gives a look into the local culture and the actions of the federal government, as well as the issues that arise living on and managing a barrier island. 6. The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey. Linda Greenlaw. 2000: This chronicle is the work of a successful fishing boat captain who sailed out of Gloucester and Marblehead to the Georges Banks. It gives insight into the life and dangers of working the open sea — an experience that perhaps none of us has. Write an essay (about 2000 words) as a reflection of this book. The parameters of the essay are very broad. It can be about the influence the book had. It can be about something that resonated with you personally. It can be about a particular theme in the book that you want to do more research on. It can be a critique of the book. It can be how this book changes the way you will think about your career. It can be so much more. You should keep in mind the historical and social context the book was written in. While including some summary information could be useful to your essay, this piece does not itself want to be a summary book report. Any number of additional sources can be brought in, but it is not required. Of course good, ethical writing, proper citations, and thoughtful analysis are required.

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