Monday, September 7, 2015

The Cruisers' Library System

Cruiser's read a lot. I mean A LOT. Yet, they rarely buy books because all over the world, in places where cruisers congregate, there are lending libraries just for them. They aren't fancy or well publicized, but cruisers know where to find them and they are popular and well used. They are usually in a restaurant, laundry room, or lounge at marinas where cruisers hang out and the standard procedure is to simply leave the same number of books as you take.


Since we have been cruising we've read a large variety of books by many different authors. Inspired by a friend's recommendation, we read most of Wilber Smith's historical novels about South Africa. With their epic sagas, sweeping settings, and heroic characters, they are both entertaining and educational. We have also read many, many crime novels including several of John Sandford's "Prey" series.

When we were in Panama I read David McCullough's epic narrative, The Path Between The Seas, on the building of the Panama Canal. I think it helped me to understand Panama's problems a little better. To educate myself on the history of the Caribbean I recently read Mitchner's eponymous novel and I must say I found it a little depressing. I hope the reality is better than the novel.

Since the books are free at these cruisers' libraries, I often select ones I wouldn't normally try. For instance, I recently picked up The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. If you think your family is a little odd or wish your childhood had been better, reading this book might change your mind. Her story is fascinating, horrifying, and unforgettable. Another non-fiction book I recently read was Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea. It is an eye opening insight into the culture of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After reading Three's a Crew, the Pinkerton family's story of cruising the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in the 1930s, I understood my new Canadian friend Sheila perfectly when she said, "Just throw it in the chuck."

Now that we are in Cartagena we will go through our books again, exchanging the ones we've read for new ones. Who knows what we will get this time? And that is one of the best things about the Cruisers' Library System.

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