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2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: A Thanksgiving S.O.S.

I love Thanksgiving, so I always make a point not to decorate for Christmas or even listen to carols until after the turkey's been eaten. While I was taking my Sunday nap the other day, however, my husband set up our Christmas tree (ostensibly to see if the new lights he bought for it looked good or if he needed to return them—uh huh). With the tree up and lit, I've had to succumb(ish) to the start of the Christmas crazy (I do love Christmas, just not too early), so I'm officially changing over to the holiday Top Ten Tuesday banner. It's festive and fun, so there you go.

Today's TTT topic—Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.)—is one I've been looking forward to, even though it's had me wracking my brain for the perfect topic. The one I came up with is a little...grim, especially considering we're in the season of gratitude, merrymaking, comfort, joy, and so on. Still, it's one that always appeals to me for some strange reason. Call me morbid, but I'm going to go with Top Ten Books to Read If You Love Stories About Maritime Disasters. Honestly, I don't know why I'm so fascinated with this subject. Something about catastrophe striking in the middle of the sea and people trying to survive in such desperate circumstances just intrigues me.

Before we get to that, though, I encourage you to join the TTT party. It's a fun way to spread some love across the book blogosphere, discover new sites, and—of course—get some great reading recs. Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the info.

Top Ten Books to Read If You Love Stories About Maritime Disasters

1.  The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan WolfOf the many books I've read about the Titanic, this is the one that stands out most in my mind. It's a haunting novel-in-verse that's engrossing and memorable.

2.  Dead Wake by Erik Larson—One of my favorite reads of 2021, this non-fiction account tells the story of the Lusitania from the perspectives of not just its passengers and crew but also from that of the operators of the U-boat which torpedoed the ocean liner.

3.  Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood—I recently reviewed this middle-grade book, also a verse novel, which is about the S.S. City of Benares, a luxury ship that was torpedoed while ferrying young WWII evacuees out of London.

4.  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys—I'd never heard of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff—a re-purposed German pleasure cruiser that was packed with civilian war refugees from East Prussia when it was attacked by a Soviet sub in 1945—until I read this gripping YA novel.

5.  The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White—This dual-timeline novel features three intriguing narrators, two of whom are passengers on the Lusitania when it sinks. It's an engrossing, twisty, and absorbing read.

6.  On a Cold, Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell—Told from the alternating perspectives of three women who are huddled together on Lifeboat 21 watching Titanic sink, this novel is more about their lives before and after the disaster. Still, it tells an intriguing tale.

7.  My Last Continent by Midge Raymond—When a marine biologist doing research in Antarctica receives a distress signal from the boat carrying the man she loves, she launches a rescue mission that will require her to risk everything in order to save him.

8.  Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan—Although I didn't love this novel, I did find it interesting. It concerns Pulaski, a luxury steamship that runs into trouble when an onboard explosion interrupts its journey from South Carolina to Maryland. I'd never heard of this 1838 disaster before, so the book made for interesting reading.

9.  The Midnight Watch by David Dyer—Another Titanic story, this novel focuses on the Californian, which was positioned only a few miles south of Titanic when she went down. Although crew members saw the doomed ship's distress rockets and subsequently woke their captain assuming he would order them to go to her aid, the man simply returned to bed. Could he have saved hundreds of lives if only he had acted instead of going back to sleep?

10.  Endurance by Alfred Lansing—Okay, this is a cheat since I haven't actually finished Endurance. Yet. I started listening to it on audio, but soon realized it was so detail-filled that I wanted to read it instead of listening so that I wouldn't miss anything. I'm hoping to tackle it soon as I find the story of the Endurance, which became trapped in polar ice in 1915 stranding its crew in deadly circumstances, absolutely fascinating.  

There you have it, ten (well, nine) books about maritime disasters that I enjoyed and highly recommend. How about you? Do you enjoy reading these kinds of books? Which would you suggest I check out next? What's on your TTT list today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!


  1. I vote this list as the most creative one possible from this first I thought, no, not for me. Then I started reading about the books you put on the list and found myself wanting to read over half of them, especially that one about the Titanic flares being ignored by the nearby boat that could have probably saved so many lives.

    1. Ha ha. As you can probably tell, I like books that are based on real events. That way, I'm learning some history while being horrified and entertained!

      I had never really heard about the Californian before reading THE MIDNIGHT WATCH. It's a fascinating book. I highly recommend it. Let me know what you think if you do read it.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  2. Fun (and unique) TTT list. You might like Ghost Ship by Brian Hicks if you haven't already read it. :)

    1. I've never heard of GHOST SHIP. I'm going to go look it up right now. You never steer me wrong!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  3. Is it wierd that I don't find your bookish obsession wierd? Possibly because I too am fascinated by the sea and all who sail it. Atlantic by Simon Winchester was my favourite sea book from last year and I am 'so' going to look into a few of your sea disaster books.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's so taken by this subject! I haven't heard of ATLANTIC, so I'm going off to look that one up.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cath!

  4. I had no idea this was a genre. How cool!

    My post:

    1. Well, I don't know if it is an official genre, but it's a category of books I like, anyway! And there are a lot of them out there, so I guess I'm not the only one.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  5. You went to sleep and woke up to Christmas. Look at that! I have read a few books (very few) based on maritime disasters, but they were YA.

    1. Right? Except all he put up was the tree and its lights. So, I have Thanksgiving decorations up, plus the tree...I guess that's how we're rolling this year!

      I've read several good YA and MG ones in this category. Mostly about the Titanic, but there have been a few others, like those I mentioned in this list.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Sam!

  6. Oh! I was hoping you'd include Surviving Savannah and Salt to the Sea! I just finished one that you might like, the new Mitch Albom.... The Stranger in the Lifeboat.

    1. Oooh, I haven't read an Albom book since THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. If there's a lifeboat involved, I'm in!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carol!

  7. This is a really unique list--but as someone who's waterphobic, my absolute nightmare haha!

    1. You know, it's weird, I know how to swim and I'm not afraid of the water, but I also don't do well on boats (seasickness) and have a healthy respect for the ocean. So, part of my fascination, I think, has to do with people trying to survive my worst nightmare as well. Does that make sense? Or does it just make me sound like more of a weirdo? LOL.

      Thanks for popping in, FangirlFlax!

  8. I have not read any of these. I love the covers of several of them though, especially On a Cold Dark Sea. Books about the Titanic fascinate me. Here is my link:

    1. Me too. It was such a tragedy, but the whole thing is just so, so interesting on so, so many levels!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  9. Ah, what a great list! I've read The Midnight Watch, and thought it was so powerful. Another one on the Titanic I've read is Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. Really terrific.

    1. Oooh, I've never heard of EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF. I'm definitely going to check it out. Thanks for the rec!

      Thanks for stopping in, Lisa!

  10. Wow, these all sound so interesting! Great list this week.

    1. Thanks! It was a fun list to put together, in spite of the grim subject.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

  11. Salt to the Sea was wonderful and I have added Lifeboat 12 to my TBR list.

    1. SALT TO THE SEA is one I still think about. I love Sepetys' books and can't wait for her newest to come out in February.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Helen!

  12. I don't know what it is about maritime disasters but I find myself drawn to them as well. I've only read Salt to the Sea and Dead Wake from your list so I'll definitely have to check out the others.

    1. If you liked SALT TO THE SEA and DEAD WAKE, you should enjoy the other books on this list. Be sure to let me know what you think of the ones you read!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Suzanne!

  13. Your take on this cracked me up! I listened to Dead Wake and absolutely loved it so apparently I am a fan of maritime disasters. I'm taking note of all this. I'm sorry to hear you didn't love the Patti Callahan book. I'm teetering on the edge of ordering all her books because I just finished Once Upon a Wardrobe and LOVED it but I think I may take a breath and get this one from the library! I'm not ready for Christmas yet either. I can barely get my head around Thanksgiving being so close so just the thought of Christmas seems mind boggling!

    1. I really thought I would love, love, love SAVING SAVANNAH and I didn't. I liked it, though. I just got ONCE UPON A WARDROBE from the publisher and I'm super excited to read it. I'm hoping I love it like you did. It sounds excellent.

      I feel you! Once Halloween hits, it's like a mad sprint to the end of the year and, somehow, it ALWAYS sneaks up on me. I am literally NEVER ready for the holidays in any practical sense.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Katherine!

  14. Dead Wake looks so good and seems like I've seen several nice reviews for it as well.

    I love Antarctica too so that sounds super interesting.

    1. I thought DEAD WAKE was an interesting read. I listened to it on audio and it made me want to keep listening—which is a bit of a feat since I usually listen while I exercise or do housework! LOL.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Greg!

  15. I don't think I've actually read any books about boat disasters...? The closest I remember is Drowning in the Deep when adds a whole SFF angle. But these do all look really dramatic (and somewhat eerie). I think they could tempt me!

    1. I think you're talking about INTO THE DROWNING DEEP? That's one I've definitely thought about reading, even though I'm not a SFF reader.

      Thanks for stopping in, Louise!

  16. I've read Endurance - fascinating- and Dead Wake, which seemed rather plodding. Will have to check out the rest. Thanks! My post:

    1. I've watched a couple of fascinating documentaries about the plight of Endurance and its crew, so I think it's about time to read a book about it.

      I can see how DEAD WAKE could be considered plodding. The parts about the submarine weren't as interesting to me, but I still found the book really engrossing.

      Thanks for popping by, Kristine!

  17. I think they fit well into the season of thanksgiving, we should remember all those people who had accidents and were killed and be thankful that we are still here.

    And I totally agree with your comment about Christmas. We (Germans) don't celebrate Thanksgiving (although I always invite friends and family for an American style Thanksgiving dinner toward the end of November) but you hardly ever see Christmas decorations before the first advent. And the tree is traditionally put up on Christmas Eve, even though there are more and more people who disregard that.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT about China.

    1. Good point. It's amazing how many people actually survived some of these disasters, in spite of everything. I'm sure they felt very grateful—and surprised!—that they made it through.

      I can't imagine not putting up a tree until Christmas Eve, although you see that all the time in the movies. I'm guessing the invention of fake trees made that tradition less popular. I also have TONS of Christmas decorations (which could be one of those Americans-overdoing-it kind of things), so it takes me about a week to get my house all done up for the holiday.

      I love that you do an American-style Thanksgiving! It's such a nice holiday, all about gratitude and being with the ones you love. And pie. Can't forget that!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

    2. The fake trees are a good point, Susan. Many people here still have real ones, so that could be another reason why we keep up with the tradition.

      We also now have masses of Christmas decorations. When I was small, people had a tree and a nativity scene. But we've caught up. My brother's company has a partner/subsidiary in Austria and they have a private WhatsApp group with the colleagues there. He mentioned that at Christmas, they all put a picture of their tree in the group and wished each other a Happy Christmas. First, there were some Germans and then the Austrians said, they didn't dare to put theirs up, they were not half as "good" (which I'm sure is wrong, just different). LOL

      We had lots of American friends and have been invited to Thanksgiving dinners. Then, some of our German friends mentioned they never had been to one, that's how it started about fifteen years ago. And yes, we definitely need pies! My favourites are lemon meringue and peacan though I always have to make blueberry for one of my sisters-in-law who doesn't like either.

      And I always love talking to you, so much to share.

  18. I love your take on the topic! I can't say I love books about maritime disasters, but they can be interesting to read once in a while.

    1. They're definitely not easy, happy books, so I can see why you wouldn't want to read them all the time. I'm just weirdly obsessed with them, so...

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Wendy!

  19. Salt to the Sea is so heartbreakingly good! I just picked up Lifeboat 12 from the library, so I'm going to read that soonish. I didn't even think that maritime disasters was a genre, but it should be cause it sounds awesome.

    1. Definitely heartbreaking, but it is SO good. It's one that has stayed with me. LIFEBOAT 12 is a good one, too. I hope you enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kami!

  20. Definitely a unique topic for this week. I really enjoyed Salt to the Sea, but this is a genre that I haven't really explored. Thanks for the recs!

    1. Ha! I did not see anyone else doing the same topic, that's for sure :) I hope you enjoy these if you end up reading any of them.

      Thanks for popping in, Alicia!

  21. This is a fascinating list! I will admit to being a little hesitant about reading books about disasters like this, but I hadn't known there were so many of them out there.

    1. I totally get it. It's not a happy subject! There are tons of books about maritime disasters out there, so I'm definitely not the only one who finds them intriguing :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  22. I love it that your list was completely unique!

    I have read several of these including the book about the Lusitania. Happily, I have a couple to add to your list:

    In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides...Grand and terrible is right...

    A Night to Remember by Walter Lord...The best story ever about the Titanic...

  23. The only one I have read on your list is Endurance (and it was a fascinating read!!) I watched the documentary made based on the book as well on IMAX and that was amazing too..
    As for the rest, I have a couple on my TBR including Lifeboat 12.. and adding the others right now.. Given I love books based on historical events and love novels-in-verse, the first book is going to be my first choice!
    My TTT is here

  24. After seeing your review on Lifeboat 12 a few weeks ago, I was happy to find it at Book Outlet. It is currently waiting for the holidays.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  25. You always come up with such interesting TTTs, Susan. I have only read The Midnight Watch, but I have 4 others already on my TBR. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Susan.

  26. I haven't read a single one of these, but do hear that 'Salt' is a fabulous read! Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland on this week, Susan.


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