In March, we met to discuss Nathanial Philbrick’s powerful In the Heart of the Sea. This book had been recommended by former Steeper Angela before her move to the frozen tundra of upstate New York. I’m so glad we don’t remove books when the original suggester leaves our ranks, because we would have missed out on what we all agreed was one of our favorite non-fiction books that Read It & Steep have read.
In the Heart of the Sea tells the story of the sinking of the whale ship Essex after being rammed by its prey. This true story inspired Melville to write his iconic Moby Dick. Philbrick’s recounting provides plenty of the “Horrors! Horrors!” that our Read It & Steep group has come to expect.
Moreover, Philbrick has such a way with storytelling that you almost forget that this horrendous thing actually happened. He also blends other snippets of survival or science into the story in a way that one would think would be distracting, but actually sharpens the reality of what the men on the Essex went through. What results is a moving, scary, and fascinating epic book that kept us on the edge of our seats.
We were also blessed to have some extra guests at RI&S this month. Our visitors were Nantucket natives and sailing enthusiasts who were able to really round out our conversation and provide very interesting insights. We were all impressed by Philbrick’s thorough telling and almost poetic style. We’ve agreed that should another Philbrick title pop up from our teapot o’ truth, none of us would be too disappointed.
We’ve also come to find that they are making a film version of this fine book. While the gang at Read It & Steep aren’t too sure that Hollywood will be able to do Philbrick or the men of the Essex justice, we all kind of agree that we’ll take a book club field trip to watch Chris Hemsworth do just about anything.
This book gets a solid 4 teacups from the group.