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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 60/100: The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esarey

— feeling pirate
The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman's Search for the Meaning of Wife - Janna Cawrse Esarey

I never knew before I worked on Big Waves, Small Boat, Two Kids: A Family Sailing Adventure that I apparently am drawn to sailing memoirs. I've got another, Sea Change: Alone Across the Atlantic in a Wooden Boat, waiting for me on the shelf, too.

As someone who is prone to motion sicknesses and also somewhat risk-averse, I don't think I'd ever be able to live on the water for an extended period of time. But I'm sure glad other brave souls have written about it so I can experience it vicariously! There is just something to intriguing to me about being surrounded by the mystery of the open water and living as simply as possible in close quarters with other human beings -- an interesting laboratory for the dynamics of human relationship if ever there was one.

This book does not disappoint on that scale. Janna and her husband, who have gone through ten years of an on-again, off-again relationship, set sail after their marriage and spend their first year as husband and wife on the ocean. It serves as a test of their commitment as well as a catalyst to help them both discern what they want out of their relationship with one another.

Despite the various exotic settings, anyone who has had a go at a long-term relationship will be able to relate to Janna's musings, to their attempts to "schedule" sex, to the way they grate on each other's nerves and then miss the other when they are apart. Those looking for a travel memoir should be satisfied, too, although Janna only goes into detail on a fraction of the ports they landed in. I think this was a good choice -- I would rather have fewer experiences in depth than feel as if we were skimming the surface of all of them. But the setting I loved most was the boat itself, the descriptions of the open water and the weather and night watches. This is a foreign location more intriguing to me than any other country in the world.

Although I found myself constantly wanting to dive into this book at the beginning, it did start to feel a little long around the halfway point, and the whole thing might get a little trying if you don't like Janna's writing "voice." At times it felt unpolished, but that also added to its charm for me. It felt like an in-the-moment travel log rather than a refined reflection full of "perspective."

If you read and enjoyed this one, I definitely recommend "Small Boat, Big Waves" (mentioned above), which takes the next step and explores not only sailing as a married couple, but as parents of young children.