November 22, 2009

Book Tour and Reviews

Has it really been five months since Rod's book signing at Barnes & Noble?? Well, for those of you who missed out, or those in need of a great gift idea for that sailor in your life, now's your chance. Rod will be joining six authors (including former U.S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser) on Black Friday at the SouthPointe Barnes & Noble from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. This event is sponsored by the Southeast Library System.

In addition to this local signing, Rod is going on a book tour, of sorts. Well, let's just say we're combining a Christmas vacation with a couple of signings in Florida. First stop, Barnes & Noble Marketplace SC in Ft. Myers (13751 Tamiami Trail) on Monday, December 28th at 1 pm. If you can't make that event, look for Rod at the Sanibel Island Bookshop (1571 Periwinkle Way) on Tuesday, December 29th from 11:00 to 12:00 pm. If you're in the area for any of these signings, please stop by and say hello. We'd love to see you!

And while I've got you here, check out some of these great reviews:

Midwest Book Review, Bookwatch, October 2009:

"Captain Joshua Slocum's ANNOTATED SAILING ALONE AROUND THE WORLD (9781574092752, #19.95) is annotated by Rod Scher, a teacher/journalist who provides explanations, commentary, and history to make Slocum's saga more accessible to modern readers. This clarification of Slocum's voyage in his wooden Spray packs in side bars of detail and enhances every page. Nautical libraries need this."

Sailing for Southern Africa, September 2009:

"If you are a sailor or a seaman of mature years, the likelihood is that you will have read Slocum`s "Sailing Alone Around the World" perhaps more than once. So why then would anyone want to read it again? Curiosity. I'd never come across a book of this nature with "annotations". What could it mean? How could it possibly add to the original story?

Remember, Slocum's historic circumnavigation in Spray in the 1890s was achieved with nothing more than 'a small wooden boat, some rope, a shelf of books and a broken tin clock'! Remember, too, that the old master mariner came from humble beginnings, and although his original manuscript lacked somewhat in the niceties of spelling and grammar, he had an extraordinary way of holding a reader's attention by relating his adventures in the simplest manner, and that made the book a best seller.

However, between the writing style and some of the nautical terminology of the time, readers of the original books would surely have welcomed, occasionally, a little clarification or explanation of Slocum's observations. And that is where Rod Scher and his annotations come in.

Alongside the text on each page that traces the epic solo voyage, Scher offers insights into what else of import was happening around the world at the same time, and he provides comments and explanations that not only enhance the story, but clarify it for the modern day reader. Even those who have read the tale before, will find that the annotations have breathed more life into it."

Midwest Book Review, Bookwatch, September 2009:

"One man did what many thought was insane - sail around the world. He took it one step further and did it alone. "The Annotated Sailing Alone Around the World" presents Joshua Slocum's epic voyage with notes and research from Rod Scher, giving greater depth to Slocum's writings and logs of his lonely voyage around the planet. "The Annotated Sailing Alone Around the World" is a solid pick for those who enjoy true-life nautical adventures."

Ocean Navigator, October 2009:

"Joshua Slocum's epic solo circumnavigation aboard his 37-foot sloop, Spray, in 1895 stands as one of the most important voyages of all time. His first-person account of the voyage, Sailing Alone Around the World has become a classic in maritime literature. But for many readers, sailor and landlubber alike, there was much to be read between the lines when it came to understanding Slocum, a quirky, somewhat eccentric adventurer.

Rod Scher's new annotated version of Slocum's work is an engaging commentary on the book and this remarkable man. His well-researched sidebars shed new light on Slocum's classic work along with insights into the man. This book demystifies much of the maritime jargon of the time. For the first-time reader or veteran salt whose dog-eared copy of Sailing Alone holds its place in the ship library, Scher's annotated version is a joy to read. I came away with empathy for the lost sailor who for better or for worse fought his demons on the wind."

Living Aboard, July/August 2009:

"This is the book that started it all, the book that first showed us that it was possible for a private citizen of modest means to have a great adventure at sea. In 1895, Captain Joshua Slocum, a sailing master beached by the imminent end of the age of sail, set forth in Spray, a 37 foot sloop, to sail alone around the world. Not only did he achieve this remarkable feat, he wrote a book about the voyage that will be read as long as sailors dream about the sea.

This isn't the first time I've reviewed Slocum's historic and ground-breaking account. The book itself is well worth reading and rereading, but the annotator of this edition has added a massive amount of new and fascinating material. Every page is flanked by a sidebar containing illustrations, footnotes, definitions, elaborations, and anecdotes drawn from Slocum's
time. For those to whom Slocum's salty language is somewhat mysterious, these additions will prove invaluable in understanding his narrative.

And even those more familiar with nautical jargon will find much to enjoy in these notes. On many pages are excerpts from newspapers of the period which help to set the stage for Slocum's stories. For example, at almost the same time as Slocum departed his home port of Boston, a fishing schooner was lost near the Grand Banks with all hands-- an illustration of the dangers of going to sea even in a large and well-crewed vessel.

Slocum acquired the Spray as a wreck stranded in a cow pasture and rebuilt her from the keel up, so that when he was done she was a new boat entirely. He attempted to make her pay by fishing for a time, but found that he 'had not the cunning properly to bait a hook.'

By an entirely unexplained process he decided instead to sail alone around the world, and this he did, encountering a vast number of strange and perilous adventures along the way, from the hallucinogenic effects of plums and bad cheese to the crafty strategies needed to repel bloodthirsty ruffians in lonely places. These sorts of stories form the original substrate to all the adventurers who followed in his wake, and all nautical writers owe an enormous debt to this eccentric but gifted sailor."

WoodenBoat Review, Sept/Oct 2009:

"Scher explains Slocum's text paragraph by paragraph, defining nautical terms, offering news of Slocum's day, and locating geographic points on his journey."

Sailing, September 2009:

"Whether long-time aficionados or new readers discovering him for the first time, fans of Joshua Slocum will rejoice in Rod Scher’s The Annotated Sailing Alone Around the World. Slocum’s account of his three-year voyage, the first circumnavigation by a solo sailor, is a classic of travel literature, and this new annotated edition of the book will give readers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the text.

Sidebars and margin notes provide commentary and explanation; defining terms, citing references and giving background on Slocum’s personal life. Scher also includes headlines from the day, providing additional historical context for Slocum’s tale.

Slocum set out from Boston on April 24, 1895 aboard the 37-foot gaff-rigged sloop Spray, returning to Newport on June 27, 1898. In the intervening three years and two months Slocum sailed the world with little more than tin clock, a simple set of carpenter’s tools, some carpet tacks and a stout little boat. The story of that sail is as thrilling as ever, and Scher has given us a way to enjoy it all the more."

48 North, July 2009:

"Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World is a classic, beloved by sailors the world over who have enjoyed this engrossing tale of a man who sails around the world alone in a small wooden sailboat built with his own hands. This edition is thorough annotated by teacher/journalist Rod Scher, who provides explanation, commentary, clarification, and “In the News” sidebars for historical context that will make Slocum’s masterpiece more accessible to today’s readers, sailor and landlubbers alike."

Lottery author Pat Wood, in Sea History, Summer 2009:

“As an avid sailor and author, I have read Slocum’s book several times, most notably as I was preparing to help crew a 39-ft. Valiant from Honolulu to San Francisco. I’d been anxious to test my mettle on a passage of that length, but fully realized it was only a drop in the bucket compared to Slocum’s achievement. I was privileged to be re-introduced to the wonder of Slocum’s accomplishments when I read Rod Scher’s brilliantly annotated version of Sailing Alone Around the World.

From the very first page I was transfixed. Rod Scher has transformed the material with information about oceanography, geography, sailing explanations, and history so that a reader is transported back to that era. He provides thorough foundation for better understanding exactly what it meant to sail around the world in the late 1800s. He has given the reader both context and depth that greatly enhances one’s enjoyment of the material and makes Slocum’s story accessible to a larger audience.

Who is this book for? Sailors, historians, students, teachers, and anyone who revels in curious facts and fascinating notations will find this gripping tale even more entertaining and compelling.”

Pretty cool, huh?! I can hardly wait for the international book tour. :)


  1. Great reviews! Let's make a wish for an international book tour in 2010!

  2. Anonymous3:28 PM

    How lovely! I hope all goes well at each signing, that the sales are tremendous and, more important, that the two of you have a wonderful time in Florida! You deserve it!

  3. Aww...I love The Sanibel Island Bookshop, but won't be there until later in the winter. Have a great trip!

  4. So good to see this work being kept alive... and garnering attention. That said, I was sad to see the 100th anniversary of Slocum's disappearance slip by last week without mention in the press (at least, here in Canada).

  5. Very strong reviews. Great to see some traction taking happening. So, good luck in Florida and then on to the World!

  6. I sent your post on to a friend whose son attended a boat building school, thinking she might want to give this to him for Christmas. I love the picture of you two!

  7. Ack! You'll be on the other coast from me. While I wish I could stop by, I'll be up north during that time, anyway. Enjoy your trip to Florida! Hope the weather is nice for you!

  8. VERY cool!!! I hope you all have a great time.

  9. What fun! A book tour AND a lovely holiday!

  10. Anonymous7:05 PM

    It does not seem like that many months ago this book came out! I'm so pleased to see the incredible response and admiration for Rod's work. Wonderful!

  11. Mom - Wouldn't that be fun?! Maybe even Italy. ;)

    Kay - Thanks for the good wishes. Yesterday's signing was decent, considering it was Black Friday and the Huskers had a televised day game.

    JoAnn - I'm so excited about our Sanibel trip. Can't wait to explore their bookshop! Sorry we'll miss you.

    Kailana - Thanks. We're really looking forward to our Christmas holiday.

    Brian - Thank you so much for stopping by with your comment! I've perused your blog and passed the address on to my husband. Very nice post about Slocum.

    Dad - We've been very pleased with these reviews. It's been quite exciting. Thanks for the good wishes!

    Nan - Thanks for spreading the word! I know that several of the recent purchases were made with someone's Christmas gift in mind.

    I love the picture, too. :)

    Lexi - Sorry we'll miss you. I hope the weather's good, too. It doesn't have to be hot, but it'd be nice if it were sunny.

    Andi - It's pretty exciting and should be a fun trip. I need to start thinking about lining one up for the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

    Debbie - Yes! :)

    Bellezza - I know. The days/months have flown by this year. Thanks for your sweet words. I'm very proud of my hubby.


I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!