30 day book challenge. Day 5

A Non-fiction book that I actually enjoyed

I resent the implication in this prompt! Actually, I enjoy a lot of non-fiction books! I especially enjoy memoirs (but I also love history or sociology). My favorite non-fiction book is a memoir, but I’m going to save that for day 20 or 25. Today I will bring you Longitude by Dava Sobel.

This book was about the creation of a clock accurate/reliable enough to be used at sea to determine your longitude while at sea.Determining one’s latitude was never a problem–sailors could use the position of the sun at noon–but determining longitude was much more difficult. This meant that sailors had to use specific routes or risk being lost a sea or running into a reef or a sea monster. Which meant pirates knew exactly where to go to get booty.

The British Government held a contest to reward people who could come up with a reliable method to determine one’s longitude at sea. Some people worked to create star charts, but this was difficult and didn’t seem to be going anywhere. John Harrison was a clock maker and he had a different take. If you knew the time at your departure point and the time it was on board the ship, the difference in time would help determine your longitude. Which meant you knew where you were and wouldn’t have to follow specific routes. Which meant you could avoid pirates.

There was a great scene in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest where Lord Cutler Beckett was talking to Will about Jack Sparrow and says “Jack Sparrow is a dying breed. The world is shrinking.” As he is saying this, in the background a clock is being raised to be installed on the building. I wonder if Disney knew the role accurate time keeping devises played in getting rid of pirates.

About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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4 Responses to 30 day book challenge. Day 5

  1. Heather says:

    I read this at some point this year (at the very beginning of it, maybe?) and I didn’t love it, but the subject was very interesting. I’m not sure what I didn’t like about it–I think I expected something different, but I can’t explain what–but I learned a ton I didn’t know. Good choice.

    • emmawolf says:

      I love pirates and seafaring adventure, and this sort of fit the bill (even though I think it mentioned pirates like once. I just decided to make the book entirely about pirates in my head). Also my dad recommended it to me, which is weird since he rarely reads books. I learned so much too but only remember a fraction of it. Like pirates and clocks and sauerkraut.

  2. sj says:

    Interesting. I don’t know that it’s a subject I’d be interested in enough to read an entire book, but I will look up more information, for sure.

    • emmawolf says:

      Well, it wasn’t a very long book. And it told side stories (like about sauerkraut being used to prevent survey and the pirates were a side thing) so it wasn’t all clock all the time.

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