Knit to This: We’re Going to Sea!

By Ann Shayne
October 20, 2018
A nice, 270-hour audiobook series? You're gonna need some knitting

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31 Comments
  • Interesting recommendation, Ann.
    What source of audiobooks do you use – CDs, Audible?

  • I have probably read, and still have, about 1/2 the books in this series and now can hardly wait to start over with the audio version. Thanks for the recommendation. BTW, the movie was ok but left out the very interesting female characters.

  • Years ago, I read – and loved – every one of these books. The audio version sounds great!

  • The most eclectic and demanding reader I know recommended these books to me many years ago. She insisted that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t interested in the sea, in the historical period, in the British navy and its foibles, etc., etc., that these were really wonderful books that would captivate. Well, finally, last year, I listened to the first volume on Audible, and discovered she was right. So, take Ann’s word for it and go read/listen to volume 1. Don’t wait for 25 years, the way I did.

  • I’m on book 15 in the series–and this is my second time reading them. I (obviously) love these books. I haven’t tried listening to them, so maybe that will be my third time through!

  • I read a few years ago and loved them. Not sure I have the rest, but have to look. I still have trouble with audiobooks.

  • Yup. Audio series is soooo good! Listened to them years ago when I was still cross stitching and not yet back into knitting. Maybe I should listen to them again with knitting!

  • Hi Ann! John and I are driving to Monteagle, and I just read your letter to him. This is his hands down, absolute favorite series EVER, and he has been telling me for years that I must read them, so now I will! I gave him the entire set of hardbacks years ago but I think listening might be the way to go, so I can knit, of course!
    Have a wonderful time at Rhinebeck!

  • Thank goodness there are so many books in this series. I’ve been giving them to my son-in-law for many years. It hadn’t occurred to me to, you know, READ them! (P.S. When the books are lined up in order on a shelf, the spines make one long illustration. Cool!)

  • I gave my husband the first book when we got married. We lived in different states for the first 9 months and he flew up to me a lot. He loved it and I thought I had birthdays and Christmas covered for years to come. Unfortunately he loved them so much he went through the entire series in 6 months! He just finished his 3rd re-read. Highly recommended.

  • OMIGOD. I was LITERALLY just talking about a member of the Gunroom, an email list of Patrick O’Brian fans of which I am a participant. (Ask me for details if interested.) You will NOT regret any of the time you spend with any of the books Mr. Tull reads to you. I am that excited about them. Holy cats, I just don’t believe this–two favorites connected this way…

  • Great minds and all that I was just thinking this would be a fabulous Audible read. I’m going to preview it for my grandson. We are reading the first Harry Potter book and he adores it. I think he might love the daring do of the British Navy. Plus his ancestors were whalers from Nantucket so he needs a little brine in his blood. Thanks for the reminder and so glad you are enjoying it Ann.

    • For a kid-level series on sailing and adventure, I heartily recommend Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books.

      • Yes yes. Swallows and Amazons is wondering!

  • Such an excellent series of books to read and listen to. It’s great to see them mentioned here. I’ve been loving them all for nearly 20 years now. I think Jack Aubrey is one of my all0time favorite “book boyfriends.” 🙂

  • Totally agree with both the books themselves and the superlative reading. The relationship between Jack and Stephen is one of the best in literature. The historical accuracy is amazing. I love his subtle throw away comments. Even the “offscreen” characters of Sophie, Diana, and Blain feel complete. Given O’Brian’s own life, I don’t understand how he was able to envision such characters. “Jack! You have debauched my sloth.”

    • My favorite line! 😀

  • I am reading the whole series again…I did it ages ago..not a good book listener so I am actually reading..on #16..the Wine Dark Sea right now. I will have to try listening again but no matter how you do it, Patrick O’Brian is the best there is.

    One caution..everyone I push these at boggles in the first one with all the ship and sail sizes and stuff..just let it in and keep going by the second one you know enough to be right at home anywhere on the ship and you won’t have a clue how you learned all that!

    Love this!!

  • I adored Master and Commander as a huge fan of Paul Bettany’s, but also recognized that it was a great story very well told. Like Outlander (which I truly recommend for the glimpse into so much 18th century history and another great bro-mance between Jamie and Sir John), this seems like the perfect audio series to get into.

  • Always looking for audible suggestions. Thanks

  • After finishing this wonderful series a few years back, I was looking for an engrossing series to take its place. I came across Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo series. What I didn’t like about the O’Brian series is that in the later books it seemed that half the book was taken up with recapping what happened in the previous book. I guess that is appropriate if one were reading them as they were being published and not one immediately after the other. I didn’t experience that with Dunnett’s books. And I’ve turned again and again to the Dunnett books to reread: such excellent storytelling and writing, such spectacular characters!

    • I second Dorothy Dunnett! The Lymond Chronicles are terrific!

  • I absolutely agree! “Patrick O’Brian read by Patrick Tull” is always in the top tier of my audiobook recommendations. Your review is just on target, too! I predict lots of engaged new listeners.

  • I first heard of these books about 17 years ago when I met my soon to be boyfriend (later husband)… he loves these books. No, love is too soft a word… he absolutely, totally lurves these books!
    I admit that I have yet to read them, but I feel as if I know all the characters because of how he loves to quote from, or read me passages, or even ask me questions when O’Brian brings in historical garment details (because of my costuming background I get the clothing jokes… “Mantuas?”).
    I think it would make him happy if I were to finally get into them myself. Maybe I’ll try these audio books… perhaps I could find a way to fit them into my work day…

  • I tried reading the first book, barely made it to the end. But sometimes an audio book will work even when the original doesn’t, so maybe I’ll try one when next I need an audiobook. For my money, the Horatio Hornblower books are the best.

  • Just so happened to have an audible credit that I’ve been saving for a special book…so I jumped right in. I needed a new series.

  • This series is absolutely fantastic!! I’ve listened to them, all the way through, about 4 times. Having an English-English dictionary helped – and an atlas, too.
    Ship ahoy, and don’t forget your knitting.

    • Thank goodness the main branch of my local library was open Sunday and had “Master and Commander” read by Patrick Tull right on the shelf – because this was such a brilliant suggestion I couldn’t wait even a day to get on it.

      PS, the second best audiobook to knit to is Stephen Fry reading the entire Sherlock Holmes canon – and only one credit on Audible! My sock is afoot!

  • Yes! Best books ever. They have spoiled me for other long series. I listened all the way through once in my 30s and again in my 40s, and it is time to do it all over again.

  • Interesting, I never thought about reading these books because I’m not into naval warfare (what I assumed it was about). But I do love historical fiction! I think I’ll have to give the first one a listen after reading the enthusiastic comments.

  • Thanks for the audible books by O’Brian and Dunnett suggestions. These may carry me for a solid year. Will start next week. Just found your group so am happy already!