All time favourites:

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. Changed the way I see humankind’s relationship with our planet, and why our current  path is unsustainable.

The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield. I read this at a very formative stage of my life, and it changed the way I make decisions. I now trust my instincts much more than my head, and keep the faith that everything is exactly as it is meant to be.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsiq. A classic – with good reason. I hesitate to say what I got from it, because it seems that everybody finds a different message in this book.

Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1) by Neale Donald Walsch. Made me unafraid to step out of the ordinary, and dare to be extraordinary – as we all deserve to be!

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho. A beautifully written reminder that life is a spiritual quest, and all our experiences – good and bad – are a part of that quest.

The Art of Effortless Living: Do Less, Let Go, and Discover Health, Emotional Well-Being, and Happiness by Ingrid Bacci. Rowing an ocean will never be effortless, but this book helps to ease the mental effort, if not the physical!

A Crack in the Edge of The World by Simon Winchester. Starts with the San Francisco earthquake, and goes on to explore the volatile Pacific Rim. I never knew geology could be so interesting.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Douglas Adams. Quirky, but thought-provoking.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. I love the Britishness of the setting and the characters in this book. Darkly humourous, and superbly read by the 4 main characters.

A Memory of Running by Ron Maclarty. A life-enhancing story of a lost soul finding his way.

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. Incredibly inspiring story of a man with a mission. If you liked Three Cups of Tea, you’ll probably love this too.

Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It takes a special kind of imagination to create so vividly the interior landscape of an unusual individual. Gripping.

Seabiscuit: The True Story of Three Men and a Racehorse by Laura Hillenbrand. I found myself rowing faster with the sheer adrenaline of the horse-racing scenes, so caught up was I in the action.

The Company (TV tie-in) by Robert Littell. A huge book – great value for money. An epic tale of the CIA that spans many decades and touches on most of the important events in 20th century American history.

Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins. Seriously offbeat, incredibly entertaining, and frequently thought-provoking. I love Robbins’s flamboyant use of language.

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra. A touching story of a man’s relationship with his priest. Emotionally gripping. I cried.

The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It’s Too Late by Thom Hartmann, Neale Donald Walsch, and Joseph Chilton Pearce

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin
I found myself completely caught up in this fantasy world, almost impatient to get back to the rowing seat so I could find out what happened next.

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo. I fell in love with the rogue-ish Sully. For 2 days I felt as if I was living in this small town in New York state, caring deeply about the characters in all their glorious ordinariness.

Chainfire, Terry Goodkind Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9) Glamorous fantasy tale, where the good guys are charismatic and goodlooking, and the baddies are deliciously evil.

Hemingway Adventure, Michael Palin. All of Palin’s travel books, written and read by the former Python, are imbued with his wit and twinkling humor. This is my favorite.
Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. An eccentric adventure – exactly as you’d expect from the title. Entertainingly told.

Vets Might Fly, James Herriot. I grew up with these gentle tales of a Yorkshire country vet’s practice in the 1930s. Nostalgic and elegiac.

Neverwhere, A Novel by Neil Gaiman. A fantastic tale of a hidden, underground London, after which you will never see the familiar names of the Underground stations in quite the same way.

Shantaram, A Novel By Gregory David Roberts. Great bang for the buck, an epic tale of a fugitive’s adventures in India. Although the main character is occasionally arrogant, his empathy for his Indian friends redeems him.

Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse. Soothing and enlightening. A gem of a book.

Oh, and there’s a book by a little-known British female ocean rower that I should also mention here:

Rowing the Atlantic: Lessons Learned on the Open Ocean (by Roz Savage)

More books on ocean rowing

Audiobooks for Pacific 1

Audiobooks for Pacific 2

Audiobooks for Pacific 3

Audiobooks for Indian Ocean