Avast there, ya scallywags! It be Talk Like a Pirate Day, dontcha know? Are ye speaking all piratical this day?
Pirates certainly capture our imaginations. Real pirates were, and are, terrible people, wreaking havoc and killing innocents. But from what may have been the first â€œpop culture pirateâ€ Long John Silver, to Bluebeard (A terrible human being– but wearing lit candles in your beard? C’mon, that’s cool!), to the dread pirate Roberts (who never did kill Westley in the morning), to everyone’s current favorite Halloween costume, Captain Jack Sparrow, pirates in popular culture are generally thought of as dashing, daring rogues.
Talk Like a Pirate Day is a holiday started casually by two friends in 1995. It got a major publicity boost in 2002 when humorist Dave Barry wrote a column about it, and it has been growing strong ever since. The holiday is silly and cheerful (and probably inspired by Captain Morgan more than any other pirate) and to take part, simply do what it is called: talk like a pirate. If you need help, the Talk Like a Pirate Day website has some lessons; also Mango Language Learning software has a â€œpirateâ€ option; and if you want to take a more casual approach, just translate your Facebook page or Google search results into â€œpirate.â€ To get deeper into a proper piratical mood, here are several great pirate reads.
Now get yerself reading, matey, or it’ll be the plank for ye!
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The granddaddy of all piratical reads. Young Jim Hawkins owns a treasure map, but the band of men who travel with him to â€œhelpâ€ find the treasure are not trustworthy at all. The one-legged ship’s cook turns out to be pirate leader Long John Silver, and his relationship with Jim is complex and fascinating: parental one moment, violently dangerous the next. There’s a reason this book is a classic.
Grania: She King of the Irish Seas by Morgan Llywelyn
Grace O’Malley would have been an extraordinary woman at any point in time. She built her family business up to the biggest and best in the country. The leader of the free world was her enemy, but also grudgingly admired her strength. The fact that O’Malley was the pirate queen of Ireland in the sixteenth century, and was frenemies with Queen Elizabeth I, just makes her all the more extraordinary. Llywelyn’s novel is based on O’Malley’s real, and amazing, life.
Pirates on Dinosaur Island by Mark Edwards
A doctor must flee England after being involved in a deadly duel. His ship is attacked by pirates, and, wounded in the battle, he reluctantly joins them as ship’s doctor, rather than be killed. All this swashbuckling is adventurous enough, but things really become intense when a storm causes the pirate ship to be wrecked near a tropical island where there are enormous, strange, reptilian-like beasts. A slim book packed with pulpy adventure.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Yes, the main narrative involves a young man who works on a hydrogen powered airship, and who gets involved with a young girl whose grandfather knew about mysterious, other-worldly creatures who inhabit the skies. And there is adventure and mystery and fantastical beings. But honestly? All you need to know about this book are two words: sky pirates.
Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer
A 2009 Amazing Audiobook for Young Adults selection and the most piratical of â€œBloody Jackâ€ Jacky Faber’s adventures, this book sees our teenage heroine being press-ganged onto a British warship, and finding herself under the thumb of a tyrannical captain with a mutinous crew. She cleverly turns the tables on the captain, and ends up in command of the ship! While this may be the most pirate-heavy book in the Bloody Jack series, and thus worthy of a place on this list, it behooves you, dear reader, to read the first two books in order to completely appreciate this third.
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
No matter your opinion on the fourth movie in the â€œPirates of the Caribbeanâ€ series, the book it was based on is better. John Shandy, a puppeteer turned pirate, seeks adventure, revenge, and true love amidst battles, voodoo, ghosts, and something that may indeed be the Fountain of Youth. The sea battles are so vivid your ears will be ringing and the supernatural forces seem so real, your skin will crawl. No wonder Powers has won the World Fantasy Award multiple times.
-Geri Diorio, currently reading Halfway to Hollywood by Michael Palin
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