Each year, I try to scout out some gift ideas for the marine-inclined. This year, instead of phone cases customized with a photo of your boat (still a good idea from CaseApp), or towboat salt and pepper shakers from Tugboat Bay, I thought I would tell you about three books that are really, really good.

Hang on — before you click away muttering,"Books? Nobody reads books anymore..." consider how portable a book is, no wifi required. Think about how it does your brain good now and then to keep focused on one thing instead of clicking around to a million different thoughts. So, this Christmas, I present you with these gifts, for yourself or a friend.

First, a wild ride: “The Shipkiller” by Justin Scott. This book has been re-released in paperback in honor of its 35th anniversary. The story starts when the "largest floating object in the world," a supertanker named Leviathan, obliviously runs over a yacht. The husband and wife aboard are thrown overboard, she drowns and he becomes obsessed with revenge. It is part sea story in the style of “Moby Dick” as the guy chases an oil tanker around the world, and part spy novel with lots of Middle East oil intrigue. A page turner for ship nerds, sailors, and armchair spymasters.

Second, I give you a little education. Simon Winchester's new book “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers.” A long title, to be sure, but a very interesting read. He looks at the vast ocean from ten different angles, including the nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll and what happened after, a fascinating and tragic story. This book is well written and very engaging.

Last but definitely not least, is the recently published “McAllister Towing – 150 Years of Family Business” by Stephanie Hollyman and Herb Schaffner. This book is an instant collector's item and would make a wonderful gift for anyone interested in tugs and towing. It is a beautifully produced hardcover chock full of gorgeous photos and reproductions of paintings from the McAllister archive. The full page shot of a tug steaming toward the flaming Twin Towers and the firsthand account of the dispatcher who witnessed the 9/11 attack from the McAllister yard in Staten Island is worth the $50 price tag alone. This book is a gift that will be enjoyed and appreciated.

All of my gift books are available on Amazon.

Happy reading and here's to a smarter 2016!

A collection of stories from guest authors.