When circumstances lead Professor Pierre Aronnax to end up aboard the underwater vessel Nautilus under the command of the mysterious Captain Nemo, he ends up diving into a world of extraordinary beauty and astonishing sights on an adventure filled with discovery, danger and excitement.

“Let me assure you then, Professor, that you will never regret the time spent on board my ship. You are going to visit the fairyland of marvels.”

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Although over 140 years have passed since Jules Verne’s masterpiece, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, was published, much of what lies beneath the sea remains a mystery, leaving the ocean to be dubbed the “last frontier on earth.” Perhaps because of this, the classic novel still has the power to captivate its readers.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

When Jules Verne wrote this classic piece of science fiction, it was in many ways as fantastical as stories featuring starships that travel the universe are today. Submarines did not travel the seas and divers could not explore the sea untethered. Uncannily, Verne describes both these things in enough detail to satisfy any technical-minded readers.

Clearly, this book was written for the geeks of the era, what with its obsession with scientific jargon, references and inspirations from the most recent technological advancements and its use of taxonomical names for any sea creature met. After all, the narrator of the story is himself a noted scientist who specializes in marine biology.

If that isn’t enough, Jules Verne happens to be the favorite author of Doc Brown (from Back to the Future).

Rating (5 stars)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was the first novel that proved to me that books regarded as “classics” did not have to be dull.

My first copy was a thin and tattered paperback that I picked up for 25 cents at a used book shop. Originally, I was reading it just so I could say I had. I love marine biology and everything about the ocean, so it seemed a good fit.

Like many older written works, the plot is slow to start. One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed between contemporary writing and older writing is that older stories tend to spend a lot of time setting up the story and the scene. Modern writing has to compete with a lot of other distractions– it tends to jump right into the action and explain later.

Despite this, as soon as Monsieur Arronax ends up aboard the Nautilus, I was hooked. The underwater excursions are exciting, Captain Nemo’s character is intriguing, and the description of the ocean is vivid. I was there for all 20,000 leagues that they traveled under the seven seas, from the Antarctic to the Indian Ocean.

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea remains one of my favorite books.