Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shantyboat: A River Way of Life” as Want to Read:
Shantyboat: A River Way of Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shantyboat: A River Way of Life

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  68 ratings  ·  14 reviews
"Shantyboat" is the story of a leisurely journey down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. For most people such a journey is the stuff that dreams are made of, but for Harlan and Anna Hubbard it became a cherished reality. In the fall of 1944 they built a houseboat, small but neatly accommodated to their needs, on the bank of the Ohio near Cincinnati, and in it ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published December 31st 1977 by University Press of Kentucky
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shantyboat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Shantyboat

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 168)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
HEADLINE: Here is the real secret to their contentment: They did not have any children!

It is not difficult to understand the appeal of the idea embodied in the book Shantyboat: A River Way of Life. A couple in the prime of life construct their own shantyboat from salvaged materials in 1946. After fitting out the boat and provisioning it, they set themselves adrift on the Ohio River in the vicinity of Cincinnati and float down that river onto the Mississippi and then to New Orleans. They tie up o
Aug 08, 2012 Rico rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed Kon Tiki, Farley Mowat, Huck Finn, and Thoreau
How come it took me more than four decades to discover this book? Seriously, when people saw that my favorite books were Kon Tiki and Never Cry Wolf and Huck Finn and Henry David T. and a hundred other real-life and fictional adventures, someone should have said, "Okay, stop. Read this."

I feel like anything I could say about Harlan Hubbard has already been said. Yes, he's the real deal, authentic, remarkable, unbowed, all those things. But something I didn't hear said about Shantyboat and Harlan
Harlan Hubbard lived the life I wish I could've lived. At age 40 he built a boat of driftwood and set out with his wife to travel the Mississippi River from Ohio to New Orleans. Winters they floated; spring and summer they tied up along the banks, sustaining themselves on whatever they grew, fished, or bartered through his paintings. How cool is that? No permit, no license, no insurance. All you needed was a good idea and the wits to pull it off. Apparently, there was a whole subculture of shant ...more
Max Carmichael
Re-reading this little-known treasure, which is one of my central touchstones of ecological and sociological wisdom, I'm reminded of why it's not on high school or college reading lists. If more idealistic young people came across a story like this in their formative years, perhaps fewer of them would continue their formal education with its virtually irrevocable indoctrination into the dominant paradigm and treadmill of individualistic consumer society.

My hope lies with the constructive dropout
Bob Peru
anna and harlan hubbard. it's like if thoreau had been married and ventured down the ohio and mississippi rivers.
Hannahhippo vvverst
tells magic spells of an ohio river i have never known and never will, a river i can only dream of after putting this fine book down each night. and not very long ago atall, but seems to be just in time. yes, i have friends who've spent summers as water parades of sorts along the mississippi in junk boats of their own design. but to slink along the ohio at a pace accomodating to actually living of the river and its shores, that is something magic. today these channels are so terribly toxic i don ...more
Max Marbles
I sure as hell would have liked to have had a beer with this guy.Really cool drawings and a start to finish treatise on shantyboats and the hard times that made them. This was one of my first "on the water" reads and it has drifted downriver at the lead of almost all others.
Doug Tattershall
When it seemed all America was headed to the suburbs, a man and his wife took to the land by taking to the water. This is an odyssey as much about staying put as about a journey. The Hubbards lived their traveling life with a goal in mind (reaching New Orleans via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in their homemade boat), but with their eyes set no further than the next bend. The book must have had a profound impact on readers of his age, especially those who still recalled rural homelands left be ...more
This is a wonderful book of a fearless, really interesting couple. They are a very educated couple who in the 1940's who happen to love the river, so they build a shantyboat our of scrap wood, move in and float from Cincinnati to New Orleans over several years. He's an excellent writer and the amount of skill it takes to avoid ice flows, tricky currents and barges while drifting are amazing. Their ability to improvise and make friends with people along the way while stopping to raise summer gard ...more
Marty Nalley
A fascinating story of a bygone time....I've read this book many times and never tire of the fascinating journey of Harlan and Anna Hubbard. My favorite passage: "The voyage often begins near headwaters, or on one of the river's tributaries. At one place after another the hopeful boatman lays over for a spell, until disillusioned, he lets his craft be caught up again by the river's current, to be carried like the driftwood, farther downstream. At last he beaches out for good somewhere in the sou ...more
Being that I'm not terribly interested in American commentary, wilderness narratives, or journal-type writings, this was absolutely not the book for me (I had to read it, though). It felt excruciatingly long with no real plot, very little dialogue, and a scattered cast of barely-described characters--right on par for what is essentially a published journal. If this is your thing, this is a great example of travel narratives from the 50s.
This is a book sent to me by Al Parker about a couple who builds a shantyboat and lives aboard for about 7 years on the Ohio river.
wish it had more about his thoughts and feelings, not just a list of day to day activities.
Todd Kelley
reading as meditation
Melissa Onion
Melissa Onion marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2015
Justin Petersen
Justin Petersen marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2015
Heather is currently reading it
Sep 06, 2015
Sasha marked it as to-read
Aug 11, 2015
Robyn Blanpied
Robyn Blanpied is currently reading it
Aug 11, 2015
Kevin Hennessy
Kevin Hennessy marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2015
Andy Rankin
Andy Rankin marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2015
Holly Patton
Holly Patton is currently reading it
Jul 09, 2015
Janice marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2015
Teri marked it as to-read
Jun 07, 2015
SarahElektra Holland
SarahElektra Holland marked it as to-read
May 28, 2015
Sarah Hazlett
Sarah Hazlett marked it as to-read
May 26, 2015
Joe Vecellio
Joe Vecellio marked it as to-read
May 11, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Payne Hollow: Life on the Fringe of Society Shantyboat on the Bayous The Woodcuts of Harlan Hubbard Shantyboat Journal Payne Hollow Journal

Share This Book