Michael Chabon's recommendation is the reason why I picked up The Long Ships. Now that I am hopelessly enthralled in the fantastic story of Viking adventure, I find myself mentally re-visiting Chabon's collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs. Some of the essays were not that appealing to me (specifically the "murse" essay), but most of Chabon's thoughts on being a son, father, husband were truly beautiful and, sometimes, bittersweet. His writing is so poetic and expressive that it often made me read the essays out loud just to hear and "feel" the words and sentences, even if I was alone (which maybe sounds a little crazy now).
Side note, it was much better to hear Chabon speak his own words - I had the opportunity to attend his reading of Manhood at the Chicago Public Library and would jump at the chance to hear him again in the future.
During The Long Ships, the essay that I keep thinking of is The Wilderness of Childhood, probably one of my favorite pieces from the book. As a sample, "We have this idea of armchair traveling, of the reader who seeks in the pages of a ripping yarn or a memoir of polar exploration the kind of heroism and danger, in unknown, half-legendary lands, that he or she could never hope to find in life. This is a mistaken notion, in my view. People read stories of adventure-and write them-because they have themselves been adventurers. Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes calamity."