Number One on the list:
The Accidental Indies by Robert Finley (McGill-Queen's, 2000).Read about all five titles on Sobel's list.
In the just under 100 pages of "The Accidental Indies," Robert Finley uses the tools of poetry to describe Columbus's trip westward -- perhaps the most familiar of all journeys of discovery -- and thereby cracks open the nature of wanderlust and destiny. Finley's Columbus is a man "immune to distances," who thrives on "that greatest of opiates, the here, here, here in there." The moment the ships set sail, Finley invokes the second person to thrust the reader aboard, to feel "the first gentle lift and fall of the dark hull under your feet. And with it the world falls away from you ... like a word you have spoken," while "a lightness and a loneliness gather under your heart." All the way across the ocean, the compass rose flowers on the page.