Just found your blog-looks good!
Spent 20 yrs at sea and love to read. Bring Bowditch, you can read it in small bites, and you'll learn alot of things you should know as well as fun facts to know and tell. Like what causes the green flash.
Bring volumes that you always wanted to read but never buckled down on. Shakespeare comes to mind. I've sailed with guys with no high school diploma who could quote Shakespeare for six months and not repeat a quote! You'll have the time to read and concentrate, in a way you don't on shore. Things like Plato's Republic you can read a few pages of and discuss for a whole day. If space is a consideration, I'd bring War and Peace. I've started it 12 times and never gotten more than a third of the way through. Kept losing track of all the characters with four names. I always figured that would be the one I'd get in the lifeboat with. If I finished it, I'd know we're in really big trouble! Foreign language courses and tapes fit in this category.
Of course you'll want some fun things to read. Avoid books like Louis L"Amour, even if you like westerns. They go too fast for the space they take up. If you find a series, or author, you think you might like bring them all. The Patrick O"Brien series comes to mind. Authors like Michener or James Clavell are good choices as they write long novels and have written quite a few. In novels, chances are that you'll like most of the works of the same novellist, so guys like Tom Clancy or Elmore Leonard are good because they've written about thirty of 'em. The previous post on knot-tieing was good; I hear the Ashley Book of Knots has been re-issued and that's all you'll ever need on knots and fancy-work. Also, the suggestion on carving was good. You can buy a block of briar, pre-drilled with stem, at a Tinder Box or tobacco store and carve your own pipe! If you're artistic, you can get a block of meerschaum the same way. Don't forget a couple of GOOD knives and your whet-stone.
Oh, on "square-knotting", bring a half dozen spools of small stuff and some loose belt buckles. Belts are fairly straight forward to tie, take a while to do, and look really famous when done. Besides, all your leather belts go to pot after getting wet all the time and you'll look really "squared away" with the one you make. Scrimshaw buckles aren't too hard to find. Small stuff should be maybe a 1/32 to 1/16th of an inch in dia.-that's how you get a nice fine pattern.
Take paperbacks, so you won't mind swapping them with people you meet.
Also take the Bible. After you've read Bowditch's description of hurricanes at sea, and looked at your first weather fax with milli-bars in the 890 range, you may find it has a new immediacy to it!
Hope this gives some ideas and, as always, I wish you
Fair winds and following seas,