10 books like Fathoms

By Rebecca Giggs,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Fathoms. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

By Jules Verne,

Book cover of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

As a marine biologist that enjoys reading both, fiction and nonfiction, I own a copy of the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, one of the best novels ever written about the ocean. Verne’s adventures of Captain Nemo and life inside his underwater ship, the Nautilus, can capture anyone’s imagination. 

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First serialized in a French magazine from 1869-1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is an incredible adventure story that popularized science fiction throughout the world.

Professor Aronnax, a marine biologist, joins harpoonist Ned Land in search of a mysterious sea creature in the open ocean, only to discover that the beast is actually a submarine piloted by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. They are taken captive, thus beginning a strange undersea voyage from Antarctic ice shelves to the subterranean city of Atlantis, hunting sharks along the way.

With its sprawling, exotic plot and vivid descriptions, Jules Verne's epic underwater adventure…


The Outlaw Ocean

By Ian Urbina,

Book cover of The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier

Urbina gives a shocking and vital account of the human and environmental troubles that are taking place across the ocean, out of sight beyond the horizon. From cases of modern-day slavery and murder aboard fishing vessels to the tricks played by whaling ships and cruise ships to avoid detection of their environmental crimes.

The Outlaw Ocean

By Ian Urbina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Outlaw Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Just incredible' NAOMI KLEIN

**New York Times bestseller**

The Outlaw Ocean is a riveting, adrenalin-fuelled tour of a vast, lawless and rampantly criminal world that few have ever seen: the high seas.

There are few remaining frontiers on our planet. But perhaps the wildest, and least understood, are the world's oceans: too big to police, and under no clear international authority, these immense regions of treacherous water play host to the unbridled extremes of human behaviour and activity.

Traffickers and smugglers, pirates and mercenaries, wreck thieves and repo men, vigilante conservationists and elusive poachers, seabound abortion-providers, clandestine oil-dumpers, shackled slaves…


Lady With a Spear

By Eugenie Clark,

Book cover of Lady With a Spear: A Young Marine Scientist's Memoir

Eugenie Clark wrote this book about the early days of her amazing career as a marine biologist and shark specialist (she was later nicknamed the ‘Shark Lady’). In the 1940s, not only was she unusual for being a female scientist, but she set off on intrepid journeys around the world, studying fish around tiny islands across the Pacific and in the Red Sea, long before it was developed as a tourist destination. This book gives a glorious view of a pioneering scientist and what ocean science used to be like. I was lucky enough to meet her a few years before she died in her nineties. She was incredibly warm and generous, and was clearly still driven by the same boundless curiosity and adventurous spirit that you will see written across the pages of her book.

Lady With a Spear

By Eugenie Clark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lady With a Spear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eugenie Clark, who received her Ph.D. in 1951, was one of the first women to do independent field work in ichthyology. In this youthful memoir, she describes her childhood excursions to Manhattan's old Aquarium, and the development of her education and her career specialty - plectognaths, the family that includes the blowfish, puffer, triggerfish, and other (sometimes poisonous) varieties. "Delightful autobiography." - Christian Science Monitor.


The Log from the Sea of Cortez

By John Steinbeck,

Book cover of The Log from the Sea of Cortez

In this nonfiction book, American author John Steinbeck narrates the boat research expedition to collect marine specimens that he made with his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts in the Gulf of California. As a marine biologist, I loved this book, but be careful because this extended travelogue blending adventure, science, and philosophy is not for everyone! 

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Log from the Sea of Cortez as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1940 Steinbeck sailed in a sardine boat with his great friend the marine biologist, Ed Ricketts, to collect marine invertebrates from the beaches of the Gulf of California. The expedition was described by the two men in SEA OF CORTEZ, published in 1941. The day-to-day story of the trip is told here in the Log, which combines science, philosophy and high-spirited adventure.


The Sound of the Sea

By Cynthia Barnett,

Book cover of The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans

In clear, evocative prose, Barnett describes the world of seashells and humans’ relationship to them. Her book was laced with “Who knew?” moments for me. For example, until recently people considered seashells a kind of rock, giving little thought to the creatures that built and inhabited them. Barnett explains the threat that rising carbon dioxide levels present to the formation and very existence of shells, but she never carps; and although she interjects some of her own experiences—and sense of wonder—she never lapses into making this book about her, rather than her subject.

The Sound of the Sea

By Cynthia Barnett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sound of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seashells have been the most coveted and collected of nature's creations for thousands of years. They were money before coins, jewellery before gems, art before canvas.

In The Sound of the Sea, Cynthia Barnett blends cultural history and environmental science to trace our long love affair with seashells and the hidden lives of the mollusks that make them. From the mysterious glow of giant clams to the surprising origin of Shell Oil as a family business importing exotic shells, the book is filled with unforgettable stories. As it explores the perfect symmetry of a Chambered Nautilus, the pink-glossed lip of…


The Nutmeg's Curse

By Amitav Ghosh,

Book cover of The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

Amitav Ghosh is an outstanding novelist who has now written two great books about global environmental change. His previous work, The Great Derangement, looks at the relationship between colonialism, the humanities, and the climate crisis. Now, The Nutmeg’s Curse expands that exploration provides more detail and depth, and covers the historical era of European expansion, paying close attention to how that process irrevocably and dangerously changed how we perceive the natural world. In so doing, Ghosh covers some of the most pertinent issues of contemporary environmental learning—race, equity, diversity, inclusion, and migration.

If you want to gain deeper insight into our current environmental challenges from a cultural perspective, this book will reward that interest. Hopefully, too, it will give you insight into your own behaviors and cultural predispositions. 

The Nutmeg's Curse

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nutmeg's Curse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this ambitious successor to The Great Derangement, acclaimed writer Amitav Ghosh finds the origins of our contemporary climate crisis in Western colonialism's violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment.

A powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic, Amitav Ghosh's new book traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg's Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of Ghosh's narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The…


Islands of Abandonment

By Cal Flyn,

Book cover of Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape

Abandoned places, reclaimed by the wild – Flyn’s fascinating book speaks directly to my obsession, but instead of using that framework to explore a particular place, she investigated twelve locations around the world with different histories and climates. Most aren’t literally islands but figuratively so, being separated from their surroundings by a disaster of one kind or another, and each shows a different aspect of the exciting process at work that gives hope for ecological restoration. As you’d guess from the subtitle and cover, she uncovers some bleak sites of a nuclear meltdown and toxification and war, exploring in a way that’s both scientific and yet accessible and beautifully written, showing how abandonment can increase biodiversity; that these places of abandonment are an ‘experiment in rewilding’, and there’s hope for redemption when we let nature take over again. 

Islands of Abandonment

By Cal Flyn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Islands of Abandonment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A beautiful, lyrical exploration of the places where nature is flourishing in our absence

"[Flyn] captures the dread, sadness, and wonder of beholding the results of humanity's destructive impulse, and she arrives at a new appreciation of life, 'all the stranger and more valuable for its resilence.'" --The New Yorker

Some of the only truly feral cattle in the world wander a long-abandoned island off the northernmost tip of Scotland. A variety of wildlife not seen in many lifetimes has rebounded on the irradiated grounds of Chernobyl. A lush forest supports thousands of species that are extinct or endangered everywhere…


Atlas of the Invisible

By James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti,

Book cover of Atlas of the Invisible: Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You See the World

This atlas beautifully demonstrates how geography is crucial to making sense of patterns and relationships in the world. I sat down and read it cover to cover, though it also would work well as a coffee table book. If you dig maps and data, this book is for you. If you’re interested in design, this book is for you. If you want to really visualize how putting interesting data on a map can help you to look at the world in new ways, this book is for you. Heck, if you’re curious about the world, this book is for you. 

Atlas of the Invisible

By James Cheshire, Oliver Uberti,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Atlas of the Invisible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning geographer-designer team James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti transform enormous datasets into rich maps and cutting-edge visualizations. In this triumph of visual storytelling, they uncover truths about our past, reveal who we are today, and highlight what we face in the years ahead. With their joyfully inquisitive approach, Cheshire and Uberti explore happiness levels around the globe, trace the undersea cables and cell towers that connect us, examine hidden scars of geopolitics, and illustrate how a warming planet affects everything from hurricanes to the hajj. Years in the making, Atlas of the Invisible invites readers to marvel at the promise…


Watching Giants

By Elin Kelsey, Doc White (photographer), Francois Gohier (photographer)

Book cover of Watching Giants: The Secret Lives of Whales

Kelsey’s book is a graceful mix of science and personal odyssey. She hangs out with whale scientists and asks smart questions. Her subjects are as much the scientists as the whales, including Chris Clark who studies the acoustics of whales and our increasingly noisy oceans. She takes us on her personal journey to the last page where she concludes that whales “inspire me to act more generously.”

Watching Giants

By Elin Kelsey, Doc White (photographer), Francois Gohier (photographer)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Watching Giants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Personal, anecdotal, and highly engaging, "Watching Giants" opens a window on a world that seems quite like our own, yet is so different that understanding it pushes the very limits of our senses. Elin Kelsey's colorful first-person account, drawing from her rich, often humorous, everyday experiences as a mother, a woman, and a scientist, takes us to the incredibly productive waters of the Gulf of California and beyond, to oceans around the world. Kelsey brings us along as she talks to leading cetacean researchers and marine ecologists about their intriguing discoveries. We encounter humpback whales that build nets from bubbles,…


Leviathan

By Philip Hoare,

Book cover of Leviathan: Or, The Whale

Leviathan is an incredibly well written book about Hoare’s own fascination with whales and Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s intense whale-driven masterpiece. Hoare captures whales in words as well as anybody. “The whale is a miracle of marine engineering,” he writes, and then explains both their biological wonders as well as their psychological impact on us. “There is a supernatural physicality to them… They look like we feel as we float in our dreams.”

Leviathan

By Philip Hoare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leviathan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of a man's obsession with whales, which takes him on a personal, historical and biographical journey - from his childhood to his fascination with Moby-Dick and his excursions whale-watching.

All his life, Philip Hoare has been obsessed by whales, from the gigantic skeletons in London's Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales have a mythical quality - they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious.

In 'Leviathan', Philip Hoare seeks to locate and identify this obsession. What impelled Melville to write 'Moby-Dick'? After…


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