64 books like Leviathan

By Philip Hoare,

Here are 64 books that Leviathan fans have personally recommended if you like Leviathan. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Jim Lynch Author Of The Highest Tide

From my list on cool facts about whales.

Who am I?

I began as a journalist and turned into a novelist who uses extensive research to build my imagined stories. So, I tend to end up writing novels about whatever is fascinating enough to send me down research rabbit holes. I’m finishing a novel now about the wonders and mysteries of whales and the researchers who commit their lives to try to understand them. During the last three years, I have interviewed whale researchers, gone on expeditions with them, and have read countless scientific papers and quite a few books on whales. These books I’m recommending here were some of my favorites.

Jim's book list on cool facts about whales

Jim Lynch Why did Jim love this book?

Giggs is first and foremost a great writer. Her powers of description and analysis pop off the page. The first 100 pages of Fathoms are particularly strong as she zeroes in on disturbing and fascinating topics such as all our garbage showing up in the bellies of stranded whales or scavenger ecosystems created by whale carcasses once they fall to the ocean floor.

By Rebecca Giggs,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fathoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE NIB LITERARY AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE FOR NONFICTION
HIGHLY COMMENDED IN THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE FOR WRITING ON GLOBAL CONSERVATION

A SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR

'There is a kind of hauntedness in wild animals today: a spectre related to environmental change ... Our fear is that the unseen spirits that move in them are ours. Once more, animals are a moral force.'

When Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beach in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of…


Book cover of Watching Giants: The Secret Lives of Whales

Jim Lynch Author Of The Highest Tide

From my list on cool facts about whales.

Who am I?

I began as a journalist and turned into a novelist who uses extensive research to build my imagined stories. So, I tend to end up writing novels about whatever is fascinating enough to send me down research rabbit holes. I’m finishing a novel now about the wonders and mysteries of whales and the researchers who commit their lives to try to understand them. During the last three years, I have interviewed whale researchers, gone on expeditions with them, and have read countless scientific papers and quite a few books on whales. These books I’m recommending here were some of my favorites.

Jim's book list on cool facts about whales

Jim Lynch Why did Jim love this book?

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.”

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,…


Book cover of Wild Blue: A Natural History of the World's Largest Animal

Jim Lynch Author Of The Highest Tide

From my list on cool facts about whales.

Who am I?

I began as a journalist and turned into a novelist who uses extensive research to build my imagined stories. So, I tend to end up writing novels about whatever is fascinating enough to send me down research rabbit holes. I’m finishing a novel now about the wonders and mysteries of whales and the researchers who commit their lives to try to understand them. During the last three years, I have interviewed whale researchers, gone on expeditions with them, and have read countless scientific papers and quite a few books on whales. These books I’m recommending here were some of my favorites.

Jim's book list on cool facts about whales

Jim Lynch Why did Jim love this book?

Bortolotti’s book reveals the beguiling fact that we don’t know much about the largest animals to ever live on earth. Despite their hugeness, blue whales remain elusive and mysterious creatures. Most of the whales’ calls to each other operate at frequencies below our hearing range. Their breeding and migration patterns remain unpredictable compared to other whales. This book drops the reader into a small inflatable Zodiac out in the ocean looking for and studying these whales with several of the world’s most accomplished and tenacious blue whale researchers.

By Dan Bortolotti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The blue whale holds the title of largest creature that has ever lived, and it may also be the most mysterious. The biggest blue whales can outweigh every player in Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League combined. Their mouths can gulp more than thirteen thousand gallons of seawater. A newborn can be over twenty feet long and gain nearly twenty tons in seven months—about eight pounds per hour. Blue whales emit more powerful sounds than any other animal on earth, though many of their vocalizations are beyond the range of human hearing.
Yet nearly everything that we have…


Book cover of The Presence of Whales: Contemporary Writings on the Whale

Jim Lynch Author Of The Highest Tide

From my list on cool facts about whales.

Who am I?

I began as a journalist and turned into a novelist who uses extensive research to build my imagined stories. So, I tend to end up writing novels about whatever is fascinating enough to send me down research rabbit holes. I’m finishing a novel now about the wonders and mysteries of whales and the researchers who commit their lives to try to understand them. During the last three years, I have interviewed whale researchers, gone on expeditions with them, and have read countless scientific papers and quite a few books on whales. These books I’m recommending here were some of my favorites.

Jim's book list on cool facts about whales

Jim Lynch Why did Jim love this book?

The Presence of Whales includes more than twenty different articles, essays, and excerpts about whales, including work from famous nature writers like Diane Ackerman and Farley Mowat, as well as seminal pieces from whale scientists Hal Whitehead and Roger Payne. Barry Lopez’s story about 36 sperm whales stranding on the Oregon coast alone is worth the price of this book—if you can find it. Here’s Lopez describing a sperm whale: “Imagine a forty-five-year-old male fifty feet long, a slim shiny black animal with a white jaw and marbled belly cutting the surface of green ocean water at twenty knots.”

By Frank Stewart (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frank Stewart, an observer, writer, storyteller, and lover of whales gathers the most compelling contemporary essays on cetaceans in the first anthology to bring together many of the foremost  marine scientists and nature writers, including Diane Ackerman, Barry Lopez, Farley Mowat, Faith McNulty, and Jonathan White.   

The essays are organized in five sections that celebrates our ongoing fascination with these fragile giants.

Sharing the World of Giants

contains essays inspired by being in the presence of whales,

Songs from the Deep

concentrates on whale vocalizations,

Sightings of the Leviathan

are compelling accounts of personal observations of whale behavior,

Death at…


Book cover of Last Song of the Whales

Judith Simon Prager Author Of What the Dolphin Said: On the Future of Humankind

From my list on consciousness, dolphins, and wise humans.

Who am I?

Years of teaching Verbal First Aid™, hypnotic language for healing, only whet my curiosity for Non-Verbal First Aid. I love mysticism and magic, and I love science and evidence. When the two work together to illuminate profound understandings, I am such a fan. Just imagine this if you can: Dolphins’ visual and aural nerves connect so that when they send out sound beams of echolocation, it comes back as an ultra-sound-looking picture, which they can send to other dolphins! Magic and science are used by them for healing, as well. How could one NOT investigate further and be passionate about this subject?

Judith's book list on consciousness, dolphins, and wise humans

Judith Simon Prager Why did Judith love this book?

It is a fiction based on facts about whales and about what Four Arrows believes they are trying to tell us regarding the pollution of the Oceans that threatens us all. A whale captures a marine biologist and his encounter, feeling almost biblical but very current, reveals their important message to humanity. In this very dramatic story, you’ll also find an ecological treatise, and a call to action so needed at this time.

By Four Arrows,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Song of the Whales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A humpback whale mysteriously takes a mixed-blood American Indian professor to sea. While struggling to survive, the man begins to reclaim his indigenous roots, and in the process discovers thousands of whales on a suicide mission in the North Pacific. When he theorizes the dire effects the whale's action could have for all of life on earth, he and a sympathetic woman marine biologist, influenced by a Hawaiian shaman's dream, against all odds, try to warn the world in time.


Book cover of Men and Whales

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

From my list on whaling history.

Who am I?

I am the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America. This book was sparked by a painting I own of a whaling scene. Gazing at that painting, I often wondered what it was like to go whaling. Having Moby-Dick in school, I already knew a fair amount about whaling. But the painting continued to stir my curiosity, and soon I discovered that there were libraries devoted to whaling, providing almost unlimited material for a historical narrative. This book, then, is my attempt to weave that material into a maritime tapestry that attempts to do justice to America’s rich whaling heritage.

Eric's book list on whaling history

Eric Jay Dolin Why did Eric love this book?

This oversized book traces the long history of man’s tempestuous relationship with whales, and rather than focusing solely on American whaling, it covers whaling around the world. In addition to sections on Basque whaling going back more than a millennium, other parts of the book survey whaling in Australia, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and the Caribbean, among many other locales. The book also discusses the anti-whaling movement in the twentieth century that ultimately led to the International Whaling Commission’s (not quite universal) moratorium on whaling, adopted in 1986. There are more than 300 images that beautifully complement the text and bring history to life.

By Richard Ellis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traces the complex history of humans and whales--from the aborigines to tenth-century Basques to eighteenth-century British and Dutch whalers to the Yankee sperm whale fishery and the whaling industry in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa


Book cover of The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea

Skip Finley Author Of Whaling Captains of Color: America's First Meritocracy

From my list on from an expert on whaling captains of color.

Who am I?

Before becoming a writer I was widely acknowledged as a successful radio station executive, a business relying heavily on audience and other numerical information. That earned me the nickname “Data” (from Star Trek). Having written an article about a Black whaling captain for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine I became intrigued about how this could have occurred in the years of slavery and began buying and reading books on whaling to find that answer. About 100 such books resulted in my book on 50 some men who had attained that lofty rank; today I’m up to about 180 and/or I can attest I’ve read fundamentally all of the books on the subject.

Skip's book list on from an expert on whaling captains of color

Skip Finley Why did Skip love this book?

Too many books about whaling omit the obvious, the whale itself. An example is that we killed the largest creature on earth for 100 years before we learned it wasn’t a fish! The Whale is educational, laugh-out-loud funny, at times scatological, and easy to read. Best-selling author Nathaniel Philbrick called it “genius... rhapsodic meditation on all things cetacean” in his New York Times book review. It’s the bible of whales and, dare I say it, more interesting than Moby-Dick.

By Philip Hoare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A love letter to the 'largest, loudest, oldest' mammal ever to have existed...exhilarating." -People Magazine

Winner of the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction,

From his childhood fascination with the gigantic Natural History Museum model of a blue whale, to his abiding love of Moby-Dick, to his adult encounters with the living animals in the Atlantic Ocean, the acclaimed writer Philip Hoare has been obsessed with whales. The Whale is his unforgettable and moving attempt to explain why these strange and beautiful animals exert such a powerful hold on our imagination.

An enthralling and eye-opening literary leviathan swimming in similar…


Book cover of Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales, and Human Destiny

Judith Simon Prager Author Of What the Dolphin Said: On the Future of Humankind

From my list on consciousness, dolphins, and wise humans.

Who am I?

Years of teaching Verbal First Aid™, hypnotic language for healing, only whet my curiosity for Non-Verbal First Aid. I love mysticism and magic, and I love science and evidence. When the two work together to illuminate profound understandings, I am such a fan. Just imagine this if you can: Dolphins’ visual and aural nerves connect so that when they send out sound beams of echolocation, it comes back as an ultra-sound-looking picture, which they can send to other dolphins! Magic and science are used by them for healing, as well. How could one NOT investigate further and be passionate about this subject?

Judith's book list on consciousness, dolphins, and wise humans

Judith Simon Prager Why did Judith love this book?

The subhead of this wonderful book is Dolphins, Whales, and Human Destiny. It covers the extensive history of respect for dolphin wisdom from 30,000 years ago in Australia, through ancient Greece, to their seeming withdrawal from our awareness 1,000 years ago. Dolphins have reappeared now, when we need their wisdom most. Taylor writes of their being the other self-aware, intelligent life we have been searching the Universe for, and about “dolphin embassies,” where we can meet as equals, already begun at their behest.

By Scott Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Souls in the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dolphins have long been attributed with intelligence, but do they have souls? Self-awareness? Compassion? Scott Taylor, Director of the Cetacean Studies Institute, investigates the history, mythology, and science surrounding these creatures and emerges with a resounding yes. And not only do whales and dolphins merit our attention and respect in their own right: they are an index to what our future as a species can be.

In this multi-faceted cetology compendium, Taylor surveys the portrayal of dolphins and whales in works of literature as disparate as Moby Dick and Sumerian legend, examines biologist John Lilly's research on interspecies communication, and…


Book cover of The Snail and the Whale

Mike Lowery Author Of Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!

From my list on the ocean for kids.

Who am I?

Besides being an avid sketchbook keeper, author, and illustrator, I also collect weird and random facts. In my Everything Awesome book series, I love discovering cool facts to share with readers about some of my favorite topics, including sharks, space, and dinosaurs.

Mike's book list on the ocean for kids

Mike Lowery Why did Mike love this book?

Yes, it’s another snail, but a different tale! (Or should it be tail?)

Easily already a children’s lit classic since it first came out in 2003, this book takes you on an oceanic journey with two very unlikely traveling companions to see the sights. There may be danger ahead, but friendship rules the day.

By Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Snail and the Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

"How I long to sail!" said the tiny snail.

The Snail and the Whale is a delightful tale of adventure and friendship by the unparalleled picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, creators of The Gruffalo.

One little snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of an enormous whale. Together they go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins, and the little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world. But when disaster strikes and the whale is beached in a bay, it's the tiny snail's…


Book cover of Crab and Snail: The Invisible Whale

Mike Lowery Author Of Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!

From my list on the ocean for kids.

Who am I?

Besides being an avid sketchbook keeper, author, and illustrator, I also collect weird and random facts. In my Everything Awesome book series, I love discovering cool facts to share with readers about some of my favorite topics, including sharks, space, and dinosaurs.

Mike's book list on the ocean for kids

Mike Lowery Why did Mike love this book?

I love how these best beach friends (that’s BBF to you!) think deeply about both friendship and the realities of being invisible. They also need to work together to figure out why the rain won’t stop falling on only the two of them! Can they figure it out?

This book is a funny and charming seaside tale. 

By Beth Ferry, Jared Chapman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crab and Snail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Join Crab and Snail in the surf zone, where they think deep thoughts and have unforgettable seaside adventures, in this graphic early reader series debut by New York Times bestselling author Beth Ferry and beloved illustrator Jared Chapman.

The never-ending rain is putting a damper on Crab and Snail's plans for a sunny, funny day. So when the BBFs (Best Beach Friends) realize that it's only raining on them, they put their heads together and consult one know-it-all gull (he really does know it all!) to get to the bottom of it. By the time the rain clears, the duo…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in whales, the ocean, and dolphins?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about whales, the ocean, and dolphins.

Whales Explore 35 books about whales
The Ocean Explore 31 books about the ocean
Dolphins Explore 19 books about dolphins