100 books like The Outlaw Ocean

By Ian Urbina,

Here are 100 books that The Outlaw Ocean fans have personally recommended if you like The Outlaw Ocean. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

From my list on combining fantasy and social commentary.

Why am I passionate about this?

My great interests have been ships and space travel, and if one takes time to consider the similarities the parallels stand out. Ships, especially submarines, travel in a medium and through an environment that is hostile to human life. In space travel, the ‘ship’ becomes the only habitat in which we can survive for any extended period, leaving it without a space suit is a fatal move. I cannot claim to be an expert in closed environments, but it's a subject that has fascinated me throughout my life. Every ‘biosphere’ is unique and incredibly complex and depends on the symbiosis of an enormous number of living creatures right down to bacteria and even viruses. 

Patrick's book list on combining fantasy and social commentary

Patrick G. Cox Why did Patrick love this book?

This is the story that first got me interested in science fiction. Of course, we now recognise some of the flaws in the science, but consider that at the time of its writing steam propulsion was still in its infancy, most ships were still built of timber, and Verne envisaged a ship capable of indefinite travel beneath the ocean surface – something not even possible until the advent of nuclear power almost a century later. Even today Verne’s vision and the story he wove around it can inspire.

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

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…

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

Helen Scales Author Of The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed

From my list on the ocean and seas.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Helen Scales a marine biologist, broadcaster and bestselling writer whose books include Spirals in Time and Eye of the Shoal. Her stories about the ocean appear in National Geographic Magazine, The Guardian, New Scientist, and others. Helen co-hosts the Catch Our Drift podcast, teaches at Cambridge University and is a scientific advisor to the marine conservation charity Sea Changers. She divides her time between Cambridge, England, and the wild French coast of Finistère.

Helen's book list on the ocean and seas

Helen Scales Why did Helen love this book?

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.

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.

Book cover of The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Jennifer Silva Redmond Author Of Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat

From my list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on Southern California beaches—Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla—but first experienced Baja as an adult. It was like a different world. Returning repeatedly over the next decade, I came to know the stunning shorelines and quiet bays of the peninsula’s midriff as intimately as my home state’s beaches. Swimming and diving Baja’s clear blue waters and hiking its dusty trails and palm-studded mountains, I have admired the many moods of this unique desert peninsula. A writer and editor, I have read extensively from the vast selection of books about Baja, both new and classic works.

Jennifer's book list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there

Jennifer Silva Redmond Why did Jennifer love this book?

I first read this book long before I ever set foot south of Ensenada, and was immediately captivated by it—I loved how Steinbeck would wax deeply philosophical at times, but never lost the thread of the story of their journey.

This book is funny too! When Russel and I were sailing in the Sea of Cortez, we would pick it up and read the sections about the temperamental outboard engine Steinbeck dubbed the “Sea Cow,” and laugh out loud at his anecdotes. I am also fascinated by science and the ocean, and reading the book was like an overview class on oceanography and marine biology.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

5 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.

Book cover of Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Jim Lynch Author Of The Highest Tide

From my list on cool facts about whales.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?



'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 The Brilliant Abyss: True Tales of Exploring the Deep Sea, Discovering Hidden Life and Selling the Seabed

Anne Louise Burdett Author Of Dirt Gems: Plant Oracle Deck and Guidebook

From my list on nerdy science books that break your heart and put it back together again.

Why am I passionate about this?

Working with the natural world has long been my life’s compass. I have been dedicated to conservation, education, and management of terrestrial and marine ecosystems for my entire career. I strongly believe we must approach the crisis that we now live in with humor, joy, and devotion, and we must be able to fall in love with this world over and over again, even if it breaks our hearts. This is why I write, and this is how I live. I love reading science books that allow this connection, that lead me into the complexities of why we must never stop feeling wonder at this magnificent world.

Anne's book list on nerdy science books that break your heart and put it back together again

Anne Louise Burdett Why did Anne love this book?

This book is absolutely fascinating. This author makes me wish that I could take her classes. She provides the sweet release of wonder, the gloriousness of the deep sea, the alien, and the mysterious and the magical.

She walks us through the world of the unknown, the struggle of the scientist to try to understand something we can never truly know. She also shatters us with the many ways that we must watch this world disappear, even when we never really knew it existed in the first place. We get a tiny glimpse as humans into the Wild West that is the deep, and yet our impact reaches far beyond our knowledge. We are destroying something so rich and vast it’s akin to outer space.

Break my heart, but keep putting it back together. 

By Helen Scales,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The deep sea is the last, vast wilderness on the planet. For centuries, myth-makers and storytellers have concocted imaginary monsters of the deep, and now scientists are looking there to find bizarre, unknown species, chemicals to make new medicines, and to gain a greater understanding of how this world of ours works. With an average depth of 12,000 feet and chasms that plunge much deeper, it forms a frontier for new discoveries. The Brilliant Abyss tells the story of our relationship with the deep sea - how we imagine, explore and exploit it. It captures the golden age of discovery…

Book cover of Seven Tears Into the Sea

Jacqueline E. Smith Author Of Cemetery Tours

From my list on supernatural books to read all year long.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent author, photographer, wildlife advocate, paranormal enthusiast, and cat mom living in Dallas, Texas. In 2012, I earned my Master's Degree in Art and Performance from the University of Texas at Dallas and have been pursuing my writing career ever since. I published my first book, Cemetery Tours, in 2013 and it will forever be the book that changed my life.

Jacqueline's book list on supernatural books to read all year long

Jacqueline E. Smith Why did Jacqueline love this book?

A beautiful tale of first love, summer by the sea, and sexy supernatural boyfriends, Seven Tears Into the Sea is one of my favorite books of all time. Like Gwen, I’ve always felt called to the sea, though sadly, I’ve never been rescued by a beautiful selkie boy. Nor has one ever beckoned for me to return to him. But thanks to Seven Tears Into the Sea, I at least know what it would be like if one ever did. 

By Terri Farley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beckon the sea,
I'll come to thee....
Shed seven tears,
perchance seven years....
At the age of ten, Gwen Cooke had a strange encounter with a boy with dark, slightly tilted eyes. He came to her on the beach, whispered strange words in her ear, and then disappeared. Shortly thereafter, her family moved away from their seaside home and Gwen never saw the boy again.
Now seventeen, Gwen is returning to her childhood home. Her nana asked her to come. But Gwen knows it's time to go back for another reason: She yearns for the sea. Perhaps the sea itself…

Book cover of Middle Passage

Emily Mitchell Author Of The Last Summer of the World

From my list on reminding you how strange the past really was.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in history. I grew up in London, where there's a lot of it. But what made me want to write fiction about the past was experiences of imaginative affinity for certain other times and places. My first book is set during World War One. I've always felt connected to the change in sensibility that many people went through then, from an optimistic, moralistic, Victorian outlook, in which, to quote Paul Fussell from The Great War and Modern Memory, people “believed in Progress and Art and in no way doubted the benignity even of technology” to an understanding that human beings and our societies contained deeper, more persistent shadows. 

Emily's book list on reminding you how strange the past really was

Emily Mitchell Why did Emily love this book?

The question of how to portray a historical atrocity like slavery in a work of fiction is obviously monumental. Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Colson Whitehead, and John Keene have approached this with consummate brilliance by writing the experience and subjectivity of enslaved and formerly-enslaved people. Johnson, however, focuses on the perpetrators: the men who engage in and profit from the capture and trafficking of other human beings. As in Mantel’s novel, the choice of the protagonist is key. Rutherford Calhoun is a ne’er-do-well free Black man from New Orleans who runs away on a ship to escape debts and engagement to a woman whose love he hasn’t done much to deserve. It turns out this ship is bound for Africa to collect a cargo of people, members of the Allmuseri tribe, an ethnicity Johnson invented for his fiction. But along with the people, they are also collecting something much more…

By Charles Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

Winner of the National Book Award 1990

The Apocalypse would definitely put a crimp in my career plans.

Rutherford Calhoun, a puckish rogue and newly freed slave, spends his days loitering around the docks of New Orleans, dodging debt collectors, gangsters, and Isadora Bailey, a prim and frugal woman who seeks to marry him and curb his mischievous instincts. When the heat from these respective pursuers becomes too much to bear, he cons his way on to the next ship leaving the dock: the Republic. Upon boarding, to his horror he discovers that he…

Book cover of Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

Dawn Wynne Author Of Midnight Mission: An Eco Avengers Series

From my list on educate and inspire kids about the environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been an educator for over 20 years teaching elementary-aged children. The environment is a passion of mine. After reading the book Plastic Ocean and meeting the author Charles Moore, I realized that the issues facing our environment are going to be best solved by the upcoming generation of children. They understand how important it is to preserve our planet. Combining my love of writing with my education background, I started writing books to teach children about the environment and inspire them to make lasting changes. I love recommending books that have the same mission. Small actions equal great changes! 

Dawn's book list on educate and inspire kids about the environment

Dawn Wynne Why did Dawn love this book?

I love this book as a supplement for the classroom or household library. It is filled with lovely photographs and depicts what is happening to our oceans. There is a nice ratio of text to pictures so as not to be overwhelming. It includes maps, vocabulary words, and a glossary to bring in the educational component without feeling like a textbook. 

By Patricia Newman, Annie Crawley (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Books like this one help lead the way to a better climate future for all inhabitants of Mother Earth. We are all in this together!" ― Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner and environmentalist

A little more than 70 percent of Planet Earth is ocean. So wouldn’t a better name for our global home be Planet Ocean?

You may be surprised at just how closely YOU are connected to the ocean. Regardless of where you live, every breath you take and every drop of water you drink links you to the ocean. And because of this connection, the ocean’s health affects…

Book cover of The Caine Mutiny: A Novel of World War II

William A. Glass Author Of As Good As Can Be

From my list on that show World War II as it was.

Why am I passionate about this?

An unusual thing about me when it comes to historical fiction is that I write it but rarely read it. So, why should anyone care about my recommendations for historical fiction books? Perhaps because of what I do read, which is mainly non-fiction. On my bedside table right now, insistently beckoning me away from my laptop, is With The Old Breed, a harrowing memoir about the veteran Marines the author, E.B. Sledge, got to know while fighting the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa during World War II. My bookcase is filled with histories, memoirs, war diaries, and biographies. Only a few novels are present, and what sets them apart is their historical accuracy and realism. 

William's book list on that show World War II as it was

William A. Glass Why did William love this book?

It’s hard to believe that this realistic portrayal of life in the U.S. Navy during World War II was written by the same author who wrote the vainglorious Winds of War! Still, I have to include The Caine Mutiny on this list because it realistically depicts the everyday tedium endured by crews aboard fourth-class navy ships during the long, drawn-out Pacific war. Wouk served on such a ship, and that inspired this story about mediocrity, cowardice, and mendacity. Like the other books on this list, The Caine Mutiny is ultimately a character study. It focuses on the officers of an obsolete mine-sweeper, plying the backwaters of the war under the directions of an incompetent captain.

A series of incidents puts severe pressure on the ship’s crew and their response creates a dramatic but believable climax to the story. This novel has stuck with me because I served in the…

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a perennial favorite of readers young and old, Herman Wouk's masterful World War II drama set aboard a U.S. Navy warship in the Pacific is "a novel of brilliant virtuosity" (Times Literary Supplement).

Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life--and mutiny--on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II.

In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has sold millions…

Book cover of The Unnatural History of the Sea

Thomas Blake Earle Author Of The Liberty to Take Fish: Atlantic Fisheries and Federal Power in Nineteenth-Century America

From my list on why the history of the ocean matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think about the ocean a lot. Teaching in Galveston, Texas, at a university less than a mile from the ocean means it's on my mind most of the time. And it's not just the fish! I’m fascinated by all things ocean and have spent my career trying to understand the place of the watery world in the history of the United States. From fishing in the North Atlantic, to the history of the U.S. Navy, and even surfing on the Gulf Coast my writing, not to mention reading, usually points to the coast and beyond.

Thomas' book list on why the history of the ocean matters

Thomas Blake Earle Why did Thomas love this book?

Overfishing may seem like a modern problem. The imperiled oceanic ecosystem inhabited by populations of marine species teetering on the edge of extinction may sound like a relic of recent industrialization, but Callum Roberts shows the story is much older.

According to Roberts the overfishing crisis of today has its origins nearly a millennia ago. Roberts, a marine ecologist by training, takes readers through what historically has been a repeated cycle of discovery, intensive exploitation, declining catches, and ultimately stock collapse that has devastated fisheries around the globe.

But Roberts does not merely give voice to a story of gloom and doom; instead he appeals to readers that more careful stewardship and the ocean’s own regenerative ability may turn the tide back. 

By Callum Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humanity can make short work of the oceans' creatures. As Callum M. Roberts reveals in The Unnatural History of the Sea, the oceans' bounty didn't disappear overnight. While today's fishing industry is ruthlessly efficient, intense exploitation began not in the modern era, or even with the dawn of industrialization, but in the 11th century in medieval Europe.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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