The most recommended coral reef books

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to coral reefs, and here are their favorite coral reef books.
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A Life Underwater

By Charlie Veron,

Book cover of A Life Underwater

Peter F. Sale Author Of Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea

From the list on on being a coral reef scientist.

Who am I?

Peter Sale has managed to spend an entire career exploring coral reefs, perhaps the most fascinating ecosystem on this planet.  From 1964 when he commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, through faculty positions in Australia, the USA, and Canada, and with a final stint with the United Nations University, he has been able to explore the wonders of coral reef systems in many places around the world.  His life has been rewarding, because of the new science he did, the students and colleagues he worked with, and the sheer joy he experienced diving on reefs. His many technical writings include the 1991 book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, which became a classic among reef researchers, students, and some sport divers.

Peter's book list on on being a coral reef scientist

Why did Peter love this book?

Dr. John E.N. Veron, called Charlie by everyone who knows him, is an Australian coral reef scientist. He is also the person who single-handedly sorted out the names of the corals in the 1980s by emphasizing the study of corals in their natural habitats on reefs. Prior taxonomy, based on dried, cleaned bits of skeletons, had resulted in much confusion given the considerable plasticity of the form of corals growing in different reef habitats. This book is Charlie’s account of his life as a marine scientist, from his earliest exploring of rocky shores near Sydney to his numerous expeditions to reefs around the world over the course of his career. 

His love of the natural world, his curiosity and willingness to take risks, and his dogged determination in solving scientific puzzles stand out. So too do his humor, his down-to-earth Australian-ness, and his loving respect for corals, for reefs, and…

By Charlie Veron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hailed by David Attenborough, proclaimed a second Charles Darwin, John 'Charlie' Veron almost didn't become a scientist. Disheartened at school, by chance he won a scholarship to a university where he could indulge his passion for the natural world. It was scuba diving that returned him to his childhood love of marine life, and led to a career as a self-taught coral specialist, a field he revolutionised. His discoveries include an original concept of what a species is, and the mechanism that dives their evolution - matters that lie at the heart of conservation. He has named more coral species…


The Sound of the Sea

By Cynthia Barnett,

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

Sandy Sheehy Author Of Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

From the list on the amazing world of coral reefs.

Who am I?

For more than four decades, Sandy Sheehy has been diving tropical coral reefs from the Caribbean to Australia. Starting when she was around five sitting in her pediatric dentist’s office where she noticed an aquarium stocked with colorful fish, her fascination with the underwater world has grown. Becoming a freelance journalist allowed her to call on experts and activists around the world to help her satisfy her curiosity and share what she learned.   

Sandy's book list on the amazing world of coral reefs

Why did Sandy love this book?

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.

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 Fragile Edge

By Julia Whitty,

Book cover of The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific

William E. Glassley Author Of A Wilder Time: Notes from a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice

From the list on fieldwork in wild places.

Who am I?

I am a geologist who studies the origin and evolution of continents, which has required traveling the world to conduct fieldwork. Most of that experience has focused on Greenland and the wilderness fringe that bounds the inland ice cap. For weeks at a time, I and two colleagues, John Korstgård and Kai Sørensen, camp in some of the world’s greatest wilderness landscapes. Over years of such research, I have come to treasure the exquisite emotional power fieldwork in wilderness settings provides. It is the most direct way to begin the journey of understanding the place of humanity in the unfolding progress of cosmic evolution and was the impetus for my recent book.

William's book list on fieldwork in wild places

Why did William love this book?

The relationship between ourselves and the sea is commonly constrained by beaches and tides. But Julia Whitty, deep-sea diver, and filmmaker opens the mind to the richness of deep waters through the scientific and soulful journeys she poetically shares in this book. Her time spent working in the South Pacific allows an expansion of our own experiences of the wild world. The delicate relationships of life’s many forms, from whales and sharks to rays and coral, contained within Earth’s liquid artistry, offers an opportunity to enrich our understanding of connections we seldom perceive but which, once acknowledged, expand the perception of life’s wealth.

By Julia Whitty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Fragile Edge, the documentary filmmaker and deep-sea diver Julia Whitty paints a mesmerizing, scientifically rich portrait of teeming coral reefs and sea life in the South Pacific. She takes us literally beneath the surface of the usual travel narrative, in an underwater equivalent of an African big-game safari. Hammerhead sharks rule a cascading chain of extraordinary creatures, from eagle rays to reef sharks, as the sound of courting humpback whales reverberates through the deep.
Inspiring for both armchair and expert divers, The Fragile Edge reveals how science can extend our understanding of unfathomable waters, opening our eyes to…


Book cover of The Big Book of the Blue

Cassandra Federman Author Of This Is a Sea Cow

From the list on children’s stories about ocean animals.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the ocean and all of its inhabitants for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I discovered my dad’s SCUBA license and it blew my mind that I was related to someone who was allowed to explore the underwater world! Later, when I got to college, I took advantage of two exciting opportunities. First, I got my own scuba license. Second, I studied abroad in Belize, where I conducted manatee research by tagging, tracking, and rescuing manatees. I enjoyed the time I spent with the animals, but not the lab work. Now I express my passion for sea creatures in the books I write.

Cassandra's book list on children’s stories about ocean animals

Why did Cassandra love this book?

This book is full of fascinating facts about all kinds of sea creatures from those near the surface to those who live down deep in the darkness. For me, the biggest draw of this book is the illustrations. (Pun intended!) The art is so full of texture and color and every page is as gorgeous as the one that came before. This book is a feast for the eyes and the curious brain!

By Yuval Zommer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nominated for the 2019 Kate Greenaway Medal

Why do octopuses have eight arms?
Why do crabs run sideways?
Are jellyfish made of jelly?
Yuval Zommer's beautiful new book provides the answers to these and many more fishy questions. His wonderfully quirky illustrations show off all kinds of slippery, shimmery and surprising sea creatures, including sea turtles, whales, sharks, rays and seahorses. Chatty, funny and full of amazing facts, it will be devoured by children eager to find out about the most exciting creatures from the deep blue.


Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage

By Dominic Walliman, Ben Newman (illustrator),

Book cover of Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage

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

From the 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

Why did Mike love this book?

Ready for a deep dive to learn all about the world’s oceans?

Tag along with Professor Astro Cat and his friends as they explore from the seashore to the deepest depths of the oceans and everything in between. It's equally as much fun to visually enjoy this book's amazing illustrations as it is to devour all the fascinating facts!

By Dominic Walliman, Ben Newman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Professor Astro Cat's Deep-Sea Voyage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where did all the water on our planet come from? How deep is the ocean? What exactly is a fish?

Find out all of this and more in the newest Professor Astro Cat adventure!

Despite covering over 70% of the Earth's surface, the ocean is still roughly 95% unexplored. Join Professor Astro Cat and the gang as they take a deep dive from the sea shore all the way to the darkest depths of the ocean floor to find out more about this mysterious watery world. From coral reefs to deep-sea vents, there's so much to discover on this Deep-sea…


The Brilliant Deep

By Kate Messner, Matthew Forsythe (illustrator),

Book cover of The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World's Coral Reefs

Lisa L. Owens Author Of The Life Cycle of a Clown Fish

From the list on marine-life magic for children.

Who am I?

I’ve always been an animal lover who's also interested in what makes different creatures tick: how they’ve evolved as living beings, where and how they exist, and what role any given one plays in our world at large. I also find bodies of water calming to gaze at, fun to splash in and sail on, and it’s intriguing to study them as ecosystems. Each type—from small transient sidewalk puddles to vast enduring seas—can support some form of animal life under the right circumstances. And, for me, the fact that we humans spend most of our time experiencing life on land makes marine life that much more mysterious and magical to learn and write about. 

Lisa's book list on marine-life magic for children

Why did Lisa love this book?

This standout picture book biography shows how environmental scientist Ken Nedimyer’s lifelong love of the ocean eventually led to his quest to help save and restore the beautiful coral reefs of his native Florida and beyond.

Along the way, Messner’s gentle narrative reinforces the notion that all great efforts start with just one life, one moment, one idea, one step forward. And Forsythe’s equally gentle illustrations softly illuminate the worlds both above and below water.

By Kate Messner, Matthew Forsythe (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Brilliant Deep is the proud recipient of the ALA Notable Children's Books Award, the NSTA-CBC Best STEM Trade Books Award, the Junior Library Guild Selection and the ILA Teacher's Choices.

All it takes is one: one coral gamete to start a colony in the ocean, one person to make a difference in the world, one idea to help us heal the earth. The ongoing conservation efforts to save and rebuild the world's coral reefs-with hammer and glue, and grafts of newly grown coral-are the living legacy of environmental scientist Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation.

In telling…


Fable

By Adrienne Young,

Book cover of Fable

K.J. Cloutier Author Of Beyond The Horizon

From the list on young adult fantasy with pirates and magic.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved magic and pirates. As I kid, I made up games incorporating the two. As a teenager, I wanted to read about them. But at the time, I couldn’t find anything that had both pirates and magic, so I decided to write one myself. As the years blurred past and the young adult book scene exploded, more and more books with pirates and magic have been published and of course, I try to read them all! I read them not only to study books similar to my own, but because I love them and I can’t get enough. 

K.J.'s book list on young adult fantasy with pirates and magic

Why did K.J. love this book?

One of my favourite things about Fable is it’s immersive setting.

When you’re reading this book, you can feel the sand beneath your toes, the wind on your cheeks, and the sea spray in your hair.

Admittedly, the action in this book is a little slower than the other’s I’ve recommended, but of course there’s still a broody pirate love interest (are you seeing a pattern yet?) unique magic that I’ve never come across before, and a heroine you can’t help but root for.

This book is also about yearning for somewhere to belong, and I think we can all connect with that in way or the other. 

By Adrienne Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Fable is a dredger-a freediver who excavates rare gemstones from the coral reefs that fill The Narrows. For the last four years, she's been trying to get off the island of Jeval, find the father who abandoned her there, and claim her mother's place on his trading crew. But when she finally makes it off the island, she discovers it may have been the safest place for her.


Ocean Outbreak

By Drew Harvell,

Book cover of Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease

Peter F. Sale Author Of Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea

From the list on on being a coral reef scientist.

Who am I?

Peter Sale has managed to spend an entire career exploring coral reefs, perhaps the most fascinating ecosystem on this planet.  From 1964 when he commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, through faculty positions in Australia, the USA, and Canada, and with a final stint with the United Nations University, he has been able to explore the wonders of coral reef systems in many places around the world.  His life has been rewarding, because of the new science he did, the students and colleagues he worked with, and the sheer joy he experienced diving on reefs. His many technical writings include the 1991 book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, which became a classic among reef researchers, students, and some sport divers.

Peter's book list on on being a coral reef scientist

Why did Peter love this book?

Dr. C. Drew Harvell is an American marine biologist who has worked extensively on the diseases of corals and other marine organisms. She starts this book with an urgent e-mail in December 2013 – sea stars were dying in Monterey, California, and Drew dropped everything to race off to find out what she could.  That is not an exaggeration. In recent years, her life has been like that. While the book deals with serious diseases having huge consequences for various marine organisms, it also reveals the way in which marine biologists can be immersed in their work yet love every minute and find ways to marvel at the mystery that is life on this planet. 

An outstanding teacher as well as researcher, Drew’s ability to captivate, then skillfully mentor students, comes through loud and clear. She captivates us too, making the subject of marine diseases (of organisms most of us…

By Drew Harvell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Sustainability Science Award 2020, Ecological Society of America
Winner of the PROSE Award (Biological Sciences category) 2020, Association of American Publishers

There is a growing crisis in our oceans: mysterious outbreaks of infectious disease are on the rise. Marine epidemics can cause mass die-offs of wildlife from the bottom to the top of food chains, impacting the health of ocean ecosystems as well as lives on land. Portending global environmental disaster, ocean outbreaks are fueled by warming seas, sewage dumping, unregulated aquaculture, and drifting plastic.

Ocean Outbreak follows renowned scientist Drew Harvell and her colleagues into the…


Coral Empire

By Ann Elias,

Book cover of Coral Empire: Underwater Oceans, Colonial Tropics, Visual Modernity

Helen M. Rozwadowski Author Of Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans

From the list on human's relationships with the underwater world.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with the ocean starting when I was a kid growing up on the Great Lakes. While I sailed and swam in Lake Erie’s freshwater, I dreamed of and read about oceans. My career as a historian and writer has been dedicated to exploring the human relationship with the ocean, especially the underwater realm so often left out of maritime history and literature. My greatest joy is that other historians have joined my quest. The books I’ve selected include some I used as sources in writing ocean history and others by historians who are themselves plumbing the ocean’s depths. 

Helen's book list on human's relationships with the underwater world

Why did Helen love this book?

Ann Elias demonstrates how visual media – photography, film, art, and museum displays – re-cast coral reefs in the early 20th century from dangers to navigation into fantastical but familiar and inviting spectacles. Coral Empire reveals photographers, artists, and scientific explorers as they rendered the undersea modern yet colonial. Using technology, indigenous knowledge, and their own visions, they presented the oceans as wild, untouched spaces full of resources that invited exploitation, conquest, and tourism. Desire-fueled uses of the undersea obscured the destructive nature of human activities on coral reefs, now abundantly apparent, while the power of the visual for imagining and knowing the undersea remains.

By Ann Elias,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From vividly colored underwater photographs of Australia's Great Barrier Reef to life-size dioramas re-creating coral reefs and the bounty of life they sustained, the work of early twentieth-century explorers and photographers fed the public's fascination with reefs. In the 1920s John Ernest Williamson in the Bahamas and Frank Hurley in Australia produced mass-circulated and often highly staged photographs and films that cast corals as industrious, colonizing creatures, and the undersea as a virgin, unexplored, and fantastical territory. In Coral Empire Ann Elias traces the visual and social history of Williamson and Hurley and how their modern media spectacles yoked the…


Words of the Lagoon

By R.E. Johannes,

Book cover of Words of the Lagoon: Fishing and Marine Lore in the Palau District of Micronesia

Peter F. Sale Author Of Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea

From the list on on being a coral reef scientist.

Who am I?

Peter Sale has managed to spend an entire career exploring coral reefs, perhaps the most fascinating ecosystem on this planet.  From 1964 when he commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, through faculty positions in Australia, the USA, and Canada, and with a final stint with the United Nations University, he has been able to explore the wonders of coral reef systems in many places around the world.  His life has been rewarding, because of the new science he did, the students and colleagues he worked with, and the sheer joy he experienced diving on reefs. His many technical writings include the 1991 book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, which became a classic among reef researchers, students, and some sport divers.

Peter's book list on on being a coral reef scientist

Why did Peter love this book?

There has been growing recognition that our scientific understanding of environmental matters can be enhanced if we would only listen to the wisdom of indigenous peoples. This recognition only occasionally leads to a serious effort by environmental scientists to learn from indigenous peoples. Dr. Robert Johannes was a tropical fisheries biologist who, in the mid-1970s, was well ahead of his time when he took time out of a busy academic career to spend a couple of years on tiny, remote islands in Palau, Micronesia to learn from elders how to catch fish. This book is a non-technical account of what he learned. It reveals the considerable depth of knowledge on fishes, their habits, and effective ways to catch them that Micronesian natives possessed, and it also reveals the humility and humanity of its author. 

After this experience, Johannes devoted the rest of his career to ensuring that traditional knowledge was…

By R.E. Johannes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Words of the Lagoon is an account of the pioneering work of a marine biologist to discover, test, and record the knowledge possessed by native fisherman of the Palau Islands of Micronesia.


The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs

By Charles Darwin, Thomas George Bonney,

Book cover of The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs

Sandy Sheehy Author Of Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

From the list on the amazing world of coral reefs.

Who am I?

For more than four decades, Sandy Sheehy has been diving tropical coral reefs from the Caribbean to Australia. Starting when she was around five sitting in her pediatric dentist’s office where she noticed an aquarium stocked with colorful fish, her fascination with the underwater world has grown. Becoming a freelance journalist allowed her to call on experts and activists around the world to help her satisfy her curiosity and share what she learned.   

Sandy's book list on the amazing world of coral reefs

Why did Sandy love this book?

That’s right: that Charles Darwin, the author of The Origin of the Species. Seventeen years before that ground-shaking book, he wrote what marine scientists tell me remains the definitive work on the structure of coral reefs. Forget the famous Punch caricature of the gray-haired man trailing a long beard and a chimpanzee and think of the youthful naturalist daring crashing waves to vault to the edge of a South Pacific fringe reef. In places his accounts read like True Adventures for Boys.   

By Charles Darwin, Thomas George Bonney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Charles Darwin Collection

Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist who realised and presented compelling evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors, through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and much of the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the…


Science Comics

By Kyla Vanderklugt,

Book cover of Science Comics: Crows: Genius Birds

Jeffrey Brown Author Of Star Wars: The Mandalorian and Child

From Jeffrey's 10-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Cartoonist Dad Star Wars fan Pickup soccer player Cat person

Jeffrey's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Jeffrey's 10-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Jeffrey's 10-year-old love this book?

My son has loved every volume of the Science Comics series so far, and Crows was no exception – as soon as he finished, he had me read it with him. Full of fascinating information that’s digestible for kids but meaty enough for adults, this volume is headlined by a crafty crow and curious dog that make learning all the more fun.

By Kyla Vanderklugt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic - dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you're a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty year old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!

In Science Comics: Crows you'll learn all about the avian Einsteins that are as smart as some primates and can perform some of the same cognitive feats as human children! Did you know that…


Reef Life

By Callum Roberts,

Book cover of Reef Life: An Underwater Memoir

Peter F. Sale Author Of Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea

From the list on on being a coral reef scientist.

Who am I?

Peter Sale has managed to spend an entire career exploring coral reefs, perhaps the most fascinating ecosystem on this planet.  From 1964 when he commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, through faculty positions in Australia, the USA, and Canada, and with a final stint with the United Nations University, he has been able to explore the wonders of coral reef systems in many places around the world.  His life has been rewarding, because of the new science he did, the students and colleagues he worked with, and the sheer joy he experienced diving on reefs. His many technical writings include the 1991 book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, which became a classic among reef researchers, students, and some sport divers.

Peter's book list on on being a coral reef scientist

Why did Peter love this book?

Dr. Callum Roberts is a British marine biologist who has worked primarily in marine conservation. Like many British coral reef scientists, he got his start in the Red Sea rather than the Caribbean or the Pacific. The cultures of the middle east can make reef research there just a little bit different than elsewhere. This book is his memoir of a wonderful life exploring coral reefs that began, surprisingly, in the wilds of Scotland and took shape once he began his undergraduate studies in 1980. By then our impacts on coral reefs were becoming quite stark and this book does not shrink from the bad news. But it also captures his sheer joy in exploring coral reefs, his good humor and creativity as he grows from young student to research leader, and his concern to do what he can to keep coral reefs with us.

By Callum Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did one of the world's preeminent marine conservation scientists fall in love with coral reefs? We first meet Callum as a young student who had never been abroad, spending a summer helping to map the unknown reefs of Saudi Arabia. From that moment, when Callum first cleared his goggles, he never looked back. He went on to survey Sharm al-Sheikh, and from there he would dive into the deep in the name of research all over the world, from Australia's imperiled Great Barrier Reef to the hardier reefs of the Caribbean.

Reef Life is filled with astonishing stories of…


Spineless

By Juli Berwald,

Book cover of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Ginjer L. Clarke Author Of Animal Allies: Creatures Working Together

From the list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior.

Who am I?

I’m secretly eight years old inside. I love fascinating animal and science stuff, especially cool, weird, and gross facts. Readers of my children’s books see this passion in action. My best-selling and award-winning nonfiction animal books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide since 2000. I focus particularly on reaching reluctant, struggling, and English-language-learning readers by packing my books with lots of action and high-interest topics to keep them turning pages. I’m recommending these top-five narrative nonfiction animal books for adults because these authors have influenced my research and thinking—and because they’re terrific stories!

Ginjer's book list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior

Why did Ginjer love this book?

Jellyfish may be lacking bones, blood, and brains, but they are full of mystery.

To me, the most compelling narrative nonfiction tells something about the author as well as their subject, becoming part memoir while explaining the research process.

I read this book as research for my nonfiction children’s book on jellyfish, but I learned so much more—about the worldwide jellyfish research community, the past and future health of our oceans, both the perils and possibilities of ever-increasing jellyfish populations, and Juli Berwald’s journey to reclaim her love of the ocean.

Discover some cutting-edge science and marvel at these simple but beautiful blobs from below.

By Juli Berwald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A book full of wonders" —Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

"Witty, insightful. . . .The story of jellyfish. . . is a significant part of the environmental story. Berwald's engaging account of these delicate, often ignored creatures shows how much they matter to our oceans' future." —New York Times Book Review 

Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting—microscopic spears that pierce with five million…


Science Comics

By Mairghread Scott, Jacob Chabot (illustrator),

Book cover of Science Comics: Robots and Drones: Past, Present, and Future

Shanda McCloskey Author Of Doll-E 1.0

From the list on robots for kids.

Who am I?

My kid side loves robots and the possibilities they bring! My author side enjoys exploring what makes a reader “care” for a character that’s human, animal, and machine alike. And my parent side is ever interested in childhood with technology – the bad AND the good. Childhood today is very different from the childhood I experienced, but that doesn’t mean my experience was better, more correct, or even healthier. It’s just different! Kids today will remember their childhoods just as fondly as I remember mine. I aim to celebrate kids today and not to demonize the reality of their tech-infused world. I believe this list does just that!

Shanda's book list on robots for kids

Why did Shanda love this book?

These educational comics are perfect for kids who devour non-fiction books and graphic novels! I especially liked this book because it touches on drones as well as typical robots. I read this book when I was doing research for my own book, T-Bone the Drone, and found it extremely helpful in seeing how another author explained robotics in a kid-friendly way.

By Mairghread Scott, Jacob Chabot (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every volume of Science Comics is a complete introduction to a particular topic - dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you're a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you! This volume: In Robots & Drones, a mechanical dove named Pouli introduces a wide array of robots of various capacities. He covers one of the oldest robots, the coin-powered water fountain; everyday essentials like the coffee…


Coral Whisperers

By Irus Braverman,

Book cover of Coral Whisperers: Scientists on the Brink

Peter F. Sale Author Of Coral Reefs: Majestic Realms Under the Sea

From the list on on being a coral reef scientist.

Who am I?

Peter Sale has managed to spend an entire career exploring coral reefs, perhaps the most fascinating ecosystem on this planet.  From 1964 when he commenced a Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii, through faculty positions in Australia, the USA, and Canada, and with a final stint with the United Nations University, he has been able to explore the wonders of coral reef systems in many places around the world.  His life has been rewarding, because of the new science he did, the students and colleagues he worked with, and the sheer joy he experienced diving on reefs. His many technical writings include the 1991 book, The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, which became a classic among reef researchers, students, and some sport divers.

Peter's book list on on being a coral reef scientist

Why did Peter love this book?

Not a book written by a coral reef biologist, this is a book by a non-scientist about how coral reef scientists cope with the knowledge that our degradation of reef ecosystems around the world is close to terminal. Our impacts on reefs, through climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution, and many other forms of local disrespect have been going on ever since reef research really took off in the early 1960s, following the invention of SCUBA by Jacques Cousteau. Irus Braverman learned to dive in 1989 when she lived in Israel; the first reefs she saw were in the Red Sea. She loved diving, but it was only much later, 2015, when she began to wonder about what was happening to reefs, and how that might affect the scientists who have devoted their lives to exploring these captivating places. 

A series of interviews and some travel to reefs provided the…

By Irus Braverman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In recent years, a catastrophic global bleaching event devastated many of the world's precious coral reefs. Working on the front lines of ruin, today's coral scientists are struggling to save these important coral reef ecosystems from the imminent threats of rapidly warming, acidifying, and polluted oceans. Coral Whisperers captures a critical moment in the history of coral reef science. Gleaning insights from over one hundred interviews with leading scientists and conservation managers, Irus Braverman documents a community caught in an existential crisis and alternating between despair and hope. In this important new book, corals emerge not only as signs and…


Citizens of the Sea

By Nancy Knowlton,

Book cover of Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life

Sandy Sheehy Author Of Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

From the list on the amazing world of coral reefs.

Who am I?

For more than four decades, Sandy Sheehy has been diving tropical coral reefs from the Caribbean to Australia. Starting when she was around five sitting in her pediatric dentist’s office where she noticed an aquarium stocked with colorful fish, her fascination with the underwater world has grown. Becoming a freelance journalist allowed her to call on experts and activists around the world to help her satisfy her curiosity and share what she learned.   

Sandy's book list on the amazing world of coral reefs

Why did Sandy love this book?

Unlike the books I’ve recommended above, Citizens of the Sea is packed with gorgeous four-color photographs by some of the world’s top underwater photographers. The close-ups are downright amazing. National Geographic made a brilliant call in having Nancy Knowlton write the text. Not only is she a renowned coral reef biologist and the former Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum for Natural History, she also writes so lucidly and engagingly that even her articles for peer-reviewed journals make engrossing reading. 

By Nancy Knowlton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The astonishing diversity of ocean life will wow you in this riveting book, perfect for all ages, by marine scientist Nancy Knowlton. Citizens of the Sea reveals the most intriguing organisms in the ocean, captured in action by skilled underwater photographers from National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life. As you read lively vignettes about sea creatures' names, defenses, migration, mating habits, and more, you'll be amazed at wonders like; The almost inconceivable number of creatures in the marine world. From the bounty of microbes in one drop of seawater, we can calculate that there are more individuals in…