The most recommended books about dolphins

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to dolphins, and here are their favorite dolphin books.
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Book cover of By Light We Knew Our Names: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Full disclosure: Anne is a dear friend and was an MFA workshop-mate of mine.

But even if she wasn’t, I’m confident this would still be one of my favorite collections. There is so much magic in Valente’s writing, in the gorgeous prose but also in the content of the stories: ghosts, pink dolphins, tiny librarians, Northern Lights.

Much of the magic is not supernatural, but just the magic of the natural world, and Valente is a master of place; I’ve always admired her use of setting. Many of the stories deal with loss, grief, and pain, but the magic acts as a way to transcend these things, which is what I aim to do in my stories as well.

By Anne Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Light We Knew Our Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ghosts to pink dolphins to a fight club of young women who practice beneath the Alaskan aurora borealis, By Light We Knew Our Names examines the beauty and heartbreak of the world we live in. Across 13 stories, this collection explores the thin border between magic and grief.

Book cover of Mind MGMT Omnibus Part 1

Tone Milazzo Author Of The Faith Machine

From my list on spies in strange places.

Why am I passionate about this?

Spies are everywhere across the panorama of fictional tropes, in fantasy, science fiction, horror, and historical fiction. Spies are like salt. No matter the genre, drop a little espionage into the mix, and it tastes better. There’s an inherent complexity to a spy, a dichotomy baked into the profession, simultaneously a criminal and an agent of the government. A spy could be a one-man-army, a smooth-talker, or someone inside your computer network, but no matter who they really are, they’re never who they seem. The spy plays with identity, loyalty, and integrity in ways that the worst of us do but is safely compartmentalized in fiction for our enjoyment.

Tone's book list on spies in strange places

Tone Milazzo Why did Tone love this book?

I became aware of Mind MGMT during the first draft of my book. Its success affirmed that an audience for psychic thrillers did exist. But I put off reading this 6-volume comic series until I finished my novel. It’s good to feel encouraged, it’s another to feel beaten to the punch.

Super-hero tropes dominate the American comic medium. The story elements of weekly world salvation, good guys vs bad guys, stagnate character development, and the artistic choices; idealized anatomy, fine lines, and bright colors appeal to a younger male gaze.

By all these standards, Mind MGMT stands apart. In this morally ambiguous story of psychic spies, Matt Kindt’s illustrations are raw and sketchy, complimented by his choice to color the pages with watercolor rather than digital inks.

By Matt Kindt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mind MGMT Omnibus Part 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This globe-spanning tale of espionage explores the adventures of a journalist investigating the mystery of a commercial flight where everyone aboard loses their memories

Meru's obsession with Flight 815 leads her to a much bigger story of a top-secret government Mind MGMT program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she hunts down the flight's missing passenger, the man who was Mind MGMT's greatest success--and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees?
Collects the first two volumes of the…

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Sundiver

James Murdo Author Of Siouca Remembers

From my list on to make you think, think and rethink evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by both evolution and sentience. The debates ranging about them, endless research, personal suppositions, all of it. I view Sci-Fi written in the same vein as the works below as a means for scientists/writers to draft their own thoughts about evolution and sentience, almost philosophically and not wholly restrained by pieces of information (just or far) beyond our grasp. My own writing often focuses on both topics too, especially the standalone Siouca Remembers – in which two species, one just having evolved to sentience, intermingle for the first time. Amongst many other books, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, is a wonderful non-fiction complement to this.

James' book list on to make you think, think and rethink evolution

James Murdo Why did James love this book?

(Admittedly a series, not one book.) These represented a memorable introduction for me to the notion of patron species “uplifting” (genetically engineering) client species to improved sentience. A key example is the uplifting of dolphins by humans. We are introduced to many variants of dolphin evolutionary efforts, and the struggles involved in uplifting. There are also many examples of aliens uplifting other aliens, so you won’t be disappointed by the variety offered by David Brin. Added to that, I contacted him after publishing my first book, and he was gracious and encouraging in his reply, so I’m biased.

By David Brin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In all the universe, no species reached for the stars without “uplift” guidance, except possibly humankind. Did some cryptic patron race begin the job long ago, then abandon us? Or did we leap all by ourselves? That question burns, yet a greater mystery looms ahead, in the furnace of a star. Under the caverns of Mercury, Expedition Sundiver prepares for the most momentous voyage in our history – into the boiling inferno of the sun, seeking our destiny in the cosmic order of life.
David Brin’s Uplift novels are among the most thrilling and extraordinary science fiction ever written, comprising…

Book cover of A Ring of Endless Light

Kay Lynn Mangum Author Of The Secret Journal of Brett Colton

From my list on gritty YA that explore death, grief, and mourning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a huge bookworm and have enjoyed writing stories of my own since my elementary school days. During junior high, high school, and college, along with a lot of literature courses, I enrolled in every creative writing class I could find. I loved the stories, poems, and novels dealing with hard subjects the most, which (of course) resulted in me writing my own piles of gritty short stories. Those short stories continue to inspire my writing today. No surprise that the novel I’m currently working on is also based on a dark, gritty story I wrote my freshman year of college. Wish me luck on getting this one published, too! 

Kay's book list on gritty YA that explore death, grief, and mourning

Kay Lynn Mangum Why did Kay love this book?

In A Ring of Endless Light, sixteen-year-old Vicky Austin has to come to terms with death from all directions, starting with the funeral service of Commander Rodney presided over by her grandfather, who is dying of cancer. Watching her grandfather deteriorate over the summer on Seven Bay Island is hard as it is, but it’s complicated even more when Vicky has to juggle the romantic interest of three very different guys: Leo, an old friend and Commander Rodney’s son; Zachary, whose attempted suicide caused Commander Rodney’s death; and Adam, her older brother’s friend, who offers her an amazing chance to work with dolphins, something that gives her a break from the constant hard in her life. 

I love this emotionally heavy novel, largely due to Madeleine L’Engle’s beautiful, descriptive writing. A Ring of Endless Light finds beauty in struggle and sorrow, and even in death. Ms. L’Engle’s novels always…

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Ring of Endless Light as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

In book four of the award-winning Austin Family Chronicles young adult series from Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, Vicky Austin experiences the difficulties and joys of growing up.

"This wasn't the first time that I'd come close to death, but it was the first time I'd been involved in this part of it, this strange, terrible saying goodbye to someone you've loved."

These are Vicky Austin's thoughts as she stands near Commander Rodney's grave while her grandfather, who himself is dying of cancer, recites the funeral service. Watching his condition deteriorate over that long summer is almost…

Book cover of The Ophiuchi Hotline

Edward Ashton Author Of Mickey7

From my list on science fiction about people who won’t stay dead.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many SF nerds, I watched a lot of Star Trek when I was a kid. I liked the adventures. I liked the ethos. I did not like the transporter. Everybody seemed to believe that they were being… well… transported, but it seemed obvious to me that actually they were just getting dissolved, and then somebody else who looked like them was getting created at the other end. This question (transported or replaced?) is the essence of the teletransport paradoxa puzzler that’s bedeviled philosophers since at least 1775. All of these books (including mine) are at their hearts an exploration of this problem. I know my answer. Do you?

Edward's book list on science fiction about people who won’t stay dead

Edward Ashton Why did Edward love this book?

The Ophiuchi Hotline is the first of four novels set in Varley’s Eight Worlds universe, where bodies are malleable things, and appearance, gender, and even your basic form can be changed on a whim. Its protagonist, Lilo, begins by escaping her execution by allowing an illegally produced replicant to die for her. Her situation deteriorates steadily from there, as she is repeatedly killed and resurrected while passing through the belly of the solar system’s underworld.

This book hits all my sweet spots—a morally ambiguous protagonist, an imaginative plot that provides a running commentary on the many ways we’re making a mess of the present world, and, as a bonus, someone getting chucked into a black hole for making a new kind of food called “bananameat” out of human DNA. What more could you ask?

By John Varley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Following the effortless capture of Earth by vastly superior aliens, humanity was left to fight for existence on the Moon and other lumps of airless rock. Survival was greatly facilitated by the interception of the Hotline, a constant stream of data from the direction of a star in the constellation Ophiuchus, which enabled the development of amazing new technologies. Four hundred years on, and everything is about to change again because humanity's unknown helpers have just sent what appears to be a bill. It shouldn't matter to Lilo, since she's been caught experimenting with human DNA and sentenced to permanent…

Book cover of Easy Travel to Other Planets

Christopher Riley Author Of Where Once We Stood: Stories of The Apollo Astronauts Who Walked On The Moon

From my list on making sense of our existence in the Universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a film director and producer, specialising in science and history. I write books between making films. 

Christopher's book list on making sense of our existence in the Universe

Christopher Riley Why did Christopher love this book?

Easy Travel to Other Planets by Ted Mooney, is a fictionalised story of an attempt at another Moon shot idea; the building of an interspecies communication bridge between humans and dolphins. This was a real experiment attempted in the 1960s, by neuroscientist John Lilly – which I made a film about, for the BBC, called The Girl who talked to Dolphins. Like God’s Debris, Mooney’s book challenges our perceptions of reality, and like Varieties of Scientific Experience, it tries to shed light on what it is to be human. Not only does it cover these grand ideas, but it also touches on some very prescient themes – such as our current epidemic of information overload and our existential environmental crisis.

By Ted Mooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Easy Travel to Other Planets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the most original seductions in recent fiction... a novel of immensely tender feeling." –The New York Review of Books

Ted Mooney's first novel Easy Travel to Other Planets endures as a cult classic known for its opening scene describing a woman having sex with a dolphin.

Winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a finalist for the National Book Award, Mooney's inventive novel was also named to the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list.

Book cover of Baby Dolphin's First Swim

Jessica Dall Author Of Forever Bound

From Jessica's 4-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Romance Addict History Buff Reader Bibliophile

Jessica's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Jessica's 4-year-old's favorite books.

Jessica Dall Why did Jessica's 4-year-old love this book?

Dolphins have been a recent-ish special interest around the house (thank you trip to the National Aquarium over the summer for that one!)

Following that trip, we ended up checking out basically every child-friendly book on Dolphins there was in the local library. Baby Dolphin’s First Swim became a vast favorite from that stack of books.

By American Museum of Natural History,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baby Dolphin's First Swim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Meet a baby dolphin and see how he spends his first day! Developed with the American Museum of Natural History, this nonfiction picture book follows a dolphin from birth as he swims with mom; learns to eat, jump, and play with his pod; and even escapes a shark. With its beautiful ocean photography, this sweet story will make a splash with children.

Book cover of Wonder Bear

Lisa Cinar Author Of Monster Problems

From my list on destined to be classics but flying under the radar.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, illustrator, and designer who has always been passionate about books, and especially picture books. As a child I loved to look at the pictures, listen to my mom read them out loud to me, and dream about them. Today I am making my own! Knowing that now it’s my books that kids are reading, gives me a true sense of purpose and joy. A few of the things I care about (other than books) are spending time in nature with my cute senior dog, learning new things, riding my bike, neurodiversity, climate advocacy, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving.

Lisa's book list on destined to be classics but flying under the radar

Lisa Cinar Why did Lisa love this book?

I love wordless picture books and this one is very special! The artwork is incredibly beautiful and was silk-screened using water-based inks resulting in the most luscious colour. Two kids plant a seed; a giant magical flower tree grows with a magical bear on top who takes them on an enchanted journey full of flying monkeys, bubbles, flowers, dolphins, seals, and more. Don’t miss out and join them in this dream of a book!  

By Tao Nyeu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonder Bear as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Two kids plant mysterious seeds (all that?s pictured on the envelope is a blue top hat), and up grows a remarkable flowering vine, out of which emerges an even more remarkable big white bear. On his head is the top hat?a hat that allows him to work all kinds of magic that day. He pulls monkey after monkey from the hat, blows bubbles in amazing shapes, and transforms flowers into spectacular floating sea creatures.

The two kids are wide-eyed with wonder, and you will be too. This is a dazzling debut?a vibrant, welcoming, strikingly original picture book.

Book cover of Dolphin Rescue: Book #1

Andrea Stryer Author Of Reef Raiders: An Environmental Mystery

From my list on inspiring kids to protect our world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been privileged to see a penguin chick running to its parent for a meal, a blue-footed booby couple doing a mating dance, a cheetah racing across the savannah, and a whale spouting out at sea. I am committed to do what I can to preserve natural habitats and limit the effect humans have on the environment. As a teacher, librarian, and author, I encourage and laud kids who want to protect our world. It is a joy to be involved with books that are models for enthusiastic youngsters. 

Andrea's book list on inspiring kids to protect our world

Andrea Stryer Why did Andrea love this book?

Dolphin Rescue is a story for 7-9-year-olds about siblings, Maddie & Atticus, who live in a coastal town in Maine.

They love nature and are very ecologically aware. While trying to solve the mystery of household trash scattered on lawns in their neighborhood, they help a pod of dolphins in trouble because of a tangle of fishing line. 

I enjoyed the interesting facts and lovely photos about the area and the nearby waters.

By Catherine Nichols,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Siblings Maddie and Atticus love living by the sea. Their dad traps lobsters off the coast of Maine. They love helping with the family business and volunteering at the local aquarium. The summer is shaping up to be a super one, for sure. Then one day they spy a pod of dolphins in the cove looking distressed. How will the kids use their knowledge of animals and their awesome problem-solving skills to help the dolphin family get safely back to sea?

Perfect for reluctant, challenged, and newly fluent readers, the Animal Planet Adventures chapter book series combines fun animal mysteries…