The most recommended books on the Great Barrier Reef

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7 authors created a book list connected to the Great Barrier Reef, and here are their favorite Great Barrier Reef books.
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Book cover of Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

Susan K. Harris Author Of Mark Twain, the World, and Me: Following the Equator, Then and Now

From my list on blending memoir, travel, and history.

Who am I?

I’ve always enjoyed books that introduce me to faraway places, cultural narratives, and the writers behind the stories. After retiring from college teaching, I decided to write one myself. I’m a Mark Twain scholar, so I followed Twain’s lecture tour through Australasia, India, and South Africa. One of my goals was to expose my research methods to my readers, and writing in the first person made that easy. What I hadn’t foreseen was how much the process would force me to confront my own past—exposing the radical differences between Mark Twain and Me. 

Susan's book list on blending memoir, travel, and history

Susan K. Harris Why did Susan love this book?

This is one of my favorite books ever. Horwitz’s project was to follow famous travelers, and Blue Latitudes follows Captain Cook on a voyage that Cook himself characterized as having gone “farther than any other man has been before.” (Trekkies take note: Cook/Kirk, “farther than any other man has been  before”/”boldly go where no man has been before.” Who knew?) 

Star Trek aside, Horwitz, accompanied by his hard-drinking sidekick Roger, boldly goes where Cook went, exploring history, culture, and the legacies of European colonialism on their way. In between bouts of laughter, we learn a lot about the South Pacific, then and now, and about Cook and his men themselves—not to speak of Horwitz and Roger. It’s a rollicking voyage through time and space that holds your attention throughout.

By Tony Horwitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world

Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Artic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When Cook set off for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in Hawaii in 1779, the map of…


Book cover of The Great Barrier Reef: A Journey Through the World's Greatest Natural Wonder

Lee Mylne Author Of Frommer's Australia

From my list on discovering Australia, specifically guide books..

Who am I?

As a full-time travel writer for 30 years, I’ve travelled all over Australia and am still constantly surprised and thrilled by new places. Ask me what my favourite place is, and it’s impossible to choose! From the grandeur of Western Australia’s Kimberley and the red ochre colours of the Outback to the deep blue of the oceans and lush rainforests...I love it all and I love sharing my discoveries – both in cities and on the long and winding roads – with readers. When I’m not travelling or writing about it, I’m usually planning the next trip!

Lee's book list on discovering Australia, specifically guide books.

Lee Mylne Why did Lee love this book?

The Great Barrier Reef is known as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders -and is a major drawcard for visitors to Australia. This book, written by renowned Australian marine biologist Len Zell is not a guide in the usual sense of the word but contains all you’ll ever need to know about what Australians call simply “the Reef” and more. Produced in partnership with the BBC’s The Great Barrier Reef television series, the book takes you on a journey along 2,300km of Australia’s north-eastern coastline. Not one to shy away from reality, Zell also looks at the environmental challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef and what the future may hold. There are practical hints and tips too – but if you just want to buy it for the fabulous photography throughout, that’s fine too!

By Len Zell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Great Barrier Reef really is like nowhere else on earth. For many of us, the thought of it conjures up images of beautiful azure waters teeming with colourful fish against a background of coral of every shape, colour and form imaginable. Yet there is so much more to the Great Barrier Reef than this. It is a massive, complex ecosystem, and one that has gone through enormous changes throughout the history and evolution of our planet. Produced in partnership with the BBC's The Great Barrier Reef television series, the book takes you on a journey along 2,300km of Australia's…


Book cover of Loving Country: A Guide to Sacred Australia

Lee Mylne Author Of Frommer's Australia

From my list on discovering Australia, specifically guide books..

Who am I?

As a full-time travel writer for 30 years, I’ve travelled all over Australia and am still constantly surprised and thrilled by new places. Ask me what my favourite place is, and it’s impossible to choose! From the grandeur of Western Australia’s Kimberley and the red ochre colours of the Outback to the deep blue of the oceans and lush rainforests...I love it all and I love sharing my discoveries – both in cities and on the long and winding roads – with readers. When I’m not travelling or writing about it, I’m usually planning the next trip!

Lee's book list on discovering Australia, specifically guide books.

Lee Mylne Why did Lee love this book?

Far from an ordinary guidebook, Loving Country, A Guide to Sacred Australia gets to the heart of this ancient continent through the eyes and stories of Australia’s First Nations people. Beautifully designed and illustrated with photographs, the book opens up an Australia that many visitors never – sadly – see. Exploring Australia’s Indigenous culture is one of the best ways to understand this country, and there are many ways of doing that, if you seek them out. After consultation with Indigenous communities and elders, the authors have chosen just 18 places to feature, telling the stories of the Dreaming, explaining traditional cultural practices, and outlining tours that will open a new world to those who care to dive deep into the culture.

By Bruce Pascoe, Vicky Shukuroglou,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Loving Country is a powerful and essential guidebook that offers a new way to travel and discover Australia through an Indigenous narrative. In this beautifully designed and photographed edition, co-authors Bruce Pascoe and Vicky Shukuroglou show travellers how to see the country as herself, to know her whole and old story, and to find the way to fall in love with her, our home.

Featuring 18 places in detail, from the ingenious fish traps at Brewarrina and the rivers that feed the Great Barrier Reef, to the love stories of Wiluna and the whale story of Margaret River, there is…


Book cover of Reef Life: An Underwater Memoir

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

From my 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

Peter F. Sale 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…


Book cover of The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change

Judith Brett Author Of From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting

From my list on politics in Australia.

Who am I?

I'm a political historian who writes for my fellow citizens and I have chosen books by writers who do the same. Books which are written with passion and purpose: to shift political understanding, to speak truth to power, to help people understand their country and the world, and to inspire a commitment to improving them.

Judith's book list on politics in Australia

Judith Brett Why did Judith love this book?

The story of climate change over millions of years up to the present when burning fossil fuels is heating our planet and threatening not just the survival of human society but the intricately linked ecologies of the natural world. Australia is already feeling the effects, with worse droughts, terrible fires, repeated coral bleachings on the Great Barrier Reef, and escalating species extinction. Flannery writes brilliantly about the impact of humans on nature, and also on what we can do, individually and collectively, to avert catastrophe.

By Tim Flannery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Terrifying and inspiring, The Weather Makers is a page-turning epic that brings the most elusive and powerful of natural phenomena within our grasp.

Internationally acclaimed writer, scientist and explorer, Tim Flannery takes us on a journey through history and around the globe as he describes the wondrous diversity of the world's ecosystems and explains how 'the great aerial ocean' unites us. Along the way, we meet polar bears and golden toads, and travel from ocean depths to mountaintops, via desert, swamp and rainforest. Flannery reveals how the earth's climate has changed, across millennia and decades, and how the slightest imbalance…


Book cover of Portent

Clayton Graham Author Of Milijun

From my list on otherworldly encounters with alien characters.

Who am I?

Growing up I read a lot of science fiction: HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham; those kind of authors and their inspiring tales. In my early twenties, I penned a few short stories as I worked as an aeronautical engineer. Always being at the leading edge of technology certainly helped shape my dreams of the future. I have an interest in writing novels that place humankind within a universe [or multiverse] we are only just starting to understand. To date, I have written six novels, two of them extensive short story collections. They are light years from each other, but share the future adventures of mankind in an expansive universe as a common theme.

Clayton's book list on otherworldly encounters with alien characters

Clayton Graham Why did Clayton love this book?

A living worldwide nightmare is born and just will not go away. The signs are everywhere, and often rather abrupt. Are extreme powers about to be unleashed and something rather dark about to happen? 

A book that gets you thinking about the future and whether, in fact, we can do anything about it. The reader can sympathize with the characters and join them on their journeywith one look over your shoulder. 

For those who love their Dystopia with a hint of horror.

By James Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is the near future and signs of an impending global disaster are multiplying. Earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions sweep the earth. As the storms and tempests rage, a series of ominous events signal the emergence of a new and terrifying force.

While scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef a diver watches fascinated as a tiny light floats past him towards the surface. Moments later he is torn to pieces as the reef erupts with colossal power.

On the banks of the Ganges, a young boy pauses from his back-breaking labours, transfixed by the play of a mysterious light amidst…


Book cover of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption

Jorge Daniel Taillant Author Of Meltdown: The Earth Without Glaciers

From my list on science from a cryo activist.

Who am I?

Jorge Daniel Taillant is a cryoactivist, a term he coined to describe someone that works to protect the cryosphere, ie. the Earth’s frozen environment. Founder of a globally prized non-profit protecting human rights and promoting environmental justice he helped get the world’s first glacier law passed in South America. He now devotes 100% of his time to tackling climate change in an emergency effort to slow global warming … and to protect glaciers.

Jorge's book list on science from a cryo activist

Jorge Daniel Taillant Why did Jorge love this book?

Dahr Jamail’s End of Ice threads his life experiences as a prized reporter, mountaineer, and climate activist, sharing personal human stories and experiences that reveal the difficult, cold, and hard evidence showing us that our cryosphere is irreversibly changing before our eyes. His easy-to-read prose, supported by well-researched and irrefutable science, gives us a unique introspection into the Anthropocene, chronicling the profound changes we are witnessing to Mother Nature and the demise of our frozen resources. I was enthralled by Jamail’s reflections on the end of ice.

By Dahr Jamail,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After nearly a decade overseas as a war reporter, the acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering, only to find that the slopes he had once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. In response, Jamail embarks on a journey to the geographical front lines of this crisis - from Alaska to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, via the Amazon rainforest - in order to discover the consequences to nature and to humans of the loss of ice.


Book cover of Gravel Roads

Mike Nixon Author Of Life Travel And The People In Between

From my list on travel lovers.

Who am I?

Ultimately, I’m someone who enjoys a good adventure. Prior to the age of twenty, I had never gone on a vacation or been camping, and the only place I saw Mickey Mouse was on television. Determined to experience a more fulfilling life, I set my sights on becoming a world traveler. I’ve done almost everything to transform the dream into a reality. I’ve studied abroad, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, worked for an international NGO, served in the U.S. Navy, and done some off-the-grid exploring. After spending nine years abroad and visiting thirty countries, I’m finally a published author. Life Travel And The People In Between is my debut memoir.

Mike's book list on travel lovers

Mike Nixon Why did Mike love this book?

When faced with heartbreak, Ryan Crain questions his will to continue living. Feeling a tremendous amount of grief, Ryan quits his job and decides to circumvent the world in order to find his inner person. This book is more than just a travel story. Gravel Roads is about taking risks, challenging those who don’t understand our purpose, and choosing to live a life without any regrets. Despite the risks and costs, Ryan proves that pursuing the journey to find inner peace is worth everything! 

By Ryan Crain, Kayla MacArthur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By thirty years old, Ryan Crain had everything he thought he wanted—a steady career, a budding relationship, and a high-rise apartment in downtown Oklahoma City. Then, an unexpected phone call he received while backpacking through Europe uprooted it all—everything that had defined him. In a desperate attempt to save his life, Ryan made a bold promise—he would use adventure to climb out of the dark trenches of his grief.

In the most mysterious of ways, this one decision would lead him to set foot on every inhabited continent during a round-the-world journey of epic proportions. From windswept beaches in Portugal…