The best books on the North Sea

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to the North Sea, and here are their favorite North Sea books.
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What type of North Sea book?


Hornet Flight

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of Hornet Flight

Cristina Loggia Author Of Lucifer's Game: An Emotional and Gut-Wrenching World War II Spy Thriller

From the list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction.

Who am I?

I am a former journalist and corporate public relations expert with a Ph.D. in Foreign Languages, I’ve always been passionate about World War 2 history and truly fascinated by the deceptions put in place by both the Allies and the Axis. I believe that a story that mixes fiction with history is highly powerful and evocative. I set my debut novel in the Rome in 1942 because I was inspired by the numerous stories heard from both my grandfathers who fought in the war and because Fascist Italy is not as well-known as it should be. As one of the very few female thriller writers in this genre, I wanted to celebrate the contribution of women in World War 2!

Cristina's book list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction

Discover why each book is one of Cristina's favorite books.

Why did Cristina love this book?

Another great thriller by Follett, what I found different and interesting for this book was the setting, Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War 2. The mixing of fictional and historical events is well accomplished. Typical of Follett, the novel presents intertwining stories in an adept way that builds tension throughout. It is very well researched and the places really come to life. I loved the abundance of technical details that don’t feel overwhelming, though. With memorable, strong characters, all determined to reach their goals, the writer did a great job in placing them into a well portrayed, true-life context. I loved the spinning swirl of actions that accompany the reader until the very end.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Follett and the intrigue of World War II-"a winning formula" (Entertainment Weekly) if ever there was one. With his riveting prose and unerring instinct for suspense, the #1 New York Times bestselling author takes to the skies over Europe during the early days of the war in a most extraordinary novel. . . .

It is June 1941, and the war is not going well for England. Somehow, the Germans are anticipating the RAF's flight paths and shooting down British bombers with impunity. Meanwhile, across the North Sea, eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on the German-occupied Danish island…


By Conrad Williams,

Book cover of One

David Moody Author Of Dawn

From the list on the inevitable bleakness of the apocalypse.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about the end of the world for years, so I know my way around the apocalypse! It’s not as dark as it sounds – it’s not the end of the world itself that I find fascinating, it’s imagining the reactions of the people who inhabit these nightmare scenarios. I’m a people watcher at heart, and these days it seems we’re increasingly restricted by the polarization of society, almost forced to pick a side. Come the apocalypse, all the preconceptions and regulations will be stripped away, and folks will behave as they genuinely want to, not how they think they should. Now that would really be something to behold!

David's book list on the inevitable bleakness of the apocalypse

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Richard Jane, a diver working on a rig in the North Sea, is on a dive when ‘an event’ takes place which devastates the surface of the planet. This is another wonderfully written apocalypse – the descriptions are such that you can’t stop reading, no matter how horrific. The terror of Jane’s frantic escape from the black, ice-cold, subterranean depths is harrowing enough, but the soul-sapping devastation he finds when he reaches the surface is something else altogether. The first part of the book is particularly powerful, as Jane walks south along virtually the length of what’s left of the country to look for his son in the ruins of London. 

By Conrad Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the United Kingdom, but it's no country you know. No place you ever want to see, even in the howling, shuttered madness of your worst dreams. You survived. One man. You walk because you have to. You have no choice. At the end of this molten road, running along the spine of a burned, battered country, your little boy is either alive or dead. You have to know. You have to find an end to it all. One hope. The sky crawls with venomous cloud and burning red rain. The land is a scorched sprawl of rubble and…

Europe's Lost World

By Vincent Gaffney, Simon Fitch, David Smith

Book cover of Europe's Lost World: The Rediscovery of Doggerland

Patrick Nunn Author Of Worlds in Shadow: Submerged Lands in Science, Memory and Myth

From the list on submerged lands.

Who am I?

Growing up in post-WWII Europe, young people’s anxiety was often channelled into searching for ‘lost worlds’, places hope could be nurtured and ancient solutions revived. So I encountered Atlantis and Lemuria and other imagined places but also learned, from training as a geologist, that once-populated lands had actually been submerged. Myths and legends often contain grains of observational truth at their heart. The more ‘submergence stories’ I research, from Australia through India and across northwest Europe, the more I realize how much we have forgotten about undersea human pasts. And how our navigation of the future could be improved by understanding them.

Patrick's book list on submerged lands

Discover why each book is one of Patrick's favorite books.

Why did Patrick love this book?

Ever since deep-sea fishing vessels started to bring up artifacts and the bones of extinct land animals from the floor of the North Sea (UK), there has been a suspicion that a once-inhabited submerged land lay there. Named Doggerland, this land has now been investigated in more detail than any other. We know how people lived there, what the topography and vegetation were like, what animals roamed there. And we know that about 8000 years ago, Doggerland – the last land link between the British Isles and the rest of Europe – became submerged.  A gripping and hugely compelling account.

By Vincent Gaffney, Simon Fitch, David Smith

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe's Lost World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This excellent book, which deserves a wide readership, reports on the work of the North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project, which has been researching the fascinating lost landscape of Doggerland which until the end of the last Ice Age connected Britain to the continent in the North Sea area. It aims to make the findings available to a general readership, and show just how impressive they have been, with nearly 23,000km2 mapped. The techniques used to reconstruct the landscape are explained, and conclusions and speculation about the climate and vegetation of the area in the Mesolithic offered. It also tells the story…

Environmental Regime Effectiveness

By Edward L. Miles, Steinar Andresen, Elaine M. Carlin, Jon Birger Skjaerseth, Arild Underdal, Jorgen Wettestad

Book cover of Environmental Regime Effectiveness: Confronting Theory with Evidence

Oran R. Young Author Of Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene

From the list on global environmental governance.

Who am I?

I have spent my professional life exploring the roles social institutions play in guiding interactions between humans and the natural environment in a variety of settings. Along the way, I pioneered research on what is now known as global environmental governance, devoting particular attention to issues relating to the atmosphere, the oceans, and the polar regions. Although I come from the world of scholarship, I have played an active role in promoting productive interactions between science and policy regarding matters relating to the Arctic and global environmental change.

Oran's book list on global environmental governance

Discover why each book is one of Oran's favorite books.

Why did Oran love this book?

In recent times, international regimes have arisen to address a wide range of specific needs for governance.

With regard to environmental concerns, specific regimes deal with marine issues like fishing and shipping, atmospheric issues like transboundary air pollution and ozone depletion, and global concerns like the loss of biological diversity and climate change.

Some regimes are effective (e.g. the regime to protect the stratospheric ozone layer). But others are much less effective (e.g. the regime to protect biological diversity). This makes it critical to focus on regime effectiveness.

What is the proper way to think about effectiveness? What are the determinants of effectiveness? Adopting a problem-solving perspective, this book initiates a process of addressing this subject systematically.

Some problems are more difficult to solve than others. Some regimes have a greater capacity to solve problems than others. Some issue-specific regimes are located within broader political settings that are more conducive…

By Edward L. Miles, Steinar Andresen, Elaine M. Carlin, Jon Birger Skjaerseth, Arild Underdal, Jorgen Wettestad

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book examines why some international environmental regimes succeed while others fail. Confronting theory with evidence, and combining qualitative and quantitative analysis, it compares fourteen case studies of international regimes. It considers what effectiveness in a regime would look like, what factors might contribute to effectiveness, and how to measure the variables. It determines that environmental regimes actually do better than the collective model of the book predicts. The effective regimes examined involve the End of Dumping in the North Sea, Sea Dumping of Low-Level Radioactive Waste, Management of Tuna Fisheries in the Pacific, and the Vienna Convention and Montreal…

A Venetian Affair

By Andrea di Robilant,

Book cover of A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century

Meredith Small Author Of Inventing the World: Venice and the Transformation of Western Civilization

From the list on Venice (non-guidebooks).

Who am I?

I am an anthropologist who became attached to Venice after spending time in Italian language school there and returning over and over, often staying for months. What tourists see is the superficial beauty of the city. But Venice is a place of incredible depth and complexity, both historically and today. During my many visits, I began to hear (on the street) and read (in museums) of the many inventions that happened in Venice. I soon started making a list and, with additional reading, this list grew to 220 inventions—such as quarantine and the paperback book—and realized how much we owe to Venice for how we navigate the world today.

Meredith's book list on Venice (non-guidebooks)

Discover why each book is one of Meredith's favorite books.

Why did Meredith love this book?

This creative non-fiction book is both the real history of a couple in love and the story of di Robilant discovering their letters in the family palazzo. The drama plays out during the 18th century, a time when Venice is heading for decline. His other books are also wonderful, especially Irresistible North about the Zen brothers exploring the North Sea.

By Andrea di Robilant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the waning days of Venice’s glory in the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was scion to one the city’s oldest patrician families. At the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mother and British father. Because of their dramatically different positions in society, they could not marry. And Giustiniana’s mother, afraid that an affair would ruin her daughter’s chances to form a more suitable union, forbade them to see each other. Her prohibition only fueled their desire and so began their torrid, secret seven-year-affair, enlisting the aid of a…

The Swarm

By Frank Schatzing,

Book cover of The Swarm

Benjamin von Brackel Author Of Nowhere Left to Go: How Climate Change Is Driving Species to the Ends of the Earth

From the list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis.

Who am I?

As a science journalist I have concentrated on the consequences of climate change. It´s the most frightening as fascinating experiment, we conduct with our planet. In 2018 I wrote a book on extreme weather together with climate scientist Freddy Otto from the University of Oxford (Angry Weather). After this I got immersed in a different climate consequence: How it is affecting biodiversity and with it the foundation of our societies. But what I also love is good storytelling. I quickly get bored with texts that have no dramaturgy or that don't give the reader any pleasure—unlike the fantastic and highly relevant books on this list.

Benjamin's book list on that help you understand the biodiversity crisis

Discover why each book is one of Benjamin's favorite books.

Why did Benjamin love this book?

From one day to another nature seems to have gone mad. Even more: The species on the Earth seem to have conspired against humanity—after being decimated and clobbered by us humans. Like a last-ditch counterattack to ensure survival.

I read this thriller while starting to write my book. And it was exciting—not only because Frank Schätzing—a German fiction author—is a master of suspense. But because what he describes is not so far away from what I describe in my nonfiction (!) book: The epic journey of species toward the poles and up the mountains—with all its consequences for the civilized world as well as our irrational handling of it. Schätzing's fictional story is based on a solid ground of facts. But there is another reason, why The Swarm does not seem too absurd: It´s because climate change is altering life on earth in a way that itself seems like a…

By Frank Schatzing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frank Schatzing's amazing novel is a publishing phenomenon with translation rights sold around the world, drawing rave reviews for both pulsating suspense and great scientific knowledge.

The world begins to suffer an escalating and sensational series of natural disasters, and two marine biologists begin to develop a theory that the cause lies in the oceans, where an entity know as the Yrr has developed a massive network of single-cell organisms. It is wreaking havoc in order to prevent humankind from destroying the earth's ecological balance forever.

The Americans, under the ruthless General Judith Lee, take a more pragmatic approach than…

Book cover of The Woman in Cabin 10

Karen Hamilton Author Of The Ex-Husband

From the list on featuring transport.

Who am I?

I worked as long-haul cabin crew for many years and I love travelling. I’ve really missed being able to travel (as many have too) and I dream of the places I’ll be able to visit again soon. The Ex-Husband was the book I wrote in lockdown so I loved being able to ‘escape’ to the sunny Caribbean. I had fond memories of a trip to Barbados, so the book is mostly set there. I also travelled a lot as a child and one of my first memories is of being on a plane.

Karen's book list on featuring transport

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

I loved this tightly plotted thriller set on a luxury yacht. Lo writes for a travel magazine and at first, the trip is seemingly perfect, with clear skies and calm seas. However, when Lo witnesses a woman going overboard and all the passengers are accounted for, the ship continues on its way despite her attempts to get to the truth. Trapped, this is another spine-chilling and brilliantly claustrophobic read. 

By Ruth Ware,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Woman in Cabin 10 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Reads like Agatha Christie got together with Paula Hawkins to crowdsource a really fun thriller' Stylist


This was meant to be the perfect trip. The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse.

Except things don't go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records…

Book cover of Building Anglo-Saxon England

Tom Licence Author Of Edward the Confessor: Last of the Royal Blood

From the list on Anglo-Saxon England.

Who am I?

Tom Licence is Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia and a former Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He teaches Anglo-Saxon History to undergraduates and postgraduates.

Tom's book list on Anglo-Saxon England

Discover why each book is one of Tom's favorite books.

Why did Tom love this book?

Blair approaches the history of these centuries by dividing mainland Britain into environmental and cultural zones. In doing so, he highlights the role of geography, geology, infrastructure, trade and even rainfall in determining trends of settlement, social cohesion, and material culture. Blair examines how landscapes were created – the evolution of villages, towns, and religious complexes – while exploring the relationship between centres of power and the satellite hubs around them. The book is richly served by colour images, artists’ reconstructions, maps, and diagrams. Comparisons to Scandinavia (where early timber structures survive) help bring the houses and surroundings of the Anglo-Saxons vividly to life.

By John Blair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Anglo-Saxon England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize
A radical rethinking of the Anglo-Saxon world that draws on the latest archaeological discoveries

This beautifully illustrated book draws on the latest archaeological discoveries to present a radical reappraisal of the Anglo-Saxon built environment and its inhabitants. John Blair, one of the world's leading experts on this transformative era in England's early history, explains the origins of towns, manor houses, and castles in a completely new way, and sheds new light on the important functions of buildings and settlements in shaping people's lives during the age of the Venerable Bede and King Alfred.


Castles of Steel

By 0679456716,

Book cover of Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea

Steve Dunn Author Of The Petrol Navy: British, American and Other Naval Motor Boats at War 1914 - 1920

From the list on how the Royal Navy won the First World War.

Who am I?

I’m Steve R Dunn, a naval historian and author of twelve books of naval history, with two more commissioned for 2024 and 2025. As a child I used to invent naval fleets and have always loved the water.  Now, I write about little-known aspects of the First World War at sea, and try to demonstrate that, despite the mass slaughter and ultimate victory on the Western Front, if Britain had lost command of the sea, the war would have been lost. The combination of recognisably modern weapons with Nelsonian command and control systems renders the naval side of WW1 endlessly fascinating to me.

Steve's book list on how the Royal Navy won the First World War

Discover why each book is one of Steve's favorite books.

Why did Steve love this book?

Massie tells the story of the great naval arms race between Britain and Germany in this book.

He shows the genius and folly which lay behind it and the megalomania of Kaiser Wilhelm that drove the contest. As with all of Massie’s books, the history is well researched and the storytelling compelling. I love this book.

By 0679456716,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1914 the two greatest navies in the world confronted each other across the North Sea. At first there were skirmishes, then battles off the coasts of England and Germany and in the far corners of the world, including the Falklands. The British attempted to force the Dardanelles with battleships - which led to the Gallipoli catastrophe. As the stalemate on the ground on the Western Front continued, the German Navy released a last strike against the British 'ring of steel'. The result was Jutland, a titanic and brutal battle between dreadnoughts. The knowledge, understanding and literary power Robert…

River, Coast and Creek

By Judith Ellis,

Book cover of River, Coast and Creek: An Exploration of Maritime Essex

Stuart Fisher Author Of Canals of Britain: A Comprehensive Guide

From the list on our canals, rivers, and coast.

Who am I?

I was fortunate enough to take up white water kayaks as a student in Scotland, eventually becoming a member of the British wild water racing team. The portable nature of these craft makes it easy to move from one stretch of water to another. I subsequently became the editor of Canoeist (by accident) and have travelled all the major British canals, the larger lochs, the entire mainland coast, and many other waters, producing guides that have been found useful for those on the water, on foot, on bikes or in armchairs.

Stuart's book list on our canals, rivers, and coast

Discover why each book is one of Stuart's favorite books.

Why did Stuart love this book?

This is the third and final part of the author's trilogy on the East Anglian coastline, covering Essex, the previous two featuring Norfolk and Suffolk.

With her background in sailing, it is not so much a gazetteer as a wonderful medley of all things nautical as she goes off at a tangent time after time to fill in colour on the Essex coast, accompanied by her sketches and sketch maps.

Here are geology with the inundation of what has become the North Sea, human evolution, the Cinque Ports, the Hudson Bay Company, pocket submarines, sailing boat types, salt production, smuggling, Samuel Pepys, the Battle of Maldon, Anglo Saxons, oysters and other seafood, classic yacht racing, the Beagle, monsters, mermaids, the Great Lakes and much more.

By Judith Ellis,

Why should I read it?

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