The best books about the ocean 📚

Browse the best books on the ocean as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

By G. Bruce Knecht

Why this book?

If you’ve ever considered eating “sustainably” fished seafood, this book will open your eyes to the fact that there is no such thing as truly sustainable fishing. Through stories of modern-day, high-seas piracy, you’ll get a better understanding of how rogue fishing vessels will go anywhere, legal or otherwise, to make a profit. And that one of many reasons why fish species are in great decline everywhere. But this is a demand-driven problem, which means we all have a role to play in solving it.

From the list:

The best books about saving the oceans

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Book cover of Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans

Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans

By Sylvia Earle

Why this book?

“Her Deepness” Sylvia Earle is an authority on ocean explorations, so this is another must-read for all ocean lovers. Sea Change recounts Earle’s decades dedicated to the discovery of the sea. With contagious enthusiasm and vivid prose, this internationally renowned author and scientist narrates her many underwater adventures while urging readers to respect the oceans and their creatures.

From the list:

The best books about the ocean and its inhabitants

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Book cover of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

By Jules Verne

Why this book?

As a marine biologist that enjoys reading both, fiction and nonfiction, I own a copy of the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, one of the best novels ever written about the ocean. Verne’s adventures of Captain Nemo and life inside his underwater ship, the Nautilus, can capture anyone’s imagination. 

From the list:

The best books about the ocean and its inhabitants

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Book cover of Float: A Novel

Float: A Novel

By JoeAnn Hart

Why this book?

A wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean, JoeAnn Hart’s novel takes a smart, satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine. I am proud that Ashland Creek Press (which Midge Raymond and I founded in 2011) published this amazing novel.

From the list:

The best books about saving the oceans

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Book cover of Reef Life: An Underwater Memoir

Reef Life: An Underwater Memoir

By Callum Roberts

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books on being a coral reef scientist

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Book cover of The Sea Around Us

The Sea Around Us

By Rachel Carson

Why this book?

Carson’s 1955 book is worth revisiting in this age of sea-level rise. The second installment in her ocean trilogy, The Sea Around Us occupied the New York Times bestseller list for 86 weeks. It also won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Burroughs Medal in nature writing. Today, the book remains a model for turning science into prose. Carson’s work endures in part because she found writing difficult. For all her toil, readers are the beneficiaries. Whether describing a seashell or explaining the intricate composition of sediments, her words move across the page as nimbly as sanderlings across…

From the list:

The best books of placed-based nature writing

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