The best books about squid

Many authors have picked their favorite books about squid and why they recommend each book.

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Nepenthe

By Octavia Hyde,

Book cover of Nepenthe: A Tentacle Alien Space Fantasy (We Are Nepenthe)

“What if?” That’s the question sci-fi and fantasy authors have been asking for over a hundred years. What if humanity was dying and aliens offered salvation, but only at a terrible price? That’s the question this book poses, and it does it so compellingly. The story’s set on a poisoned world, and in a dying race’s spaceship. There is no escape here except death. There are no familiar, comfortable spaces. Nowhere left to hide. There is only the smallest spark of hope: that the humans can somehow connect with the aliens who are “not squid” but absolutely not like us. To do so, they have to overcome the basest squeamishness of human nature, and that they do makes for not just brave characters, but an extremely brave book.


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by “other worlds” since I found my father’s battered copy of Dune when I was eleven. I’ve been seeking that experience of transportation, of transcendence, that I got from reading Dune, ever since. I’ve found it in diverse places, from the very alien worlds of Jo Clayton’s Diadem from the Stars series to the somehow-familiar woods of Richard and Wendy Pini’s ElfQuest comics. I’ve tried to give that experience back to my readers, in creating worlds wondrous and strange but entirely relatable. The books on this list sparked that same sense of transcendence and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!


I wrote...

Snowburn

By E.J. Frost,

Book cover of Snowburn

What is my book about?

Hale Hauser is a Company killer. Perfectly engineered, highly trained, superbly effective. He has everything and nothing. Kezra Kerryon is a runner on the backwater colony of Kuseros. She'll get anything from A to B, for a price. When Kez hires Hale to help her retrieve a black-market package, she introduces him to the maze of strange loyalties and twisted customs of Kuseros’ underground gangs. In payment, he takes the one thing only a woman can give him, and discovers the one thing he's missing.

But Kez has a secret, which will threaten them both. To protect her, Hale must unleash the monster. Can he control the killer inside long enough to discover the truth before it destroys them? Or will he lose everything just as he’s found it?

Monarchs of the Sea

By Danna Staaf,

Book cover of Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods

Evolution, extinction, evo-devo, a “vampire squid from hell”—what more could a paleo-curious reader ask for? Staaf keeps it interesting and breezy as she takes a deep dive into the mysteries of that most ancient and fascinating group, the cephalopods. The fossil record for this extraordinary, important, and long-surviving class (which includes ammonoids and nautiloids as well as the shell-free squids and octopuses) goes back 500 million years. The book is full of “wows,” like a 20-foot-long fossil shell, and the fact that ink has been reconstituted from fossil belemnites and used for illustration. Just wow.


Who am I?

When I was young, I worked on fishing boats in Alaska and developed an affection for weird sea creatures. All manner of unusual marine life would come up on the line, like wild-looking sea stars, pointy-nosed skates, and alien-looking ratfish. Later, I graduated from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks with a degree in Communications. One of my early jobs was with the Washington Department of Wildlife public information department, writing about fish, as well as other wildlife-related topics. When I moved to Bozeman, Montana, I had the opportunity to create content for a museum exhibit on early life forms. That hooked me on all things paleo. It is a joy to write about and share the things I love—like oddball creatures from deep time.


I wrote...

Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil

By Susan Ewing,

Book cover of Resurrecting the Shark: A Scientific Obsession and the Mavericks Who Solved the Mystery of a 270-Million-Year-Old Fossil

What is my book about?

In 1993, Alaskan artist and paleo-fish freak Ray Troll stumbled upon the weirdest fossil he had ever seen: a platter-sized spiral of tightly wound shark teeth. This chance encounter in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County sparked Troll's obsession with Helicoprion, a mysterious monster shark from deep time. In 2010, tattooed amateur strongman and returning Iraq War veteran Jesse Pruitt was also severely smitten by a Helicoprionfossil in a museum basement in Idaho. These two bizarre-shark disciples found each other, and an unconventional band of collaborators grew serendipitously around them, determined to solve the puzzle of the tooth whorl once and for all.

In this groundbreaking book, Susan Ewing reveals these revolutionary insights into what Helicoprion looked like and how the tooth whorl functioned, pushing this dazzling and awe-inspiring beast into the spotlight of modern science.

Giant Squid

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Book cover of Giant Squid

Immersed in the pages of Giant Squid, I feel pulled out of my usual world, allowed to explore the life of an animal I will probably never get to meet in person. I love the way this deep dive takes me up close and personal, yet maintains an aura of mystery—a curl of tentacle here, a glimpse of eyeball there. I also appreciate the balance of accurate scientific information with the basic questions that remind us that there is so much about this animal, and, by extension, the natural world as a whole, that we still do not know. 


Who am I?

I spent long days at the beach as a kid, and sharp bits of horseshoe crab shells in my sandcastles were a frequent annoyance. As an adult, I discovered a horseshoe crab lurching its way back to the water and wondered: What's the deal with this weird animal? To find out, I read books, talked with scientists, and assisted with horseshoe crab and shorebird research. What I discovered—about horseshoe crabs, other animals, and the water they live in—was too amazing to keep to myself. I hope my book encourages kids to go out and explore wild places, too!


I wrote...

High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

By Lisa Kahn Schnell, Alan Marks (illustrator),

Book cover of High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

What is my book about?

Every spring, millions of horseshoe crabs crawl to the shore to lay their eggs, just as they have since before dinosaurs roamed the earth. But they aren’t the only ones crowding the beaches! Flocks of shorebirds stop to feed on the horseshoe crab eggs. Scientists and tourists turn out to see the spectacle and learn more about the animals that call this habitat home for a few weeks. 

With layered text and in-depth back matter, High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs engages readers at multiple levels. Evocative watercolor paintings by Alan Marks bring young beach explorers down to the shoreline to observe this exciting annual event that interconnects species. Come join the frenzy!

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