A Science & Marine Library: 10 Books That Should Be On Every Ocean Lovers Bookshelf!

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There are so many ocean-related books that you could fill a whole library. Whether you are a marine biologist or intrigued by the ocean and the mysterious marine life that ventures there, there is a book out there for everyone.

In no particular order, I have picked out my top 10 books and included the Amazon links in the title, so you can easily add them to your reading list.

After reading this article, if you feel I have missed an incredible book off the list, comment below - I would love to add more to my collection!


1. The Girl of The Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley, known for writing "Jaws" in 1974, quickly became a popular author and The Girl of The Sea of Cortez is certainly no disappointment! This book was a hard find, but when I got the chance to get my hands on it, I couldn't put it down! All of Benchley's books focus on human relationships with the ocean, connecting you closer to nature.

This story is about Paloma who tells the story of how she found an idyllic area of the ocean unknown to the local fishermen called The Sea of Cortez. Paloma is an ocean advocate, wanting to protect the oceans focusing on protecting fish stocks and telling the story of local traditions and beliefs on the island.


2. The Empty Ocean by Richard Ellis

As the title suggests, The Empty Ocean tells the reader how greedy humankind has become, and what life would be like with an empty ocean. He tells us what marine animals have been fished, hunted, and collected by humans over the centuries - which makes you feel ashamed to be human...

As a seal lover, Ellis tells the story of how the Caribbean Monk Seal (among other marine creatures) was historically eradicated, which I found really interesting!

Despite the frightening facts, it is a compelling book that is a little exhausting and heart-wrenching to read, but one that every ocean lover should have on their bookshelf in my eyes.

Other books by Ellis that are definitely worth a read are:

  • Aquagenesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea

  • The Great Sperm Whale: A Natural History of the Ocean's Most Magnificent and Mysterious Creature!


3. The Girl Beneath The Sea by Andrew Mayne

If you love crime novels and the ocean, this adventurous thriller, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, or sun lounger!

When Sloan (the main character) was underwater, Mayne was great at making the reader feel like they are there with her, often finding myself shouting out loud at the suspense he created with the talented writing.

It is part of an underwater investigative book series, and I cannot wait to read more of Mayne's work!


4. The Natural History of SEALS by Nigel Bonner

Anyone that knows me, will know I have a bit of an obsession with seals, okay, I have a crazy obsession with them! This one is a book I treasure and is written by Nigel Bonner, a zoologist born in London. With the same surname and love for seals, I hope that somehow we are related, and maybe that's why I also devoted time studying seals just like Nigel did.

This book is on the 'educational side' but is suitable for non-academics too, beautifully illustrated with images from his travels.


5. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

I came across this book at the airport, and ended up reading this the whole 10-hour flight instead of watching any movies - it was that magnificently written!

Famously known for "The Good Good Pig", Montgomery tells the tale of the highly intelligent octopus and the incredible connections they have can with humans.

When she meets Athena - the first octopus she met, she is found often asking questions that you would probably ask yourself. Some answers remain a mystery by the end of the book, leaving you thinking deeper about these mysterious marine creatures!

What I also love about the book, is that Montgomery tells you about her personal life - by the end of the book, I felt like I knew her.

An overall, feel-good book, great for the beach or plane!


6. The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson

As a marine biologist myself, I would say it is one of the most influential books I have read about the ocean. Carson educates the reader through a poetic narrative on ocean sustainability and reminds us how fragile the marine ecosystem is.

My favourite quote in the book is:

“To dispose first and investigate later is an invitation to disaster, for once radioactive elements have been deposited at sea they are irretrievable. The mistakes that are made now are made for all time.”

So, if you love the ocean and are interested in conservation, this book makes a great before-bed read or one for a long plane journey!


7.Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures by Nick Pyenson

Exploring the amazing life of cetaceans, Pyenson starts the story with how marine mammals evolved from four-legged ancestors that once roamed on land.

Get ready to follow Pyenson's journey and how the oceans were once full of these graceful marine creatures to the declines we are facing now.

A question that stays with you even after reading the book, is when Pyenson says:

"What can humans learn about surviving in a changing world from these creatures who for millennia have survived on a planet where oceans rose and fell and land masses shifted?"


8. An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed

by Josie Iselin

If you are a seaweed-nerd, this is the one for you! This book covers a wide variety of seaweeds found in the marine environment but Iselin writes it so creatively, so even if you are not over-enthusiastic of seaweeds, you will be by the end of the book.

Her stories of seaweeds are accompanied by beautiful illustrations. After reading this book, I now find myself taking seaweeds more seriously, as they are often overlooked.


9. Other minds: The Octopus, The Sea, And The Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

This is one that I have reread many times, and yes, another octopus book on the list! You cannot help but feel trapped inside this book, quickly turning the pages to absorb the endless information inside.

Even though the book focuses on the mysterious octopus, Godfrey-smith touches upon the Giant Squid and other cephalopods.

Despite his biological and philosophical theories, he writes the book in a manner that is clear and friendly to non-scientist readers.


10. Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher's Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything by Helen Scales

Finally, one for all the fish lovers out there! Helen Scales (what a fitting name!) takes you on an underwater journey telling the tales of curious fish beneath the surface.

Each fish description is engaging, with each chapter unravelling different aspects of fish's life and of course, some stunning pictures!

Helen Scales has written some other amazing books. I highly recommend the following if you enjoy this one!

If there are any other books you highly recommend, please comment below! - I would love to add more to my collection!


Written by Darby Bonner

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