December 20, 2018

Story: Going Deep: Twelve Winter Reading Titles for the Ocean Adventurer


Written by Laura Anderson


Whether you’re curled up next to the fireplace, visiting family or taking a trip, winter break is a great time to pick up a new book. These twelve books recommended by members of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions team explore a range of ocean topics – from the adventures of freediving to the art and craft of science communication – all of which serve as lenses to view the world of marine science. So grab a mug of hot chocolate and dive into a new ocean journey!


The following book summaries have been culled primarily from publishers.


The Sea Around Us

By Rachel Carson (1951)


The Sea Around Us is one of the most influential books ever written about the natural world. Rachel Carson's ability to combine scientific insight with poetic prose catapulted her book to the top of The New York Times best-seller list, where it remained for more than a year and a half. It inspired an Academy Award-winning documentary and won both the National Book Award and the John Burroughs Medal.

Suggested by Research Development Manager Eric Hartge


Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

By Marc Reisner (1993)


Newsweek called this book "The definitive work on the West's water crisis." It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster.

Suggested by Early Career Science Fellow Collin Closek


The Reef: A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change

By Iain McCalman (2013)


Through a series of dramatic tales from intrepid explorers, unwitting castaways, inquisitive naturalists, enchanted artists, and impassioned environmentalists who have collectively shaped our ideas about the Great Barrier Reef, Iain McCalman demonstrates how this grand natural wonder of the world was built as much by human imagination as by the industrious, beautiful creatures of the sea.

Suggested by Communications Intern Laura Anderson


Soul of the Sea: In the Age of the Algorithm

By Gregory Stone and Nishan Degnarian (2017)


This publication draws upon the fields of science, economics and business strategy to chart the future of humankind’s relationship to the ocean. Stone and Degnarian are co-leaders of the World Economic Forum Special Initiative on Oceans.

Suggested by Research Development Manager Eric Hartge


Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter

By Nancy Baron (2010)


In this practical and entertaining guide to communicating science, Nancy Baron explains how to engage your audience and explain why a particular finding matters. Baron describes the risks and rewards of “speaking up,” how to deal with criticism, and the link between communications and leadership.

Suggested by Communications Manager Nicole Kravec


The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea

By Callum Roberts (2012)


This award-winning book has been called “A Silent Spring for oceans.” Callum Roberts tells the story of man and the sea, from the earliest traces of life on earth to the oceans as we know them today.

Suggested by our Ocean Design Fellows


Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

By Anand Giridharadas (2018)


Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas investigates how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve.

Suggested by André Hoffman Fellow Annie Brett


Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

By Peter Godfrey-Smith (2016)


When surviving requires decision making, brains have developed awareness. “Sentience,” Peter Godfrey-Smith writes, “has some point to it.” By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind―and on our own.

Suggested by Research Development Manager Eric Hartge


Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

By James Nestor (2014)


Journalist James Nestor embeds with a gang of extreme athletes and renegade researchers who are transforming not only our knowledge of the planet and its creatures but also our understanding of the human body and mind. Along the way, he takes us from the surface to the Atlantic’s greatest depths, some 28,000 feet below sea level.

Suggested by Communications Intern Laura Anderson


Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style

By Randy Olson (2009)


Randy Olson, formerly a tenured professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire, recounts the lessons from his own hilarious-and at times humiliating-evolution from science professor to Hollywood filmmaker. The key, he argues, is to stay true to the facts while tapping into something more primordial, more irrational, and ultimately more human.

Suggested by Communications Manager Nicole Kravec


Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit

By Vandana Shiva (2001)


Using the international water trade and industrial activities such as damming, mining, and aquafarming as her lens, Vandana Shiva details the severity of the global water shortage.

Suggested by Early Career Science Fellow Collin Closek


Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans

By Sylvia Earle (1996)


This book takes us through Sylvia Earle's three decades of undersea exploration and delivers an insider's introduction to the dynamic field of marine biology and an urgent plea for the preservation of the world's fragile and rapidly deteriorating ocean ecosystems.

Suggested by Communications Intern Laura Anderson