Beach Reading

Posted by Christine, August 8, 2014

From David Helvarg’s Blue Frontier Blue Notes

Four Summer Beach Reads

Number 1 in my book, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean (illustrated by Jim Toomey) is ‘Go to the beach,’ because you’re more likely to protect the things that you love.  And who doesn’t love a good summer read on the beach?  Here are 4 new ones I’d recommend:

War of the Whales (Simon & Schuster) – Joshua Horwitz spent seven years working on his investigation into beached whales, Navy sonar testing and the epic scientific and courtroom battles that resulted.  It was time well invested. From severed whale heads to top-secret Naval warfare ops, from the blue waters of the Bahamas to the inner corridors of the Pentagon, War of the Whales is a true-life detective story, military drama and legal procedural of the first order. Horwitz channels John Grisham and Jacques Cousteau in a way that will leave you inspired, outraged and deeply satisfied.



Blue Mind (Little Brown) – BF friend and global distributor of Blue Marbles, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols has added a subtitle to his book that pretty much sums up its thesis “The Surprising Science that shows how being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do.”


A near definitive book on water and our connections to it, Blue Mind is a unique synthesis of a how-to book with inspirational quotes and a scientific argument that we have a neurological and evolutionary link to water that can rebuild our personal and emotional balance, connecting to our ‘brain on water.’  His well-braided personal, historical, scientific and ecological thesis makes for a fascinating read.


American Catch (Penguin) – Paul Greenberg, who wrote 4 Fish is back with another somewhat fishy story (I mean that in the best possible way.) of how marine wildlife that we eat is becoming disconnected from the waters where we live. Greenberg’s analysis of three geographically based marine species, New York oysters, Gulf Shrimp and Alaskan salmon may prove an even more influential book than the hugely popular 4 Fish.  Through different stories of a bivalve, a crustacean and a fish, he tells the awful story of how we’ve come from depending on local marine abundance to importing over 90% of the seafood we consume and how in losing our connection to the sea around us, we’ve broken a vital bond to the health and well being of the other 71% of the planet we depend on.   Still, in the end Greenberg finds hope among seaweed rebels doing oyster restoration in New York, organizing among Gulf fishermen and fighting a dangerous mining project in Alaska.  In making the connection between people, wildlife and the health of our blue planet Greenberg also manages to provide a rousing good read.  And that’s a Trifecta you can take to the beach.


The Reef (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) – Ian McCalman’s book on the life and history, both human and natural, of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is getting the kind of reviews and buzz that has it at the top of my summer reading list.  Having visited, dived in and worked on the “GBR” three times over the last 20 years I look forward to this read with anticipation and dread, like being retold the story of a great woman who you know and who has influenced the world but is now having to deal with a terminal disease.  That disease is the greenhouse gasses we’re putting into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and the way they’re impacting the world’s coral reefs through warming (bleaching) and ocean acidification.  In reading The Reef we can only hope there is time left to view this book as a crystal clear cautionary tale rather than as an elegant obituary.



And One Summer Book Deal

If you’d like to help Blue Frontier in building an ocean constituency to turn the tide while there’s still time, have we got a book deal for you!  Make a contribution of $40 or more between now and Labor Day and we’ll mail you an autographed hard cover copy of Executive Director David Helvarg’s salty, highly praised memoir –  Saved by the Sea – A Love Story with Fish (cover price $25.99).  “This book has the power to change the way you think about the world, about yourself, and about the future of humankind,” says National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle.  Don’t forget to include your mailing address with your contribution



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