It’s August, the last full month before Labor Day, which means (despite the back-to-school sales and public longing for fall), there are still plenty of long, hot summer days left for reading. August also marks the beginning of a new partnership for us: Popular Science has teamed up with Strand bookstore to provide monthly book lists to fill your brain with science.
If you’re in the NYC area, be sure to check out the PopSci-branded display they’ve setup in the Science section. If you’re anywhere else, you can catch the recommendations right here online.
This month we’re featuring books about a substance that defines life on Earth more than any other: water. Did you know that 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water? Whether you look at the glass as half-full or half-empty, salty or fresh, home to sea creatures, or frontier for exploration, there’s something for everyone.
Water itself exerts a powerful pull on the psyche, and on all aspects of life. Explore changing tides, rising waters, and shifting seas in this selection:
- Tides and the Ocean: Water’s Movement Around the World, from Waves to Whirlpools by William Thomson
- The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
- The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell
Next to a raging sea, humans seem small and insignificant. We test ourselves against this force of nature, whether to harvest riches, explore the depths, or push the limits of human endurance and understanding. Pick up one of these true tales of adventure and set off on your own voyage of discovery.
- Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox
- Sea Change by Sylvia Earle
- The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
- In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
In these reads, explore ways to cook seaweed, shuck your way into the entwined history of New York City and the humble oyster, or dive into the world of fish-oil supplements.
- Ocean Greens: Explore the World of Edible Seaweed and Sea Vegetables: A Way of Eating for Your Health and the Planet’s by Lisette Kreischer and Marcel Schuttelaar
- The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky
- The Omega Principle by Paul Greenberg
It is never too early to encourage a love of the water that’s all around us. In these charming titles, kids can gain a deeper appreciation of H2O, as well as the animals and plants that call it home.
- Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner
- Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating
There’s a whole world of creatures living under (and over) the sea. Explore the lives of some of the amazing animals that we share a planet with, from intelligent cephalopods to adventurous seabirds, from whales to sharks.
- The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
- Shark Drunk-the art of catching a large shark from a tiny rubber dinghy in a big ocean by Morten Strøksnes
- Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson
- Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods by Danna Staaf
- The Seabird’s Cry: The lives and loves of the planet’s great ocean voyagers by Adam Nicolson
- Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne—Fiction bonus! Sometimes science imitates art, and Twenty Thousand Leagues is a classic that’s inspired both art and science, and was first mentioned in Popular Science back in October of 1925 when Jules Verne’s detailed descriptions cost an inventor his chance at a periscope patent.