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Quite a few of us are stranded on land at the moment. And what does a stranded mermaid do? Read books for divers of course!
And when I say books for divers I don’t mean PADI manuals nor do I mean The Little Mermaid (though the original by Hans Christian Andersen is awesome!).
Personally, I find it hard to read scuba diving books about techniques or marine life without having the option to put what I read into practice. I prefer something more inspirational, historic, abstract, or a good scuba diving novel.
To find the latter is actually not that easy. I am still planning to write a version of Harry Potter with mermaids and scuba divers and how their worlds will collide and it will be full of adventure, love, and such profound questions Yuval Noah Harari will be proud of me. Alas, I am yet to come up with a proper plot and start writing so instead I skimmed the internet to put together some cool books for scuba divers for you that have already been written.
Some fictional, some non-fictional, something funny, something romantic, and something suspenseful… While I haven’t read all of these books yet, they all came highly recommended from readers and divers I trust and are now on my neverending ‘to read’ list.
Books for Divers to read when you can’t dive
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
This is a book that has long been on my list as it tells the story about haenyeo, female Korean free divers that dive for seaweed and mussles. Their job is an old and fascinating tradition in Korea and has always been done by women.
The story follows Mi-ja and Young-sook through decades of wars, modern inventions – like a wetsuit – and their lives as divers.
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
If you are looking for non-fiction books for scuba divers look no further than the Soul of an Octopus. Sy tells the stories of her octopus friends from around the world, how wonderful and smart they are, and what we as humans can and should learn from them.
Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver by Jill Heinreth
I am so excited to read this as caves have always scared me a bit, especially the underwater kind. That was until I did my first cenote dives in Mexico and became hooked (pardon the pun!). Jill Heinreth is one of the most renowned cave divers and her memoir talks about the thrill, the dangers, and the science of cave diving. I am honestly getting goosebumps just thinking about it…
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley
When talking about books for divers this one always comes up. It follows the story of Paloma and her love and connection with the ocean. The premise: we need to protect our oceans and their inhabitants. Oh, and she makes friends with a manta ray – in case this may entice the manta lovers here to read the book!
Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson
This looks like a fun and somewhat cheesy book you can finish on a rainy afternoon – sometimes that is all you need from a book. In addition, it has a heroine who is an unusual mermaid named Fred, intrigue and a bit of romance of course!
The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne
I love a good thriller and when it has a cool heroine and some diving I love it even more. This one has it all: a female police diver, a ruthless killer, family drama – all written by a bestselling author.
Adrift by Micki Browning
I think Adrift was one of the first scuba diving novels I ever read. As I mentioned above I love a good thriller and while this could be even a bit more intricate and scary it has everything you want in a pageturner. Romance, suspense, ghost hunters, and some really cool dive sites like the Spiegel Grove. If you will still want to dive there after reading this I can’t promise though.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
Shadow Divers is a classic dive novel every diver should read. It is based on the true story of Chatterton and Kohler and how they found and eventually identified a nameless German U-boat in the early 90s.
What was most fascinating to me was how the book describes the beginning of tech diving, the development of Nitrox, and the dangers and thrills of wreck diving. An absolute must-read amongst the books for divers!
Swimming with the Dead by Kathy Brandt
Kathy Brandt has written a fun and entertaining series set in the British Virgin Islands centered around cop and diver Hannah Sampson. Tropical vibes, a bit of crime, a bit of romance – honestly, I thought the books were nothing to write home about but I still devoured them in record time. They are a perfect holiday read – that is unless you go to the Caribbean for holidays I guess.
Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything by Helen Scales
Fish lovers rejoice – this is the book for you! If fish ID is your jam you will love this book and Helen Scales (extra points for the fitting name!) who takes you on an underwater journey into the lives of our favorite friends. Whether you love manta rays or glow-in-the-dark fish this book has it all! It is not only an homage to fish but also to some famous fishwatchers.
The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schätzing
Technically The Swarm isn’t really a scuba diving novel so it is just an honorary addition to this list because it is one of my favorite books of all times. The premise: there are floods, the whales are misbehaving, there are dead fish and poisoned lobsters – somehow the world is falling apart and a team of experts needs to figure out why and how to stop it. The solution or rather the problem is as unexpected as it is thrilling – I won’t say anything more, just go and read the book!
Deep Blue – Book One in the Waterfire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly
Deep Blue is the perfect novel for mermaid fans that have grown out of The Little Mermaid and crave a bit more adventure. If you are looking for a Harry Potter version with mermaids this might be the story for you.
Technically a YA series, I quite enjoyed the first book of the Waterfire Saga and not only for the fascinating underwater worlds Jennifer Donnelly has created but also how human and merpeople lives collide.