Beach Books

“the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open”

Herman Melwille, Moby-Dick


“The veranda is an interval, a space, where life is improvised. The beach .. is the landscape equivalent of the veranda, a veranda at the edge of the continent.”

Philip Drew, Veranda: Embracing Place

“The wet stretch between land and sea is the true beach, the true in-between space. Among the peoples of Oceania .. it is a sacred, a “tapu” space, an unresolved space where things can happen, where things can be made to happen. It is a space of transformation. It is a space of crossing.”

Greg Dening, Beach Crossings

“We speak of course of that narrow strip of land over which the ocean waves and moon-powered tides are masters – that margin of territory that remains wild despite the proximity of cities or of land surfaces modified by industry.”

W. J. Dakin, Australian Seashores

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place. .. Today a little more land may belong to the sea, tomorrow a little less. Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary.”

Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea, 1955

Here is my quietly growing collection of books that mention the sea. I add only those, that are actually sitting on my shelf. My wish list is waaay longer than the actual library, but I’m steadily moving forward. It’s an expanding resource for my upcoming book about the sea in literature. Also a blueprint for my bookshop by the sea, that I will open afterwards.

Lewis Buzbee in his “Yellow-Lighted Bookshop” writes that future belongs to the more specialized bookshops. I cherish my dream about a bookshop by the sea with books about the sea that you can buy or just borrow for a day – while sunbathing. You know those pop-up fairy tale books? You open a book and the scene appears in three dimensions. That’s how I got my dream about the bookshop. I started to write the Enseaclopedia, I opened it with my mind’s eyes, and there it was – a whole store of salty books. It goes hand in hand.

I’m not in a hurry, because reading is something like breathing. In and out I turn the pages and enjoy the sailing through the words and sentences, through the paragraphs and chapters. Searching for the colors, sounds and moods of the sea. Searching for the ships and boats, waves and islands, sea gods and monsters, ports and lighthouses, sea birds and fishes, sailors and pirates, swimmers and lovers, changing tides. For the secret of the sea.


Almost a year after I had started my voyage and a couple of months after I had created this virtual corner, I was sitting here reading an excellent book by writer and traveler Jonathan Raban “Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings”. One paragraph (and many more) resonated with me as pebbles thrown into water. Mr Raban describes a collection of books that he has gathered on his boat, a sea library of his own:

“The books kept coming. They reflected a promiscuous addiction to the sea in general and to the one on my doorstep in particular. I dipped and skimmed, jumping from physics of turbulence to the cultural anthropology of the Northwest Indians, to voyages and memoirs, to books on marine invertebrates, to the literature of the sea from Homer to Conrad, trying to wrest from each new book some insight into my own compulsion. I looked the sea up in Freud and, more usefully, in Book of Revelation.”

Jonathan Raban, Passage to Juneau


“I do all my sailing in libraries, I have no navigating skills. Perhaps that was to my own advantage. Other people’s skills make one humble. One needs humility to accept that one’s knowledge is imperfect, that we “see through a glass darkly”.”

Greg Dening, Deep Times, Deep Spaces: Civilizing the Sea 


full but growing list


books so far

Books in English

Primary Sea Source

1. Homer. The Iliad. 
Translation by Caroline Alexander. HarperCollins, 2015
2. James Joyce. Ulysses. 1922
Oxford World's Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008
3. James Joyce. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916
Penguin Drop Caps. Penguin Books, 2013
4. Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse. 1927
Oxford World's Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008
5. Ernest Hemingway. The Old Man and the Sea. 1952
Vintage Books, 2000
6. Herman Melville. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. 1851
Penguin Drop Caps. Penguin Books, 2013
7. Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island. 1883
Artia, 1967

Secondary Sea Source & Other Works by the Same Authors

The Sea

8. Tristan Gooley. How to Read Water. 2016
Scepter, 2016
9. Tim Rood. The Sea! The Sea! 
The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination. 2004
Duckworth Overlook, 2004
10. Sea Changes: Historicizing the Ocean
Edited by Bernhard Klein and Gesa Mackenthun. 2004
Routledge, 2004
11. Joseph Conrad. The Mirror of the Sea
The First of Joseph Conrad's Two Autobiographical Memoirs. 1906
Bravo Ebooks, 2016
12. Rachel L. Carson. The Sea Around Us. 1950
 Mentor Books, 1954
13. Rachel L. Carson. The Edge of the Sea. 1955
A Mariner Book, 1998
14. Lincoln Paine. The Sea and Civilization:
A Maritime History of the World. 2013
Atlantic Books, 2015
15. John Mack. The Sea: A Cultural History. 2011
Reaktion Books, 2014
16. Michael Pye. The Edge of the World:
How the North Sea Made Us Who We Are. 2014
Penguin Books, 2015
17. Philip Hoare. The Sea Inside, 2013
Fourth Estate, 2014

Homer & Greeks

18. Marie-Claire Beaulieu. The Sea in the Greek Imagination. 2016
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
19. Caroline Alexander.  The War that Killed Achilles: 
The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War. 2009
Penguin Books, 2010
20. Peter Ackroyd. The Fall of Troy. 2006
Vintage Books, 2007
21. K.A. & Diana Wardle. Cities of Legend: 
The Mycenaean World. 1997, 2000
Bristol Classical Press, 2004
22. Apollodorus. The Library of Greek Mythology
Translation by Robin Hard. 1997
Oxford World's Classics. Oxford University Press, 2008
23. John P. Mahaffy. Social Life in Greece. 1874
Forgotten Books, 2015
24. Thomas Cahill. Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: 
Why the Greeks Matter. 2003
Anchor Books, 2004  
25. Adam Nicolson. The Mighty Dead: 
Why Homer Matters. 2014
William Collins, 2015

Tim Severin

26. Tim Severin. The Sindbad Voyage. 1982
Hutchinson, 1982
27. Tim Severin. The Jason Voyage: 
The Quest for the Golden Fleece. 1985. Arrow Books, 1986
28. Tim Severin. The Ulysses Voyage: 
The Search for the Odyssey. 1987. Arrow Books, 1988
29. Tim Severin. In Search of Moby Dick: 
Quest for the White Whale. 1999. Little, Brown and Company, 1999
30. Tim Severin. Seeking Robinson Crusoe. 2002
Macmillan, 2002

Tim Winton

31. Tim Winton. Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir. 1993 
Picador, 2012
32. Tim Winton. Breath. 2008
Picador, 2009

Jonathan Raban

33. The Oxford Book of the Sea. 
Edited by Jonathan Raban. 1992 
Oxford University Press, 1992 
34. Jonathan Raban. Passage to Juneau: 
A Sea and Its Meaning. 1999 
Vintage Departures, 1999
35. Jonathan Raban. Coasting. 1986
Picador, 1986
36. Jonathan Raban. Bad Land:
An American Romance. 1996
Picador, 1997


37. Justin Pollard and Howard Reid. The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: 
Birthplace of Modern World. 2006
Penguin Books, 2007

James Joyce & Ulysses

38. James Joyce's Ulysses. A Study by Stuart Gilbert. 1930
Vintage Books, 1955
39. Richard Ellmann. James Joyce
The First Revision of the 1959 Classics
Oxford University Press, 1983
40. Sylvia Beach. Shakespeare & Company. 1956
Bison Books, 1991
41. Noel Riley Fitch. Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: 
A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties. 1983
W. W. Norton & Company, 1985
42. Kevin Birmingham. The Most Dangerous Book: 
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses. 2014
Penguin Books, 2014

Ernest Hemingway

43. Ernest Hemingway. The Last Interview and Other Conversations
 Melville House, 2015
44. The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. 1907-1922. Vol. 1
 Ed. by Sandra Spanier & Robert W. Trogdon
Cambridge University Press, 2011
45. Ernest Hemingway. Green Hills of Africa. 1935
 Vintage Books, 2004
46. Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. 1929
 Vintage Books, 2005
47. Ernest Hemingway. A Movable Feast. 1964
 Vintage Books, 2000
48. Ernest Hemingway. For Whom the Bell Tolls. 1940
 Vintage Books, 2005
49. Ernest Hemingway. Death in the Afternoon. 1932
 Vintage Books, 2000
50. Ernest Hemingway. Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises. 1926
 Vintage Books, 2000
51. Ernest Hemingway. The Snows of Kilimanjaro. 1936
 Vintage Books, 2004
52. Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. 1929


53. Walter Pater. Studies in the History of Renaissance. 1893
 Oxford World's Classics. Oxford University Press, 2010

Children’s Books

54. Jennifer Berne. Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
Illustrated by Éric Puybaret. Chronicle Books LLC, 2008
55. The Wonder Garden 
Illustrated by Kristjana S Williams, written by Jenny Broom
Wide Eyed Editions, 2015

Books in Latvian

Primary Sea Source

56. Homērs. Īliada
Tulkojis Augusts Ģiezens
  Izglītības Ministrijas izdevums, 1936
57. Homērs. Īliada
Tulkojis Augusts Ģiezens, redaktors Ābrams Feldhūns
  Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1961
58. K. Straubergs. Grieķu lirika
 Izglītības Ministrijas izdevums, 1922
59. Sengrieķu traģēdijas. Sastādījis Ābrams Feldhūns
 Liesma, 1975
60. Džeimss Džoiss. Uliss. 1922
Tulkojis Dzintars Sodums
  Liepnieks & Rītups, 2012
61. Džeimss Džoiss. Dublinieši. 1914
Tulkojis Dzintars Sodums
  Liepnieks & Rītups, 2012
62. Džeimss Džoiss. Mākslinieka portrets jaunībā. 1916
Tulkojis Raimonds Jaks
  Jumava, 2013
63. Alesandro Bariko. Okeāns Jūra. 1993
Tulkojusi Dace Meiere
  Atēna, 2003
64. Anatols Franss. Pingvīnu sala. 1908
Tulkojusi Ērika Lūse
 Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1953
65. Kolms Toibīns. Blekvoteras bāka. 1999
Tulkojis Guntis Valujevs
 Atēna, 2004
66. Džonetens Svifts. Gulivera ceļojumi. 1726
Tulkojusi Mirdza Ķempe
 Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1959
67. Žils Verns. Kapteiņa Granta bērni. 1867
No franču valodas tulkojis Ēvalds Juhņēvičs
 Izdevniecība "Liesma", 1970
68. Žils Verns. Kapteiņa Granta bērni. 1867
No franču valodas tulkojis Olģerts Liepiņš
 Zelta ābele, 1943
69. Žils Verns. Noslēpumu sala. 1874
Tulkojis Andrejs Upīts
 Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1956

Secondary Sea Source

70. N. Kūns. Sengrieķu mīti un varoņteikas
Tulkojis G. Lukstiņš
 Latvijas Valsts izdevniecība, 1959

bbbooks_buzbeeMy Golden Books

Alessandro Baricco. Mr Gwyn. 2011
McSweeney's, 2014

Lewis Buzbee. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. 2006
Graywolf Press, 2006 MY REVIEW

Thomas Wright. Oscar's Books. 2008
Chatto & Windus, 2008

Noel Bennett, Tiana Bighorse. Navajo Weaving Way. 1997
Interweave Press, 1997


I wake up at dawn to go into my Sea studio on the first floor of the house where I try to understand the secret of the sea.

“Morning and afternoon I learned the pattern of my life, of hunting and gathering and picking over flotsam  in the outdoor world – fishing, diving, swimming, surfing, lighting fires, rowing boats, feeling the landscape rush in from all sides – and retiring indoors to wonder and write and read where only the breeze could reach me, in there where my dreams were.”

Tim Winton, Land’s Edge: A Coastal Memoir


Add yours →

  1. WOW. Such an impressive list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Spartina,” by John Casey (1999)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You must get the Brendan Voyage! As you can see his books are superb. I have an old copy–I got it used a few years ago. Also Dove by Robin Graham or the young person’s version, Boy Who Sailed Round the World Alone.

    A new, political spin on what the ocean brings: The New Odyssey (on the current refugee crisis).
    Very interesting blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how passionate you are about the sea. Its so rare!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favorite places in the world are all on the coast of some sea. While visiting Cape Cod with my elderly mother eight years ago, I discovered the work of Henry Beston, ‘The Outermost House’, written in the early part of the 20th century. It is “A chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach, The Outermost House has long been recognized as a classic of American nature writing.” Some of the most beautiful writing about the feel and nature of the sea that I have ever read. Perhaps it warrants inclusion in your growing library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Carolin, thank you so much for the suggestion. It really looks a great book, I ordered it a minute ago, thanks! Looking forward to read it. & to visit Cape Cod one day, the pics look amazing. That blue of the sea, that white yellow of dry grass. That feeling of being on the edge of the land.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. AMAZING LIST and we are loving your blog too!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: