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archive – ReviewsREADS OF THE YEAR

WE HAVE REVIEWED an unusually large number of good diving-related books this year, so to help you solve those Christmas-gift conundrums for divers in your life, here are some titles that particularly impressed us. No ebooks or audio included – only the sort of books you can wrap…


Small Blue World
by Jason Isley

It’s 2249 and Earth’s resources have been pushed to the limit. With most of the land covered by sea, it’s time to look into the prospects of a life below the surface… This unique book, the brainchild of Scubazoo photographer Isley, places models in underwater settings in an ingenious and humorous way to illustrate a narrative about a future world.
Michael O’Mara Books
ISBN: 9781782435655
Hardback, 112pp, £12.99


Underwater Photography Masterclass
by Alex Mustard

Masterclass indeed – the author is still at the top of his game but remains unselfish in sharing knowledge. This is Mustard’s first instructional book, tutorials written from the perspective of understanding, controlling and mastering light under water. Richly illustrated, it can be referenced by sections according to individual needs – and it oozes class.
Ammonite Press
ISBN: 9781781452226
Softback, 192pp, £19.99

Secrets of the Seas: A Journey into the Heart of the Oceans
by Alex Mustard &Callum Roberts

There may not be any more for a while but 2016 brought us two Alex Mustard books, this one being an outstanding collaboration with a marine conservationist who is a tremendous writer. The photos illustrate Roberts’ carefully considered essays and together help to make sense of the seas. Sorry, we got the details wrong in the review – here are the correct ones:
Bloomsbury Natural History
ISBN: 9781472927613
Hardback, 240pp, £25


The Marine World: A Natural History of Ocean Life
by Frances Dipper

The renowned marine biologist’s wide-ranging book has the wow factor – authoritative, well-presented and easy to read, with beautiful images and superb line and coloured illustrations. Fascinating facts are scattered throughout.
Wild Nature Press
ISBN: 9780957394629
Hardback, 544pp £45

World’s Best Wildlife Dive Sites
by Nick & Caroline Robertson-Brown

Or, at least, the best these underwater photographers have visited over 20 years, and luckily that’s a lot. This relaxed, well-illustrated book covers Africa, Asia, Europe, Australasia and the Americas, with 32 sub-chapters highlighting dive-sites or areas and key species, events or phenomena found there.
Reed New Holland
ISBN: 9781921517723
Hardback, 288pp, £19.99

Reef Fish Identification: Tropical Pacific
by Gerald Allen, Roger Steene, Paul Humann & Ned DeLoach

This is the second edition of one of the best marine-life ID books in the business, a bible in the DIVER office. Any divers who snap the marine life in the Far East, the Pacific islands and Australia need to have it – it makes life so much simpler.
New World Publications
ISBN: 9781878348609
Softback, 498pp, $48

Seahorses: A Life-Size Guide to Every Species
by Sara Lourie

From the simple cover to the blend of high-quality photos of each species, diagrams, maps and life-size silhouettes, this is a little package to savour. Extremely well-written and accessible, it will appeal to any wildlife enthusiast, but certainly to macro marine-life divers.
Ivy Press
ISBN: 9781782403210
Hardback, 160pp, £16.99

Jellyfish: A Natural History
by Lisa-Ann Gershwin

Another Ivy Press gem, this book is by an Australian marine-biologist who has discovered 200 jellyfish species herself and has a very easy writing style. With its fine photography and line illustrations and a classy design, this book is a solid grounding in the subject as well as a reference source and an art book.
Ivy Press
ISBN: 9781782403227
Hardback, 224pp, £19.99


The Sunken Secret
by Cristian Perfumo

Not a classic year for dive-related fiction but this novel caught the eye – a clever thriller, it’s set in remote Patagonia and based on the true story of HMS Swift, an 18th century British warship that sank near the author’s birthplace. Three young divers get entangled in a murderous dash to find the wreck, but it’s a political step away from the usual underwater treasure hunt.
ISBN: 9781515156239
Softback, 280pp, £9.19


Mystery of the Last Olympian
by Richie Kohler & Charlie Hudson

2016 brought the 100th anniversary of the sinking off Greece of the Britannic, the world’s biggest passenger shipwreck, and tec advances have made it more practical for divers like Shadow Divers co-author Kohler to visit the 120m-deep wreck. One of the few men to have been inside Britannic and visited its sister Titanic, he and Hudson recall the history of diving expeditions to the wreck in engaging style.
Best Publishing
ISBN: 9781930536869
Softback, 228pp, $19.99

Dive Palau: The Shipwrecks
by Rod MacDonald

A companion to the author’s Dive Truk Lagoon, the wreck specialist details some of the 40 war wrecks that complement Palau’s famed wall and reef-diving, with detailed descriptions and Rob Ward’s good illustrations. An absorbing read either as a whole or for reference.
Whittles Publishing
ISBN: 9781849951708
Hardback, 304pp, £30

The Watery Grave: The Life and Death of HMS Manchester
by Richard Osborne

HMS Manchester is a WW2 wreck lying off Tunisia that is intriguing for expeditionary technical divers partly because of its back-story. The cruiser was torpedoed in 1942 and the captain subsequently court-martialled for ordering the ship to be scuttled, but was he right to save the crew? This well-written history is illustrated with historic photos and underwater shots by Chris Simons.
Frontline Books
ISBN: 9781473845855
Hardback, 256pp, £19.99


Scuba Diving Malta Gozo Comino
by Peter G Lemon

It might date back 15 years, but this is the fourth edition of a popular guide-book for a popular destination, and this big bright volume shows continued evolution in terms of up-to-date diving details, new photography and more sites than before, including Tugboat 2 and Middle Finger on Gozo. The author dives tirelessly to provide his readers with all they need to know, whether for shore- or boat-dives.
Peter G Lemon
ISBN: 9780954178932
Softback, 224pp, £19.99


Scuba Fundamental
by Simon Pridmore

Bali-based instructor Simon Pridmore has proved himself one of the most readable diving writers around, and his formula works a treat when it comes to addressing non-divers. “The biggest difficulty I had writing this was putting myself in the reader’s head,” he said. “Once I figured out how to do that, I then knew where to go with the book.” Easy-to-read and very entertaining, this book won’t demand too much of non-divers, but should inform and enthuse .
Sandsmedia Publishing
ISBN: 9781530524068
Softback, 204pp, £9.50


Diving Equipment Choice, Maintenance & Function
by Jonas Arvidsson

Well-researched and written, this is a comprehensive publication by an author who knows his onions about what to look for in dive-gear, puts life-support before style and avoids specific brand recommendations. The book flows logically through items and is mercifully jargon-free.
A must-have for newly qualified divers, but educational for any of us.
Dived Up
ISBN: 9781909455139
Softback, 200pp, £19.95


Adventures in Murky Waters
by Kenneth Clark

A chronicle of UK club-diving in the 1970s in which a long project to raise a Victorian steamboat from a Scottish loch gradually takes centre stage. There still seems to be bitterness about how the enterprise fell apart. A catalogue of comic errors as well as diving challenges and achievements.
Austin Macauley
ISBN: 9781785541896
Softback, 272pp, £12.99


The Oxygen Advantage
by Patrick McKeown

The breathing exercises included in this big book can be practised anywhere, any time by anyone, and help scuba-divers as well as freedivers at any level.
ISBN: 9780062349453
Hardback, 368pp, £15


Can a Lobster be an Archaeologist?
by Members & Friends of the Society for Underwater Technology

Perfect for a bright 10- to 14-year-old who is a diver or snorkeller, or wants to be one, and open to making a career from the sea. Twenty-three writers contributed to an entertainingly written and informative recruitment publication.
Society for Underwater Technology
ISBN: 9780906940556
Softback, 152pp, £12.99

22 Fantastical Facts about Dolphins
by Justin Gregg

The author is a dolphin expert who wears his learning lightly in this pop-science book aimed at teenagers, though interesting for any diver who has dived or hopes to dive with dolphins.
Outside The Lines Press
ISBN: 9780994924001
Softback, 104pp, £6.99

Young Reed A-Z of Sharks and Rays / Exploring Shipwrecks
by Nigel Marsh

Aimed at budding and existing divers in the 7-13 age range, these books by an Australian DIVER contributor are built around his photos, with plenty of punchy wordbites and “did you know?” nuggets thrown in.
New Holland Publishers
ISBN: 9781921580307 (sharks), 9781921580178 (wrecks)
Hardback, 48pp (sharks), 64pp (wrecks), £9.99

Appeared in DIVER December 2016


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