Skip to content

Best Books For Divers to Read in 2020

Categories

  • News and Events
  • Scuba Skills
  • Health and Safety
  • Dive Gear
  • Marine Life
  • Travel
  • Freediving
  • Snorkeling
  • Stories
books for divers

Looking for a book to add to your 2020 reading list? Here are our picks of top books about diving that will expand your horizons and teach you something interesting. Whether you prefer fictional tales of underwater adventures, want to learn a new skill or are hunting for a colorful coffee table book detailing the world’s best dive sites, we’ve got something for you.

Best Scuba Travel Guide: 100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Underwater Destinations

Filled with more than 350 stunning images from National Geographic, 100 Dives of a Lifetime provides the ultimate bucket list for ardent scuba divers and aspirational travelers alike. The book covers various destinations around the world, organized by diving experience and certification level - from beginner open water and wreck dives to expert cold water and cave dives. In addition to the beautiful imagery, the book includes marine life guides, trusted travel tips, and expert diving advice from world-famous National Geographic explorers like Brian Skerry, Jessica Cramp, and David Doubilet. The authors took the effort to explain and catalogue the history of each site, dive conditions (water temperature, visibility, and depth), land formations and the migratory patterns of the sea creatures there. The book ends with a chapter on marine conversation. All in all, 100 Dives of a Lifetime offers a unique opportunity to explore the magic of our world's oceans - from your armchair or with your scuba gear in tow.

100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Underwater Destinations on Amazon

Honorable Mention: Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die

Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die is the fifth in Chris Santella’s bestselling series “Fifty Places…”. The book lists some of the world’s best dive destinations, each one accompanied by a write-up from a local expert detailing what makes the site special. The collection includes both iconic bucket list hot-spots, such as Raja Ampat or Grand Cayman Isles, as well as a few lesser-known destinations. Those, who want to travel to these breathtaking locales, will be able to benefit from Santella’s complete “If You Go” suggestions. And in case you haven’t made the decision yet, you can marvel at the underwater wonders, captured in 40 gorgeous color photos, even at home in your armchair.

Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die on Amazon

Best Instructional: Scuba Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Becoming a Better Diver

It is quite rare to come across an instructional book that would be equally useful for new and experienced divers, but Scuba Confidential handles the task perfectly. The book is packed full of valuable tips and expert advice on a variety of subjects, including dive safety, skills, training, equipment, gasses and travel. It offers an informed and balanced view on some of the most contentious issues in scuba diving, such as going solo, deep and cave diving, rebreathers and diving accidents. What’s more, the clear writing, plentitude of anecdotal examples and loads of no-nonsense to the point advice make the book extremely interesting and easy to read. So, all things considered, Scuba Confidential is a perfect book for those who want to learn how to master skills and techniques that will make them more confident, capable and safe divers.

Scuba Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Becoming a Better Diver on Amazon

Honorable Mention: Diver Down: Real-World SCUBA Accidents and How to Avoid Them

Written by Captain Michael R. Ange, a professional diver who has trained more than 3,000 divers, several hundred instructors and has written five other textbooks on diving, Diver Down is a must-read for divers of all skill levels. The book is based on 20 true-life reports of scuba diving accidents leading to severe injury or death, most of which involved diver error and could have been prevented. This unique survival guide explores the gamut of diving situations, including cave and wreck diving, deep-water dives, river and drift diving, decompression sickness, and much more. Each story is accompanied by an in-depth analysis of what went wrong and how one can recognize, avoid, and respond to similar underwater calamities. At the end of each chapter the reader will find a great summary of lessons learned, and educational technical sidebars. The book shows how to prevent tragic mishaps through proper gear inspection and maintenance, learning and following established safety protocols, practicing emergency responses under real-world conditions, and more. 

Diver Down: Real-World SCUBA Accidents and How to Avoid Them on Amazon

Best Scuba Diving Hand Book: The Complete Diver: The History, Science and Practice of Scuba Diving

Want to get your friend or significant other interested in scuba diving? Then this book is a perfect present for them. The Complete Diver: The History, Science and Practice of Scuba Diving is a fascinating chronicle that will guide the aspiring diver through the years of undersea exploration, familiarize them with the basics of marine science, diving history, physics and physiology. It will also come in handy for the newly certified diver, offering advice on safe practices for scuba divers, decompression theory, diving techniques, and the future of scuba. Topping it all off, the author, Alex Brylske, deals with the complex topics lucidly and with a dash of humour which makes reading and understanding enjoyable.

The Complete Diver: The History, Science and Practice of Scuba Diving on Amazon

Best Scuba Classics: The Silent World by Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau is undoubtedly the defining figure of modern scuba diving, and The Silent World is one of his best-known books. This memoir, describing the early days of Cousteau’s underwater adventure became an instant, international bestseller upon its publication in 1954. The plot of the book follows Cousteau and his friend Frederic Dumas on their underwater journeys. They are inventing new technologies to bear the enormous pressure down at the bed of the sea, make movies and, at the same time, test out bombs and mines for the navy. The book also contains 48 pages of old black and white photos, as well as 16 pages of color photos made available by National Geographic Magazine. If you have already read this book, we would offer to follow up with My Father the Captain by Cousteau’s son Jean Michelle and Frogman by Richard Hyman.

The Silent World on Amazon

Best Historic: SS Thistlegorm: WW2’s Greatest Shipwreck

SS Thistlegorm: WW2’s Greatest Shipwreck is a must-read for all wreck fans, history buffs and Red Sea diving enthusiasts. The book tells the story of Egypt’s most famous wreck as researched by veteran diver and author John Kean. What makes it really special though, is that the tome brings together a plethora of personal and often dramatic accounts from a variety of close-to-the-action witnesses. These include surviving crew who were traced and interviewed by the award-winning BBC television producer Caroline Hawkins in 1993. The book also sheds light on how the SS Thistlegorm went from a forgotten World War Two casualty to one of the world’s most iconic wreck diving sites. Finally, the text is interspersed with over 100 fascinating images, many of which have never been published before. These include recently discovered surface shots of Thistlegorm in World War Two.

SS Thistlegorm: WW2’s Greatest Shipwreck on Amazon

Best Adventure: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship is a New York Times bestseller written by Robert Kurson, the author of another acclaimed non-fiction adventure Shadow Divers. The book tells the true story of two wreck divers - John Catterton and John Mattera - on their quest to find the lost ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. The men are willing to risk everything to locate the Golden Fleece which, if found, will be the second pirate ship ever to have been officially identified. Kurson’s narrative is fast-paced, filled with suspense, history, and adventure. In addition to that, the accounts of the historic events are meticulously researched and accurate. All in all, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship on Amazon

Honorable Mention: In Oceans Deep: Courage, Innovation, and Adventure Beneath the Waves

In Oceans Deep by a diver and biologist Bill Streever is a masterful account of humanity’s expeditions beneath the sea. The author grippingly recounts the daring, seven-mile journey of Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard to the deepest part of the ocean; examines the freediving of 19th-century Greek sponge collectors; describes the air pressure experiments of 17th-century chemist Robert Boyle; the advent of diving helmets, decompression chambers, and scuba gear; and the evolution of submarines, from the Revolutionary War-era Turtle to today’s nuclear-powered behemoths. Streever also shares accounts of his time as an oil field diver and his current dabbling with free diving and operating undersea robots. Concluding with a look at how diving contributes to ocean conservation, Streever crafts a book to be enjoyed by divers and general readers alike.

In Oceans Deep: Courage, Innovation, and Adventure Beneath the Waves on Amazon

Best Dive Atlas: Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites

From the Blue Hole at Lawson Reef and the wreck of the Umbria in the Red Sea, to Michaelmas on the Great Barrier Reef, the Dive Atlas of the World offers a global tour of top dive sites, described and photographed by experts. This large coffee table size book is stocked with information about both well-known locations and recently discovered sites. Each block includes information about the climate, water temperature, visibility, marine life and depth of dives for each spot. The author also lists closest recompression chambers and provides travel tips specific to each location. The Dive Atlas of the World features contributions from local experts, leading writers and award-winning photographers such as Jack Jackson and Lawson Wood.

Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites on Amazon

Best for Cave Divers: Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

Jill Heinerth is one of the world’s most renowned cave divers and one of the very few women in her field. She was the first person in history to dive deep into an Antarctic iceberg and led a team that discovered the ancient watery remains of Mayan civilizations. Into the Planet is her firsthand account of exploring the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet. Blending science, adventure, and memoir, the book offers a very complete, nuanced look at cave diving and everything it entails. Heinerth takes the reader along on her journey, describing both the technical details of her expeditions, and the emotional aspects of cave diving. Written with hair-raising intensity, Into the Planet is the first book to deliver such an intimate account of cave diving, transporting readers deep into inner space, where fear must be reconciled and a mission’s success balances between knowing one’s limits and pushing the envelope of human endurance.

Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver on Amazon

Honorable Mention: The Darkness Beckons: The History and Development of Cave Diving

Cave diving is one of the most challenging and rewarding forms of diving, yet little is known about it outside an elite specialist world. The Darkness Beckons charts the fascinating history and development of cave diving from early underwater expeditions in France in the 1870s through to cutting-edge dives of today. Written by one of Britain's leading cave divers, Martyn Farr, the book also introduces many of the cave diving pioneers and chronicles their achievements. Geographically it concentrates on the UK and Europe (about 1/3 of the book), but also includes stories from the United States, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia. The new 2017 edition of The Darkness Beckons has been fully revised and updated to reflect the most interesting recent developments and dives. Featuring over 400 breathtaking photographs and illustrations, this book is an inspirational read for anyone with an interest in exploration and adventure.

The Darkness Beckons: The History and Development of Cave Diving on Amazon

Best for Freedivers: Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves

The 2015 edition of James Nestor’s Deep is a Scientific American Recommended Read and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Inspired by Nestor’s experience at a freediving competition, it documents his quest to find out why humans are driven to explore the ocean in a way that pushes their physiological boundaries to the limit. It also looks at how freediving can be used as a tool to better understand the secrets of the sea; and documents the fascinating discoveries made by freediving scientists about the abilities of marine creatures to navigate and communicate underwater. Although the book contains plenty of facts and theories about the ocean, it's largest mammals and even humans, it manages to communicate complex ideas in a simple and engaging way.

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us About Ourselves on Amazon

Honorable Mention: Oxygen: A Memoir

At its core, Oxygen is a beautifully written and immersive book about the power of the human mind. Told by one of the world's greatest freedivers, New Zealander William Trubridge, the story gives a detailed and an insightful look at the development and growth of freediving as a sport and William as an individual. The author tells us about a boy who grew up on a sailing boat, with the sea as his classroom and playground; about fighting the trappings of life on land, and pushing the limits of human physiology. The reader also learns a great deal about the mental and physical preparation and enormous stresses exerted on the body of a professional athlete. Well-articulated, funny at times, and adorned with stunning descriptions of the underwater world, Oxygen is a great read both for freediving enthusiasts and people who know nothing about the sport.

Oxygen: A Memoir on Amazon

Best Children’s Book: Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist

Shark Lady is the inspiring true story of Eugenie Clark, a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. Masterfully told by Jess Keating and beautifully illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens, the book is engaging and easy to understand for beginning readers. The author takes kids on a journey from when Eugenie first developed an unexpected passion for sharks at 9 years old through to her lifelong study of these magnificent animals, academically and in the field. Throughout her life some of the amazing things she accomplished included writing books and journal articles, discovering new species of fish, dispelling myths about sharks and defying cultural expectations of her gender. The book ends with a small section called “Shark Bites” (two pages of information about sharks) and a timeline of Eugenie’s life. This story will be a true inspiration for many young readers and a testament to what hard work combined with believing in your dreams can amount to.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist on Amazon

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published