Books for the News, Science

A Shark Week Reading List

Dun dun…it’s Shark Week! To celebrate we have put together a reading list of books from Chicago and our distributed presses that help illuminate different aspects of sharks including their beauty, their biology, and our relationship to them.

Basking with Humpbacks: Tracking Threatened Marine Life in New England Waters

Todd McLeish

In eleven chapters, each featuring a different animal or plant, McLeish takes readers on an entertaining journey with scientists who study these species. The author follows basking sharks—the second largest fish in the sea—in their hunt for food, helps harbor porpoises escape from fishing nets, snorkels in search of wild bay scallops, and learns how the blood of horseshoe crabs is used in medical research.

The Biology of Sharks and Rays

A. Peter Klimley

With Illustrations by Steven Oerding

“This is really the essential Shark Week companion for nature TV fans, and the chapter on cartilaginous fishes and humans is an especially rigorous antidote to over sensationalization. More than that though, this book is a comprehensive overview of the state of biological knowledge of these fishes. It is logically laid out, with excellent illustrations and abundant, current citations. These features, plus discussion questions for every chapter, make it a very functional textbook, but the spotlight sections and engaging writing should make it appeal to a much broader audience.”—Conservation Biology

Chasing Science at Sea: Racing Hurricanes, Stalking Sharks, and Living Undersea with Ocean Experts

Ellen Prager

“The sea has always inspired tales of adventure and discovery in the face of a vast, unpredictable unknown. Prager, chief scientist at the undersea research station Aquarius Reef Base, in the Florida Keys, uses adventure to frame this collection of firsthand accounts about the challenges faced by marine scientists. But adventure is a far cry from glamour: research often means close quarters on a small ship, usually with bad food, infrequent showers and changeable weather, as well as long days of collecting data. With tongue only slightly in cheek, Prager offers advice for any field scientist: always bring spare pencils and be prepared for things to go wrong, from pirates to valuable equipment getting lost or damaged. In exchange, scientists look forward to the sense-of-wonder moments: swimming with whale sharks, seeing St. Elmo’s Fire dance along the rigging. Focused on adventure rather than in-depth science, this entertaining book will appeal most to casual and younger readers.”—Publishers Weekly

Fishes of the Open Ocean: A Natural History and Illustrated Guide

Julian Pepperell

Illustrations by Guy Harvey

“In this gorgeous book, ichthyologist Pepperell introduces famous and lesser known fish to the general reader. Part One describes the general environment of the open ocean, the role the fish play in the ecology, their general biology, and their importance to humans as sport or food fish. Part Two is a guide to the fish—and what fish these are! How many of us know that a blue marlin can weigh over 1,800 pounds? Also covered are mackerels, jacks, sharks, rays, and other lesser-known species.”—Booklist


Dean Crawford

“Crawford explains well the variety (454 species) and wondrous biology of sharks (the great white has electrical sensors that can detect a heartbeat); traces sharks nicely through myth and fiction, holding in view Moby-Dick, Jaws and the novels of Hemingway; and outlines the politics of aquaria and shark-fin soup. . . . The pictures are breathtaking, too.”—Guardian

Sharks and People: Exploring Our Relationship with the Most Feared Fish in the Sea

Thomas P. Peschak

“Peschak makes an eloquent visual case for the sublimity of sharks—and also for their conservation. He notes that the media still devotes far more attention to rare shark attacks than to the urgent need to protect them from human depredation, especially the shark fin trade. . . . Great conservation photography like Peschak’s, one must hope, will have the power to change attitudes globally.”—Atlantic

Find all of these awe-inspiring, fearsome books on our website or at your favorite bookseller.