Guest Review: Rachel Carson’s Sea Trilogy

Rachel Carson’s seminal ‘Sea’ trilogy – "Under the Sea-Wind" (1941), "The Sea Around Us" (1951), and "The Edge of the Sea" (1955) – has been reissued by Canongate in the publisher’s modern classics series, ‘The Canons’. The beautifully-produced paperbacks – each a celebration of the sea told through poetic nature writing – include a full set of integrated illustrations and a pertinent new introduction by Margaret Atwood. 

Happy Birthday, Sea Library !

Sea Library was born on a sunny June 4 three years ago, when I decided to open the doors of our house and share 100 books I had collected about the sea with anyone who would love to read them. I was so eager to share the salty stories, that I couldn't wait any longer for some distant dreams about a bookshop of my own to come true. I decided that our old wooden house and a whole room in it dedicated to books was good enough to try.

Diary: Seven Seas

Seven seas is a figurative term for all the seas of the world. To cross the seven seas means to sail them all, to sail to the most distant coast. But the only sea and the only coast that means all the world's treasures to me is my Asari beach three miles from my bed. I cycle there to gaze, to swim, to take notes and guess birds. I collect talismans as if they were clues and try to untangle the secret of the sea...

“Saving American Beach” by Heidi Tyline King

"Saving American Beach" tells an important and inspiring story. The illustrations by Ekua Holmes are a work of art. I think this could be the most beautiful book for kids in the Sea Library. Mixing painting and collage each spread is vibrant and full of life. Perfectly mirroring the unique and powerful personality of MaVynee Betsch.

Blue Dog Notes: “The Mermaid of Black Conch” by Monique Roffey

When a barnacled mermaid with a muscular tail becomes a woman again - just like she was thousands of years ago - life on a tight Caribbean island will never be the same again. "The Mermaid of Black Conch" by Monique Roffey is book of being good and being bad. Of love, desire, jealousy. Even the sea here is a dangerous woman.

“What is a River?” by Monika Vaicenavičienė

"What is a River?" is a gentle gem, telling you a layered story about a river. "The river glimmers in the shade, reflecting trees and flowers. It has hidden depths beneath its surface. Just like people. "River, who are you? Grandma, what is a river?" The book tells you that river is a thread, a journey, a meeting place; that river is home, a name, a history and a mystery.

My Essay about Clocks, the Sea and Art for A La Luz

I was honoured to be invited to write a piece for A La Luz about the Sea Library. My essay is about clocks and sea, and my dad's thumbnail. A La Luz is an important and visually stunning online platform created for art and culture in a time of crisis. It is a compendium of creative responses to climate change. Happy to be a part of it now!

“The Little Book of Swimming Safely” by Sue Gyford

"The Little Book of Swimming Safely: Incomplete Advice for Wild Swimmers" was written last year in the middle of the pandemic with closed public pools and a huge increase in the number of people heading to rivers, seas and lochs near home. Even before lockdown swimming throughout the year in wildness had become more and more popular. Cold water swimming is beautiful, healthy and also dangerous. This little blue book comes in handy.

“The Log from the Sea of Cortez” by John Steinbeck

"Be careful when opening this book," writes American author Lewis Buzbee in an added letter, "inside is a tiny sliver of wood, which is a veneer from the original planking of the Western Flyer, the boat Steinbeck used for this journey." Gifts like these make me a grateful and happy sea librarian.

A Note from Anna: an Online Sea for the Library

I took a few weeks off to re-design the Sea Library website. Lockdown is harsh and the library is sadly closed to visitors. I am dreaming of a day when it will be buzzing with kids and grownups browsing through shelves again. During pandemics more and more books are being borrowed online and sent to readers by post, so I had to adjust. There are still so many books to be put up here, but I can’t keep this site down any longer so here it is.

“The Frozen Sea” by Piers Torday

It is 1984 and forty years since Simon, Patricia and Evelyn and Larry first stepped through a magical library door into the enchanted world of Folio. When Patricia's daughter, Jewel, makes a mysterious discovery in an old bookshop, she begins a quest that will make her question everything she thought she knew. Summoned to Folio, she must rescue a missing prince, helped only by her pet hamster and a malfunctioning robot. Their mission to the Frozen Sea will bring them face-to-face with a danger both more deadly and more magnificent than they ever imagined.

In the Sea Library

"The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts" is written and illustrated by Maja Säfström and published by Ten Speed Press in 2016 "An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström. Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can't walk backward? Or…

Ronald Blythe “The Time by the Sea”

"The Time by the Sea: Aldeburgh 1955–1958" is written by Ronald Blythe and published in paperback by Faber & Faber in 2014 "The Time by the Sea is about Ronald Blythe's life in Aldeburgh during the 1950s. He had originally come to the Suffolk coast as an aspiring young writer, but found himself drawn into Benjamin…

In the Sea Library

"Future Sea: How to Rescue and Protect the World’s Oceans" is written by Deborah Rowan Wright and published by University of Chicago Press in 2020 "The world’s oceans face multiple threats: the effects of climate change, pollution, overfishing, plastic waste, and more. Confronted with the immensity of these challenges and of the oceans themselves, we…

In the Sea Library

"Fifty Words for Snow" is written by Nancy Campbell and published by Elliott & Thompson in 2020 "Every language and culture has its own word for the magical, mesmerising flakes that fall from the sky. From Iceland to Hawaii, frozen forest to mountain peak, school yard to park, snow may be welcomed, feared, played with…

“Night Surfing” by Fiona Capp

There are some summers, like there are some waves, that can never be forgotten. Hannah has dropped out of university to learn how to 'walk on water'. At Ruben's Cafe at the end of the Peninsula, she meets Jake, who has demons of his own and dreams of surfing the night. They come from different worlds but what brings them together is a love affair with the sea.

 The sea, everywhere the sea, and no one looking at it. Dany Laferrière

“Umi: The Hawaiian Boy Who Became a King” by Robert Lee Eskridge

For Umi, life on the lush and colorful islands of Hawaii is about as average as it can be. As commoners, he and his brothers spend their days weeding the taro field, fishing in the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and dreaming of the delicious foods and thrilling games that are reserved only for the chiefs and priests. But late one night, when everyone is supposed to be asleep, Umi's longing for adventure gets the best of him.

“Grey Skies, Green Waves” by Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson has always loved surfing – anywhere except the UK. But a chance encounter leads him to adventure on home shores. As he visits the popular haunts and secret gems of British surfing he meets the Christians who pray for waves (and get them), is nearly drowned in the River Severn and has a watery encounter with a pedigree sheep. All this rekindles his love affair with the freezing fun that is surfing the North Atlantic.

Wedding in Goa, India, 2017. Photo: David Boynton

Sultan’s Seal: Interview with Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Kiran and Tom collaborated more than once before, blending their imagination and skills to create unique universes. Even now they are working on a joint book, which is still secret but will feature a lighthouse and a Greenland shark. I interviewed them together, although each was on a different continent when I received their answers.

Happy 2020!

2019 was incredibly inspiring year, Sea Library is a miracle that attracts other miracles. I learned to swim properly in 2018 and last year spent nine months in water. I met two dogs, Yoko and Zigzig, both are my friends now. And the community of sea lovers in the library! I loved 2019. I am ready for a wonderful 2020. Let's go!

I live; I die; the sea comes over me; it's the blue that lasts. Virginia Woolf

In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up... Michel Foucault

In the Sea Library

"Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light" is written by Caroline Eden and published by Quadrille in 2018 "This is the tale of a journey between three great cities – Odessa, built on a dream by Catherine the Great, through Istanbul, the fulcrum balancing Europe and Asia and on to tough, stoic, lyrical…

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer” by Sena Jeter Naslund

From the opening line—"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last"—you will know that you are in the hands of a master storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in "Moby-Dick", American writer Sena Jeter Naslund has created an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life.

There's something about flood, something mythic and disturbing, that gets to the heart of our uncertainty about our place on the earth at all. Olivia Laing

In the Sea Library

"Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean" is written by Joy McCann and published by the University of Chicago Press in 2019 “The Southern Ocean is a wild and elusive place, an ocean like no other. With its waters lying between the Antarctic continent and the southern coastlines of Australia, New Zealand, South America,…

The Learned Pig: Art in a Deteriorating World

Do visionaries – artists, writers, musicians, – have a responsibility to give us new languages and tools to actually do something about our deteriorating world? I asked. Artists David Bramwell, Justin Brice Guariglia, Olafur Eliasson, Antony Gormley and Jonathan Meese, writers Jay Griffiths, Caspar Henderson, Dahr Jamail and Barry Lopez, poet Craig Santos Perez, philosopher Graham Harman, and scientist Peter Wadhams wrote me back.

“Walking on Water” by Andy Martin

This book is about waves. It is the story of an obsession, a journey through heaven and hell, the clumsy initiation of an outsider, the author himself, into a cult and a culture. It is also an oblique history of the world, a human comedy on waves, that will find an echo in anyone who has fallen prey to the spell of the ocean. Surfing is less a sport than a state of mind, an adventure in mythology, a religion with its own high priests and ritual sacrifices.

Under the cover of a donated book #21

William Collins publishing house and Christina Thompson has sent to the Sea Library her latest book Sea People: In Search of the Ancient Navigators of the Pacific which came out in March and is available now also for readers here in Jūrmala by the Baltic Sea. If you travel to Latvia, come and visit! Or…

and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago Herman Melville

Under the cover of a donated book #19

British writer Charlie Connelly has donated his bestselling book Attention all Shipping: A Journey Round the Shipping Forecast to the Sea Library. It was published in 2004 and has been reprinted many times. Book is about "strangely poetical mantra", the shipping forecast, that has been broadcasted on BBC radio since 1920s. Charlie Connelly sets himself…

Review: “Salt on Your Tongue” by Charlotte Runcie

Charlotte Runcie's "Salt on Your Tongue" is a book of stories, legends, myths and songs about the sea, and about women who are left on the shore to take care of the life on land, to wait and hope, while men are in the sea, and about women, who are as dangerous, powerful and mysterious as the sea itself, the mermaids, selkies, sea goddesses and witches.

Under the cover of a donated book #18

British writer Edward Wilson-Lee has donated for the Sea Library his latest book "The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest Library". It is an amazing story of Hernando Colón, Christopher Columbus' son, who tried to build the biggest library the world had ever seen. Borrow…

Kenets Greiems “Vējš vītolos”

Skotu rakstnieka Keneta Greiema grāmata "Vējš vītolos” ir bērnu literatūras klasika. Stāsta varoņi ir draugi Ūdensžurks un Kurmis, kuri kopā ar prātīgo Āpsi mēģina pāraudzināt avantūristu un sapņotāju Krupi. "Vējš vītolos” ir tapis no gulētiešanas pasakām, ko Kenets Greiems izdomāja savam dēlam Elisteram.

Under the cover of a donated book #17

James Roberts, one of the editors of Driftfish: A Zoomorphic Anthology, has donated this wonderful anthology, published in 2016, to the Sea Library. It's a collection of essays, fiction and poetry about animals, including the ones living in or by the sea: octopuses, oysters, turtles, jellyfish, seals, cormorants and whales. ZOOMORPHIC is a magazine, "dedicated…

Under the cover of a donated book #16

British writer Lucy Wood has written three books, all of them available in the Sea Library: Weathering, Diving Belles and The Sing of the Shore, which came out last spring. It's a book of 13 stories, full of secrets and ghosts, set in Cornwall by the sea, and you can read my review here. This…

Review: “Ship to Shore: Art and the Lure of the Sea”

“Ship to Shore: Art and the Lure of the Sea” is a monograph, a book of conversations with selected international artists whose work is connected to the sea. In sixteen intimate interviews with curator and book’s editor Jean Wainwright artists reveal how their works came to be and what the lure of the sea means to them.

Under the cover of a donated book #15

German writer Bernd Brunner has sent to the Sea Library a copy of his book The Ocean at Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium. Its English translation was first published in 2005, but this is an expanded second edition from 2011. A rare gift, as the book is out of stock. From now on…

The sea remains the last place to which you can run away. Horatio Clare

Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are coral made / Those are pearls that were his eyes / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange. William Shakespeare

Review: “Burnt Island” by Alice Thompson

The sixth novel by British writer Alice Thompson, “Burnt Island”, kicks literary world wittily in the balls. Although this gothic story can give you shivers, the satiric prose made me laugh a lot. Struggling writer Max Long decides to write his next book with a completely different approach. He will calculate each step to create an easy-to-read bestseller. Max gets a place in a writing residency and travels with a ferry to the Burnt Island.

Standing looking out to sea can be like standing at an altar. You wait in silence for some kind of benediction. If prayer could have a physical destination, this would be it.  Jean Sprackland

Review: “All Our Waves Are Water” by Jaimal Yogis

“All Our Waves Are Water” is a memoir written by American writer Jaimal Yogis, and is his third book. A guy, who grew up with Buddhist-yogi parents, loves to surf, studies journalism and searches for the blissful lining of the thing called life. Rational mind, daily hamster wheel and ego are in one hand, buddhism and meditation in the other. He juggles. The opening line “God is in this book” left me wandering through the first pages suspicious and cautious, but soon the book engulfed me and I could not put it down. 

Review: “The Sing of The Shore” by Lucy Wood

Lucy Wood is a British writer from Cornwall. “The Sing of the Shore” is her third book. The sing of the shore is a phrase in Cornish, used by local sea goers. It is the sound made by waves, breaking against the shore and thus giving the experienced fishermen an indication, where they are, when fog or darkness make land invisible. To find a landmark is a silent wish of all the book’s characters. They are haunted by ghosts of the past, unfulfilled dreams and unexplainable phenomena.

Review: “The Seabird’s Cry” by Adam Nicolson

What does it feel like to be a seabird? "The Seabird's Cry", by a British writer Adam Nicolson, could be the closest we have ever been to imagining the world of a migrating seabird, living above the enormous oceans, breeding, feeding and dying there. Too much dying, in fact, in the recent decades. Only now the veil of mystery of seabird migration has been lifted thanks to the advanced technologies. You become well informed by reading "The Seabird's Cry", but the story is told by a poet, so you stay and listen as long as you can.

I love the sea but the sea does not love me. Tim Winton