Ronia’s Summer

Since the grown-up Astrid lived in Stockholm she was not able to enjoy nature all the time, but she could travel there in her imagination. That’s how the story about Ronia began – with a longing for the forest.

Shop: Sea Library’s Bookmarks and Postcards

Sea Library is a dream world I have created in our old wooden house, standing for a century on a dune peninsula between river and sea. For three years the doors of the library are wide open for books about seas and curious readers to come and go. To support what I do, I weave. If you will buy a woven bookmark, you can be sure that a new book will be bought and added to the unique watery collection.

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. 

Diary: Seven Rivers

Sea Library lives on a peninsula between the river and sea. After seven days by the sea, I’ve gathered talismans now from the riverside. It is Lielupe River, second largest in Latvia, and one of the slowest. I’ve grown to love this river, one hundred steps from our wooden house and the library.

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…

“A Book About Whales” by Andrea Antinori

Children’s books on the shelves of the Sea Library bring tides of illustration. In “A Book About Whales” by Andrea Antinori you will find exquisite pencil-drawn whales, a beautiful pakicetus, the first cetacean that walked on land, and so much information told in a fun way.

“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.

“Down to the Sea in Ships” by Horatio Clare

A beautiful and terrifying portrait of the oceans and their human subjects, and a fascinating study of big business afloat, “Down to the Sea in Ships” by Horatio Clare is a moving tribute to those who live and work on the great waters far from land.

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.

“Meet me by the Sea” by Taltal Levi

Beautiful new book for kids in the Sea Library. “Meet me by the Sea” is written and illustrated by Taltal Levi who was born in Israel and currently works and lives in Switzerland. From a young age she used drawing as a tool to liberate herself from reality’s hardships and dullness.

“Islands of Abandonment” by Cal Flyn

What happens to abandoned places when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. A unique book “Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape” by Cal Flyn, published earlier this year, has reached the Sea Library thanks to the generosity of Iain Rousham from England.

“The Mousehole Cat” by Antonia Barber

How to draw water? “The Mousehole Cat”, written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley, is a beautiful example to explore. It has become a Christmas tradition in Cornwall to re-tell the story of a brave old fisherman and his cat Mowzer who saved their coastal village.

“The Mermaid and the Shoe” by K. G. Campbell

“And she recounted her adventures until the starfish came out and the anemones fell asleep.” A gorgeous book for kids by K. G. Campbell will take you to the underwater world of Neptune’s daughters. One of the mermaids, Minnow, wants to find her purpose and has so so many questions.

“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.

Dara McAnulty “Diary of a Young Naturalist”

Book chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty’s world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling.

Interview with Nancy Campbell

In her new book “Fifty Words for Snow” Nancy Campbell digs deep into the meaning of words for snow from all around the world – each of them offering a whole world of myth and story.

Arkādijs Fīdlers “Ukajali dzelmēs zivis dzied”

Grāmatā “Ukujali dzelmēs zivis dzied” poļu rakstnieks, žurnālists un dabas pētnieks Arkādijs Fīdlers 20. gadsimta 30. un 40. gados vairākas reizes dodas zooloģiskā ekspedīcijā uz tolaik maz izpētīto Amazones baseinu.

“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.

Five Summer Swims in the River and Sea from a Diary

I wrote a 100-day diary this summer, from May 27 to September 4, choosing one swim each day to write about in around one hundred words. Here are five from the documented dips in river Lielupe and the Baltic Sea.

Quotes About Moon, Stars, Darkness and Sea from Books in the Sea Library

“The sea begins with the stars,” wrote Charlotte Runcie. More words about the night sky and moon and sea from Henry Beston, Emily Brontë, Iris Murdoch, Tove Jansson and others.

Beautiful Quotes About the Sea from Books in the Sea Library

Virginia Woolf, Anton Chekhov, Rachel Carson, Herman Melville, Iris Murdoch, Oscar Wilde, Mary Oliver, Tim Winton, Albert Camus, Chloe Aridjis and other writers about the sea.

“Severnside” by Carolyn Black

“Severnside: An Artist’s View of the River Severn” by Carolyn Black is a love letter to a river in drawings and texts. “The story is tidal, the river, like spinal fluid, flows between the banks.”

Limited edition print "Blue Planet" (2019) by Katrīna Ģelze on the wall of the Sea Library. Photo by Beach Books.

What the Sea Means for an Artist? Katrīna Ģelze

“I’ve always found the sea uncomfortable. Its flat horizon, bare dunes, everything in the spotlight of the sun, no shadows to hide in, wind pushing me from all sides and the pull of the waves. I much rather admire its greatness from a hideout.” Katrīna Ģelze

Elsewhere Journal: Interview with Annie Proulx

As a companion piece to the second of our essays by Anna Iltnere about literary seaside houses – Quoyle’s Point from “The Shipping News” – we present an interview with Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel.

Illustration by Katrina Gelze

Elsewhere Journal: Unreal Estate No.02 Quoyle’s Point

In the second of a series of essays on seaside houses from literature, Anna Iltnere takes us to Quoyle’s Point from Annie Proulx’s “The Shipping News”. “No matter what they did to the house, it kept its gaunt look, never altered from that first looming vision behind the fog.”

“Barbarian Days” by William Finnegan

Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. For this book William Finnegan received 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography.

Inside cover of "Les Mots" by Jean Paul Sartre, painted by Jonny Hannah. Gift to the Sea Library. Photo: Beach Books

What the Sea Means for an Artist? Jonny Hannah

“As a terrible swimmer, the sea is the only place, strangely enough, that I enjoy splashing about in the water. Swimming pools are too noisy or organised, but La Mer is the place for me to practice my terrible breast stroke.” Jonny Hannah

“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.

Limited edition photographic print "Relativity" by Elina Ruka in the Sea Library. Photo: Beach Books.

What the Sea Means for an Artist? Elina Ruka

“Walking by the sea is one of my favourite activities – sounds, colours, smells and temper, always different, always changing, affect me. I’m meditative, exhilarated, reflective, creative. It makes me feel how comforting the change could be.” Elina Ruka

Illustration by Katrina Gelze

Elsewhere Journal: Unreal estate No.01 Shruff End

In the first of a new series of essays on seaside houses from literature, Anna Iltnere, founder of the Sea Library on Latvia’s Baltic shore, takes us to Shruff End from Iris Murdoch’s novel “The Sea, The Sea”. Each essay will be about a different house, illustrated by the artist Katrina Gelze.

Sultan’s Seal: Sea Library

I think I’ve never written anything more personal than this. About being born in the family of artists, about truth that haunts me and my sea-changed compass, and the Sea Library.

Sultan’s Seal: Interview with Caroline Eden

“Greetings from Almaty!” she writes in her e-mail a few days ago. If British writer Caroline Eden is not at home in Edinburgh, she is most probably traveling the roads of Eastern Europe or Central Asia, and her explorations in different cultures have a special kind of prism – food.

January 10, 2017

The Sea, The Sea!

Sea doesn’t care and sea doesn’t listen, it just lets me be in her magnificent presence. When I enter the seaside, I enter a different world.

“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.

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.

“Kings of the Yukon” by Adam Weymouth

“I have already forgotten darkness,” Adam Weymouth writes after first weeks of kayaking through Midnight Sun in Alaska, following the kings, the salmons, to the Bering Sea. He paddles a bright yellow 18ft glass-fibre canoe down the Yukon, for almost 2,000 miles.

“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.

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”.

“Stealing the Wave” by Andy Martin

Roger Cox, journalist from Scotland who writes about books, art and outdoors for Scotland’s National newspaper “The Scotsman” has donated a book for the Sea Library – “Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo”. It is written by Andy Martin, British author, academic and retired surfer, and published in 2007.

Review: “The Seas” by Samantha Hunt

“Fuck the dry land. I am a mermaid,” she says in one of the first pages. Narrator of Samantha Hunt’s debut novel “The Seas”, originally published in 2004, is a 19-year-old girl, a protagonist with a witty tomboy’s voice, living in a remote, alcoholic seaside town in North America.

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.

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.

Review: “The Immeasurable World” by William Atkins

“The Immeasurable World” by British writer William Atkins is about seven deserts in five continents, and about desert per se, divine and infernal. Author travels to Oman, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, United States and Egypt. “It was like nothing I had experienced save for being at sea.”

The Island Review: Birdland

Favourite islands and birds of writers Michael Brooke, Tim Dee, Jennifer Lavers, Amy Liptrot, Adam Nicolson, artist Kittie Jones, and photographer Marianne Taylor in my piece for The Island Review. 

Guest Post: “Eye of the Shoal” by Helen Scales

Louise Kenward, artist and writer, in a guest post about Helen Scale’s latest book “Eye of the Shoal: A Fishwatcher’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything”, where author disputes and demystifies any romantic notions, or fears, the reader has about fish.

Review: “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald

There are books that you never truly leave, “The Rings of Saturn” is one of them. Close to impossible to escape the dreamy landscape, that dwells among the pages; it has soaked into my skin and has become part of my thoughts. “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald enchants.

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.

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.

“Tales of Unrest” by Joseph Conrad

“Tales of Unrest” is a collection of short stories by Joseph Conrad originally published in 1898. Some of the stories had been published previously in various magazines. This was the first published collection of any of Conrad’s stories and his second book.

Review: “Icebreaker” by Horatio Clare

10 days the Welsh-British writer Horatio Clare spends on a Finnish icebreaker Otso, who works in the Bay of Bothnia, helping ships that are stuck in ice. Sea ice spreads over the polar saltwater and works as an Earth conditioner. Have you ever wondered, how amazing this solid form of water is?

Review: “The Waves” by Virginia Woolf

Poetic novel “The Waves” by the British literary icon Virginia Woolf is the most experimental of her works, and is woven entirely of soliloquies spoken by the book’s six characters. Nursery, school, youth, family, job, ageing. They all meet again and again. Life is not a solid ground, and Virginia Woolf teaches us to walk on water.

Quote by Virginia Woolf

And when he came to the sea the water was quite purple and dark blue, and grey and thick, and…

Review: “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot

“The Outrun”, by a British writer and journalist Amy Liptrot, is her first book and it’s about her. Absolutely open, disarmingly honest, life affirming and with a thin lining of silver sorrow. Amy finds herself at a rehab in London and returns home on an island by the North Sea, in hope to understand the traps of consciousness and the deeps of subconscious. To learn to see the world with new, sober eyes.

Review: “RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR” by Philip Hoare

In “RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR”, book by a British writer Philip Hoare, the words of the title are fused together as well as persons, times and events. Philip Hoare has written many books, but this is his third about the watery side of the world. He is deadly in love with the sea and its creatures, including poets, artists, many of them drowned. When you read, you can’t help falling in water like falling in love.

Review: “The Great Sea” by David Abulafia

British historian David Abulafia has written the first complete history of the Mediterranean Sea and its people. Unlikely there is any other sea in the world with such a huge role in the history of human civilisation. If you are interested in the Mediterranean, this definitely is a must-have book for you.

Review: “The Sea is My Country” by Joshua L. Reid

Academic Joshua L. Reid, with Native American origin, has written first comprehensive tribal history of the Makahs, who placed sea – not land – at the centre of their culture. For the Makahs, American Indians at the most northwestern point of the United States, saltwater is a central part of their home.