“The river is within us, the sea is all about us” 
TS Eliot

I ventured out into the unknown around 2016, a few years after we had moved from an apartment in noisy Riga to an old riverside house close to the forest and sea. I left my previous life as an art journalist behind and became obsessed with the sea. I started to collect and read books about it. I even learned to swim. Sea changed my life and maybe it even changed me. This was still a profoundly small collection, but one day I decided to share it.

In the summer of 2018 I opened a Sea Library here in Jūrmala, Latvia, for visitors from near and far to come. You can borrow a book also by post. Just let me know what you would like to read and I will send a book to you. The Sea Library lives in a studio at our home. The books are reviewed and shared also here online, for beachbooks.blog to become a flooded resource of sea literature. Me, my husband, two sons and three cats, have been visited by many sea and book lovers over these years, also by newspapers and magazines. Sometimes dogs visit us too.

Now the collection consists of nearly 600 books about seas, oceans, river, lakes, islands, pirates, seabirds, whales in English, French, German, Russian and Latvian. Walls are covered with donated and bought art works, crocheted corals and cut out photos. Shells, driftwood and mermaid purses gather on a windowsill. It’s a cabinet of curiosity for sea lovers from all over the world. Never finished, always evolving. I believe that my Sea Library is alive.

Photo for DEKO magazine in Summer of 2020 by Lauma Kalniņa

In 2020 I started to write a book about my bumpy road to discovering the sea. Fingers crossed for it to see a daylight one day! My agent is brilliant Robert Caskie.


I have written essays about the Sea Library for Sultan’s Seal and for A La Luz. I have asked artists like Olafur Eliasson, Antony Gormley, Jonathan Meese and writers like Barry Lopez, Jay Griffiths and others about art in a deteriorating world and what could visionaries do about it; I wrote this piece for The Learned Pig. I have taken an almost forbidden peek inside the notebooks of artists and writers for The Island Review. I have interviewed writers and artists for my site and for online magazines. But most of all I love to read books and swim with my boys.

Now I have to go to the beach. Let’s keep in touch!

Anna Iltnere