If you liked Entanglements, you will probably like...

Tora Johnson's Reading List


After you're done reading Entanglements, you may be hungry for more good books on whales, fishermen, or the coastal people of the Atlantic. Here are a few of my favorites, as well as some books on my list for the upcoming summer. Have I missed a book that really should be on this list? Let me know!


Nonfiction: Fishermen, Fisheries and Fishing Culture

Trawler: a journey through the North Atlantic by Redmond O'Hanlon: Knopf, 2005. My husband couldn't put it down--I can't wait!

The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson: Perennial (Harper-Collins) in paperback, 2005. A terrific introduction to the fishermen, fisheries, and science of lobsters.

The Doryman's Reflection: A Fisherman's Life by Paul Molyneaux: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2005. Written by a fisherman-turned-writer who lives in Downeast Maine, this is a personal reflection on a life spent amid the changing climate of Atlantic fisheries.

The Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island (2003), All Fishermen Are Liars: True Tales from the Dry Dock Bar (2004), and The Hungry Ocean : A Swordboat Captain's Journey (2000) by Linda Greenlaw: Hyperion. These are entertaining looks at New England fishermen and fishing communities.

Song for the Blue Ocean by Carl Safina: Henry Holt, 1997. Safina travels the world looking at fish populations and fisheries in peril. He is squarely in the conservation camp, but he writes sympathetically about fishermen and he's a superb storyteller.

Lament for an Ocean by Michael Harris: McLelland & Stewart, Inc., 1998. A journalist's expose about the demise of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada. It's dense with facts and figures, names and dates, but overall it paints a clear picture of bureaucratic failure with dire human and ecological consequences.

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky: Penguin USA, 1997. Kurlansky's thin, readable volume on the history of the Atlantic cod fishery.

Men’s Lives by Peter Matthiessen: Vintage, 1988. This remains one of my favorite books of all time, and it was one of the books that inspired me to take up writing about fisheries. It is poetic, observant, poignant and beautifully written (as are all of his works).

Distant Water: The Fate of the North Atlantic Fisherman (Penguin, 1984) and Beautiful Swimmers (Little Brown, 1976) by William W. Warner. These works chronicle two waning fisheries that have been both economically and culturally important (not always for the better) in the North Atlantic.


Nonfiction: Whales and Whaling

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, Viking 2000. Philbrick is not only a careful historian, he is a terrific storyteller. He recounts the story of the Essex, holed and sunk in an attack by an irate sperm whale, then he follows the fates of the shipwrecked crewmen.

Right Whales (World Life Library) (2004) and Humpback Whales (World Life Library) (1996) by Phil Clapham: Voyageur Press. "All about" books by a world-renowned expert.

Among Whales by Roger Payne: Scribner, 1995. Payne is a pioneer of whale research and a staunch advocate. This beautifully written autobiography chronicles his life among whales all over the world.

Monsters of the Sea (Random House, 1996) and Men and Whales (Lyons Press, 1991) by Richard Ellis. These books offer exhaustive and carefully researched information about the complicated relationship humans have had with whales over the millenia.


Fiction (I had to include some of my favorite fiction)

The Wooden Nickel by William Carpenter: Little Brown, 2002. Bill is one of my mentors, but I'm not just trying to get brownie points here. Wooden Nickel is a gritty, warts-and-all look at a middle-aged Maine lobster fisherman whose marriage is falling apart. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's entertaining, intense, funny, and compelling.

Gaff Topsails by Patrick Kavanaugh: Hamish Hamilton, 1996. This is one of the best novels I have read in years, but hardly anyone in the US has heard about it. It's the story of a Newfoundland outport, its people, the land, and the sea. Very Faulkneresque, both narrowly focused and detailed, yet sweeping and immense, like life in a Newfoundland village by the sea.

Cold as a Dog and the Wind Northeast, Ballads by Ruth Moore, 1958. Maine poet Ruth Moore's book are tough to find, but well worth it. She has the voice and the humor of the Maine coast.

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling: 1896. A must-read for anyone who wants to know about the history of coastal New England.

Moby Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville: my favorite edition is illustrated by Rockwell Kent and first published by Random House in 1930, but several more recent editions of exist.