By Denise Pietsch
Do you want to find an educational and entertaining way of tapping into culture this Women's History Month? We've got a curated reading list just for you. Featuring underwater-themed books in a variety of subjects and styles, this list features all female authors in honor of Women's History Month and the 2023 theme "Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories." From a scientific and philosophical study of octopuses to WWII underwater wreck photography and history, there's something here for everyone.
The Soul of an Octopus | Non-fiction
By Sy Montgomery
If you’ve spent more than a couple hours with me in the last few years then chances are I’ve talked your ear off about The Soul of an Octopus. That’s to say: I loved it, and I think you will too. Author and naturalist Sy Montgomery takes readers on a journey from a North American aquarium to the waters of French Polynesia learning about and meeting octopuses. It’s an exploration of the often maligned reputation of octopuses in mainstream culture, the anatomy and biology of octopuses, their intelligence and behaviors, and ventures into the philosophy of consciousness. This is a quick read that is packed with scientific and philosophical lessons but maintains a page-turner pace and pulls you into the stories and personalities of each of the octopuses Montgomery gets to know throughout the book (although it might leave you questioning the ethics of octopus confinement for aquariums or otherwise). For lovers of the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher - this book is for you. Add it to your shelf.
"Human eyes have three visual pigments, allowing us to see color. Octopuses have only one—which would make these masters of camouflage, commanding a glittering rainbow of colors, technically color-blind. How, then, does the octopus decide what colors to turn? New evidence suggests cephalopods might be able to see with their skin . . . Assessing the mind of a creature this alien demands that we be extraordinarily flexible in our own thinking. Marine biologist James Wood suggests our hubris gets in our way.” - Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus
Into the Planet | Memoir
By Jill Heinerth
Jill Heinerth is a pioneer in the field of cave diving - if you’re looking for a female icon in the scuba industry, you really need to look no further than Heinerth. Into the Planet is a deep dive (pun intended) on the cave diving industry and Heinerth’s role in it. Like The Soul of an Octopus, Into the Planet also explores philosophy - the philosophy of fear. How does Heinerth manage it and use it to her advantage? How has fear both kept her safe and helped her explore some of the most remote places on the earth? This is a great book if you’re interested in the history of cave diving, exploration in the world’s most rugged climes, or managing fear. For a more in-depth review, read Book Review: Into the Planet by Jill Heinerth. Add it to your shelf.
“But when we transcend the fear of failure and terror of the unknown, we are all capable of great things, personally and as a society. We might not always know where the journey will lead us. We might feel a burden of difficulty, but all paths lead to discovery. Both good and bad life events contribute to the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a civilization. If we continue to trek purposefully toward our dreams, into the planet and beyond, we just might achieve the impossible.” - Jill Heinerth, Into the Planet
The Island of Sea Women | Historical Fiction
By Lisa See
Set on the island of Jeju, South Korea, and spanning many decades - from 1930’s Japanese colonialism through modern day - Lisa See’s novel highlights the community and culture of the Haenyeo (women divers). Long before sustainability was a buzzword, the Haenyeo were focused on sustainable ways to fish their native waters; supporting their families financially and creating a woman-led community. Following two friends, Mi-ja and Young-sook, The Island of Sea Women explores their friendship from "baby-divers" to old women and how the pressures of war, social stratification, and the dangers of the ocean can take even the closest of relationships to the brink. Whether you're interested in diving, WWII history, matriarchal societies, or just enjoy a story about the bonds women create, this will be a book you won't soon forget. Add it to your shelf.
"'When we go to the sea, we share the work and the danger,' Mother added. 'We harvest together, sort together, and sell together, because the sea itself is communal.'" - Lisa See, The Island of Sea Women
Remarkably Bright Creatures | Fiction
By Shelby Van Pelt
If you enjoy the book A Man Called Ove (and anthropomorphism) you'll surely enjoy Remarkably Bright Creatures. With a similar warmth and wit, Remarkably Bright Creatures follows Tova, a widowed 70-year old who spends her retirement cleaning an aquarium in Washington state and makes an unlikely friend in the curmudgeonly octopus whose enclosure she cleans. Tova is no stranger to loss and as she mourns the recent loss of her husband, she also carries the pain of the death of her child many years ago. Will the octopus help her solve the mystery of her son's death? This is a good beach read or travel book that explores loss and the love created afterward. Add it to your shelf.
“Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.” - Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures
The Airplane Graveyard | History & Underwater Photography
By Brandi Mueller (Ikelite Ambassador)
"Extraordinary images, never before published in book form, of the forgotten American WWII Airplanes at the bottom of the Kwajalein Atoll lagoon, from award-winning underwater photographer Brandi Mueller . . . In The Airplane Graveyard, Brandi takes you below the ocean’s surface to discover the forgotten remains of Douglas SBD Dauntless, Vought F4U Corsair, Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, Curtiss C-46 Commando, Grumman F4F Wildcats, Grumman TBF Avengers, and an astounding eleven PBJ-1 Mitchell Medium Bombers. The haunting images are accompanied by a text that includes a historical account of the aircraft by military historian Alan Axelrod." Read the full review for more in-depth coverage of this exciting book by Ikelite Ambassador Brandi Mueller. Add it to your shelf.
Denise Pietsch (pronounced “Peach”) currently manages Ikelite’s Photo School and social media presence. Denise hails from New Jersey, where she obtained a degree in Dance Therapy. After years teaching dance she migrated into the corporate world and eventually came around to Ikelite via the natural career path of fruit distribution and early childhood development. In the end, her lifelong love of photography and octopuses combined into the work she does now. In addition to sharing her energy and enthusiasm with the underwater community she also manages social media for her dog, Joe, collects vinyl records, and enjoys creating memories with her friends and family.