6th February, 2016: If you’ve just taken up SCUBA diving then your book collection will likely to consist of a number of training/textbooks related to the organisation through which you are earning/have earned your qualification but there’s a whole world of literature out there about your new-found hobby, so how do you know what ‘s worth a punt to get a well-rounded education in what is possible in this new world?
You could google ‘best dive books’ or check out amazons’ top 10 but wouldn’t it be nicer & more personal to get some recommendations from your colleagues? To that end I have composed this post as a guide to building a SCUBA Diving bookshelf of dive related books (and hopefully additions from other members once I bully them into contributing!).
To start things off here are my thoughts on my library so far (I believe I’ve picked the best & left out the lemons)
Clear concise information that bears repeated re-reading & reference. Available from BSAC directly :
SCUBA – A Practical Guide for the New Diver – James A Lapenta (2nd edition:2014). 214pp. The first book I picked up after the training manuals; I wanted something to balance the ‘official BSAC approach’ & this seemed to fit the bill.
It’s an interesting item, mostly text with a few pictures (black & white) scattered throughout. It provides the usual advice on how to get into diving, select kit, etc. but then focuses quite deeply on neutral buoyancy as the key skill that you must master. For me it was an education, experienced divers will likely agree with the sentiment but won’t find anything new here
SCUBA DIVING – Dennis K. Graver (4th Edition:2010). 248pp (large format). Probably the 2nd diving book I bought & still one of the best. The large mostly colour pages cover every aspect of diving from starting out to the science (very clearly explained & illustrated) the equipment (and how to choose it), skills and techniques etc.
This has been my bible (along with the training books of course!) for many a question. Well recommended!
A Diver Guide – various authors (Editions vary from 1985 to 2004) 240pp. Developed by the same people who deliver Diver, the UKs most popular dive magazine every month, you can pick many of these up for a couple of pounds on amazon (you may even pay more for postage than you pay for the book!) and they’re all well worth the investment, particularly those covering the areas our cub normally ventures to (Dive Dorset, Dive South Devon & Dive South Cornwall) but also those covering areas further afield that are usually covered during an excursion every couple of years (Dive Isle of Man & Dive the Isles of Scilly & North Cornwall). Each one provides a comprehensive introduction to the area concerned followed by a detailed list of dive sites with plenty of description on what you’re likely to find & information on currents and weather so you can determine the best times to dive. Essential for any UK divers library but one word of caution, check the edition of the volume you are looking at as many have gone through 2 or 3 printings and there is often a significant page count difference (& often colour photos) between the versions, so always look for the latest – for many the 3rd & most recent print is in the early 2000s. amazon £0.19 to £25.00! ebay is also a good bet
100 Best Dives in Cornwall – Charles Hood (First Edition:2003). 160pp. When you’re just starting out everything is an adventure! Even finding a few snails on a shipping container in a quarry at 12 metres feels like a discovery but that’s just the beginning!
Charles Hood has spent more than 20 years diving the Cornish coast & puts that expertise to excellent use here with a list of dives that contain plenty for everyone from novice to experienced diver. 162 pages with plenty of colour photos of what you might encounter.
Great British Marine Animals – Paul Naylor (2nd Edition:2005). 272pp. Now in its 3rd edition, this is an essential guide to identifying all those critters in that other world under the sea! This book provide a very good grounding in identifying sponges, anenomes/ jellyfish/ corals, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, bryozoans, echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers etc.), sea squirts & fish.
Plenty of colour photos throughout and clear descriptive text provide a good understanding of the ecology of the undersea world. If anything I’d look for a supplementary book just on fish. I understand the 3rd edition adds more pages and many more species
The Complete Diver – Alex Brylske (1st Edition:2012). 346pp. My most recent acquisition and another winner. Its quite a weighty tome (large format pages) and its going to take you some time to digest it all but its well worth it in the end. I believe the majority of the content is made up of reworked articles Alex wrote for Dive Training magazine (which is well worth a look on its own & to which he still contributes) which means they are usually only 4 or 5 pages each so you can dip in and out as you please which I find works really well. Alex is a Ph.D. & there is admittedly a lot of coverage given to the effects of diving, DCI, psychology etc. but it is all to the good. The only criticism I have is the quality of the paper, which is not good & this adversely affects the tactile feel but if you can get over that, make the investment, you’ll be glad you did. amazon £18.68
Well those are my favourites, you probably have your own but any of the above will provide many hours of enjoyment & education, jump in, you’ll be glad you did – Kevin