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30 review for How To Read Water: Clues & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emma Sea

    Ok, seriously, this was 100% not what I expected. I read the first few pages in a bookstore, then bought it on Kindle (sorry, McKenzie's Books). I thought I was getting a book on oceans, and lakes, and geology, and natural history. I was in no way expecting all the stuff about yachting. Like so much of the nautical world, there is a simple code to be broken before we can enjoy reading Plimsoll Lines. There are usually two main parts to these lines. There is the vertical ruler, which is the key Ok, seriously, this was 100% not what I expected. I read the first few pages in a bookstore, then bought it on Kindle (sorry, McKenzie's Books). I thought I was getting a book on oceans, and lakes, and geology, and natural history. I was in no way expecting all the stuff about yachting. Like so much of the nautical world, there is a simple code to be broken before we can enjoy reading Plimsoll Lines. There are usually two main parts to these lines. There is the vertical ruler, which is the key part, and alongside these vertical markings you will usually see some letters, like, TF, F, S, W, WNA. These letters are abbreviations for water types, Tropical Fresh, Fresh, Summer, Winter, Winter North Atlantic. Or naval signaling. A dark cone pointing downwards means a sailing vessel that is using its engine (only important because the rights of way for a sailing vessel change when its engine is used). Three dark balls, one on top of the other, mean that the vessel has run aground. And my personal favourite, just for its surreal blend of traditional elegance and contemporary horror: three dark balls, one at the masthead, and one at each end of the foreyard means … a vessel engaged in mine clearance. Or navigation by sextant. I would like you to find a lamppost and to stand underneath it. What angle is this light above the street? Answer: 90 degrees. Which means that if you called me and told me that you had taken a ‘sight’ of this light and it was 90 degrees, I could tell you with certainty that you were standing exactly underneath that light. Next, if you took five steps away from the light and gauged its angle above the street, you might come up with something like 70 degrees. The light appears lower, the further you are from it. And that in a nutshell is almost all you need to know about how celestial navigation works. Let me demonstrate with a strange thought experiment. Imagine I called you on your mobile and asked you to stand somewhere on the street and tell me the angle that a streetlight we both know is above the ground. Whatever your answer, I would then be able to gauge roughly how far you were from that light. If you said the light was 50 degrees above the pavement I would say that I think you are 12 paces from the light (it’s not magic, just trigonometry). And, yes, all these things are in some way related to water, but as a whole, it took me in an unexpected direction. I loved the chapter on trout fishing, and on river currents and patterns, especially as I just moved to live next to a river, and I've spent my life by the ocean. But my enjoyment of the book evaporated before halfway when Gooley started discussing the wind. This in itself was a fine diversion, but I expected we would get back to water. Instead we spent most of the rest of the book reminiscing about his yachting experiences. I totally sound like one of those whiny readers, but if I'd understood I was buying a book on yachting, and wanted a book on yachting, with some aspects of water thrown in for good measure, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    This is an essential book if you want to understand everything about water and what it signifies. I can't think of anything that isn't covered. The book is beautifully written and approaches being lyrical at times. It's a book that I will return to often.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katy Koivastik

    If I could give this book 10 stars I would! I picked it up in a small bookstore in Perham, Minnesota and because I loved the illustrations, the size and weight of the volume, I was sorely tempted to buy it. However, I am in the purging phase of life and am loathe to own anything more. I therefore borrowed it through my local librarys Libby app. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The author not only teaches the reader to read water by looking at it, but he also imparts wisdom from If I could give this book 10 stars I would! I picked it up in a small bookstore in Perham, Minnesota and because I loved the illustrations, the size and weight of the volume, I was sorely tempted to buy it. However, I am in the “purging” phase of life and am loathe to own anything more. I therefore borrowed it through my local library’s Libby app. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The author not only teaches the reader to read water by looking at it, but he also imparts wisdom from seafarers past and present who used the sound and feel of the water on their vessels to navigate. He also discusses water’s attendant flora and fauna; who knew insects could tell us so much about water? Do you want to know the origin of the term “tell-tail”? Read the book to find out!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I thought this book was fascinating! I've always had a fascination with water. I love waterfalls and rivers and lately, I've been intrigued by sailing. This book was filled with little nuggets of cool things to look for among all kinds of water, the effects of the wind, the rotation of the earth, the rocks underneath the water, etc. When we look at water, often we just see the beauty or the power of the water, but there's so much more, and the author really does a good job to showing you other I thought this book was fascinating! I've always had a fascination with water. I love waterfalls and rivers and lately, I've been intrigued by sailing. This book was filled with little nuggets of cool things to look for among all kinds of water, the effects of the wind, the rotation of the earth, the rocks underneath the water, etc. When we look at water, often we just see the beauty or the power of the water, but there's so much more, and the author really does a good job to showing you other things to look for that are very subtle, yet really cool. I didn't give it 5 stars because I felt like the book was a little too long. Yes, there's a lot of ground to cover, but there's also scattered personal stories and comments which sometimes I liked and sometimes I felt was unnecessarily adding to the length of the book. The chapter on the fly fishing also wasn't that interesting for me personally. It had some interesting observations, but that's one area that I'm sure I will never have the opportunity nor the interest to pursue. I was about to feel that way about the sailing signals, but then it turns out I enjoyed that chapter more than I thought I would. There's a whole world of almost "secret code" to learn when it comes to sailing! I admit, sometimes it took me a while for my brain to grasp some of the scientific concepts. I had to read and re-read. The diagrams definitely helped! I also loved the folklore about cultures and people who relied on these water clues to navigate. There's a lot that is no longer 'necessary' due to today's technology, but it's amazing that they could navigate so well without these advanced gadgets in the past.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pat Edwards

    This book goes on to "the best I've ever read about anything" shelf. I learned so much about the world around me. What seems like the simplest things: water, weeds, trees, the sky.... But Gooley's detailed observations and explanation of HOW EVERYTHING FITS TOGETHER and how we can see it if we JUST LOOK. The emphasis is mine. He writes gently and slowly as a stroll around a pond in autumn. I kept renewing the library book so I could read it slowly and re-read parts. I loved it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anatha

    Cooley's writing wasn't as fine-tuned as I would have liked, which made his descriptions of the "scientific" and/or "technical" properties and behaviors of water much less compelling. It didn't help that every other sentence included either a) a major comma splice, or b) a strange invitation to "look! See what happens when you such-and-such the water and it does this?" because... well, you know, NO, I can't. That shit works for Bill Nye and Alton Brown, but not for static media like printed Cooley's writing wasn't as fine-tuned as I would have liked, which made his descriptions of the "scientific" and/or "technical" properties and behaviors of water much less compelling. It didn't help that every other sentence included either a) a major comma splice, or b) a strange invitation to "look! See what happens when you such-and-such the water and it does this?" because... well, you know, NO, I can't. That shit works for Bill Nye and Alton Brown, but not for static media like printed texts (sorry for the buzz phrase "static media" that I effectively just made up right now). From a stylistic as well as a grammatical standpoint, this book needs a lot of help... which sucks! The book otherwise had so much water potential! (haaaaaaaaaaaaa, oh my god, I hate myself). Perhaps a revised version will pop up here in a year or two and I'll give it another shot then.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Helio

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is a charming read to realiize we are surrounded by water in various shapes and forms and don't know how to appreciate what we are seeing.  It is like being in a library and not knowing how to read.  Some of the things touched on included: giraffes being the only mammal that can't swim; raindrops are pancake shaped not pear shaped; size of raindrops determines width of colours in a rainbow; puddles can tell you direction and what lies in the earth below; wave formation on the ocean can reveal It is a charming read to realiize we are surrounded by water in various shapes and forms and don't know how to appreciate what we are seeing.  It is like being in a library and not knowing how to read.  Some of the things touched on included: giraffes being the only mammal that can't swim; raindrops are pancake shaped not pear shaped; size of raindrops determines width of colours in a rainbow; puddles can tell you direction and what lies in the earth below; wave formation on the ocean can reveal the presence of islands, even if you can's see land; if you can count ten or more birds in a five minute period you are no more than forty miles from land; there is a moment just after sunset (or before sunrise) when the red and yellow parts of sunlight cannot bend over the horizon, but the blues bend too much, and you may see a burst of green on the horizon*; whatever boat you are on, no matter how fast you are travelling, the wake will be at a 40° angle; the number of degrees Polaris is above the horizon is the latitude you are at; and by the 1830s there were more than two shipwrecks a day in the British Isles (before preventative measures were taken).  Wrecks spawned their own lingo: flotsam is floating cargo, jetsam has been thrown overboard, ligan is wreckage lying on the seabed, and derelict is unretrievable. * i have seen this from a plane; it is not so much a flash as one moment its there and the next it is gone Other interesting facts: · the sun and moon together can only lift the tide by 18 inches; anything more dramatic is account of land formations · the moon, being 400 times closer than the sun, has twice the pull, even though the sun is 27 million times more massive · on the K'au coast of Hawaii loved ones lost at sea were sorted by the tides where rich (fat people) landed on one beach and poor (thin people) on another · rubber boots lost in the North Sea had currents deposit left boots in Holland and right boots in Scotland · 28,800 rubber ducks dumped at the same place at sea ended up ten months later anywhere from Hawaii to Iceland · only in Force 8 winds (not higher or lower) will spindrift occur (where the crest of a wave is whipped off as white spray) · once the depth of water is half the wavelength, the wave slows down · birch trees like some oaks and willows hold onto their lower leaves in winter; this is called marcescence · tree branches grow more horizontally on the south side of trees and more vertically on the north sides · green reflected under clouds indicates land (vegetation) in that direction · Pacific Islanders use underwater light flashes (called te lapa) to detect distant islands (100 miles away)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sam Baggaley

    hhhhhhhhhhhell yeah

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I really enjoyed slowly savoring this book while finishing up a degree in oceanography. I loved everything from Gooley's whimsical writing style to the eye-opening descriptions of how to decode signs in and near water. It was fascinating reading about things I already understood mathematically from an outdoorsman and navigator's perspective. Definitely referring back to this book often.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kerri Anne

    A delightfully nerdy book on all manner and types of water (and how you can use what you know about local water to inform and navigate larger bodies of water), which means I loved it. This would make a great addition to any outdoor education curriculum, and also made me want to learn how to sail. (I already wanted to learn, but this book confirmed that curiosity for me.) I marked so many pages of this book to come back to, for inspiration, for knowledge, and for fun. Definitely one I'm happy to A delightfully nerdy book on all manner and types of water (and how you can use what you know about local water to inform and navigate larger bodies of water), which means I loved it. This would make a great addition to any outdoor education curriculum, and also made me want to learn how to sail. (I already wanted to learn, but this book confirmed that curiosity for me.) I marked so many pages of this book to come back to, for inspiration, for knowledge, and for fun. Definitely one I'm happy to own (we picked it up in a bookstore in the middle of the desert, which I also love), and that I'll be coming back to reference soon. My only criticism, really, is that it could have been more tightly edited. I agree with a handful of other reviews I've seen that this book likely didn't need to be as long as it was, and while certain chapters were mesmerizing, there were certainly a few that hung on too long. [Four stars for puddles, tides, ripples, glitter paths, and drops of humor in nearly every chapter.]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Very quirky, a bit of a slog in places, but full of enough memorable tidbits to be worth it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Natural navigator Gooley is far more hands-on than much of the movement aiming to reconnect alienated modern Britons with the landscape around us. True, we expect the writers to have roughed it themselves a bit, but if you try climbing your first mountain with a Rob Macfarlane book your only guide, you'll likely come a cropper. Gooley, on the other hand, may not be a writer on quite the same exalted level (the overall experience is not dissimilar to taking a guided nature walk, complete with a Natural navigator Gooley is far more hands-on than much of the movement aiming to reconnect alienated modern Britons with the landscape around us. True, we expect the writers to have roughed it themselves a bit, but if you try climbing your first mountain with a Rob Macfarlane book your only guide, you'll likely come a cropper. Gooley, on the other hand, may not be a writer on quite the same exalted level (the overall experience is not dissimilar to taking a guided nature walk, complete with a bubbling undercurrent of terrible dad jokes), but he's certainly engaging, and as a practical resource this book has a lot going for it. I'm not saying you could locate yourself in the open ocean using this volume alone - but after reading it you will probably find yourself a little less lost some of the time than you would have been otherwise. NB - if you are planning to do anything bold with this information, do try to get a finished copy, because review copies like mine are missing all the helpful illustrations and diagrams.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Prewitt

    I love facts. In Gooley's entertaining book, I learned which mammal can't swim, the difference between a wave and a swell, and how to use your fist as a sextant. While I was enjoying the book, I was lucky enough to be on vacation at the beach where I could observe both the spectacularly crashing ocean waves and the tidal pools left behind at high tide (which, by the way, I now know the origin of, plus the meaning of neap tide.) My newly-acquired "water whisperer" skills are causing me to look at I love facts. In Gooley's entertaining book, I learned which mammal can't swim, the difference between a wave and a swell, and how to use your fist as a sextant. While I was enjoying the book, I was lucky enough to be on vacation at the beach where I could observe both the spectacularly crashing ocean waves and the tidal pools left behind at high tide (which, by the way, I now know the origin of, plus the meaning of neap tide.) My newly-acquired "water whisperer" skills are causing me to look at my world differently and, when NPR's Science Friday discussed the effect of global warming on the Earth's ocean currents, I (half-way) knew what they were talking about. This is a big win for me, a traditional give-me-math-over-science woman. I highly recommend the book, which is made even more charming by Gooley's enthusiasm for his subject.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    What kinds of landscape features indicate water is nearby? How can the sight of birds far out at sea reveal both the direction and distance to shore? Why are puddles more likely to form on the south side of a road? In this surprisingly engaging guidebook, Tristan Gooley inspires the reader to pay greater attention to the nature and behavior of water in order to better understand what is happening both above and below. I picked up a number of things I know I'll be able to apply to my own outdoor What kinds of landscape features indicate water is nearby? How can the sight of birds far out at sea reveal both the direction and distance to shore? Why are puddles more likely to form on the south side of a road? In this surprisingly engaging guidebook, Tristan Gooley inspires the reader to pay greater attention to the nature and behavior of water in order to better understand what is happening both above and below. I picked up a number of things I know I'll be able to apply to my own outdoor wanderings.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heli

    The book captivated me at the start. The style was fleeting, occasionally poetic, occasionally rough. I value the knowledge laid out in the book and that's also the reason for the rating. If I'd focus on the style, I'd rate it lower. It's got nice pictures and phenomena well described. It feels like a secret skill to be able to tell the weather forecast from a puddle of water or know where to search water from a desert by observing birds. Highly practical. Good stuff.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    NetGalley just rejected me for the second time :(

  17. 5 out of 5

    CD

    An eclectic work that combines science, anthropology, geography and folk lore to relate a very different way of looking at the natural world through the 'lens' of water.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Warren

    Not a big fan and didn't draw me in. Needed editing to about 2/3 of its length. Not quite sure why he is so popular.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This was delightful, and magical insofar as it returned me to childhood, reminding me of the ways in which, as a child, I observed things around me with far more clarity and in sharper detail than I do now. And questioned them. Patterns in water and in sand and seaweed. Over and over again some observation would be made which I recognised as having made myself when young but had forgotten about, and explanation given. I doubt I'll remember all I'd like to when next visiting the coast, walking This was delightful, and magical insofar as it returned me to childhood, reminding me of the ways in which, as a child, I observed things around me with far more clarity and in sharper detail than I do now. And questioned them. Patterns in water and in sand and seaweed. Over and over again some observation would be made which I recognised as having made myself when young but had forgotten about, and explanation given. I doubt I'll remember all I'd like to when next visiting the coast, walking alongside a river, but at least I'll be looking harder in the effort.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I found this a bit of a hard read at first, but once I got going it was interesting and drew me onwards. It is informative, and humorous at times, and made me wish I live near the sea or open water to observe the phenomena described and really well explained. I borrowed this from the library and now have a copy to take when, if I ever, in this lockdown, I find time to spend by the waters, the sea in particular.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Rowe

    It took over a year reading this on my phone, but I finished it. This is an interesting book that explores how water works in nature. What causes waves? Why does water move the way it does? How can you navigate on water? How to you read what water is telling you? A very interesting topic, even for someone in a landlocked state such as myself. I recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    J. Muro

    The author deserves coconut potions, for now I will not ever see magical water the same way ever again. Thank-you!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Really interesting and informative, told entertainingly. I'm going to have to read it again to really absorb the information.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bryn

    This book is so chock full of facts, I couldn't wrap my head around half of them. It's a pleasure to get to look into the experience of another and find a whole world there.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Champion

    I shall read this again for sure, and refer to it many times. While I knew some of this content already, most was new and I'll never look at water the same way again. Great stuff

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine Kenney

    This is a little scattered for the surgical reader who prefers the information to be organized tightly by use case for easy reference, but I found the majority of the digressions fascinating and worthwhile. I also found myself thinking it would be helpful to have a couple copies of this book on hand as it would be a great gift for friends who had diverse hobbies-- fishermen, campers/hikers/ecologists, parents/educators, and particularly for those with an interest in sailing. Looking forward to This is a little scattered for the surgical reader who prefers the information to be organized tightly by use case for easy reference, but I found the majority of the digressions fascinating and worthwhile. I also found myself thinking it would be helpful to have a couple copies of this book on hand as it would be a great gift for friends who had diverse hobbies-- fishermen, campers/hikers/ecologists, parents/educators, and particularly for those with an interest in sailing. Looking forward to reading Gooley's other books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Tristan Gooleys How to Read Water is a mostly entertaining introduction to what is for other people, in other times and places frequently a matter of life and death. Readers of How to Read Water are most likely people like me, arm chair adventurers with a curious mind for what is an unusual idea for a book. How to Read is not the one book to take with you if you are to navigate the Islands of the Pacific or survive along the frozen coastlines in the far north or south. If you are traveling to Tristan Gooleys’ How to Read Water is a mostly entertaining introduction to what is for other people, in other times and places frequently a matter of life and death. Readers of How to Read Water are most likely people like me, arm chair adventurers with a curious mind for what is an unusual idea for a book. How to Read is not the one book to take with you if you are to navigate the Islands of the Pacific or survive along the frozen coastlines in the far north or south. If you are traveling to these places, preferably in some comfort, and want to have a taste of how to keep it simple, Tristan Gooley is your man. The style is breezy and friendly but with a little too much repetition. By about chapter three everyone will know that you will never see much less derive practical value from any of the highlighted clues and patterns unless you take to time to look for them and then more time to enjoy them and then remember the paragraph he wrote telling you why this or that phenomena is important. Never does it occur to Gooley that he is repeating himself on this point. He also has a tendency to flirt with the precious. We are to enthuse about everything he is enthusiastic about even if it seems a tad trite or esoteric. I know for example there are several types of puddles, there are several types of everything, but I remain unclear as to when some of them collect water on the south side of a road and when on the north. Given how specific he can be about things like directions and compass points he can be a little casual about possible changes as one travels across the equator. All of this is to be a tad too critical. Armed with a nice cuppa tea or perhaps a aged postprandial port a reader safely ensconced in an overstuffed leather chair with feet nicely propped can get a fast tour through a world where one can navigate across the Atlantic using nothing more than ancient Norse sailing instructions. A reader need not brave sea sickness or a salt drenching of their expensive North Face Outdoor togs and still get a glimpse into understanding how the Polynesian peoples found, populated and lived among widely spaced islands without any of the minimal technology that now dominates a westerner brave enough to navigate farther than the nearest grocery store. Tristan Gooley knows how to tell a good sea story and add in some arcane and unlikely facts without coming off as too much of a geek. How to Read Water is not a very good how to book , but it is a lot of information from a friendly writer talking to people who may never have an outdoors-manly use for a tidy little book with an eye catching title and lots of fun facts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    read my full review on my blog, Digital Amrit How to Read Water is a book that takes us on a journey through the diverse aspects of water. We get to learn about all kinds of water bodies from humble puddles to mighty oceans, from inland rivers to currents in seas. We gain insights into water-related phenomena ranging from ripples to waves to swells, from tsunamis to tides, from the color of water to the sound of it. Along the way, Tristan Gooley, touches on various subjects such as wave mechanics, read my full review on my blog, Digital Amrit “How to Read Water” is a book that takes us on a journey through the diverse aspects of water. We get to learn about all kinds of water bodies from humble puddles to mighty oceans, from inland rivers to currents in seas. We gain insights into water-related phenomena ranging from ripples to waves to swells, from tsunamis to tides, from the color of water to the sound of it. Along the way, Tristan Gooley, touches on various subjects such as wave mechanics, ecology and gravitation. He hits upon the right balance between science and the romance of water, by not making the science too dry while not dumbing it down very much either. This delicate balance ensures that the book never bores us. We get to see a great example of this explanation early on when he describes how Pacific islanders navigated by drawing an analogy to ripple formation in a puddle. There are several gotcha moments which add to the enjoyment.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Enjoyable themes, and interesting information but the style of writing was just 'not for me'

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marija S.

    This book was wasted on me. I stopped after 1/3, constantly feeling I am being handed great wisdom I just could not find compelling enough or interesting enough to memorize and use. I found myself spacing out despite thinking how this book is one of its kind, a true trove of knowledge. I didn't find the persistence in me to finish it, but I do not think that it is bad at all - it is just a mismatch between us. Therefore, I choose not to rate it.

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