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

(Natural Navigation)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  156 reviews
From the bestselling author of THE WALKER'S GUIDE TO OUTDOOR CLUES AND SIGNS

A must-have book for walkers, sailors, swimmers, anglers and everyone interested in the natural world, in How To Read Water, Natural Navigator Tristan Gooley shares knowledge, skills, tips and useful observations to help you enjoy the landscape around you and learn about the magic of the outdoors f
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published April 7th 2016 by Sceptre (first published 2016)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,109 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Emma Sea
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 pa
Richard Thomas
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: landscape
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. ...more
Katy Koivastik
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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 se
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 t ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, arc-gallery
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 text ...more
Pat Edwards
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Sam Baggaley
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2019
hhhhhhhhhhhell yeah
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Chris Warren
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
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
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Very quirky, a bit of a slog in places, but full of enough memorable tidbits to be worth it.
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 b ...more
Ellen Prewitt
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: reviewed
NetGalley just rejected me for the second time :(

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.

Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 alo
May 31, 2020 added it
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.
Tom Rowe
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
J. Muro
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author deserves coconut potions, for now I will not ever see magical water the same way ever again. Thank-you!
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting and informative, told entertainingly. I'm going to have to read it again to really absorb the information. ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Stuart Champion
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christine Kenney
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 r ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
kartik narayanan
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 mechanic
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Enjoyable themes, and interesting information but the style of writing was just 'not for me' ...more
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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