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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  803 ratings  ·  125 reviews
The book includes over 700 clues, signs and patterns.

You'll learn how to:

Interpret ponds like a Polynesian

Spot dangerous water in the pitch black with the help of a clock face

Read the sea like a Viking

Forecast the weather from waves

Find your way with puddles

Decipher wave patterns on beaches

Decode the colour of water

Unravel a river like an expert

From wild swimming in

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published April 7th 2016 by Sceptre
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  803 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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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.
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
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Fairly good looks at the aspects of water and hydrology that meet the eye. The things you can discover about water out in the field with no equipment just you and your senses of course. I discovered a few things I didn't know before but what I like is that it points you to sign and phenomena and helps you decode them from puddles, to rivers and lakes, to Oceans.
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
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 ...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 ...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.
Sam Baggaley
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2019
hhhhhhhhhhhell yeah
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.
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 ...more
Mar 13, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: reviewed
NetGalley just rejected me for the second time :(

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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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 ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Enjoyable themes, and interesting information but the style of writing was just 'not for me'
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.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"How to Read Water" is mercifully clear and accessible, without sacrificing the level of sophistication necessary to keep its target audience engaged. So many trade science and physics writers underestimate their readers' attention spans and descend into simplistic, jokey language. Tristan Gooley steers clear. Hallelujah.

The book probably didn't need to be 360 pages long, but the author seemed determined to fit in a crash course in ships and navigation, beyond what is strictly applicable to an
Victor Davis
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
Charming, whimsical read. I'm amazed how quickly I tore through this mini-tome. It works great as a reference book, dog-eared and highlighted on your shelf for those rare days when your newly intensified sense of observation kicks in and you notice something about the water you never have before. I will henceforth be more highly tuned to cats paws, dead wakes, refracted ripples, the direction of the prevailing wind, and the cardinal direction in which puddles form around paths and obstacles. ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i confess, i started reading this book because of Moana. living in Minnesota, my opportunities to view the sea are few and far between but i was interested nonetheless. to my delight, mr gooley provided me with plenty of learning that i can use close to home! make no mistake, this book is dense and slow reading. however, when i decided to treat sections as lessons to be read and then observed, my interest grew. i took my time and while I'm in no condition to take on the open sea or even any of ...more
It’s taken me a while to read this, dipping in every now again, but I’ve throughly enjoyed it. It’s fascinating and informative. The author explains things better than I’ve ever come across before and my understanding of the tides, currents, weather and sailing is profoundly improved! The combination of physics, astronomy, geography, folklore and pure common sense do a lot to explain the natural world and still keep a level of intrigue and wonder.

As a swimmer and paddler, and one who has to put
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed this information-dense book, inspiring me to create a shelf for planned rereads. The author describes a variety of interesting things about water, from tides to waves to temperature and salt layers. Also touches on wind, wildlife, ground saturation, and navigation (by signs or lights and stars). Basically a slightly scattered survey of interesting topics.

While not completely scientific, it is nonetheless thoroughly readable, and I look forward to digging into this author's
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