While I’ve been reading all those NetGalley books I’ve been reviewing (and my last Anne Tyler), I’ve also been working my way through this one, which has been quite heavy going and has seemingly taken me a long, long time (I started it at the start of the month and finished it yesterday morning). It was good, but it was dense and full of information, most of which I fear I haven’t retained. I bought this one when we emerged carefully out of the first lockdown – I ventured out to our local Oxfam Books and bought three books (and I’m pleased to say I have read and reviewed “Logical Family” and “The Stopping Places” so three out of three there.

Tristan Gooley – “How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea”

(21 July 2020)

I realized that our journey into the Arctic Circle meant I had come full circle. Every single one of the signs, clues and patterns in this book helped on that voyage, both practically and for enjoyment. But I would have noticed or understood very flew of them if I had not decided many years ago to relish studying the water much closer to home. (p. 331)

Gooley is a natural navigator, which means he uses the world around him to work his way around the world, using the stars, landscape, etc., to work out where he is and where he’s going. He teaches people how to do this, how to take notice and look properly, and he’s written several books on the topic. This one appealed to me because I love water and miss the proper water of the sea. It’s all about the different facets of bodies of water of different kinds (he says in the book he was inspired when he realised you can see the same sorts of things in a puddle or the sea), looking at ripples, rivers, the sea, with additional chapters on finding water in the landscape, seeing what the water is doing by looking at the boats on it, etc.

The parts of the book were individually fascinating and I mostly understood the maths and geometry as I went along, but it was so crammed full of information that I found myself getting quite tired reading it – it was nice when there was an interlude about his sailing and navigating self. There were also vignettes about Pacific islander navigators in particular, and a great section near the end where they use the navigational tools the Vikings would have used and sail up to and around Iceland. I have remembered little bits when I’ve been near lakes and streams (and to be fair on me, I was familiar with things from sailing (I know how to sail but choose not to) while I’ve been out and about during the reading of this. I will hopefully retain the useful nugget that if you fall into fast-flowing water, it’s best to get yourself orientated feet-first so as not to bang your head …

As the quotation above gets across, Gooley is passionate about natural navigation and about passing on his knowledge, and I can’t see how else he could have done it in book form. It’s interesting and authoritative, and has good illustrations and diagrams as well as notes and a bibliography.

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Book 23/85 – 62 to go!


I’ve also just finished Craig Revel Horwood’s “In Strictest Confidence”, which I bought from The Works on the way to the opticians on 8 June 2021 (thank goodness it was in their bargain box for Β£2.50!). Entertaining in parts, it was an exercise in stringing things out into three books – there was so much detail on so many things like having his waxwork made and his house done up, and I can’t really think of anything else to say about it!

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Book 22/85 – 63 to go at the time of finishing it before the above!