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How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea Hardcover – August 23, 2016
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From the Publisher
Get into nature with Tristan Gooley
Tristan Gooley is the Natural Navigator! Through his teaching and writing, Gooley has pioneered a renaissance in the rare art of natural navigation. He has led expeditions on five continents, climbed mountains in three, and studied the methods of tribal peoples in some of the remotest regions on Earth. He is the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic.
“[Gooley’s] detailed observations are breathtaking as he patiently explains how to see. Jam-packed with information, birders, naturalists, hikers, hunters, and anyone interested in the natural world will find much of use.”—Forbes
“Gooley is your man. . . . With unflappable practicality, he shares simple ways to understand your surroundings, whether you’re beside a stream or on the open sea at night, without instruments.”—Discover
“Even if you don’t live near a lake, river or ocean, this fascinating book teaches you how to read water patterns in rain puddles and any other place water gathers.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“With the help of this book, and with careful attention and observation, anyone can learn how to interpret the messages water offers to aid in everything from navigation to weather forecasting. A riveting and highly accessible book that will appeal to water enthusiasts and nature lovers of all kinds.”—Library Journal
“Avid and budding outdoorspeople will appreciate Gooley’s breadth of knowledge and accessible approach.”—Publishers Weekly
A Sunday Times “Must Read” book
“This inspired guide to water in all its forms will make a big splash. . . . Gooley has done his subject proud—this is seriously fascinating stuff.”—Times
“This study of the behavior of rivers, lakes, and seas brims over with astonishing facts. . . . His observational skills can be breathtaking. . . . Gooley's infectious delight in knowledge translates into a gleeful hoarding of words . . . . The joy of these words and phenomena is that they make you yearn to observe them in the real world. . . . Gooley even manages to explain tides coherently and excitingly in just 14 pages, which is quite some feat, given that they are a lot more complicated than being a mere effect of the moon's gravity.”—Sunday Times
“The quirks and habits and secrets of good old H2O were crying out to have a book written about them. That said, it had to be written by the right person. . . . Fortunately, the job went to Tristan Gooley. . . . His tales recount wisdom gathered on the ground (literally), often by trial and error, and his joy at discovering something almost makes you feel you did the work yourself. . . . The book doesn't just cover the rural sections of the waterfront: urban dwellers get a look-in too.”—Spectator
“Quite apart from being well written and an enjoyable read, there is plenty in the book that is revelatory.”—The Royal Institute of Navigation
“He writes with passion, humor, and clarity, and engages so deeply with the tributaries of inquiry that reading it feels as exhilarating as being towed by a dolphin. . . . There's so much here that I can't do it justice; chapters on water at night; currents and tides; reading waves; the coast. This is an absolute gem of a book. A must-have for anyone who loves the water.”—The Outdoor Swimming Society
“The goal of the author is to have his readers never look at water the same way after reading this book. He has certainly achieved his objective and I doubt I will now ever be able to walk past a lake or even a pond without checking for surface patterns.”—thebookbag.co.uk
“Gooley, who has single-handedly been reviving natural navigation in this age of GPS, has the birdwatching skills of Bill Oddie and the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes. He can make you feel that you've spent half your life walking about with your eyes only half-open. He does it again with this fascinating guide to watching and interpreting water, everywhere from the garden pond to the Pacific.”—Telegraph
“This book is a treasure is in its un-ironic display of joyful curiosity, and its serious pursuit of this curiosity to knowledge that is a pleasure in itself.”—Washington Free Beacon
2016 Foreword INDIES Bronze Winner
About the Author
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Which makes me feel short changed when the title starts with exactly that. Maybe the author is hoping the book will sell his "hands-on" classes. But in my opinion, if you short change me on information in the book, I have no reason to conclude that you won't do the same in the hands-on classes.
I didn't expect to know everything from one book, but I do feel there should be much more how-to in here than there is if it's supposed to be a how-to book. I didn't buy it to primarily read excerpts on other people or the author having used the concepts successfully.
Having lived around water and being a sailor most of my life, the information codified things I'd already known, and informed me on so many things that I didn't. If you live in a state w lakes and streams, or you fish, hunt, sail, boat or swim...you're in for quite a treat. Easy to read and so jam packed w information and terms, that I found myself outlining it as I went for later quick reference, and ease of final memorization. Armed w some of the terms I learned, I wowed my fellow 'Wickies' with knowledge they marginally knew, but hadn't heard quite so succinctly, and that's saying something with this group.
Having said the above, I'm not sure at all what the negative reviewers expected, but, for 10.00 (including shipping), I have a handy sized volume I'll keep and reference forever. Short of a college textbook, I'm not sure you're going to find any compendium of observational knowledge about water 'in the field', as pleasant a read as this was. The medium size and weight of the hardcover makes it portable and ideal for a backpack or suitcase.
As an aside, I was fortunate to read this book on a working tour, and had the good fortune to see first hand a lot of the information this book had to offer. From my perspective I was pleasantly surprised, and glad I had held this book in reserve for just that event. I could verify and identify easily most of the information that Mr. Gooley meant to convey.
I can see this author has other volumes, and I intend to purchase them myself as I can. A 'novel' idea for the outdoors'person' in your life as a gift.
☆12/17 Update/Edit: I put my money where my mouth is, and of this writing have purchased two other copies of this volume, (as Christmas gifts), and one copy each of the others. I had a hard time wrapping them without flipping through them. I'll eventually need those as well. Heh heh.
This book opened doors of information I never even knew existed in relation to using water to inform yourself of your surroundings. (From puddles to the sea).
Easy to read, interesting terminology and content.
Absolutely no regrets here. This is a great book and a great value.
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 outdoorsmanly use for a tidy little book with an eye catching title and lots of fun facts.
As other reviewers have mentioned: It often feels like the author is trying to sell himself, or, the historic application of certain concepts rather than teach the concepts. There is a lot of redundancy and preface to each concept; it feels like the book could be 1/3rd the length.
If you want to learn to read water, spend a few dollars on a used copy of a William Nealy book, and you'll likely learn far more, far faster, and have a lot more fun.
Top international reviews
The prose is a slightly old-fashioned English style and while reading I pictured an author who was well into his eighth decade (I am rapidly approaching my sixth). However, here and there I spotted references which made me think that the author could even be younger than me, as indeed it turns out that he is.
This is not intended as a critical remark; as you near the end of the book you start to feel that you have been imbued with the accumulated human wisdom of the last five millennia, it’s difficult to reconcile this with the (relative) youth of the author.
The global reach of the book is also remarkable. I very much appreciated the way he weaves Polynesian and other knowledge into the story, without ever seeming patronizing - bien au contraire. I also very much appreciated the references to medieval Arabic sea-faring texts.
Half-way through the book I was inspired to stroll down to my local meandering river, to which previously I have never paid much or to be frank -any attention, and look at it and its surroundings with new eyes, seeing things which are hidden in the open - in plain view, things I had never seen before.
I hope that the for a future project the author would be able to find the time to explore and write about the Baltic Sea and its inland waters.