Are you looking to learn more about sharks? This list of 19 nonfiction shark books offer you a look inside their fascinating world.
You'll learn all about their habitat, types, and why they are such amazing creatures. We also included a few books on shark attacks and other interesting historic stories.
Written by: Juliet Eilperin
Published: June 14th, 2011
In this book, the author takes readers on a journey into the fascinating and often misunderstood world of sharks. Eilperin provides an in-depth look at these creatures, shedding new light on their behavior and debunking popular myths about them. She examines how different people, and cultures, either respect or fear these majestic creatures.
She traveled to various locations around the world, meeting with experts and getting up close and personal with many different species of sharks. She also doesn't shy away from the fact that over 100,000,000 sharks are killed by humans every year and how they may go extinct because of this. This book is an informative and entertaining read for anyone interested in learning more about these fantastic animals.
Written by: Susan Casey
Published: June 7th, 2005
Often, when we hear about sharks, it is in the context of a gruesome attack on a human. Sharks are portrayed as monsters, and people are often terrified of them. This is especially true of Great White Sharks, as they are often known as the worst. Casey joins biologists to visit the Farallon Islands near San Francisco to find out if this is true. In her book Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks, Susan Casey tells the story of those, including herself, who have become obsessed with these animals and the lengths they will go to learn more about them.
Despite their fearsome reputation, sharks are pretty vulnerable creatures and face many threats from humans directly and indirectly. Yet somehow, through all this adversity, they continue to thrive. This book provides an in-depth look at the world P.S. If you think that the title The Devil’s Teeth, you just might be surprised to find out the answer.
Written by: Steve Parker
Published: October 1st, 1999
The Encyclopedia of Sharks by Steve Parker is an exhaustive and exciting read about these apex predators. The author has compiled everything from the history of sharks to their biology and ecology in this comprehensive work. Anyone interested in these creatures will find something to appreciate in this book.
This book provides detailed information about different species and insight into shark behavior and their role in the marine ecosystem. This book includes gorgeous photos and maps that will help you enjoy learning about these incredible creatures. Whether you are a casual reader or a die-hard shark fan, this book is sure to fascinate and educate you.
Written by: Michael Capuzzo
Published: May 8th, 2001
In Close to Shore, Michael Capuzzo tells the true story of a shark attack in 1916 that horrified the nation and changed marine biology forever. On July 1st, 1916, Charles Vansant was swimming off Atlantic City when a great white shark attacked him. The injuries he sustained killed him within hours. Four others were killed during this less than a two-week event. It set off a wave of fear and paranoia about sharks that lasted for years.
This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in sharks or marine biology, but it's also a compelling human story about bravery in the face of terror. But it also marked the beginning of our understanding of these creatures. Scientists scrambled to figure out why Vansant had been attacked and how to protect people from similar attacks in the future. The shark would even leave the ocean and go up a river to find sustenance.
Written by: Chris Fallows
Published: October 21st, 2009
Sharks are often misunderstood and feared creatures. Chris Fallows, a professional shark photographer, set out to change that perception with this incredible coffee table book. Fallows' beautiful photos and informative text show the grace and power of these amazing animals.
Fallows' love for sharks shines through on every page, and we highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about these majestic creatures. If you watch the Discovery Channel and are interested in sharks, you've probably seen Fallows in documentaries. After reading this book, if you haven't, you will want to watch some immediately! This book primarily focuses on the "Flying" Great White sharks near South Africa.
Written by: Evie Wyld & Joe Sumner
Published: August 6th, 2015
This book is unlike any other you will see in this list as it is based on the author's life starting from childhood and then progressing as she becomes an adult. It begins when she is terrified but intrigued by them when she was young. She even imagines what they may be like if they lived on land. What does this have to do with sharks?
Like many of us, you probably had a fear of sharks when you were growing up, and this graphic novel captures it perfectly. The artwork by Joe Sumner is impressive. It leaps off the page, and you will feel like the sharks are right beside you. The drawings add much more to the story since they aren't just your usual documentation but somewhat mysterious and dreamlike. It is a truly magical book that you will love even as it scares you a little bit too. Remember that while you are reading it, you'll be on solid ground, and you'll be fine.
Written by: William McKeever
Published: June 25th, 2019
The ocean is one of the most mysterious places on Earth. Its depths remain largely unexplored, and much about the creatures that call it home remains a mystery. Sharks are among the most feared and misunderstood animals in the ocean, but they are also some of its most fascinating inhabitants. This book focuses on the four most famous ones: The Mako, the Tiger, the Hammerhead, and of course, the Great White.
The book is full of interesting facts about sharks. For example, did you know that some sharks can swim through a school of fish without being noticed? Or that certain species can survive for months without eating? That sharks are more than fifty million years older than trees? The conservationist and documentarian William McKeever also examines our relationship with sharks and how to protect them from extinction.
Written by: Peter Matthiessen
Despite the fearsome reputation of the Great Whites, relatively little is known about these elusive creatures. In his book, Blue Meridian: The Search for the Great White Shark, Peter Matthiessen takes readers on a journey to learn more about these mysterious animals. During his seventeen-month travels, he goes worldwide to find them and learn more about them. He even goes swimming with hundreds of them!
Matthiessen is a well-known nature writer and adventurer, and he brings his unique perspective to this project. The book provides insights into the history of white shark research and the current efforts to study and protect these animals. It is an essential read for anyone interested in marine biology or conservation.
Written by: Peter Benchley
Published: June 4th, 2002
Depending on your age, you will recognize Peter Benchley's name immediately. If you don't, here is all you need to know: He is the author of the fiction horror novel, later turned into a movie titled Jaws. After writing that book, he decided he wanted to learn more about these magnificent creatures and dedicated a decent amount of his life to doing that. This includes swimming with them, learning about their environment, and how humanity is causing so much havoc.
Unlike the fear that gripped everyone who had read or watched Jaws, most sharks are incredibly friendly and won't bother you at all. And even if they do bite you, it is often because they are checking to see if you are a good source of food…and they almost always decide you aren't, so whew! There are so many stories in this book, and they are all so varied and different that you will end up with one of the most fully-formed visions of sharks and their world by reading it.
Written by: Susan Ewing
Published: April 4th, 2017
Have you ever heard of the Helicoprion? We would guess not since it is a scarce creature from over 270 million years ago. So why is it in a section about sharks? Because it would be the ancestor of today's sharks. There are two main characters in this book, Ray Troll, who was interested in paleo-sharks, and Jesse Pruitt, an undergraduate student who became enthralled with this creature. Luckily for us, they happened to meet and build a friendship to help us understand this incredible monster of the seas.
One of the reasons the Helicoprion is so interesting is that it was the master of the oceans. Another reason is that it was unlike any other shark before or after, as it had teeth that were tightly wound on a platter-sized palette. It is so strange that you will need to read this book to understand how they appeared, how they disappeared, and how they formed the sharks that we have now roamed our oceans.
Written by: David A. Ebert, Sarah Fowler, and Marc Dando
Published: July 20th, 2021
Simply stated: If you don’t know the first thing about sharks, or if you know somewhat about them, or even if you think you know everything, you are going to find something new in this book. This incredibly in-depth book was primarily written by David A. Ebert, a senior research scientist at the Marine Conservation Science Institute and an expert on elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays). This comprehensive volume covers everything you need to know about these creatures of the deep.
Sharks of the World offers a complete overview of these predators' worldwide diversity from their ancestry and evolution to their habitats and behavior. You’ll learn about the over 500 different species, fin identifications, and you’ll get to enjoy maps, illustrations, and photographs to round out everything you are reading in it. Just as importantly, you'll also find information on shark conservation and how we can protect them for future generations.
Written by: Richard G. Fernicola
Published: April 1st, 2001
Another book regarding the shark attack that killed five people back in 1916 gives a different perspective on it. His extensive report compiled by Richard G. Fernicola carefully documents each event and includes eyewitness interviews, scientific analysis, and maps. Unlike other books, he also writes about the history going on to make you get a deeper understanding of why this was such an important event.
You will feel as if you are right there, both on the land and more scarily in the water, as the shark attack happens, and the people live in fear and terror. Richard G. Fernicola has been seen on the Discovery and the History Channel because of his knowledge and expertise in this field. This is shown when he examines the attacks and their results, which, be forewarned, can be pretty gory, but they are needed to understand what happened during this time.
Written by: Doug Stanton
This may seem like an odd addition to this list since it is based on the wartime sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis. However, not only will you learn about the history of this battle during World War II, but you’ll also read about how the soldiers survived, or in most cases didn’t, and what caused their deaths. The Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine in the South Pacific on June 29th, 1945. With over 300 men killed instantly, the other 900 were able to abandon the ship and were hoping they’d be saved.
However, communication was down, and the men were stuck in the freezing water. During this time, they dealt with hypothermia, dehydration, and constant fear of the sharks circling them for over four days. Over 200 died from shark attacks which means at least 50 of them a day. We enjoyed this book because it also goes into the history of Indianapolis, how the soldiers were saved, and the outcome for so many from this horrible event.
Written by: A. Peter Klimley
Published: June 24th, 2003
In A. Peter Klimley's book The Secret Life of Sharks, the marine biologist explores shark behavior and dispels myths about the predator. Drawing on over thirty years of experience studying sharks, Klimley provides an in-depth examination of these animals, from their ecological role to their human interactions. In doing so, he reveals the often-misunderstood nature of sharks and highlights the importance of conservation efforts to protect them.
He also shows that they are incredibly intelligent and not just the killing machines as often portrayed in movies and tv. Klimley has spent his life researching sharks, swimming with them, and seeing their behavior firsthand. With information on over 400 species, this book contains fascinating and unknown facts regarding these incredible creatures. You will want to read it again and again.
Shark enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning more about these creatures will appreciate Klimley's insights into their fascinating world.
Written by: Xavier Maniguet
Published: January 1st, 1955
The author takes a comprehensive and fascinating look at the relationships between sharks and humans. In this book, you will learn about the many ways that sharks have impacted human history, from being revered as guardians of coastal areas to becoming feared predators. We especially found it interesting how some cultures regarded sharks almost as gods and not just predators.
You will also gain insight into current shark conservation efforts and learn about some of the most encountered shark species. As you read, you will come to understand why sharks are both feared and respected by humans. The photos in the book highlight much of what is presented, but they can be graphic and brutal, so be prepared for that. He also mentions piranhas, crocodiles, and other animals so feared by humans. This book provides an excellent overview of one of nature's most unique creatures.
Written by: Ocean Ramsey and Juan Oliphant
Published: October 22nd, 2019
Sharks are one of the most feared creatures on Earth. While many think of sharks as mindless killing machines, they are quite complex and social animals. Sharks have their language that they use to communicate with each other, and scientists are still working to unlock all of its secrets.
In addition to their communication abilities, sharks also exhibit interesting social behaviors, which can help us better understand human interactions. Finally, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining ocean health, and understanding their behavior can help us protect them and keep our oceans healthy. If anything, they should be more afraid of us than we are of them. The photography in this book is beautiful and perfectly placed to help the reader better understand the sharks.
Written by: Alex MacCormick and Rod Green
Published: January 7th, 2014
In complete opposition to the book above, we have The Mammoth Book of Shark Attacks. As you can gather from its name, it is all about attacks that have happened, and it will make you think twice about entering the ocean anytime soon! If you're a fan of sharks or just enjoy reading about gruesome attacks, then this is the book for you.
This collection of stories features some of the most jaw-dropping shark assaults ever documented, from ancient times to the present day. You'll read about unsuspecting swimmers and surfers being devoured by sharks, kayakers being pulled underwater, and even shark attacks on boats. One of the weirdest is when a 69-year-old man jumps off the dock in his backyard directly into the mouth of a bull shark! With over two hundred terrifying tales to choose from, you will be left feeling both riveted and terrified!
Written by: Thomas P. Peschak
Published: August 29th, 2013
If you want a book that contains some of the most amazing photographs of sharks, then this is the one for you. It is massive, so you can genuinely get the scale of these magnificent beasts, and you won't believe your eyes when you look at it. As with any excellent coffee table book, not only are there photos, but there are stories to go along with them that flesh them out, so you get the whole story.
As someone who loves sharks, the author does his best to point out where humans impact and destroy sharks because of their greed. This includes killing millions a year so people can eat shark fin soup, among other unneeded choices. Because of this, he goes into how we can help them survive and prosper. Peschak is a contributing editor to National Geographic, so you know his work is of the utmost quality.
Written by: Jean-Michel Cousteau, Mose Richards
A quick read, this book was written by Jacques Cousteau’s son along with Mose Richards. Cousteau and his team went on a two-and-a-half-year journey to the southern tip of Australia.
They documented shark behavior and how they interacted with other creatures and the ecology during their time there. With more than a 40-member team, they were able to get in-depth research about them, including gorgeous photographs and drawings and the text.
This book is short but well worth reading to get an idea of the history of sharks and this famous family of conservationists.