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Shark Week is over. Gone are the night terrors, the hours long marathons where Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks, and Great Whites stalk prey through dark waters. If you haven’t had enough of razor-sharp teeth and giant, murderous sharks, here are seven books to whet your appetite (and your need for fear) until Shark Week returns to us next year.
Jaws – Jaws was almost an instant bestseller in 1974 when it terrified fans with a narrative based on real events that occurred off a New Jersey Shore in 1916. It is the corner stone of shark-attack horror books and the film was equally successful. It also isn’t the only shark book by Peter Benchley, who satisfies our need to understand the mysterious and often deadly results when we enter the ocean with books such as Jaws 2, Beast (about a giant squid), The Deep, White Shark, and many others.
MEG: A Novel of Deep Terror: Is the first in a series of science fiction books written by Steve Altman. From the same publisher who brought you Jaws comes an equally terrifying plot, this time when a deep-sea diver spots a Megalodon and enlists the help of a paleontologist to prove he’s not crazy. The blood bath that ensues takes place on a legendary scale, and this book as well as the others in this series will certainly not disappoint your blood lust for sharks. Altman didn’t stop with the Meg series, check out The Loch as well!
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – This isn’t a shark book, but it’s a man vs underwater beast classic that can’t be missed. There have been numerous editions printed since the first in 1870, including many illustrated and adapted texts.
Great White Shark – Any real Shark Week fan knows that sharks, while among the most frightening, are also some of the most misunderstood animals in our oceans. This book examines an understanding of sharks from a more scientific point of view, including a summary of experiments conducted by Cousteau which serves as a basis for our current understanding of sharks. Scientists and casual readers alike will find much to enjoy in this text.
Kon Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft – Thor Heyerdahl offers a beautiful account of five men attempting to cross the Pacific on a balsa-wood raft. This adventure non-fiction book has been described as “un-putdownable” by many readers and is a fascinating tale of bravery, friendship, and the challenges of believing in yourself. It also recounts some horrific encounters with sharks that will chill even the most seasoned Shark-Week aficionado to the bone. The movie adaptation was released earlier this year.
The Raw Shark Texts – The Raw Shark Texts brought to us by debut novelist Steven Hall, takes on a shark of a different color: a conceptual one, the kind that feeds on human memories. This cerebral page turner is has been described as Jaws meets Memento meets The Matrix, and follows protagonist Eric Sanderson through the devious waters of memory loss and discovery.
Close to Shore – This nonfiction book recounts the summer of 1916 when several deaths occurred over twelve days off the coast of New Jersey. Journalist Michael Capuzzo spent years researching the attacks, which served as the basis for the fiction bestseller, Jaws, in order to give us a clearer picture of the people attacked and the infamous shark who abandoned its deep water habitat for New Jersey beach waters. Capuzzo also spent a great deal of time examining the time period, offering details behind the increase in railroad travel and public transportation, which allowed people to visit the coast for vacations like never before. Fans of Jaws and Shark Week will find much to appreciate in this comprehensive account.
Lastly, check out Wired’s opinion piece, “The Best and Worst of Shark Week,” an excellent summary of The Discovery Channel’s successes and failures when it comes to our favorite week of the year.
By Kim Winternheimer