The Little Book of the Sea
By Lorenz Schroter
Translated by Alan Bance and David Reeve
MacAdam/Cage; 233 pages; $15
Reviewed by Christine Thomas
Special to the Honolulu Advertiser
The enigmatic rhythms of the sea have entranced legions, but those wary of embarking on watery adventures can instead explore Lorenz Schroter’s charming, nearly pocket sized primer of the sea. A travel journalist based in Berlin, Schroter skips any introduction and instead forces readers to jump right in with a list of the total volume of water on Earth (ground humidity accounts for 0.001%, in case you’re wondering).
But it’s not just lists of whats and how manys and whyfores that populate the book, though these are refreshing breaths of salt air amidst longer, mini essays that delve deeper into myriad aquatic issues. Amongst them are why the British coastline is so long, who the channel swimmers are, how to prepare sharkskin for a drum, or bizarrely, how to artificially inseminate a sea urchin (among the needed tools are potassium chloride and a coffee filter).
As there is no overt rhyme or reason to the order of lore, recipes, facts and figures, with such trivia as “coins with sea turtles on them” washing this way and that like ocean billows, it’s best to dive into the book at random and go fishing for an unexpected sea fact. Otherwise, there’s an alphabetized index to help get that burning question answered, or simply navigate directly to “Hawai`i.”