Today I started my daily routine with an early-morning retro snorkelling session in the North Sea. Here in the UK, summer is somewhat intermittent, with most days incorporating many different kinds of weather, from glorious sunshine to dark cloud cover and, of course, the occasional showers of rain for which the country is famous. Anyway, all the conditions at the coast were perfect at 7.30 am, from the sandy beach to the still, tepid waters of the North Sea and the sun set in an azure sky. My dip in the "briny" wasn't only designed to cool me down a little after a humid night but also to try out my new Beuchat "Super Compensator" mask and Seac "Corrugato" snorkel which I'd bought because a week ago the waves had claimed my only snorkel with a flexible corrugated mouthpiece as well as one of my oval masks (both retro rather than vintage items). The outfit was completed with a pair of retro-style fins (Mexico-made Escualo Clasicas) and my trusty Hydroglove drysuit which kept in the warmth and kept out the water. How better to start one of the UK's few truly sunny days?
Anyway, the morning dip has got me into the mood to begin another thread or two. I'd like to focus within this thread on bibliographies of diving literature, those books and articles that list other authors' contributions to a particular field of published writing, in this case titles in the area of underwater activities. I'll begin with a paperback book that I have on my bookshelf:
Stephen W. Collins (compiler) (1973) Down to the sea with books: NAUI International Bibliography of Diving and Related Sciences, Colton, CA: NAUI Diving Association. Here's an image of the front cover:
My review of this publication isn't new this time, so I apologise if others have already seen its contents "in another place", as we say here in the UK:
It's hardly what you would call a pretty book to look at, there are no illustrations, and the tiny sans-serif lettering, printed on a green background, on every page strains my eyes every time I pick the booklet up from my bookshelf. So why do I prize this soft-covered, dog-eared title so much? Well, everybody's favourite books recall something of their readers' personal histories. I've always been a book collector, but my diving library up to the 1970s was relatively small and confined largely to European books, picked up in second-hand bookshops in England, France, Germany and Italy. I had very few American diving books and, wanting to remedy this deficiency, I purchased Stephen W. Collins' booklet having seen it advertised, I believe, in "Skin Diver", which was sold in the UK. Towards the end of the 1970s I had my first opportunity to cross the Atlantic from England and go States-side for a Christmas vacation in the company of my brother. I flew to Seattle then San Francisco, where we rode the Greyhound to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and back to San Francisco. During each stage of the roadtrip I sought out used book stores where I often chanced upon US vintage diving books. San Francisco and Los Angeles used book stores were particularly rich sources. When I got back home to "Blighty" I began to make notes in Collins' bibliography, marking the titles I had added to my modest library. Subsequently I visited my brother in Minneapolis most summers, often visiting another US destination during the trip, where I would again scour the local used book stores. My copy of the bibliography gradually filled up with pencil marks.
So much for personal reasons why I cherish this booklet. I got to know its limitations too, because "International" turned out to mean "so long as the book listed is in English". Even so, the bibliography with its 1500 listed diving titles remains very comprehensive. I think it's a worthy booklet for anybody to own and peruse, although it's currently out of print. I may be wrong, but I believe it's the only "stand-alone" diving bibliography around. If I'm wrong, please feel free to put me right. "Down to the sea with books" is not only valuable because of the breadth of its content, but also because of the way it breaks its collection of titles into thematic sections, or "topics". Here are the headings in the "topics" section of this bibliography:
Commercial diving: underwater work and salvage
Diving equipment and maintenance
Diving for treasure
Diving medicine and physiology
First aid, life saving, scuba rescue and water safety
Legal aspects of diving and maritime law
Marine biology and marine life
Marine sciences and technology
Scientific and research diving
Shell collecting and aquariums
Sound - underwater
Sports diving and underwater education
Underwater adventure and exploration
Underwater instruction: swimming, skin and scuba diving
Underwater navigation and search procedure
Underwater submersibles and habitats
There's some overlap in the coverage of the topics, e.g. "Sports diving and underwater education" and "Underwater instruction: swimming, skin and scuba diving", but book titles only appear once, so there's some subjectivity in the choice of "topics". I wonder what others think about these bibliographic topic headings and whether modern diving books would require the creation of new topic headings?
In this posting I want to do more than recycle something I wrote almost five years ago, so I'll mention a couple of other reading lists in the field:
1. Shilling, Charles Wesley and Werts, Margaret F. (1971) An Annotated Bibliography on Diving and Submarine Medicine, New York, NY: Gordon and Breach.
This tome focuses on the medical side of diving. If you want a preview, follow the link http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=16cp ... &q&f=false
2. Saggio di bibliografia sulla caccia subacquea: testi in lingua inglese, http://www.morgansub.com/Morgansub/Bibl ... %20%20.pdf
The title may be in Italian, but the books and articles listed are all in English. This document is interesting because it lists titles in chronological order, so you can see the order in which they were written. From my British perspective, I'm pleased to note that "written in English" also means titles published outside the USA!