Jul 17, 2020 | Blog

Love a good read? Love the sea? Tidelines invites you to take part in an Exe estuary-wide summer read of Rachel Carson’s book The Sea Around Us working with Devon Libraries and Libraries Unlimited.

“Reading it will ensure that you never look at the sea in the same way again” – Billy Mills, 2014

Many years ago I found a battered second-hand copy of Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us written in  1951. What I found inside felt like Rachel Carson was taking me by the hand and leading me through the vast and complex story of the sea with the poetry and patience of someone reading a bedtime story. We learn about currents, tides, the building of islands, the very beginnings, and the minerals and microscopic creatures that feed the entire cycle. Some of the theories and ideas that formed the bedrock of scientific knowledge in the 1950s have been superseded, as would be expected, but this in no way the diminishes the book’s potency. We hear Carson reflecting on the warming of the seas and the increased melting of the glaciers visible even in the mid-twentieth century and the book leaves me wanting to know more including what happened next…

“What stands out is how beautiful the writing is. Carson combined a scientist’s ability to see with a novelist’s ability to imagine.” The New Yorker, 2012

We have chosen this book for our Tidelines summer read because it brings together so many strands we are interested in: creativity, imagination and science; the connection of our place here, in the Exe estuary to the wider systems of the spinning earth, and exploring artful ways to communicate complex subjects.  Rachel Carson was a pioneering female activist who, through her writing (in particular her book Silent Spring), inspired generations of people to take action to protect the earth. We are delighted to be working with the library service to get this book to as many people as possible as an e book, a paper copy and an audio book. Contact your local library in Dawlish, Exmouth or Topsham to get hold of a copy.  Anyone can take part. Perhaps you and members of your family or a group of friends could read the book at the same time?

When you have read the book we invite you to share your thoughts by:  

Recording a short video clip of any aspect of the estuary in landscape format (without people) while reading a favourite passage from the book for up to one minute. Allow a few seconds silence at the beginning and end of the clip and don’t record your voice if its too windy otherwise we won’t be able to hear you!  You could get a friend to help. Send it to us at info@tidelines.uk

Coming along to one of our informal discussions on 19/20 September (online or in person) to share your reflections with other readers including scientists and researchers. Email us or sign up for updates on website for more details.


The Sea Around Us is available from Dawlish and Exmouth Libraries and through the Choose and Collect Service in Topsham. To book a paperback copy or an audiobook, contact: Dawlish Library dawlish.library@librariesunlimited.org.uk, Exmouth Library exmouth.library@librariesunlimited.org.uk or Topsham Library topsham.library@librariesunlimited.org.uk.  You can also download the e-book and audio book with your library card at www.devonlibraries.org.uk . It is located on Overdrive/Libby here is a direct link.  people can request the book from Exmouth Library to be sent out on the mobile library that is based there.  You can also obtain a loan copy from Tidelines by emailing info@tidelines.uk and please get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Thanks to University of Exeter, Devon Libraries, Libraries Unlimited and Wild East Devon

 If there is poetry in my book about the sea it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry. Rachel Carson, 1952