Cast your mind out to sea with books that take place in the ocean

When you read books that take place in the ocean, the open waters can be tranquil blankets of blue, elusive and silent witnesses, or tempestuous titans of terror. Oceans are a fantastic way to set the scene in a story. So it’s only fitting they flowed their way into literature.

World Ocean Day

As World Ocean Day takes place in June, it seemed only right to spotlight this iconic setting. From legendary novels such as 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea to Moby Dick, the sea has a way of casting a spell on book characters and readers too.

This is a photo of a scuba diver treading water in the Red Sea during the sunset for the 'books that take place in the ocean' blog.

Pick of books that take place in the ocean

If you’ve already had the pleasure of diving into those tales, then below you will find more books that take place in the ocean. And these stories will ‘wet’ your appetite. Cast off your sails, find a good chair to sink into and enjoy the voyage: 

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi narrates the life-changing and haunting voyage of a young man stranded at sea. As he navigates his small boat with a ferocious tiger as his only company, you realise not everything is as it seems. 

The story’s worldwide success has seen it adapted for film and the West End.

The Soldier Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima

This story follows a family relationship between a mother, her son, and a sailor who stays with them after his vessel anchors at the local dock. As their relationship deepens, the youth begins to harbor resentment towards the sailor, taking extreme measure into his own hands.

A chilling tale of youth and morality. The book was also adapted into a film based in UK.  

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Flotsam is a children’s book that takes place in the ocean. It tells the story of a boy who finds a washed up vintage camera on the beach. As he combs his way through the film, his discoveries about the underwater world go beyond his wildest dreams about far away places, distant in time.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway

This novella depicts the life of a Cuban fisherman. After eighty-four days of catching no fish, he goes far out to sea to end his unlucky streak. Here he finds more than what he bargained for.

This book that takes place in the ocean is the last work of great fiction from the renowned American author. 

The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde

The year is 2019. One elderly woman sets out on a perilous journey across the ocean to reunite with her lost love. Around 40 years later, her small sailboat is rediscovered in a small garden by a father and daughter fleeing war and drought. What happens? Only through her belongings can they see her story.

Two tales interweave within this book. Here the past and present come together with a renewed hope for the human spirit.

Why lookout for books that take place in the ocean?

The ocean is a mysterious place. And we still know very little about it. Such awe-inspiring settings can evoke powerful emotions. Perfect ingredients for a good read, whether you’re sat in your own chair, or can hear the waves yourself.


More reads about the ocean:

Read our review of Life of Pi: one of the books that takes place in the ocean here.

Read our review of Lord of The Flies: set by The Pacific Ocean

Wiki for educators: all about the ocean!

Blog for educators: which is the most popular ocean according to Google?

Celebrate World Oceans Day in schools

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