Updated: May 17, 2021
The first thing that comes to most diver’s minds when you mention reading is their eLearning material that they need to test on to complete their next SDI certification. For many of us, the course reading is slightly dreadful, especially when all we want to do is dive; it is like having to do your homework before going out to play. However, when it comes to reading for pleasure, the Atlanta Aquatics team has put together a list of shelf-worthy books for our dive buddies. Feel free to come by the shop and share your thoughts on each book!
Scuba Confidential: An insider’s Guide to Becoming a Better Diver by Simon Pridmore
For whatever reason, the SCUBA industry has more books written in a “guide” format, rather than a novel or even a good, old-fashioned story. Luckily for divers, this turns out to be in our favor, as we always strive to become better underwater stewards – hence the subtitle of the book “Scuba Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Better Diver.” The author, Simon Pridmore, is an esteemed Scuba diving writer, a pioneer in the mixed-gas deep water diving scene, and he ran an instructor training agency along with his own dive center – so let’s just say he knows a thing or two about scuba diving.
No matter how long you have been diving, or how technical your endeavors have become, this book is a must read. It hits on every facet of the sport, from discussing how a diver should think about positioning their gear to understanding the mix-gas situations for deep/technical diving. Pridmore uses real-life scenarios prefacing the chapter to engage the reader and give them more of a reason to not stray from the sometimes complex literature. Every chapter gives you small, but very interesting bits of information to keep you wanting more. Each chapter is end-capped with a very brief two-to-three-line summary of “how to become a better diver,” which are almost worthy of writing on a dive slate and keeping in your BC pocket.
Pridmore explains things in a way that even someone who has never experienced diving, could have an excellent idea of what to expect once they do. For instance, Pridmore explains Live Aboard dive trips – from waking up in the morning, how the dives are structured, and deciding whether you should consider a night dive or just watching the sunset. He even adds in a Best [fill in the blank] for all sorts of different diving locations all around the world. A little hint – Florida and North Carolina make the list for best caves and best wrecks, respectively.
I do not make my living reviewing books, but I must say, I would be hard-pressed to criticize this book in any way, especially given Pridmore’s experience level, and my lack thereof. I am aspiring to become a professional diver, so I read this book to broaden my knowledge, prior increasing my experience. However, when the experience does come, I will still reference this writing as a handbook – a Bible if you will – to truly become a better diver.
The Scuba Snobs’ Guide to Diving Etiquette
Like I said before, most Scuba diving books are more so guides than anything else, but this guide is well worth its quick, quirky read. Most people have heard the term “Scuba Snob,” whether it be on a boat or in a dive shop – whether it be demeaning or spoken proudly. No matter how you perceive the term, each of us have our own do’s and don’ts when it comes to diving, and like most things, with age and experience, it only gets worse. In “The Scuba Snobs’ Guide to Diving Etiquette,” you will find that nearly every little thing that has left you annoyed on a dive trip is simply advised against in plain, written English for everyone to read.
This book, written by a husband-and-wife diving duo, Debbie and Dennis Jacobson, let their thoughts be known on how scuba divers should act, and I must say, I absolutely agree with them on everything. The book is written in their intermittent points of view with enough completely relatable experiences to keep any reader smiling with every turn of the page. Their shameless way of making a somewhat “unspoken” rulebook for divers is long overdue. Some of their points of view may rub some divers the wrong way, perhaps because they are writing about them, but it is all in good fun. Not to mention, there is nothing wrong with a little bit of brushing up on diving etiquette before any dive.
Disclaimer: this book is not for the serious diver trying to learn actual diving etiquette. This is a humorous book that takes you away from, yet another, serious diving guidebook. One may even think that was part of the humor… Either way, they have a “Part Two” to this book, as well, which is certainly on my “Want to Read” list.
The Last Dive
To step away from the guides and finally go into a novel, “The Last Dive” is the sad but true story of a father and son’s 230-foot descent on compressed air alone. The duo was attempting their fateful dive in hopes to identify a German U-Boat that was sunk during World War II off the New York/New Jersey coast. These days, any diver that has planned to reach a fraction of this depth knows the dangers associated with going that deep without an added gas mixture of oxygen or a trimix with helium. However, the book takes place in 1992, during the very early days of technical diving and its instruction.
Although this tale is absolutely heart-wrenching, it is an important reminder of how dangerous our beloved sport can be at depth. Of course, 230 feet is much deeper than any recreational sport diver would think of, but the possibility is there. Bernie Chowdhury, the author and technical diver, recounts the tragedy of the Rouse family, while giving the reader a full extent of the history of deep diving. Brace yourself for a lot of back and forth as he explains the relevance of the Rouse's diving timeline as it pertains to deep diving history. If you can handle this small reading "inconvenience," then you'll greatly appreciate it; either way, this is well worth the read.