“In water, like in books—you can leave your life.” ― Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water
A collection of books about bodies of water and those who swim them.
The Last Wave by Gillian Best (House of Anansi)
The Last Wave follows the life of Martha, a woman who has swum the English Channel ten times, and the complex relationships she has with her husband, her children, and her close friends. The one constant in Martha’s life is the sea…an escape from her responsibilities as a wife and a mother; it consoles her when she is diagnosed with cancer; and it comforts her when her husband’s mind begins to unravel.
Turning: A Year in the Water by Jessica J. Lee (Hamish Hamilton)
Turning traces Lee’s journey to swim through 52 lakes in a single year. When she completes her year of swimming, Lee finds she has new strength, found friends and a greater understanding of landscape. This book is for everyone who loves swimming and knows what it is to abandon all thought and float home to the surface.
Swim by Marianne Apostolides (Book*hug Press)
Attuned to a body in motion, Swim pulls the reader into the arcing rhythm of a woman in a pool. She swims laps while her daughter reclines on a chaise lounge, poolside, reading a book. Without ever leaving the pool we enter discrete scenes of family and lovers, each lap moving the woman closer to an impending decision: whether she will leave her husband.
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch (Hawthorne Books)
The Chronology of Water expertly moves the reader through issues of gender, sexuality, violence, addiction and family from the point of view of a lifelong swimmer turned artist. In writing that explores the nature of memoir itself, Yuknavitch’s story traces the effect of extreme grief on a young woman’s developing sexuality and emergence as a writer.
Dead Heat by Benedek Totth, translated by Ildiko Noemi Nagy (Biblioasis)
In a nameless Hungarian town, teenagers on a competitive swim team occupy their after-training hours with hard drinking and fast cars, hash cigarettes and marathons of Grand Theft Auto, the meaningless sex and late-night exploits of a world defined by self-gratification and all its attendant recklessness. An unforgettable story about young men coming of age in an abandoned generation.
Swimming in Darkness by Lucas Harari, translated by David Homel (Arsenal Pulp Press)
An NPR Best Book of the Year. Swimming in Darkness is an intriguing, noirish graphic novel about uncovering the powerful secrets of the natural world. Pierre drops out of architecture school and travels to the Swiss Alps, home to a thermal springs complex located deep inside a mountain. The mountain holds many mysteries; it was said to have a mouth that periodically swallowed people up. As Pierre attempts to uncover the truth, he finds his match in another man who is similarly obsessed, and who’d like nothing more than to eliminate his competitor.
Glory by Gillian Wigmore (Invisible Publishing)
In a boom town dominated by a man-eating lake, Renee and Danny Chance start a new life in his grandfather’s cabin. Renee struggles to keep her head above water until she is drawn into the orbit of two beautifully notorious bar-singer cousins, and all three women are called to test the bonds of blood and loyalty. A polyphonic fable riddled with tall tales, Glory explores what it means to be a woman in north-central BC by flooding the shores of the human heart.
Catch My Drift by Genevieve Scott (Goose Lane)
An Atlantic Books Today Editor’s Pick. Lorna always wanted to stand out, but her career as a competitive swimmer was cut short by a knee injury. Cara, her daughter, tries to blend in, but when she has to fill in for her brother at a school pageant, she is overwhelmed by terror. And while Lorna tries her best to move past life’s early disappointments, Cara picks at the cracks in her family’s story. Catch My Drift follows mother and daughter through life changes, and reveals that despite our shared experiences, we each live a private story.
The Specific Ocean by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Katty Maurey (Kids Can Press)
In this gently told picture book, a young girl is unhappy about having to leave the city for a family vacation on the Pacific Ocean (which she used to call the Specific Ocean). As the days pass, however, she is drawn to spend more time in and near the water, feeling moved by its beauty and rhythms. This lyrical read-aloud presents a compelling emotional component to why conserving our natural spaces is important.
Infinite Blue by Darren Groth and Simon Groth (Orca Book Publisher)
Ashley Drummond is an elite swimmer. Clayton Sandalford is a talented artist. From the moment of their first meeting, they were destined to be together. Staying together, however, will test the limits of their love. A world-record swim, and the strange vision that accompanies it, raises questions about the couple’s connection. Infinite Blue is a contemporary fairy tale about love and loss, flesh and water, the source of eternity, and the lure of possibility.