Book: The Dance of Air & Sea

The Dance of Air & Sea
Only a book this good deserves Helvetica (probably the most beautiful font).

Beautiful. Thematically, like Nocturne for the oceans. Stylistically unparalleled.
288 pages, ★★★★★

It’s a pleasure to read, “we’re all super-interconnected” in a climatology book, especially when most other books are clinging to Al Gore’s domesday-and-guilt formula. Cool It! avoided that spin very successfully, but even that [four-star] book lacked the depth of this one. The Dance of Air & Sea excels in its field: not only is it rational and well-referenced, but it’s also interlaced with stories, history and wisdom. This book is full of stories that other people will be interested to hear.

The Dance of Air & Sea is far more knowledge-rich than its moon-based counterpart, Nocturne. This book’s author, Arnold H. Taylor, has been an oceanography professor for 30 years at Plymouth Marine Laboratory—arguably the best place in the world for ocean research—and is thus perfectly suited to write this book. He is a well-read, high-level academic, which makes every sentence interesting either culturally or scientifically. Reading this, I made a lot of notes.

Some interesting snippets from this book include:

Page 32: containers of floating, plastic toys were spilled into the ocean and tracked by satellite to monitor ocean currents

Page 58: trawler-fishing is a double-edged sword: predators are harmed more than prey, allowing the prey population (usually the stuff we eat) to grow stronger in the long-term.

Page 100: oceanic chlorophyll cools the oceans by up to 1°C. Lose the chlorophyll, and the ocean warms up!

Page 130: oceans are remarkably interconnected: when there’s high pressure in the Pacific Ocean or the Azores, for example, we can expect low pressure in the Indian Ocean or in Iceland at the same time—pressures behave rather like a giant, atmospheric see-saw.

And much more…

Readers who enjoy Bill Bryson and Stephen Fry will love this book: it goes much further academically, but retains the relaxed, knowledge-rich tone that both Bryson and Fry also possess. Definitely five stars for this book. Now, I want to find a book like this about Chemistry. ★★★★★

9 thoughts on “Book: The Dance of Air & Sea

    1. Oh, I would love that chemistry book!

      On another note, I am currently reading a similar book that’s equally as exciting as this one—definitely five stars—but it’s taking me a long time to complete it. Reading it, I feel like one of the zillions of photons that takes 150,000 years to exit the sun.


      1. Hmmm, that sounds like a lead in to something. I don’t think I would enjoy that feeling very much. Worse than the tube at rush hour.


      2. I’m pleased to hear that you Canadians say ‘tube’, too. (Or at least know that we Brits say it.)

        Tube at rush hour can be very pleasant if you’re surrounded by people you know and like 🙂 That’s how this book makes me feel.


      3. I think most Canadians know what the tube is, though we don’t use the term here (and barely have underground lightrail in the west, or even lightrail at all). I lived in London for several years, and commuted for 1.5 or 2hrs each way on tube, train and bus for most of that time. It was close contact with all around me, pretty much sharing the contents of their handkerchiefs and sweaty armpits. I never did travel on the tube with more than one person that I knew. So, for me, not a feeling I want a book to give me. Still, I will read your review with interest when you are done.
        I am wondering, are all these book reviews somehow connected to your new course of studies? Are you doubling up on the blog and assignments?


      4. You’ve inspired me to possibly add an “About” page to my blog.

        My reading and writing skills were terrible even after graduation from Cambridge in 2010. I started rambling on this blog over a year ago, and found that in order to write well, I first needed read good books.

        So I ordered lots of books from Amazon China, then moved to Australia and discovered my local library. I caught up on twenty years without reading. My writing got better, too. It’s still nowhere near ‘good’, but it’s heading in the right direction!

        I also enjoy blogging. It holds me accountable to reading attentively, and gives me a good reason to go back to the library!

        And I enjoy reading other people’s blogs. Blogs are personal catalysts for people who want to do much more of something. They gold you accountable. People think more about, and do much more of, whatever they blog about.

        The books I review here will totally change when I start studying a Diploma of Education in February.


  1. Thanks for the response – I had thought you might have started the Diploma already as your number of reviews has really gone up. It is so totally true about needing to read a lot to be a good writer. A reader might not be able to articulate, for instance, the grammatical rules, but they know how to write. And blogging is a catalyst to thinking and paying more attention to a topic, at least for me. The comments help in that process too.


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