Brody’s Bookshelf: the books read in Jaws

 

I watched a really great documentary over the weekend. Inside Jaws is free on Vimeo, but I’ll warn you that the only people who will enjoy it are really, really big fans of the movie. I’m a huge Jaws fan and even I thought it started to drag midway through (it’s about 2 1/2 hours long). But I did learn some facts about the production that I didn’t know and really enjoyed listening to the old audio clips from Spielberg and members of the cast.

If you’re a Jaws fan you’ll probably remember the scene towards the beginning of the movie where Chief Brody is sitting at home, flipping through some books about sharks and become increasingly worried. I’ve always really liked that scene because I would approach that situation in the exact same way: If something interests/worries me, I grab a bunch of books on the subject and get reading. And I’ve always been curious about what books he’s actually looking at in that scene. Luckily, Inside Jaws answered my  question. As it turns out, in addition to the February 1968 issue of National Geographic, Chief Brody also flips through several books on sharks and marine life, and here they are in no particular order:

Sharks & Rays
by Spencer Wilkie Tinker

Danger in the Sea
Alec Fraser-Brunner

The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Sportfishing for Sharks
Frank Mundus

About Sharks and Shark Attack
David H. Davies

Dangerous Marine Animals
Bruce W. Halstead

This is very nerdy information, I realize, but I have no doubt that someone else out there has always wanted to know what books Chief Brody looked at as he came to terms with the fact that a hungry shark was swimming around the beaches of Amity Island. If you’re a big fan of the movie I highly recommend reading the book The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb. Oddly enough, I didn’t really enjoy reading Peter Benchley’s Jaws, making this one of the few instances that I’d say the movie is better than the book.

10 Comments
  • Joseph Charles
    July 31, 2015

    Fintastic. I was adopted when I was a few days old, and some years ago I contacted my biological mother, discovering her favorite film was the same as mine: Jaws. She just recently sent me a Jaws-themed box of goodies, including three of these books that Brody was reading in the film. I think she even got the info from your post, so, thank you!

    • florencemcc
      August 5, 2015

      That’s an amazing story on so many levels!

      • Brody
        July 4, 2016

        Reading that comment absolutely made my day! You are correct about others wanting to know the book info. “Fintastic”…very clever 😉 Great post, and thank you for writing it!

  • Marla
    July 3, 2016

    I think the book is WAY better than the film!!

  • Desiree Jean
    January 22, 2017

    OOOK no joke, I have been looking for what books these are for 20+ yrs.. I can’t thank you enough for posting this article.

  • Taylor
    January 25, 2018

    I too have been chasing these books for a few years and this post is exactly what I was after. With great risk of sounding like some kind of freak, I’m especially interested in the one that shows the graphic images of various attacks on people. Not because I’m secretly a psychopath or anything like that, but simply because I’m interested in learning about true nature of a shark attack and verociousness that goes with it. Every phasid of these ancient majestic creatures is primal and there isn’t much left in the world that behaves exactly as it was designed to do, be it by the hand of god or pure evolution. Sure there’s a place for censorship in literater because you wouldn’t want a child flipping open a page and seeing somebody’s dismembered limbs but that’s what the top shelf is designed for is it not?
    Excellent post thank you for your help.

    • Joseph Charles
      August 11, 2018

      If you are interested in learning more about shark encounters, bites and attacks, I can recommend Ralph Collier’s book, ‘Shark Attacks of the Twentieth Century: From the Pacific Coast of North America.’ It is an immense study with exhaustive detail of every known shark attack along the West Coast of the US. It’s an impressive book. It contains photographs of bites and, when possible, extensive interviews with the survivors (fortunately, far more people survive a shark bite than die from them) and witnesses. I am not aware of any other study as detailed as this one.

      If you don’t already, please check out Collier’s website: http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/ There is a ton of information there. The committee accepts volunteers as well.

      The International Shark Attack File (ISAF) is another reliable source of information: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/

      Another is the Global Shark Attack File (GSAF): http://www.sharkattackfile.net/

      • florencemcc
        August 11, 2018

        Thanks for all this info!

  • Kelly Kidder
    August 20, 2018

    Thank you so much, I also always wondered which books he was looking at. Nice to know I’m not the only “Jaws” or shark nerd

    • florencemcc
      August 20, 2018

      Always happy to help my fellow shark nerds!

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