Close To Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo
I spent something like two years sleeping in the fetal position as a small child because I was convinced that a great white shark was going to bite my feet off while I slept, just like that skinny dipping woman who wound up clinging to the buoy in Jaws.
Sharks scared the bejeezus out of me, so of course, I was obsessed with them. When I was 8, I attended a lecture given by Jacques Cousteau's son. My dearest aspiration was to become a marine biologist so I could throw chum off the side of a boat.
And then, I discovered boys and indie rock and Sassy magazine, and forgot about sharks for many years. Until I read this book, and suddenly, the mania returned.
It goes down like this. Americans have overcome their Victorian ways enough to put on an ankle-length bathing suit, and are just discovering the joys of the seaside vacation, when a great white shark gets caught in a current and is swept into a popular Jersey beach resort where it proceeds to eat a lot of people. Then it gets really crazy. Not having had a full meal in a week, the shark goes out of its mind, leaves the ocean, and swims up a stream to where the children's swimming hole is.
I won't tell you the rest.
One small warning: we can't possibly know what was going through the shark's head, but this does not stop Capuzzo from trying. So yeah, there are a couple of chapters written from the shark's point of view, which is dumb, but I am willing to overlook it because the book is awesome in all other ways.
If you like...: Victorian American history, and harbor a piece of your soul that is 8 and thinks dinosaurs and piranhas are, like, the best things ever, this book is for you.