More than a vacation spot, more than a hot zone of environmental degradation, more than a literary device: the ocean is Seven-Tenths (Europa Editions, $16) of the world. Celebrated British novelist and satirist James Hamilton-Paterson (Cooking with Fernet Branca) turns to the water in this rich meditation, plumbing the depths of the sea’s meanings much as Annie Dillard considered nature in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Hamilton-Paterson lets his thoughts float along the currents of travelogue, philosophy, and environmentalism; there are sections on overfishing and ecological crisis, piracy, the Sea of Galilee, Kon-Tiki, Levi-Strauss, and a burial at sea. With Seven-Tenths your time on the beach this summer will be enriched in myriad ways. Or, if this is a no-vacation-summer for you, Hamilton-Paterson will evoke the oceanic expanses in ways idle days at the shore never could.