Autumn has finally arrived on the East Coast after a period of unseasonably warm weather! And there is nothing quite like curling up with a good book as the leaves change colors and begin to fall. Need a good book? Check out these water-themed books:
Drinking Water by James Salzman
In Drinking Water, James Salzman, a Duke University professor and environmental policy expert, highlights how drinking water has been the most pressing issue for humans for centuries. He examines how clean water supplies have been the exception, not the rule, reminding the reader that in 1900, 1 in 70 Americans died of a waterborne disease before age of 70. He concludes that access to water may be regarded as a public right, but the best way to ensure a reliable supply of pure water – especially in poor regions – is to privatize it.
As Bill McKibben, the author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, reviewed “Instead of buying your next twelve-pack of bottled water, buy this fascinating account of all the people who spent their lives making sure you’d have clean, safe drinking water every time you turned on the tap.”
Thirst: Water and Power in the Ancient World by Steven Mithen
A professor of Early Prehistory at the University of Reading, Steven Mithen blends archaeology, current science, and ancient literature in Thirst: Water and Power in the Ancient World as he examines how water management has been critical to the economic, social, and cultural development of civilizations for thousands of years. Mithen investigates in Thirst: Water and Power in the Ancient World whether the rise of complex social and economic networks enabled ancient cultures to manage their water, or conversely whether only when a society had reliable access to water could it turn itself into an economic or cultural power.
University of Cincinnati’s Vernon L. Scarborough writes in his review, “Mithen, a proven storyteller, is at his best in this engaging introduction to humankind’s management of water throughout the world. Lucid prose and evocative vignettes make clean the broad and complex sweep of this story, which is both ancient and timely.”
Empire of Water by David Soll
David Soll, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, explores the history of New York City’s water system from the unsanitary conditions of the late 19th century to today’s water system that delivers a billion gallons a day of excellent water to the city’s homes and businesses. Soll focuses on the geographical, environmental and political repercussions as New York City built the largest municipal water system in the U.S. by buying watersheds in the Catskills and building a large network of reservoirs, pipes, tanks, sampling stations, and other devices.
Michael Rawson of Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center and author of Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston writes “Empire of Water is an impressive work on an important topic. In clear and engaging prose, Soll explores the past management of New York City’s water system and demonstrates that the story he tells has important implications for policy decisions today.”
Taking on Water by Wendy J. Pabich
In Taking on Water, Wendy Pabich recounts her shock when she received a monthly water bill for 30,000 gallons for her household of two adults and a dog. Taking on Water is part memoir, part investigation, and part solution manual as Pabich works to implement day-to-day solutions to reduce her household’s water footprint from examining the water used in the products her household consumes, to revamping the water and energy systems in her home, and even to processing her own waste water in her home.
CEO of Seventh Generation, John Replogle wrote “Wendy Pabich artfully blends deep research and core science with her own personal journey through the insightful eyes and passionate voice of a devoted ecologist. This account will cause you both to pause and reflect as well as turn the page and read on.”
Have you read a good book about water lately? Leave it in the comments below!