By Peter Annin, Codirector of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation and author of The Great Lakes Water Wars.

1. Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Marc Reisner (1993)

The definitive history of water resources in the American West, and a very illuminating lesson in the political economy of limited resources anywhere.

2. Paddle-to-the-Sea, Holling C. Holling (1941)

An oldie and one for children, but still one of the best resources of Great Lakes geography and the watershed education. In it, a young First Nation boy carves a toy canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea. Paddle’s journey through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean provides an excellent historical record of the region.

3. The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, Charles Fishman (2012)

From the wet moons of Saturn to the water-obsessed hotels of Las Vegas, The Big Thirst explores our strange and complex relationship to water.

4. Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It, Robert Glennon (2010)

From manufactured snow for tourists in Atlanta to trillions of gallons of water flushed down the toilet each year, Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.

5. The World’s Water, Peter Gleick (Volume 8, 2014)

This is a biennial volume, chronicling global water tensions stretching back centuries. I referred to this a lot when I was writing The Great Lakes Water Wars.

6. Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Waters, Robert Glennon (2004)

A treatise on how America is irrigating itself to death while sucking its groundwater aquifers dry

7. Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do, Wallace J. Nichols (2015)

I have not read this yet, but it is at the top of my list. In it, Marine biologist Wallace Nichols explores the science behind the reasons we are drawn to water, happiest around water, ultimately in need of water, beyond drinking it.


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