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Women Writing About Water

Last week, in response to a Twitter post by writer and editor Sarah Boon, I posted a query about possibly compiling a list of books on water authored by women.  Boon’s list was about women writing on the West, so the segue seemed natural.

The response was phenomenal—maybe the first time anything I’ve written has “gone viral.”  There were lots of suggested titles, authors, and much back and forth as contributors consulted their bookshelves, recollected titles read long ago, and compared this list to other book lists created recently.

As of Monday morning, the list that Boon has put together through Amazon.com has fifty titles.  More will likely be added.

So what’s on this list?  Not surprisingly, just about anything you could imagine in terms of water subjects.  I’ve only read a few of them, sad to say, but here’s a thumbnail summary of the ones I do know.

Cynthia Barnett’s Blue Revolution (2012) is a wide-ranging account of various “water crises” taking place across the United States.  The accounts are detailed and accessible, Barnett is a journalist and teaches journalism, and paint a picture of widely varying problems with water that are highly location-specific. 

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek  (1974) is Annie Dillard’s wonderfully evocative, lyrical paean to the wonders of nature found near her home in western Virginia. Dillard mixes close observation (the giant water bug!) wide reading in natural history and a passionate curiosity about how the world fits together.

Also dating from the mid-1970s, Run, River, Run  by  Ann Zwinger (1975) chronicles the Green River country of Utah and Colorado. An illustrator as well as a skilled writer,  Zwinger brings the canyon country to life.

Sandra Postel and Brian Richter  Rivers for Life  (2003) is a  call to action in changing how we manage rivers, along with clear, reasonably understandable (to this nonscientist) discussion of how rivers work hydrologically and ecologically.

Four books.  Out of fifty.  Guess I have a summer reading list, huh?

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