University of Wisconsin–Madison

Water Reading List

Interested in broadening your awareness of water issues? Check out any of these great books! If you have a suggestion for a title to add, let us know at: water@mailplus.wisc.edu

Topics:

  • Our Favorites. Not sure where to start? Try one of our favorites.
  • Science and Technology. Fascinating overviews of the development of water-related technologies and scientific knowledge.
  • Environmental Health. Tales of scientists as detectives, tracking down sources of illness in the water.
  • On Location. Stories that take a deep dive into a water crisis or water issues at a single locale.
  • In America. Overviews of water challenges facing the States.
  • Global Water. Sources of water conflict and crisis at the global scale and alternate ways of thinking about it.

For a deeper dive into water literature, see also the library resources at the Wisconsin Water Library and the UW-Madison Limnology Library.

Exciting news! The Life and Death of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan has been selected as UW-Madison’s Go Big Read for the 2018-2019 academic year. For special events, discussion questions, and more check out the Go Big Read website

Our Favorites

Not sure where to start? Try one of our favorites.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
The Water Book by Alok Jha
Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth Seigel
Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource by David Sedlak
The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink by Robert Morris
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman

Science + Technology

Fascinating overviews of the development of water-related technologies and scientific knowledge.

The Water Book by Alok Jha
Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource by David Sedlak
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon
The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink by Robert Morris
Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last? by Sandra Postel
Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature by Sandra Postel and Brian Richter

Environmental Health

Tales of scientists as detectives, tracking down sources of illness in the water.

A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark
What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha
Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber
The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink by Robert Morris

On Location

Stories that take a deep dive into water issues or a water crisis at a single locale.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
The Great Lakes Water Wars by Peter Annin
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry
The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West by Donald Worster
Overtapped Oasis: Reform or Revolution for Western Water by Marc Reisner
Turning the Tide: Saving the Chesapeake Bay by Tom Horton
A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy by Anna Clark
What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha
Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World by Seth Seigel

In America

Overviews of water challenges facing the States.

Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis by Cynthia Barnett
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman
Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters by Robert Glennon
Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It by Robert Glennon
Not a Drop to Drink: America’s Water Crisis (And What You Can Do) by Ken Midkiff

Global Water

Sources of water conflict and crisis at the global scale and alternate ways of thinking about it.

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon
Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst by Diane Raines Ward
Blue Gold by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke
Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity by Sandra Postel
When the Rivers Run Dry: The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century by Fred Pearce
Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit by Vandana Shiva
Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity by Sandra Postel
Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water by Maude Barlow
Water by David Lewis Feldman
Thinking with Water ed. Cecilia Chen
Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource by Marq De Villiers