100 books like Water

By Christy Mihaly, Mariona Cabassa (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Water fans have personally recommended if you like Water. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of We Are Water Protectors

Yvonne Wakim Dennis Author Of Indigenous Firsts: A History of Native American Achievements and Events

From my list on unlearning stereotypes about Indigenous peoples.

Who am I?

It is a healing gesture to honor Indigenous Americans and others during the month-long celebrations intended to remedy the omission of groups, whose origins are not European. We need more! Let's create inclusivity! In an inclusive society, who are the "them" and who are the "us?" We all need to be recognized as citizens of our country instead of occasional entertainment for "drive-by" tourists of diversity. Inclusivity also means caring for all who share our planet:  all other animals; waters; terrains; plants, etc. My award-winning books have usually been about Native peoples of North America, particularly the United States, and how we have always been here and still exist. 

Yvonne's book list on unlearning stereotypes about Indigenous peoples

Yvonne Wakim Dennis Why did Yvonne love this book?

Water is essential to all of us, not just Native peoples, but all people, plants, animals, and all life on our planet. This book with its gorgeous illustrations celebrates Indigenous-led movements to protect water and preserve our future. It's a call to action that urges each one of us, no matter how young, to champion justice for the environment. Lindstrom's words flow like water and carry us to the conclusion that there is hope if we all accept responsibility for the caretaking of our planet. 

By Carole Lindstrom, Michaela Goade (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked We Are Water Protectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2021 Caldecott Medal
#1 New York Times Bestseller

Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth’s water from harm and corruption―a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people’s water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.


Book cover of Giant Squid

Lisa L. Owens Author Of The Life Cycle of a Clown Fish

From my list on marine-life magic for children.

Who am I?

I’ve always been an animal lover who's also interested in what makes different creatures tick: how they’ve evolved as living beings, where and how they exist, and what role any given one plays in our world at large. I also find bodies of water calming to gaze at, fun to splash in and sail on, and it’s intriguing to study them as ecosystems. Each type—from small transient sidewalk puddles to vast enduring seas—can support some form of animal life under the right circumstances. And, for me, the fact that we humans spend most of our time experiencing life on land makes marine life that much more mysterious and magical to learn and write about. 

Lisa's book list on marine-life magic for children

Lisa L. Owens Why did Lisa love this book?

One look at the cover of this visually stunning, expertly crafted nonfiction picture book sparks the notion that the elusive giant squid has much more to teach us than what meets the eye.

Next, this opening line from the prologue plunges the reader into the squid’s mysterious world so the rest of the book can fulfill the cover’s promise:

"Down, down in the depths of the sunless sea, deep, deep in the cold, cold dark, creatures, strange and fearsome, lurk."

I was hooked from the get-go, and I know Fleming and Rohmann’s innovative pairing of poetic expository text with darkly arresting illustrations—with every word and brushstroke remaining faithful to the facts—will engage any reader lucky enough to pick up this book.

By Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Giant Squid as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

The giant squid is one of the most elusive creatures in the world. As large as whales, they hide beyond reach deep within the sea, forcing scientists to piece together their story from those clues they leave behind.

An injured whale's ring-shaped scars indicate an encounter with a giant squid. A piece of beak broken off in the whale's belly; a flash of ink dispersed as a blinding defense to allow the squid to escape-- these fragments of proof were all we had . . . until a giant squid was finally filmed in its natural habitat only two years…


Book cover of The Blue Whale

Lisa Kahn Schnell Author Of High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

From my list on water and the amazing creatures that live there.

Who am I?

I spent long days at the beach as a kid, and sharp bits of horseshoe crab shells in my sandcastles were a frequent annoyance. As an adult, I discovered a horseshoe crab lurching its way back to the water and wondered: What's the deal with this weird animal? To find out, I read books, talked with scientists, and assisted with horseshoe crab and shorebird research. What I discovered—about horseshoe crabs, other animals, and the water they live in—was too amazing to keep to myself. I hope my book encourages kids to go out and explore wild places, too!

Lisa's book list on water and the amazing creatures that live there

Lisa Kahn Schnell Why did Lisa love this book?

Awe, beauty, and a satisfying amount of information—The Blue Whale has it all. I love the curious child we follow through the book, as well as the visual comparisons that turn astonishing facts about the world’s largest living creature into subtly humorous images that I can relate to on a more personal level. In the final pages of the book, the child—our surrogate adventurer—falls asleep and dreams, amazed by a world that contains such tremendous creatures. 

By Jenni Desmond,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Blue Whale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A nonfiction picture book, The Blue Whale draws children into the life and world of this enormous whale by situating facts within a familiar context that is fun and engaging. Here, readers are given the actual size of an eye right on the page, and we are informed how understand this whale's body size in relation to trucks, cars, milk bottles, and hippos! With an accurate and engaging text, fully vetted by a blue whale expert, and lyrically lovely illustrations, The Blue Whale is a book that invites children in and holds their attention. Its tempo is like a pleasing…


Book cover of Water Sings Blue

Lisa Kahn Schnell Author Of High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

From my list on water and the amazing creatures that live there.

Who am I?

I spent long days at the beach as a kid, and sharp bits of horseshoe crab shells in my sandcastles were a frequent annoyance. As an adult, I discovered a horseshoe crab lurching its way back to the water and wondered: What's the deal with this weird animal? To find out, I read books, talked with scientists, and assisted with horseshoe crab and shorebird research. What I discovered—about horseshoe crabs, other animals, and the water they live in—was too amazing to keep to myself. I hope my book encourages kids to go out and explore wild places, too!

Lisa's book list on water and the amazing creatures that live there

Lisa Kahn Schnell Why did Lisa love this book?

To me, this book feels like a walk along the beach. I pick up each poem, sink into the swirls and splashes of color, and let my mind wander. Books that encourage such meandering strolls near the ocean have a special place in my heart: the idea for my horseshoe crab book started on just such a walk. Water Sings Blue is a great reminder that you never know what wonders you will discover when you go outside and let your curiosity guide you. 

By Kate Coombs, Meilo So (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Water Sings Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Come down to the shore with this rich and vivid celebration of the ocean! With gorgeous watercolors by award-winning artist Meilo So and lyrical, playful poems by Kate Coombs, The Water Sings Blue evokes the beauty and power, the depth and mystery, and the endless resonance of the sea.


Book cover of The Dead Wander in the Desert

Sophie Ibbotson Author Of Uzbekistan

From my list on to discover the Silk Road.

Who am I?

When I first visited Central Asia in 2008, little did I know that it would become the focus of my life and work. I now advise the World Bank and national governments on economic development, with a particular focus on tourism, and I’m the Chairman of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. I am Uzbekistan’s Ambassador for Tourism, a co-founder of the Silk Road Literary Festival, and I’ve written and updated guidebooks to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Silk Road.

Sophie's book list on to discover the Silk Road

Sophie Ibbotson Why did Sophie love this book?

The shrinking of the Aral Sea is arguably the greatest manmade environmental disaster of the 20th century. Kazakh writer Rollan Seisenbayev uses the catastrophe as the backdrop for his novel, exploring the impact on local people through the eyes of a fisherman and his son who are confronted not only with the vanishing sea but as a result also the disappearance of their livelihood and future. The Dead Wander in the Desert was long-listed for the PEN Translation Prize and deserves to be much more widely read. 

By Rollan Seisenbayev, John Farndon (translator), Olga Nakston (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Dead Wander in the Desert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the PEN Translation Prize.

From Kazakhstan's most celebrated author comes his powerful and timely English-language debut about a fisherman's struggle to save the Aral Sea, and its way of life, from man-made ecological disaster.

Unfolding on the vast grasslands of the steppes of Kazakhstan before its independence from the USSR, this haunting novel limns the struggles of the world through the eyes of Nasyr, a simple fisherman and village elder, and his resolute son, Kakharman. Both father and son confront the terrible future that is coming to the poisoned Aral Sea.

Once the fourth-largest lake on earth, it…


Book cover of Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World

Christopher Rosow Author Of Vital Deception

From my list on heroes that we can relate to.

Who am I?

I remember devouring Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October. I loved the premise, the technology, the maritime aspect, and most of all, how Jack Ryan, a normal guy, managed to buck conventional wisdom and groupthink. Then, as the genre developed, it became more and more about the so-called “super spy.” While I enjoy the characters—the list is long: Jack Ryan Junior, Mitch Rapp, Scot Harvath, Hayley Chill… I can’t relate. I mean, they go on five-mile runs before breakfast, never break a sweat, and remain perfectly composed. That’s not me. That might not be you, either. Ben Porter is my answer to the unachievable perfection in the current crop of heroes.

Christopher's book list on heroes that we can relate to

Christopher Rosow Why did Christopher love this book?

Harrison’s personal journey from party boy to non-profit CEO is impressive, as are his sales skills. The author can certainly pitch a story, as he did while he built Charity: Water, the name of the aspirational non-profit that he founded to bring clean water to poor and underserved areas. The book is a first-person narrative that reads like a novel—except that it’s not, and the heartbreaking chapter about Rachel Beckwith will remind you that everyday heroes walk among us. It might even inspire you to be a hero to someone else in Rachel’s memory.

By Scott Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thirst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An inspiring personal story of redemption, second chances, and the transformative power within us all, from the founder and CEO of the nonprofit charity: water.
 
At 28 years old, Scott Harrison had it all. A top nightclub promoter in New York City, his life was an endless cycle of drugs, booze, models—repeat. But 10 years in, desperately unhappy and morally bankrupt, he asked himself, "What would the exact opposite of my life look like?" Walking away from everything, Harrison spent the next 16 months on a hospital ship in West Africa and discovered his true…


Book cover of A Vital Frontier: Water Insurgencies in Europe

Andreas Bieler Author Of Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe

From my list on struggles against water grabbing.

Who am I?

Andreas Bieler’s main research focus has been on the possibilities of labour movements, broadly defined, to represent the interests of their members and wider societies in struggles against capitalist exploitation in times of neo-liberal globalisation. His research on water struggles in Europe was motivated by the fact that this has been one of the few areas, in which resistance has actually been successful. Understanding the reasons behind this success may help us understand what is necessary for success in other areas of resistance. 

Andreas' book list on struggles against water grabbing

Andreas Bieler Why did Andreas love this book?

Coming from an anthropological, ethnographic approach, Andrea Muehlebach provides an illuminating account of the motives, hopes, and disappointments driving activists in their struggle against the financialization of water.

Through a close engagement with water struggles on the ground Muehlebach paints a rich picture of the large variety of forms of resistance in the very struggle over life itself. 

By Andrea Muehlebach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Vital Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A Vital Frontier Andrea Muehlebach examines the work of activists across Europe as they organize to preserve water as a commons and public good in the face of privatization. Traversing social, political, legal, and hydrological terrains, Muehlebach situates water as a political fault line at the frontiers of financialization, showing how the seemingly relentless expansion of capital into public utilities is being challenged by an equally relentless and often successful insurgence of political organizing. Drawing on ethnographic research, Muehlebach presents water protests as a vital politics that comprises popular referenda, barricades in the streets, huge demonstrations, the burning of…


Book cover of The Conquest of Water: The Advent of Health in the Industrial Age

Katherine Ashenburg Author Of The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History

From my list on the history of washing our bodies.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to social history, so the chance to learn what people used for toilet paper in the middle ages or how deodorant was invented and popularized in the early 20th century was perfect for me. The three years I spent researching The Dirt on Clean included trips to see the bathing facilities in Pompeii and actually bathing in ancient mineral baths and spas in Hungary, Switzerland, and Germany, and what’s not to like about that?

Katherine's book list on the history of washing our bodies

Katherine Ashenburg Why did Katherine love this book?

Europeans had feared water since the Black Death of 1347 when the doctors of the Sorbonne pronounced that people who took warm baths were more susceptible to the plague. There followed what the French historian Jules Michelet called (with some hyperbole) “five hundred years without a bath.” Goubert’s scholarly but always readable book describes the gradual and tentative death of this longstanding myth. Beginning in the 18th century, the emergence of the idea of water as a benefit and not a danger to public health was complicated and touched many areas of life. Goubert is adept at moving from social to cultural to administrative sectors, with just the right balance of theory and anecdotes.

By Jean-Pierre Goubert, Andrew Wilson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Conquest of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The preoccupation with water is, according to Jean-Pierre Goubert, one of the subdivisions of the religion of progress. . . . Goubert's research is entirely interdisciplinary, and his procedure is highly original. The first in his field, the author has at all points built up a study which never departs from its faithfulness to texts, documents and facts."--From the introduction

This book is the first major study of the social and cultural conquest of water during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Jean-Pierre Goubert discloses the changing meanings of everyday reality as he explores the transition from water-scarce cultures, in which…


Book cover of Living Waters: Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes

John William Nelson Author Of Muddy Ground: Native Peoples, Chicago's Portage, and the Transformation of a Continent

From my list on the history and majesty of the Great Lakes.

Who am I?

I grew up in Ohio, just south of the Great Lakes. As a kid, I spent time on the Lakes fishing with my dad. I’ve been fascinated with these freshwater seas and their ecological richness ever since. My love for the Lakes eventually merged with my passion for early American history when I attended graduate school at Notre Dame. There, I began researching how Native peoples understood and utilized the unique geography of the Lakes. That work grew into my first book, Muddy Ground, and I anticipate the rest of my career as a historian will be dedicated to studying the environmental and human history of the Great Lakes region.

John's book list on the history and majesty of the Great Lakes

John William Nelson Why did John love this book?

As you can already tell, I love a good travelogue. And as someone who was drawn to the Great Lakes originally via canoe, I found a fellow-traveler in Margaret Wooster.

Her vantage point comes from the hull of her boat, as she canoes and portages her way around the rivers that drain into Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River. In canoeing these waterscapes, she recounts the many centuries of history of the area but also shares her perspective as a conservationist when it comes to the challenges of protecting the Lakes and their rivers in our current moment.

Her attention to ecological detail, her rapt descriptions of wetlands riches, and her local storytelling invoke the intwined human and aquatic histories of this region. 

By Margaret Wooster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Margaret Wooster is the author of Somewhere to Go on Sunday: A Guide to Natural Treasures in Western New York. She lives in Buffalo, New York.


Book cover of The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California

Dan Morain Author Of Kamala's Way: An American Life

From my list on California-themed stories that matter.

Who am I?

Visiting journalists regularly misinterpret California. Outside politicians twist it into bizarre caricatures. I know because I have worked as a journalist in all parts of the state. I covered crime for the LA Herald Examiner, spent 27 years at the LA Times, was a columnist and editorial page editor at the Sacramento Bee and, finally, was senior editor of the nonprofit news organization, CalMatters. I’ve covered governors, wildfires, a major earthquake, politics, mass incarceration, mass shootings, an execution, and all manner of policy. There are many great nonfiction books about California, including Jim Newton’s biographies of Earl Warren and Jerry Brown, Randy Shilts’s The Mayor of Castro Street, and Gladwin Hill’s Dancing Bear.

Dan's book list on California-themed stories that matter

Dan Morain Why did Dan love this book?

Mark Arax is a lovely writer who tells a riveting story about the place he knows best, California’s Central Valley. He describes the flawed giants who carved up California’s water for their benefit and the workers who toiled to make their dreams happen. Mark makes his hometown of Fresno and the rest of the Valley a compelling character in the drama. His book as essential reading for anyone who hopes to understand California. 

By Mark Arax,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dreamt Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A vivid, searching journey into California's capture of water and soil—the epic story of a people's defiance of nature and the wonders, and ruin, it has wrought

Mark Arax is from a family of Central Valley farmers, a writer with deep ties to the land who has watched the battles over water intensify even as California lurches from drought to flood and back again. In The Dreamt Land, he travels the state to explore the one-of-a-kind distribution system, built in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, that is straining to keep up with California's relentless growth.

The Dreamt Land weaves reportage,…


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