The best books about floods

1 authors have picked their favorite books about floods and why they recommend each book.

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The House That Sailed Away

By Pat Hutchins, Laurence Hutchins (illustrator),

Book cover of The House That Sailed Away

This was probably the first book I ever chose to read. I read books at school or for school, but I saw this being read on Jackanory (for the young ones, that was a TV programme where a book was read by a famous person over five days) and went to the library to borrow a copy. I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

It’s a crazy story of a house that floats off down the street during a particularly bad storm. The family has all sorts of strange adventures on the high seas. It really appealed to my sense of humour and general wackiness.

I read it to my daughter many years later and loved it even more. 

Who am I?

I didn’t read much when I was young. But I’ve always loved stories, and found them in TV, films, and comics. It wasn’t until I was older that I found that books can contain the most amazing adventures that connect with your imagination and makes them seem even more real than on the big screen. Discovering children’s books with my daughter, and writing my own, I wished I could have read more when I was young. I try my best to encourage young people to find the joy in reading, in the hope that they don’t miss out on all those amazing stories.

I wrote...

The Great Chocoplot

By Chris Callaghan,

Book cover of The Great Chocoplot

What is my book about?

What if chocolate vanished – forever? Wouldn’t that be awful? Especially for Jelly and her family. They live in Chompton-on-de-Lyte, home of the famous Blocka Choca bars. If this disaster happens, it’s not just people’s taste buds that will suffer, it’s local families and jobs.

But Jelly is suspicious. Soon a trail of clues leads her to a posh chocolate shop nearby. The pompous owner seems weirdly smug despite his failing business. Is the Chocopocalypse really coming – or is there a chocoplot afoot? 

The Johnstown Flood

By David McCullough,

Book cover of The Johnstown Flood

McCullough is one of my favorite storytelling historians. This narrative is an effortless balance of historical characters, an intriguing story, and immersion in a bygone era. The lessons he uncovers in the dam-burst tragedy that struck Johnstown, Pennsylvania are as relevant today as they were in 1889. A lesson in the danger of complacency in regards to safety.

Who am I?

Being a connoisseur of historical nonfiction and a survivor of the 1994 shooting spree and aviation disaster at Fairchild Air Force Base, allowed me to create a unique narrative of the two tragedies. I’ve been naturally curious since childhood and grew even more observant and detail-oriented during my career in law enforcement and criminal investigations. I appreciate books that delve into historical disasters and tragedies giving us the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. When I realized none of my favorite authors were writing about the Fairchild tragedies, I took up the challenge myself. Warnings Unheeded is the result of more than seven years of research, it is an incredible story and a timeless lesson from history.

I wrote...

Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base

By Andy Brown,

Book cover of Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base

What is my book about?

On 20 June 1994, a former airman opened fire on the patrons and staff of the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital. The first of his many victims were the doctors who had warned of his descent into homicidal madness. Four days after the shooting spree, a B-52 bomber plunged to the ground during an airshow-practice flight. Some of Fairchild’s most veteran aviators were killed when the massive airplane crashed, including a reckless senior pilot and the young commander who had fought to have him grounded. 

This incredible narrative reveals the signs of impending violence and disaster as seen through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed the tragedies unfold. Written by the man who ended the killing spree, Andy Brown gives a firsthand account of his pistol-versus-rifle gunfight and offers a candid insight into the hidden cost of becoming a "hero."

Isaac's Storm

By Erik Larson,

Book cover of Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Isaac’s Storm brings the hurricane which hit Galveston, Texas, in September brilliantly to life, revolving around the central figure of the city’s official weatherman, Isaac Cline. 

I’ve read the book half a dozen times—it reads like a novel, its descriptions are vivid, horrific, haunting. The tension rises like the waters—it’s as close to being at the eye of a hurricane without… well you get the picture. Gripping from the first page to the last.

Who am I?

Narrative history isn’t about dates, kings, and queens. It’s about deeds, actions, experiences, decisions of people great and small. It’s about putting the reader in the middle of a drama and watching events unfold around them as if they were there so they can understand, observe, and perhaps ask: what would I have done? The best history writing shouldn’t just inform, but inspire you, make you feel: laugh, cry, feel angry, flinch at horrific sights, cheer the heroes, boo the villains, because history is made by ordinary people, good and bad, who possess many similar traits to the reader.

I wrote...

Hitler's Final Fortress: Breslau 1945

By Richard Hargreaves,

Book cover of Hitler's Final Fortress: Breslau 1945

What is my book about?

Hitler’s Final Fortress is the story of the battle of Breslau—today Wrocław in Poland—at the end of World War 2, a siege that lasted as long as Stalingrad but is little known in the West. It is told through the eyes of the city’s residents, the scratch German units who sought to defend it, the Nazi leaders who reduced it to rubble, the Red Army troops who sought to capture it. By the time Breslau surrendered on May 6, 1945—four days after Berlin had fallen—the city was a wasteland and 25,000 soldiers and civilians had died.

Hitler's Final Fortress is the first full-length account of the siege in English, based on official documents, newspapers, letters, diaries, and personal testimonies.

Rising Tide

By John M. Barry,

Book cover of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

In 1927, biblical rains caused the levees that line the banks of the Mississippi River to collapse. The floodwaters covered an area about the size of New England, killed more than one thousand people, and left three-quarters of a million residents without food, water, or work. The Great Mississippi Flood was one of the worst natural disasters in American history. It laid bare the deep inequities in American society, which left Black families stranded without drinking water or food while rescuers hauled white families to safety. The flood changed America’s relationship with water forever. Offering a gripping account of the flooding and its lasting impacts, this New York Times bestseller serves as a warning of the harm that results from a lack of preparedness.

Who am I?

I am a former white-collar crime federal prosecutor and California state court judge turned policymaker and author. Though I started in law, I joined the Department of Homeland Security mid-career where I ended up with an assignment that no one wanted: create the department’s first-ever climate adaptation plan. That experience showed me that climate change is a mounting risk affecting everything. I then joined President Barack Obama’s climate team in the White House, where I crafted policy to address catastrophic risks, including climate change and biological threats. Since then, I have become an author, media pundit, and frequent podcast guest, using my voice to call for action on climate.

I wrote...

The Fight for Climate After Covid-19

By Alice C. Hill,

Book cover of The Fight for Climate After Covid-19

What is my book about?

The Fight for Climate After COVID-19 draws on the troubled and uneven COVID-19 experience to illustrate the critical need to ramp up resilience rapidly and effectively on a global scale. Drawing on my years of working alongside public health and resilience experts crafting policy to build both pandemic and climate change preparedness, I expose parallels between the underutilized measures that governments should have taken to contain the spread of COVID-19—such as early action, cross-border planning, and bolstering emergency preparedness—and the steps leaders can take now to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

A Flood of Kindness

By Ellen Leventhal, Blythe Russo (illustrator),

Book cover of A Flood of Kindness

I appreciate the gentle way Ellen Leventhal empowers children in this picture book—showing even the youngest child can do small things to help others. Charlotte, the main character, her parents, and her toy bear arrive at the shelter after evacuating their home because of flooding. Charlotte watches people at the shelter and in the community share acts of kindness with the flood victims. Even though she is sad and upset, she follows their example. When Charlotte sees a younger child crying because his teddy was lost in the flood, she gives her stuffie to the little boy. It reminds me of how attached my two-year-old grandson is to his teddy bear. These small gestures shine a light of healing and hope during a natural disaster. 

Who am I?

I am a word gatherer. I can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. I revel in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing. My passion is cultivating the heart-to-heart writer/reader connection. A joy-bringer, my glass is always half-full. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teachers of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, educator, author, and poet, I share hope-filled stories and poems.

I wrote...

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

By Janie Reinart, Morgan Taylor (illustrator),

Book cover of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

What is my book about?

When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children is a tribute to the resourcefulness of children who have no toys but continue to play. Play is the work of a child. You will be inspired by the refugee children's use of critical thinking, problem-solving, design, and engineering skills. 

The exquisite pictures in a National Geographic article started the picture book story for me. Nora Lorek, the photographer graciously gave me her email and became my inspiration and resource. This picture book is dedicated to the 200,000 refugee children living at the Bidibidi settlement in Uganda. These refugee children come with nothing but their hopes and dreams. Their hope becomes our hope. Publisher’s profits from this book are being donated to UNICEF Uganda.

Everything in Its Path

By Kai T. Erikson,

Book cover of Everything in Its Path

This classic award-winning book is a must-read for anyone interested in traumatic events. Sociologist Kai Erikson was the first to equate a major disaster with individual and community upheaval, based on the 1976 Buffalo Creek dam flood. He details how this event traumatized individuals and caused a breakdown of community relationships and a rise in crime, unethical behavior, and major out-migration. Many of the emotional and social effects of disasters had not been discussed or treated when this book was written. Much has been learned since. However, Erikson stresses that many of the psychological and sociological problems continue to exist when calamities occur today and must be resolved. 

Who am I?

Sometimes you need to search for the next roads to take in your life; other times these roads approach you. I was looking for new ways to use my long-term communication and mental health advocacy skills and then, sadly, the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. I immediately wanted to help community members ease their pain and assist cities nationwide to greatly improve their disaster mental health response. I never expected a pandemic would arrive only two months after I published, making my book all the more important. Now climate change is exacerbating our already stressful times, and we must act to stem mental health issues before they become out of hand.  

I wrote...

Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

By Robert W. Schmidt, Sharon L. Cohen,

Book cover of Disaster Mental Health Community Planning: A Manual for Trauma-Informed Collaboration

What is my book about?

In 2012, tragedy hit my Newtown, Connecticut community with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. We weren’t prepared for this traumatic event’s long-term emotional impact. Many still suffer. Newtown isn’t alone. Most communities have a plan for “medical” emergency response but not for “mental health” disaster response. About 25% of those impacted, especially the most vulnerable, will suffer PTSD within six weeks if not receiving trauma-informed care. The trauma ripple moves from survivors, to first responders, and the entire community and causes depression, anxiety, relationship discord, substance abuse, and suicide. Traumatic events include violence, natural disasters, pandemics, climate change, and societal instability—all facing us today. This book’s roadmap details the ways communities can help individuals emotionally prepare for and respond to traumatic events.    

The Emerald Mile

By Kevin Fedarko,

Book cover of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

The Emerald Mile is one of my favorite books ever. Author Kevin Fedarko weaves the story of an illicit, record-setting paddle through the Grand Canyon with the history of this incredible, mind-blowing landscape. Fast-paced and compelling, the narrative moves quickly while remaining accessible and informative. I’ve yet to float through the Grand Canyon but reading (and re-reading) The Emerald Mile brings me as close to the real thing as I can get. If you like great adventure stories and want to learn more about this unparalleled landscape, read The Emerald Mile today. 

Who am I?

I love being outdoors and I’ve been fortunate to spend much of life under the open sky, both professionally and personally. Learning about the landscapes I’ve visited on my outdoor adventures or helped protect through my professional conservation and writing work is both fulfilling and inspiring. Skilled writers deepen my understanding of the diverse, intricate, and complicated natural world. Whether I’m reading to better understand the policies and histories that have shaped our public lands or about the adventurers who inspire me to get out there, I always find immense value and enjoyment when reading about the landscapes we share. 

I wrote...

Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

By Greg M. Peters,

Book cover of Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

What is my book about?

From the glaciated peaks of Alaska to the deserts of Arizona, America’s 193 million acres of National Forests are true treasures. Our National Forests: Stories from America’s Most Important Public Lands takes readers on a series of journeys through these often overlooked and misunderstood lands. Packed with gorgeous photography and engaging prose, Our National Forests highlights the people, histories, and policies that make these lands so special. 

Rivers Remember

By Krupa Ge,

Book cover of Rivers Remember: #ChennaiRains and The Shocking Truth of a Manmade Flood

How would you deal with surviving a disastrous flood that swallows your childhood home? Krupa Ge does this by channeling her rage and anguish into a book. Writing about the devastating floods that hit her hometown Chennai, in southern India, in 2015, she deftly weaves her own experience of being stranded in the flood, worrying about her family, into the larger narrative of state apathy and culpability. At the core, this is a book about environmental injustice. The poorest in the city were the worst affected, losing family and all their possessions. And yet it was also the poor who showed extraordinary resilience and compassion: the fishermen who rescued stranded and recovered bodies or sanitation workers themselves affected but who turned up to clean the city.

Through meticulous research, the book unravels the causes of this man-made disaster, mincing no words in holding the state responsible for what it was…

Who am I?

I have had an affinity for nature since my childhood, but I did not train as an ecologist. An increasing concern about the environment, and the people more adversely affected by ecological degradation, made me switch careers early. I have worked on issues around conservation, land and forest rights of indigenous communities, and on the importance of nature in cities. Today I am an educator with a responsibility to communicate not only about environmental issues, but why it is a priority for communities in India. I am proud to be a part of the community of women writers on the environment in India whose voices and experiences need to be heard.

I wrote...

Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

By Seema Mundoli, Harini Nagendra,

Book cover of Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

What is my book about?

What lies at the intersection of history, culture, and ecology in urban India—trees.

Native and imported, sacred and ordinary, culinary and floral, favorites of different kings and commoners over centuries, trees are the most visible signs of nature in cities. They fundamentally shape a city’s identity. Trees are storehouses of the complex origins and histories of city growth, coming as they do from different parts of the world, brought in by various local and colonial rulers. Trees in India have served, above all, as memory keepers. They are our roots: their trunks our pillars, their bark our texture, and their branches our shade. Drawing on extensive research, Cities and Canopies is a book about both the specific and the general aspects of these gentle life-giving creatures.

Mighty Storms of New England

By Eric P. Fisher,

Book cover of Mighty Storms of New England: The Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Blizzards, and Floods That Shaped the Region

Eric Fisher has been Chief Meteorologist at WBZ-TV in Boston since April 2013, and was an on-camera meteorologist for The Weather Channel before that. In this 2021 book, Fisher is able to strike the perfect balance between the “what’s so” and the “why” behind these historic storms (as well as with other types of natural disasters affecting New Englanders). This rare quality, augmented by his meticulous research of historical accounts of these events, including the impressive array of meteorological records broken along the way, enables him to present an enjoyable, educational read—especially for the interested layperson. 

Who am I?

I have always been obsessed with the weather.  From the third grade, I knew that I would be college-bound to get my degree in meteorology (I have two). I can still distinctly recall, as a very young boy in the early 1960s, sneaking my trusty transistor radio under the pillow, eagerly anticipating the latest update every time a snowstorm was on the horizon. And my passion for big storms—especially those of the snow variety—has only grown greater over time.  Whenever a snowstorm is occurring, I’m up every hour or so all night long “just to check the radar”—my patient, long-suffering Sweetheart (wife) will attest to that!

I wrote...

Blizzard!! The Great White Hurricane

By Timothy Minnich, Siri Shaw (editor),

Book cover of Blizzard!! The Great White Hurricane

What is my book about?

Be transported back to 1888 and experience the thrill ride of arguably the fiercest winter storm in American history: the legendary “Blizzard of ’88.” Set in an authentic depiction of late Nineteenth Century Manhattan, the saga of this monster storm, with its awesome display of nature and profound impact on those unfortunate enough to have been caught in its path, will appeal to history buffs and weather enthusiasts alike. At this story’s heart is a brilliant, young, government meteorologist, and the ingenious system he developed which enables him to predict the storm—days in advance—only to be silenced by his politically driven superior.  

Above all, though, this tale is a testament to the power of true love, unshakable faith, and the indomitable human spirit.

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