The most recommended books about rivers

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to rivers, and here are their favorite river books.
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Book cover of The Nile: History's Greatest River

Dan Morrison Author Of The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River

From my list on the Nile and the worlds it created.

Who am I?

I traveled the length of the Nile River from source to sea through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to write a book that the Daily Beast called "a masterful narrative of investigative reportage, travel writing, and contemporary history," and that the Village Voice named to its ten best books of the year.

Dan's book list on the Nile and the worlds it created

Dan Morrison Why did Dan love this book?

Water expert, academic, and documentary filmmaker Terje Tvedt fell hard for the Nile decades ago. His third book on the life-giving river is an expert weaver's tapestry of history, ecology, and politics on the Nile.

By Terje Tvedt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"[A] vivid travelogue." New Statesman "Has much to offer." The Spectator "Sparks the imagination." BBC History Magazine "A fascinating study." BBC History Revealed Magazine "Essential reading." All About History "Valiant, valuable and entertaining." Times Literary Supplement The greatest river in the world has a long and fascinating history. Professor Terje Tvedt, one of the world's leading experts on the history of waterways, travels upstream along the river's mouth to its sources. The result is a travelogue through 5000 years and 11 countries, from the Mediterranean to Central Africa. This is the fascinating story of the immense economic, political and mythical…


Book cover of Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West

Nancy C. Unger Author Of Beyond Nature's Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History

From my list on American environmental history.

Who am I?

History is my passion as well as my profession. I love a good story! When I was teaching courses in environmental history and women’s history, I kept noticing the intriguing intersections, which inspired me to write Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers. Most of my work focuses on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1877-1920) and includes two award-winning biographies, Fighting Bob La Follette and Belle La Follette Progressive Era Reformer. I’m also the co-editor of A Companion to the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and have written dozens of op-eds and give public talks (some of which can be found in the C-SPAN online library and on YouTube). 

Nancy's book list on American environmental history

Nancy C. Unger Why did Nancy love this book?

This is a classic by a leader in the field. It’s a hefty tome combining philosophy, economics, and history, but is well worth the time and energy required. Worster emphasizes that lack of water resources is a massive problem for the modern American West, necessitating increasingly complex and far-reaching irrigation systems that come at high social and economic costs. The result is an “empire” whose power is based on who controls the water vital to the urban, suburban, and rural life of the hydraulic west.

By Donald Worster,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Donald Worster examines the development history of the American West, identifying the elite of technology and wealth who have controlled its most essential resource: water.


Book cover of The National Trust Rivers of Britain

Richard Mayon-White Author Of Discovering London's Canals: On foot, by bike or by boat

From my list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways.

Who am I?

I love rivers. The flow of water gives a sense of timelessness, the reflection of light from the surface brightens the colours on the banks and the wider stretches make a feeling of space. I have messed about in boats all my life and I am happiest on inland waterways. What I enjoyed as recreation alongside a medical career has grown into a vocation in my retirement. The more people who know about our beautiful rivers, the better the chances that we can protect them from exploitation and carelessness. 

Richard's book list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways

Richard Mayon-White Why did Richard love this book?

This book was sponsored by the National Trust and has the high quality that one expects of that organisation. 

It is a very readable account of the geology and geography of rivers. It has helped me to understand what I see when I look at rivers and it encourages me to go to new places to learn more. Although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it is very relevant to the present times when rivers in many countries suffer from mismanagement of the environment. 

The lovely photographs show how much there is that is worth better care.  

By Richard Muir, Nina Muir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The National Trust Rivers of Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Muir, Richard, Muir, Nina


Book cover of British River Navigations: Inland Cuts, Fens, Dikes, Channels and Non-tidal Rivers

Richard Mayon-White Author Of Discovering London's Canals: On foot, by bike or by boat

From my list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways.

Who am I?

I love rivers. The flow of water gives a sense of timelessness, the reflection of light from the surface brightens the colours on the banks and the wider stretches make a feeling of space. I have messed about in boats all my life and I am happiest on inland waterways. What I enjoyed as recreation alongside a medical career has grown into a vocation in my retirement. The more people who know about our beautiful rivers, the better the chances that we can protect them from exploitation and carelessness. 

Richard's book list on the fascinating beauty of English waterways

Richard Mayon-White Why did Richard love this book?

Stuart Fisher has written a trilogy of books about British rivers and canals. This, the third, is about rivers that were used for carrying goods before 1760 when the canals (artificial waterways) were started in Britain.

It has handsome photographs that show why these rivers are popular today for boating holidays. One reason for my delight is that the old towpaths along these rivers make wonderful walks beside water. The book has good maps and curiosities such as pictures of postage stamps that have commemorated people and places connected to these rivers.

By Stuart Fisher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Britain's rivers deserve to be better known. Teeming with wildlife, steeped in history, sporting bridges, docks and stunning architecture, not to mention supporting riverside pubs, waterways museums and a variety of places of interest, they are the country's essential arteries, connecting inland Britain with the sea. From such world-renowned rivers as the Trent and Severn to little known tributaries like the Wharf, Wissey and Lark, British River Navigations celebrates England's inland rivers which have been improved for navigation, initially for commercial use, but now mostly carrying leisure craft. A fantastic celebration in its own right, alongside the author's previous Canals…


Book cover of The Burning River

Mandy Hager Author Of The Nature of Ash

From my list on speculative YA fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Who am I?

As a writer from Aotearoa New Zealand, I’ve always been interested in social justice and human rights, and my own writing explores such issues, including who holds the power and who exerts the control. By writing about real-world issues in a speculative future, it allows us to peel back the layers of conditioning and look at ourselves and our actions through the eyes of an outsider – which forces us to examine our best and worst human traits. I love the way speculative fiction can do this, and I love that it challenges us to do better.  

Mandy's book list on speculative YA fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand

Mandy Hager Why did Mandy love this book?

Though not packaged as YA, I think it sits well here. It’s speculative cli-fi, imagining an Aotearoa New Zealand ravaged by climate change. Steeped with Māori references, it’s a rollicking good yarn with a serious undertow and questions about how we care (and don’t care) for our environment, and the things that join and divide us.

By Lawrence Patchett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a radically changed Aotearoa New Zealand, Van's life in the swamp is hazardous. Sheltered by Rau and Matewai, he mines plastic and trades to survive. When a young visitor summons him to the fenced settlement on the hill, he is offered a new and frightening responsibility-a perilous inland journey that leads to a tense confrontation and the prospect of a rebuilt world.

`Patchett's is an extraordinary imaginative achievement: an unsettlingly strange, and fully realised, narrative situation and world. I read The Burning River experiencing a mixture of intellectual exhilaration and emotional agitation of an intensity fiction has not produced…


Book cover of The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History

Yijie Zhuang Author Of 24 Hours in Ancient China: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There

From my list on history and environmental history of China.

Who am I?

I'm an archaeologist that is primarily interested in understanding ancient history of water. I have conducted fieldwork in China, Southeast Asia, and Africa. In my spare time, I enjoy writing novels (though never published any yet). This 24 Hours in Ancient China is a trial from this hobbit. I first became fascinated by Han China through a remarkable excavation at the Sanyangzhuang site where an almost intact Han-Dynasty farming village was preserved due to a Yellow River flood. Houses, mills, farming fields, and many other artefacts were revealed through the excavation. Subsequently, I was fortunate to be involved in some collaborative research on the environment and society of Han China. 

Yijie's book list on history and environmental history of China

Yijie Zhuang Why did Yijie love this book?

Long being considered the ‘mother river’ of the Chinese civilization, the Yellow River has attracted intensive scientific research in the past decades. In this new book, Ruth Mostern aims to provide a new look of this old river with a special focus on how ancient people along the river from very early period onwards had started systematic engineering the river for various purposes. Some of the aspects discussed by Mostern, such as the frequency of Yellow River floods and their social ramifications, are also relevant to understand some of the stories that I articulated in my own book. 

By Ruth Mostern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A three-thousand-year history of China's Yellow River and the legacy of interactions between humans and the natural landscape

"No other scholar has produced such a systematic, comprehensive account of the long-term changes in the river's function and structure. I consider it to be the definitive work on the topic of the Yellow River to date."-Peter C. Perdue, author of China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

From Neolithic times to the present day, the Yellow River and its watershed have both shaped and been shaped by human society. Using the Yellow River to illustrate the long-term effects of…


Book cover of The Infinite River: A Biologists' Vision of the World of Water

Tim Palmer Author Of America's Great River Journeys: 50 Canoe, Kayak, and Raft Adventures

From my list on rivers and the life they create.

Who am I?

I've been passionate about and engaged with rivers ever since growing up along streams in the Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania. Now living in Oregon, I'm the author and photographer of 30 books about rivers, the environment, and adventure travel. My books include a history of river conservation, a primer on modern-day river issues, profiles of great rivers from the Youghiogheny in the East to the Snake and Columbia in the West, guidebooks, and photo essays. I've received the Ansel Adams Photography Award from the Sierra Club, the Communicator of the Year Award from the National Wildlife Federation, the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Rivers, a "paddler of the century" recognition from Paddler magazine, and numerous book honors.

Tim's book list on rivers and the life they create

Tim Palmer Why did Tim love this book?

This forgotten gem squarely focuses on the essence of rivers and the complex life systems and creatures they support. With a special perspective on the Northeast, biologist Amos brings to life the intricate connections between water, plants, and animals found in rivers and tells us in narrative style why they are essential to everything around them.

By William Hopkins Amos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1970


Book cover of Bear Came Along

Anne Marie Pace Author Of Groundhug Day

From my list on picture books about navigating friendship.

Who am I?

I expect that the folks at Shepherd.com approached me as a picture book author, since I’m the author of eleven picture books, including the four books of the Vampirina Ballerina series, which were adapted into the Disney Junior hit series Vampirina. But my thoughts and ideas about friendship and community really stem from once having been a child myself and from being a parent of four children, each of whom approached the roller coaster ride of childhood friendship in their unique ways. I was always happy to help them find answers in a book, even when those answers involved more, and deeper, questions.

Anne's book list on picture books about navigating friendship

Anne Marie Pace Why did Anne love this book?

After Bear falls into a river, which doesn’t know it’s a river, he’s joined by a series of forest friends, each of whom add to and enhances the group’s adventure until at the end, they have become friends in the community, all thanks to Bear’s misstep. The art is stunning, especially the use of color, which begins drably in the endpapers and ends up stunningly bright and light-filled. A Caldecott Honor book.

By Richard T. Morris, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bear Came Along as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From award-winning author Richard T. Morris and bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham comes a cheerful and action-packed adventure about the importance of friendship and community.

Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn't know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren't any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck.

These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn't know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.

This hilarious picture book and heartfelt message celebrates the joy and fun that's in store…


Book cover of A River

Yoeri Slegers Author Of Crocodile's Crossing: A Search for Home

From my list on travelling in different or strange circumstances.

Who am I?

I'm a Belgian illustrator and author of children's books. My mother works in a library so I was constantly in contact with books, especially children's books. Stories with beautiful pictures were always a big fascination of mine. Drawing keeps me looking for stories and stories keep me drawing. Everything is an inspiration: a funny moment, a good conversation, or just life. In my university, I renewed my passion for children's books thanks to my teacher Kris, also a children's book illustrator. In my final school years I got the chance to work with one of the best publishers in Belgium: De Eenhoorn (the unicorn) they gave me the chance to grow and...tell stories. 

Yoeri's book list on travelling in different or strange circumstances

Yoeri Slegers Why did Yoeri love this book?

Once again a wordless picture book. But the style of graphic and college art just blew my away. You'll get lost in this one. Everything seems possible and you'll want to go to the places he depicts. Without using words you'll want to discover how the story ends.

By Marc Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A beautiful geographical story with lush landscapes and poetic text from an award-winning Australian illustrator. A River follows on from Marc Martin's incredible A Forest - winner of the 2013 Crichton Children's Illustration Award.

There is a river outside my window.
Where will it take me?

So begins an imaginary journey from the city to the sea. From factories to farmlands, freeways to forest, each new landscape is explored through stunning illustrations and poetic text from this award-winning picture-book creator.


Book cover of Rescuing Her Ranch

Carmen Peone Author Of Broken Bondage

From Carmen's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Hardworking Dedicated Horse owner/lover Wordsmith Joy-filled

Carmen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Carmen Peone Why did Carmen love this book?

Rescuing Her Ranch is one of those books in which I felt heroine Macy Stone’s frustration and anger over the threat of losing her ranch to her longtime friend’s uncle.

The poor woman just lost her job and comes home to a huge fight on her hands. To make matters worse, Cole Crawford, said longtime friend, begins to work for his uncle. All while she’s taking care of Cole’s precious daughter. Not good. Cole quickly shoots from friend to enemy. Yet the ending is very, very satisfying.

This book made me cry and laugh and cheer for Macy and Cole. 

By Lisa Jordan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fight for her future…

Might not be the one she thinks.

Returning home after losing her job, Macey Stone agrees to care for the daughter of old friend Cole Crawford. Then she discovers that Cole’s uncle’s company wants to bulldoze her family’s land. Seeing the devoted dad with his child soon has her falling for the enemy. But can she choose between saving Stone River Ranch…and helping the man who’s stolen her heart?

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

Stone River Ranch

Book 1: Rescuing Her Ranch