Watery words to flow through winter

Image: Ben White, Unsplash

Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. The tradition, known as Jolabokaflod, roughly translates to Christmas book flood in English.

Make Water Famous is always on the look out for watery words of wisdom and inspirational stories. Here is our top five recommendations to immerse yourself in this winter.

The Flow by Amy-Jane Beer

After the sudden death of her friend on a kayaking trip on the river Rawthey in Cumbria, Amy-Jane returns to the river years later to realise how much she misses the connection to the natural world she always felt and so begins a new phase of exploration. Threading together places and voices from across Britain, The Flow is a profound, immersive exploration of our personal and ecological place in nature, meandering, cascading, and percolating through many lives, landscapes, and stories.

From West Country torrents to levels and fens, rocky Welsh canyons, the salmon highways of Scotland, and the chalk rivers of the Yorkshire Wolds, Amy-Jane follows springs, streams and rivers to explore tributary themes of wildness and wonder, loss and healing, mythology and history, cyclicity and transformation.

The Wave: in pursuit of the rogues, freaks, and giants of the ocean by Susan Casey

In her extraordinary book, Susan Casey explores the phenomenon of huge, ship-swallowing waves through the eyes of two very different groups - dedicated scientists and extreme surfers. This mesmerising account follows these unique tribes as they face the life-and-death stakes of the ocean's monsters.

The surfers circumvent the globe, seeking 100-foot waves to conquer, while the scientists urgently seek to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that levelled part of the Alaskan coast.

Water always wins: thriving in the an age of drought and deluge by Erica Gies

In this quietly radical book, science journalist Erica Gies introduces us to innovators in the 'Slow Water' movement, who start by asking a revolutionary question - what does water want? Using close observation, historical research, and cutting-edge research, these experts in hydrology, restoration ecology, engineering, and urban planning are already transforming our relationship with water.

Gies reminds us that water’s true nature is to flex with the rhythms of the earth: the slow phases absorb floods, store water for droughts, and feed natural systems. Figuring out what water wants—and accommodating its desires within our human landscapes—is now a crucial survival strategy. By putting these new approaches to the test, innovators in the Slow Water movement are reshaping the future.

The book of tides by William Thomson

This is a book for those who want to understand how the waters surrounding Britain affect lives on a daily basis, how they imperceptibly but crucially shapes actions, and have shaped the landscape for millennia.

Inspired by his own observations of the power of the sea while travelling Britain's coastline in a van with his young family, William Thomson tells the story of the cycles of the sea. He combines a lyrical, passionate narrative with graphically beautiful renderings of the main forms of water which affect Britain: rip, rapids, swell, stream, tide, wave, whirlpool, tsunami.

Water: a biography by Giulio Boccaletti.

A revelatory history spanning continents and millennia, explaining how the distribution of water has shaped human civilisation. In this richly narrated and authoritative work combining environmental and societal history, Giulio Boccaletti begins with early societies of sedentary farmers on the banks of the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates rivers.

We see the role irrigation playing in developing social structure, how communal ownership of wells laid the groundwork for democracy, and how the need for water security was the seed for tax systems. Boccaletti provides a framework for us to better understand society's relationship to, and reliance on, this most elemental substance.