Lists

The Big Ditch.

Top ten lists are such fun, I wanted to bring back this list of river books (first posted here November 24, 2010). Today I’m adding a teaser quote from each of these classic reads. No doubt you’re familiar with some already, but grab those you haven’t read and enjoy. Summer–river season–is on its way! We must be ready.

1.  The River Why, by David James Duncan
“Consider that when even a small quantity of water is inserted in the human posterior, a dramatic purgation results.”

2.  A River Runs through It, by Norman Maclean
“I am haunted by waters.”

3.  Riverwalking, by Kathleen Dean Moore
“I wanted the chemical smell of the tent to mix with the breath of warm wet wool and flood through [my daughter’s] mind, until the river ran in her veins and she could not help but come home again.”

4.  The Gift of Rivers, edited by Marybeth Bond and Pamela Michael
“We have turned our memory of the Mississippi into a Mark Twain theme park at Disneyland.” (Robert Hass, from the Introduction)

5.  Grand Ambition, by Lisa Michaels
“Life has a way of blind-siding you, and once I had a family, I could never be so careless again.”

6.  River Notes, by Barry Lopez
“I awoke one night and thought I heard rain—it was the dry needles of fir trees falling on the roof. . . . I fasted and abstained as much as I felt appropriate from water. These were only gestures, of course, but even as a boy I knew a gesture might mean life or death and I believed the universe was similarly triggered.”

7.  There’s this River, edited by Christa Sadler
“But the river cares for none of this. Happily for us, she continues flowing through the canyon of her making, creating with every bend and every riffle the stuff of which communities, and legends, are made.” (Christa Sadler, from the Preface to the Second Edition)

8.  Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, by Wallace Stegner
“There was a thick crust of fable over this region, and as the country was lifted slowly into knowledge the layers of fable lifted with it, bending upward at the flanks like sedimentary strata along the axis of a great earth-flexure.” (Bernard DeVoto, from the Introduction)

9.  The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, by Major John Wesley Powell
“Between the desert and the sea a narrow belt of valley, hill, and mountain of wonderful beauty is found. Over this coastal zone there falls a balm distilled from the great ocean, as gentle showers and refreshing dews bathe the land.”

10. The Lewis and Clark Journals, edited by Gary E. Moulton
“Never deeply religious, Lewis had no reserves of spiritual commitment to fall back on and find solace when problems mounted and demons set in.” (Gary E. Moulton, from the Afterword)

and
11. Reading Water, by Rebecca Lawton (had to include it!)
“The river was still swollen with runoff, a beast gone mad. Its eddies were washed out, familiar marker rocks buried in current.”

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