Dear River Enthusiasts,
As year-end approaches, many have asked us once again about recommended river-related books and documentary films that may be available over the upcoming holiday season. While it is difficult to produce an all inclusive list, there are a number of them that have been included multiple times in various Top 10 lists. So starting with books, here’s a sampling for all ages, followed by some film suggestions.
- Reading the Water; Fly-fishing, fatherhood and finding strength in Nature by Mark Hume –
A father shares the joys of fly-fishing with his daughters. In this eloquent memoir, the author vividly conveys the details of their adventures and the stunning surroundings;
- The Little Creek that Could; the story of a stream that came back to life by Mark Angelo –
This acclaimed, best-selling illustrated children’s book tells the true, inspirational story of a 50-year effort to reclaim a local stream, and how nature can heal itself, if only we give it a chance – a wonderful and hopeful message for kids!
- Rivers Run Through Us; A Natural and Human History of Great Rivers of North America by Eric Taylor
This is an engaging, informative, and personal exploration of some of the great rivers of North America and highlights the fact that every river has a great story to tell.
- A River’s Gifts; the Mighty Elwha Reborn by Patricia Newman –
This beautiful children’s book tells how the Lower Elwha Klallum Tribe, known as the Strong People, successively fought to restore the Elwha river and their way of life.
- River of the Gods; Genius, Courage and Betrayal in the search for the source of the Amazon by Candice Millard –
A harrowing story of one of the great feats of exploration and its complicated legacy.
- I Talk Like a River by Jordon Scott –
Another impactful and award winning children’s book. When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he’d like, it takes a kind father and a walk by the river to help him find his voice.
It’s also worthwhile re-visiting some of the river classics from past years, which include;
- Magdalena; River of Dreams by Wade Davis –
- The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko –
- The River Why by David James Duncan –
- A River Runs Through It by Norman Mclean –
- Highland River by Neil M Gunn –
- Running the Amazon by Joe Kane from back in 1989 remains a great adventure. –
- Rod Haig Brown’s classic, A River Never Sleeps as well as
- Where Rivers Run: A 6,000-Mile Exploration of Canada by Canoe by Joanie and Gary McGuffin are great reads. –
- Robert Collins’ The Nile is an excellent and informative book. –
- Blue River, Black Sea; a journey along the Danube into the heart of New Europe by Andrew Eames chronicles an incredible journey while providing a sparkling history of south-eastern Europe. –
- For a white knuckle ride, Hell or High Water: surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River is as good as it gets,
- while How to Think Like a Fish by Jeremy Wade is perfect for any fishing aficionado –
- Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat remains an excellent guide for any serious Thames River pilgrim! –
- And for those with an interest “down-under,” the book, Rivers: The Lifeblood of Australia, by Ian Hoskins is filled with amazing images and a wealth of information.
Film – River Documentaries
Here are nine good suggestions from the many excellent river documentaries of the last decade:
- River (2021); narrated by William Defoe, a cinematic and musical odyssey exploring the relationship between humans and rivers.
- Riverblue (2017) – the international award-winning film chronicles river conservationist and paddler Mark Angelo’s unprecedented 3 year around-the-world journey by river that uncovered the enormity of fashion-related pollution and its impact on waterways.
- Chasing Ice (2012) – the ground breaking film documenting the efforts of nature photographer James Balog to publicize the impacts of climate change. It remains every bit as relevant today!
- The Territory (2022) – from National Geographic Documentary Films (now in theatres, but available soon for streaming), this stunning and thought provoking film focuses on the Uru-eu-wau-wau, an Amazonian tribe only contacted by the Brazilian government in 1980 and who are now fighting to protect their rivers and lands
- Into the Okavango (2016) – the film chronicles an epic, and often harrowing, four-month, 1,500-mile expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta.
- The Memory of Fish (2016) – a wonderful documentary portrait of one man, Dick Goin, the wild salmon he loves, and his fight to free a river from dams that had long outlived their usefulness.
- Last Paddle (2021), the award winning, visually stunning film that delves into Mark Angelo’s lifelong passion for rivers as he documents global river conservation issues as well as restoration successes.
- The River Runner (2021), a thrilling and adventurous film documenting Scott Lindgren’s 20-year quest to become the very first to paddle all 4 of the great rivers that run off Mt. Kailash in Tibet.
- Blue Heart (2019) – from Patagonia Films, this centers on the Balkan Peninsula, home to the last wild rivers in Europe. But a deluge of more than 3,000 proposed hydropower developments threaten to destroy the culture and ecology of this sometimes forgotten region.
There are clearly many other great books and films that could be mentioned.
Happy reading, and/or streaming, over the season and we’ll touch base again as World Rivers Day 2023 nears, set for Sunday, Sept. 24.
With very best wishes,
Tunde Murphy, World Rivers Day