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Academy Book Circle: Water Always Wins

Join the Academy for the second summer Book Circle to read and discuss Water Always Wins: Thriving in an Age of Drought and Deluge by science journalist Erica Gies. Sessions are held every other week on Zoom, from July 27 to August 24, for a total of three sessions.

water always wins book cover with background image of landscape scene with river and clouds

About the book:

“Nearly every human endeavor on the planet was conceived and constructed with a relatively stable climate in mind. But as new climate disasters remind us every day, our world is not stable—and it is changing in ways that expose the deep dysfunction of our relationship with water. Increasingly severe and frequent floods and droughts inevitably spur calls for higher levees, bigger drains, and longer aqueducts. But as we grapple with extreme weather, a hard truth is emerging: our development, including concrete infrastructure designed to control water, is actually exacerbating our problems. Because sooner or later, water always wins.

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

Click here to learn more about Water Always Wins from the University of Chicago Press

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Session Schedule

The Academy Book Circle will meet on Zoom every other Wednesday from 1–2 p.m., July 27 through August 24, 2022.

Session 1
Wednesday, July 27 @ 1–2 p.m.
Reading selection: pages 1–60

  • Introduction 
  • Chapter 1. Descending into Chaos
  • Chapter 2. Water in Geologic Time: How Ancient Rivers Can Help Ease Droughts 
  • Chapter 3. From Megadams to Microbes: Water’s Relationship with Tiny Forms of Life

Session 2
Wednesday, August 10 @ 1–2 p.m.
Reading selection: pages 96–207

  • Chapter 4. Beavers: The Original Water Engineers 
  • Chapter 5. Reclaiming Historic Water Knowledge in Modern India 
  • Chapter 6. Planting Water: How Water Shaped Culture in Ancient Peru 
  • Chapter 7. Let Floodplains Be Floodplains: Antidote to the Industrial Era

Session 3
Wednesday, August 24 @ 1–2 p.m.
Reading selection: pages 208–292

  • Chapter 8. For Future Humans: Protecting Water Towers in Kenya
  • Chapter 9. Sedimental Journey: Where Fresh Water Meets Salt
  • Chapter 10. Our Shared Future: Living with Water

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Where to Purchase

Water Always Wins is available for purchase from the publisher, University of Chicago Press, and most major booksellers.

Consider ordering your copy from one of Philadelphia’s many independent bookstores. Even if the title isn’t currently in stock, most booksellers are more than happy to order it specially for you. Click here for list of independent bookstores in our region.

Questions about the Book Circle? Please contact Amy Whisenhunt Eno at