Being a massive fan of the poet John Keats, when I read the title of WRIT IN WATER by Nina Selbst, I instantly knew it was an homage to his self-penned epitaph “Here lies one whose name is writ in water.” Selbst introduction confirmed this. While it has nothing to do with Keats’ last days and final resting place, it does have everything to do with the importance of water throughout human history. It’s not some throw away resource to be forgotten like Keats felt he would be forgotten after his death. WRIT IN WATER takes the reader on a journey to show time and again just how important water is.
I enjoyed how this book was organized — stretching back to the creation stories from the beginning of recorded history. Like most people, I was familiar to with Judeo-Christian creation story. What struck me was how water played such a primary role in all creation stories from Mesopotamia, to Egypt, Greece, and beyond. Selbst did a great job focusing on the water aspect to really bring home her point of how water and humankind are intertwined. While Selbst claims WRIT IN WATER is not an academic work but more an essay, I think she did a fabulous job of researching the topic and pulling it all together in a cohesive, readable work. It is fairly dense with a strong scholarly tone. It’s not the sort of book most people will kick back with on a rainy day. Never-the-less, it is very worth your time and effort. I recommend this fascinating, eye-opening read.