Thursday, 12 July 2018

Books From The Backlog - H2O: A Biography of Water by Philip Ball

Books from the Backlog is a weekly post hosted at Carole's Random Life In Books. Carole says it's "a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread. If you are anything like me, you might be surprised by some of the unread books hiding in your stacks." Find out more and link up your own posts on Carole's Random Life In Books.

H2O: A Biography of Water by Philip Ball

The brilliantly told and gripping story of the most familiar - yet, amazingly, still poorly understood - substance in the universe: Water.

The extent to which water remains a scientific mystery is extraordinary, despite its prevalence and central importance on Earth. Whether one considers its role in biology, its place in the physical world (where it refuses to obey the usual rules of liquids) or its deceptively simple structure, there is still no complete answer to the question: what is water? Philip Ball's book explains what, exactly, we do and do not know about the strange character of this most essential and ubiquitous of substances.

H20 begins by transporting its readers back to the Big Bang and the formation of galaxies to witness the birth of water's constituent elements: hydrogen and oxygen. It then explains how the primeval oceans were formed four billion years ago; where water is to be found on other planets; why ice floats when most solids sink; why, despite being highly corrosive, water is good for us; why there are at least fifteen kinds of ice and perhaps two kinds of liquid water; how scientists have consistently misunderstood water for centuries; and why wars have been waged over it.

Philip Ball's gloriously offbeat and intelligent book conducts us on a journey through the history of science, folklore, the wilder scientific fringes, cutting-edge physics, biology and ecology, to give a fascinating new perspective on life and the substance that sustains it. After reading this book, drinking a glass of water will never be the same again.

The Book Depository : from £9.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £9.35 (PB)
Waterstones : from £9.99 (PB)
Amazon : from $3.99 / £0.01 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

I do find some strange books, don't I?! This one I think I remember swapping for as part of a science reading phase, but I must have got distracted back to fiction before I got around to it. I'm not even sure how long I have owned my H2O copy. It's one of the background books for my A Month In Books logo so a good couple of years at least.
With the way the heatwave is going this summer - imminent hosepipe and car washing bans etc - H2O: A Biography Of Water could well now be a timely read!

Have you read H2O: A Biography of Water?
Is this a Get To It Now or a Let It Lie?


  1. LOL! No judgment from me. I can't figure out why I pick up books sometimes. Maybe you'll get back in the mood for it.

    1. I hope so! It looks interesting, but the weather is just too hot for learning right now!

  2. I have never heard of this book before but I hope you enjoy it. Every once in a while I pick up something that it really different than my normal read. About a year ago, I listened to a book called Cannibalism that was more of nature book than anything else and enjoyed it quite a bit.

    1. I love picking up the weird titles at book exchanges. I've never seen this one anywhere else!