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Just Add Water (Read a novel centered on water scarcity)

Water is vital for all life. So what happens when water is scarce? Read about the conflicts this scarcity creates in a variety of times and places, realistic or fantastic.

After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang

They were fire and terror to the Western world, while in the East the dragons brought life-giving rain. Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern species survives. As drought plagues the aquatic dragons, a mysterious disease—shaolong, or “burnt lung”—afflicts the city’s human inhabitants.


Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

A lengthy California drought—or the “Tap-Out,” as everyone calls it—escalates to catastrophic proportions, turning Alyssa’s quiet suburban street into a warzone, and she is forced to make impossible choices if she and her brother are to survive.

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The Dry by Jane Harper

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his Australian hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Amid the worst drought in a century, as Falk and the local detective investigate to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface.

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Dune by Frank Herbert

The best-selling science fiction novel of all time, Dune introduces the desert planet Arrakis, home to giant sandworms and the only source of the mind-expanding spice “melange,” crucial for space navigation.

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The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Texas, 1934. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and livelihoods as the crops fail, the water dries up, and dust threatens to bury them all. In this uncertain time, Elsa Martinelli must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life.

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God Shot by Chelsea Bieker

Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California, where 14-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother once lived in an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern who promises, through secret “assignments,” to bring the rain everybody is praying for.

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Hope on the Plains by Linda Byler

Hannah, a feisty young Amish woman, has resettled in North Dakota with her family. Just as the local Amish community begins to thrive, though, a terrible drought befalls the Plains and devastates the community. Should Hannah leave North Dakota—and a budding romance—and return to Lancaster, Pennsylvania?


Inland by Téa Obreht

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman, alone in a house abandoned by her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household. Lurie is the son of a dead dockworker, a former outlaw, and a man haunted by ghosts. The way in which Nora and Lurie’s stories intertwine is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

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L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón

In this fun, fast-paced novel, Los Angeles is dry as a bone. All Oscar, the weather-obsessed patriarch of the Alvarado family, desperately wants is a little rain. His wife, Keila, desperate for a life with a little more intimacy and a little less Weather Channel, feels she has no choice but to end their marriage. Their three successful daughters are blindsided and left questioning everything they know. Each will have to take a critical look at her own relationships and make some tough decisions along the way.

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The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

The states of the American Southwest skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel “cuts” water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet, while the poor get nothing but dust.

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