Truckee River Must Reads

Trying to chip away at that New Year’s resolution to read more? Looking for something new to read? Interested in the Truckee River?

Well, we’ve got the perfect book list for you. Here are 5 books to add to your “to read” list that touch on the Truckee River, both literally and figuratively. Happy reading!

#1 Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb

This is a great book to “cut your teeth” on and dive into the Truckee River topic. While the book doesn’t specifically talk about the Truckee River, it does look at beavers’ history and ecological influence throughout North America and dedicates an entire chapter to beavers in Elko County. These industrious rodents (the largest in North America) are our neighbors and a keystone species in the Truckee River (we wrote about them in another blog post if you’re itching to learn more about them!). Plus, this book is written by Ben Goldfarb, an excellent environmental journalist, whose storytelling abilities make this fact-filled book very readable and engaging. Once you start reading, it might invoke your inner beaver – you won’t be able to stop flowing through the pages until the whole “dam” book is complete.

#2 Water Politics in Northern Nevada: A Century of Struggle by Leah J. Wilds

Just by the title you can tell that this isn’t exactly a summer beach read, but if you’re interested to learn about the history of water politics on the Truckee and Carson rivers (the two are literally intertwined), this book does a good job of condensing it in a very digestible way. Plus, at only 83 pages, it’s something you can easily read in a day or tackle in small pieces. The only thing it’s missing is the current state of the rivers because it was published in 2010. Not to worry, though. If you want to pick up where the book leaves off, you can read about the most up-to-date Truckee River Operating Agreement on Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s website. And if you haven’t got the reading bug at the moment, here’s a short film that sums up the major points.

#3 The Oxbow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark

No Truckee River book list would be complete without a western, so we bring you an old-time favorite and classic of western literature – The Oxbow Incident. Although it doesn’t mention the Truckee River, it does take place in the fictional town of Bridger’s Wells, located somewhere near Reno. The illustrious acts of violence done in the name of justice, for which the story is famous, take place in an oxbow. The setting will resonate deeply with Truckee River locals, and while reading, one may be hard pressed to avoid images of the characters walking through Oxbow Nature Study Area in Reno. But beyond the descriptions of the raw landscape that could be none other than the Truckee Meadows, the author also asks readers to consider deep issues, such as peer pressure, racism, and the true meaning of justice.

#4 A Doubtful River by Robert Dawson, Peter Goin, and Mary Webb

Part history, part social commentary, this collection of photographs and essays takes the reader on a journey down the Truckee River, from the headwaters at Lake Tahoe to the natural and artificial termini at Pyramid Lake and Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, respectively. While the title alludes to the river’s insignificance because it is short (only about 120 miles long) and at times intermittent (sometimes jokingly referred to as the Truckee Trickle during years of drought), by the time you’re done with this book you will see the Truckee for what it is – anything but doubtful.


#5 How to Cuss in Western (And Other Missives From the High Desert) by Michael P. Branch

This is a collection of short stories that at times will leave you laughing out loud and at other times thinking deeply about your environmental ethic. Michael Branch has a way of capturing the beauty of the Great Basin desert with reverence and combining it with comic tales of the characters that call it home. From leprechaun traps to missing septic tanks to pet hedgehogs and trips to the DMV, these stories will keep you coming back for more and make you smile the whole way through. And to top it all off, one of the stories is about the Truckee River!


So there you have it, our 5 Truckee River Must Reads. Do you have others you would add? Reach out to us on social media and keep the conversation going.