Title: Bottled and Sold: They Story Behind Out Obsession with Bottled Water
Author: Peter H. Gleick
Genre/Format: Nonfiction (ebook)
Acquired: From the publisher via NetGalley
Two Sentence Summary: People are afraid of tap water so they buy water in the bottle, but is bottled water actually any better for us? Peter Gleick thinks not.
Two Sentence Review: If you want a balanced look at the water issue, this book will be a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, it’s an informative and engaging look at an issue that impacts all of us.
Why I Read It: A local reporter friend wrote a story on Madison’s water utility, and that got me curious about the debate surrounding bottle and tap water.
Long Review: For my birthday in July, Boyfriend took me to see Mat Kearney in concert. When we got there, he bought two bottles of water from the bar – you can’t carry anything in and we were thirsty. After the opening act, I asked him to go refill them from a drinking fountain. He looked all over, but it turned out there wasn’t a single drinking fountain in the bar.
This isn’t such a strange phenomenon – all over the place, it’s getting harder and harder to get access to free water because many people have shifted to bottled. The crux of Peter H. Gleick’s book Bottle and Sold is to look at this phenomenon and what the ongoing shift to bottled water could mean.
I had a lot of fun facts bookmarked that I wanted to share with you, but I lost them in a small technical glitch (not the nook’s fault, totally mine). So… no fun water facts, just impressions on the book.
Gleick does a good job of covering the water issue from a lot of different angles. Just listing the chapter titles shows that off pretty well. Chapter titles include: The War on Water; Fear of the Tap; Selling Unwholesome Provision; If It’s Called “Arctic Spring Water,” Why Is It from Florida?; The Taste of Water; The Hidden Cost of Convenience; Selling Bottled Water: The Modern Medicine; Drinking Bottled Water; Sin or Salvation?; Revolt: The Growing Campaign Against Bottled Water; Green Water? The Effort to Produce Ethical bottled Water; and The Future of Water.
As you can see, he covers a lot of ground on the water issue, trying to point out the pros and cons of bottled water, which I appreciated. But in the end it’s still pretty clear where Gleick stands on the issue – pro tap water – and the book isn’t especially balanced in later chapters.
When I’m reading a book on a subject for the first time, I like the book to feel like it covers all sides fairly to give me a background. This book doesn’t quite do that, but I think the disappointment is more a problem of my expectations than the book itself.
In general, Gleick does a good job making a potentially dry (ha ha) subject interesting, using a lot of examples and anecdotes to back up the points he makes with had data and statistics. Some of the ways marketers try to differentiate water are pretty hilarious, and Gleick has a fun time poking fun at it.
If you’re at all curious about bottled water versus tap water and the issues that debate brings up, this book could be a good primer on the issue as long as you recognize Gleick’s bias towards the tap.
If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!