For Love of Lakes

Book cover, leaf in water

By Darby Nelson 
Publisher: Michigan State University Press
ISBN-10: 1611860210
ISBN-13: 978-1611860214
Paperback: 224 pages
Dimensions: 6″ x 9″
Publication Date: October 1, 2011
List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

How to Buy


Chicago Distribution Center


For Love of Lakes weaves a delightful tapestry of history, science, emotion, and poetry for all who love lakes or enjoy nature writing. For Love of Lakes is an affectionate account documenting our species long relationship with lakes—their glacial origins, Thoreau and his environmental message, and the major perceptual shifts and advances in our understanding of lake ecology. This is a necessary and thoughtful book that addresses the stewardship void while providing improved understanding of our most treasured natural feature.

In the tradition of Aldo Leopold’s seminal work, A Sand County Almanac, For Love of Lakes focuses on the lakes, ponds, and waters outside your very home and the intricacies of these ecosystems.


Minnesota Book Award Finalist Creative Nonfiction/Memoir Category, 2012

Featured by the Minnesota Book Awards

Reviews of For Love of Lakes

Rev. Diane Roth referenced For Love of Lakes in something she wrote. “I really enjoyed your book.”

“This spring I picked up a book by a retired college professor and ecologist, Darby Nelson. It is called For Love of Lakes. The book is part memoir, part geology, as he writes lyrically of his boyhood love of lakes, and yet exposes how many of them have become degraded. How can we say we love lakes, and let them fall to ruin?, he wonders. Is it because we don’t understand them? In a lake, so much happens under the surface, where we cannot see.”

“Two paragraphs in his introduction struck me: ‘If I think of time as a river, I predispose myself to think linearly, to see events as unconnected, where a tree branch falling into the river at noon is swept away by current to remain eternally separated in time and space from the butterfly that falls in an hour later and thrashes about seeking floating refuge. But if I think of time as a lake, I see ripples set in motion by one event touching an entire shore and then, when reflected back toward the middle, meeting ripples from other events, each changing the other in their passing. I think of connectedness, of relationships, and interacting events that matter greatly to lakes.‘”

See the entire Faith in Community: Of Rivers and Lakes post.

Don Shelby on “Darby Nelson, a Modern-Day Thoreau”

“It may come as no surprise to regular readers of this column that I am a fan of Henry David Thoreau. I have read all of his works and possess a handwritten page from his journals. I’ve walked the shoreline of Walden Pond and stood on the spot where he built his tiny cabin. I have visited his grave.”

“Darby Nelson likes Thoreau even more than I do.”  

Read More from Don Shelby’s Darby Nelson: A modern-day Thoreau

School Library Journal

Nelson, Darby. For Love of Lakes. Michigan State Univ. Oct. 2011. c.270p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9781611860214. pap. $24.95. NAT HIST
Nelson (biology, emeritus, Anoka-Ramsey Jr. Coll.)  brings to bear his training as an aquatic ecologist in this eloquent  paean to the natural beauty and wonder of lakes. Intermingling a  lifelong fascination with lakes and cogent scientific commentary, this  book will generate newfound respect for and appreciation of lakes.  Nelson invokes prominent naturalists like Henry David Thoreau and Louis  Agassiz as he explores the glory of lakes and explains their scientific  significance. Like these classic observers of nature, Nelson teaches us  to look closely at the minute features of lakes that, under close  scrutiny, reflect the larger miracle of the universe. While lay readers  may find the science chapters to be slow-going at times, the nature  sections, replete with detailed observations, will more than compensate  for this challenge. VERDICT Ideal for aficionados of nature writing. Readers who enjoyed Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek will find this book similarly rewarding.—Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law, PA

Star Tribune review of For Love of Lakes, December 25, 2012