Book review of Hot Springs by Greta Rybus

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In her immersive and beautifully photographed debut, Hot Springs: Photos and Stories of How the World Soaks, Swims, and Slows Down, Maine-based photojournalist Greta Rybus ushers readers to 23 soaking spots worldwide via 200-plus images of ethereal landscapes, ruddy-cheeked bathers, striking architecture and even a blissed-out monkey. 

The book is steeped in steam and serenity, conveying the author’s lifelong reverence and enthusiasm for these “geological marvel[s]” that “giv[e] us a sense of belonging to each other and the earth.” From Mexico to Iceland, Japan to India, Alaska to Italy, Rybus shares fascinating details about each spring’s historical, cultural and spiritual significance, and reflects on their interconnectedness with the communities surrounding them. 

She visits springs both energizing and restful: In Portugal, a volcanic fissure only safe at low tide speaks to “the part of us that seeks out the thrilling, the tumultuous, the electrifying,” while the brutalist architecture of Switzerland’s Therme Vals creates a “meditative, inward, and connected atmosphere.” 

Whether they’re looking for a vacation destination or their next book to savor in the (hot) bath, readers are sure to join Rybus in marveling at “What a miracle a hot spring is: an earthly riot, a terrestrial bonus, an unexpected geologic twist!”

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