Library Staff "Pandemic Picks"

Updated: May 23, 2020

Library Staff Picks:

Pandemics and plagues in history, science and fiction

There are so many great reads out there that provide perspective on this very current topic - before, during and after a pandemic strikes. The library staff compiled this list of both adult and young adult books. Links to titles that are available electronically are provided. Please contact us if you need assistance!

Titles in:

RED = Links to the Ebook/Eaudio record or free, public domain text

BLUE = Links to record in in the C/WMARS catalog, not available electronically

BLACK = Not linked and not in our catalog but still worth mentioning

Science and Pandemics

Virusphere: from common colds to Ebola epidemics: why we need the viruses that plague us, Frank Ryan (2020) New release.

Author explains what viruses are, their role in human history and the origins of human life.

Plagues and the paradox of progress : why the world is getting healthier in worrisome ways, Thomas J. Bollyky (2018)

Discusses how overcoming infectious diseases has saved lives, but economics are not keeping up with the increase in population.

Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, Sonia Shah (2017)

Recounts the story of how pathogens have caused pandemics in the past, and that the next one is just around the corner.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, David Quammen (2012)

Major science writer also explains the origin of many infectious diseases and speculates about the very situation we are in now.

The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman (2007)

Tells story of humanity’s impact on the Earth, and what would happen to the infrastructure of our world if all humans disappeared.

Pandemics in History

Plague and the End of Antiquity: The Pandemic of 541–750, Lester K. Little (2002)

Twelve scholars, from archaeologists to epidemiologists, examine the effects of a contagious, deadly disease on human health and history.

Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82, Elizabeth A. Fenn (2001) It’s a little known fact that smallpox was sweeping across the country when the American Revolution began, ravaging communities and affecting the outcome of the war.

Flu: The Story Of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It, Gina Kolata (1999)

A reporter unravels the historical and scientific mystery of this lethal virus, which killed 40 million people around the globe.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies, Jared Diamond (1997), Pulitzer Prize winner, (1998)

A three-part National Geographic series based on this book is available for instant streaming on Hoopla with a BPL eCard.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, Randy Shilts (1987)

Shilts tells the complicated story of how the AIDS epidemic grew out of control before the government and science community took significant action, and pays tribute to the many heroes in the fight against AIDS.

A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe (1722)

Also free as a LibriVox audiobook

Researched, personal account of the Great Plague of London which struck in 1655.

Pandemic Fiction

The End of October, Lawrence Wright (2020) New release.

Pulitzer prize-winning author tells an action-packed story about a WHO epidemiologist and a pandemic that starts in Asia, and soon reaches his family in the United States.

Wanderers, Chuck Wendig (2019)

A disease turns its victims into sleepwalkers, and society must overcome fear to determine the possibly man made source of the epidemic. Recommended by our YA Librarian Debbie B

Plague, C.C. Humphreys (2018)

Mystery with the bubonic plague of 1655 London as the backdrop.

The Last One, Alexandra Oliva (2016) A woman on a Survivor-style reality show thinks the devastated illness-stricken world she stumbles into is still part of the TV game show - or is it? Recommended by Children's Librarian Kirsten

The Transmigration of Bodies, Yuri Herrera (2016)

Set in Mexico, a plague and resulting self-isolation cause civil society to break down.

Year of Wonders,* Geraldine Brooks (2002)

Plague in medieval England isolates a small village and causes them to turn on each other. Recommended by Reference Librarian Kira

The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

Short story about a prince and the deadly stranger that drops in on his masquerade ball.

Ebook also available with a BPL eCard

The Masque of the Red Death, Bethany Griffin (2012)

Twist on the original story by Edgar Allen Poe (YA).

Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton (2003)

A satellite crashes to earth and people begin dying from a new unknown virus, in this techno-thriller. Recommended by our YA Librarian Debbie B

Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson (2000)

A historical fiction account of the yellow fever epidemic in 18th-century Philadelphia. (YA) Recommended by our Children's Librarian Kirsten and Reference Librarian Kira

Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (1992)

Time travelers go back to plague-stricken medieval Europe.

Recommended by Children's Librarian Kirsten

Outbreak, Robin Cook (1987)

Murder and mystery reach epidemic proportions when a devastating plague sweeps the country.

The Stand, Stephen King (1978)

A superflu pandemic kills off 99% of the world’s population, and those who are left must rebuild society. Recommended by our Children's Librarian Kirsten and YA Librarian Debbie B

The Plague, Albert Camus (1947)

Warnings of a contagious disease are ignored until it is too late, bringing about both great suffering and great acts of compassion.

Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (2014) This book focuses on what comes after a major pandemic, and what makes life worth living. Recommended by our Children's Librarian Kirsten

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, Meg Elison (2014) In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Recommended by our Children's Librarian Kirsten

The Dog Stars, Peter Heller (2012)

Plague ravages the human population, leaving a pilot and his dog to survive alone. Recommended by Reference Librarian Kira

World Made By Hand, James Howard Kunstler (2008)

Set in a post-oil society that has mostly fallen apart.

Life As We Knew it, Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)

A natural disaster causes endless winter and shortages, forcing a family inside their home. (YA) Recommended by our Children's Librarian Kirsten

The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)

A father and son sustain themselves on a journey to the coast after civilization has come to an end.

The Postman, David Brin (1985)

In an America first strained by plague from Asia and then unmade by domestic insurrection from right wing militias, one man assuming the humble garb of a U.S. mail carrier works to keep hope alive.

Alas, Babylon, Pat Frank (1959), the 2012 audiobook won theAudie award for fiction

A small town in Florida is spared after a nuclear holocaust wipes out most of the United States. (YA) Recommended by our YA Librarian Debbie B