Reading can help us think more deeply and make better sense of things around us. We are living through a global pandemic, and for some people, reading about pandemics can help make sense of the current state of affairs and bring a bit of understanding or even comfort. If this isn’t your thing, feel free to ignore it or come back to this at a different time. All of us have our own ways of dealing with stress, and that’s more than okay.


If you’re interested in reading about pandemics, look no further! Here are some fascinating ones to get you started.



The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker


I could not put this book down. In a college town, an odd disease is taking hold – a student falls asleep and cannot be woken up. As more and more students fall asleep and can’t wake up, people start to panic. The panic spreads past the college into the larger town, and things start to descend into chaos. There is one interesting thing, however: those who are asleep are showing high levels of brain activity – higher than has ever been recorded. So what, exactly is going on?


Station Eleven


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


An award-winning novel about a flu pandemic and the devastating effects it wreaked on society, changing it forever. It’s hard to explain what this novel is fully about, but there’s a reason so many people are reading it right now: it’s about survival, resilience, grief, and connection.



Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen


Quammen is a well-known science writer, and this book was written in 2012, with the paperback printed in 2013. Even then, he posited that the next big pandemic would be likely caused by a virus coming to humans from animals. Quammen takes the reader all of the world with his research, and explains to the reader the various threats and diseases that have occurred and those that are emerging.


The Hot Zone


The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston


This is the seminal account of the first emergence of Ebola. It reads like a thriller novel (but is completely true), and the 1995 movie “Outbreak” was based on this book. It’s a bit dated – it was first published in 1994 – but well worth the read. Lots of fascinating information about viruses and how they can spread very quickly.



Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata


In 1918, the Great Flu Epidemic killed roughly 40 million people extremely quickly. Another example of great science writing, the book reads like a novel, outlining the history of the epidemic and what happened. It also examines the potential for another outbreak of this size and things that could potentially prevent it (the book is nearly 20 years old, but still worth a read).  


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