Prior to the advent of Covid-19, I was about 70% through the first draft of a novel about a virus, an anger virus. Looking back on what I wrote, I am stunned by how mild and self-contained the virus I created was. I am currently too busy panic cleaning, home schooling and hand washing to do much about the novel, but in the process of doing research into epidemiology and vaccines, I came across several books that helped me understand how viruses work, and thought now would be an excellent time to recommend them.
If you have it in you to learn more about how microscopic pathogens can upend the globe, here are four fascinating books that helped me understand. If you’ve had enough pathogens, skip ahead to the ESCAPE section. And wash your hands!
Memoir about a pandemic (small pox) with a happy ending: Sometimes Brilliant:The Impossible Adventure of a Spiritual Seeker and Visionary Physician Who Helped Conquer the Worst Disease in History, by Larry Brilliant
Thematic treatment of how pathogens develop and mutate, and what is necessary for them to thrive: Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, From Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, by Sonia Shah
A history of how vaccines were discovered, and how they work: Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity, by Michael Kinch
How cholera seized and changed London, seen through the efforts of a pioneering physician and a connected local priest: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World— Steven Johnson
TV: Agents of Shield — Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon. Netflix
TV: Episodes — David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. Amazon.
TV: False Flag — Maria Feldman, Amit Cohen. Hulu.
TV: Imposters – Paul Adelstein and Adam Brooks. Netflix.
MOVIE: Yesterday –– Danny Boyle. HBO.
TV: Marple— Agatha Christie. Hulu.
FICTION: The Safety Net — Andrea Camilleri
“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”