10 books like A Planet of Viruses

By Carl Zimmer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Planet of Viruses. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Buzz

By Thor Hanson,

Book cover of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees

Perhaps more than any other group of animals, the 20,000 (or more) known bee species make the case that much of evolution is about the diversification of ways in which species interact with each other species and form coevolutionary alliances. In this book, scientist/naturalist Thor Hanson gives us a whirlwind tour of that diversity, showing us that honeybees are just the tip of the iceberg of the many relationships between bees and plants. As with the other authors on this list, Hanson is a reliable guide with a passion and wonder for whatever he chooses to study and write about, using clear, accessible, and enjoyable prose. 

Buzz

By Thor Hanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Buzz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

'Popular science at its most accessible: fun, fascinating and full of engaging pen portraits of the scientists and bee enthusiasts he meets in the course of his research' Melissa Harrison, Guardian

'A smooth and accessible account of the insects that provide a significant amount of what we eat, introducing their fascinating diversity of behaviour. A reminder of why bees are wonders that we must protect.' Matt Shardlow, BBC Wildlife

Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part,
unseen. While we might overlook them, they lie at the heart of relationships…


Cuckoo

By Nick Davies,

Book cover of Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

There are few clearer examples of how species have coevolved relentlessly than the interactions between cuckoos and other birds. Cuckoos have evolved an arsenal of ways to deceive other avian species into raising their young, and their avian hosts have evolved a counter-arsenal of defenses to protect themselves from cuckoos. Nick Davies, who is one of the world’s leading ornithologists and evolutionary ecologists, has been studying this evolutionary arms race for decades at Wicken Fen near Cambridge, England. In this engaging book, he takes us on a scientific journey, relating what others had already discovered before he began his work and then what he and others have discovered since the 1980s at Wicken Fen and elsewhere through many years of patient observations and experiments. 

Cuckoo

By Nick Davies,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cuckoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beloved as the herald of spring, cuckoos have held a place in our affections for centuries. The oldest song in English celebrates the cuckoo's arrival, telling us that 'Sumer is icumen in'. But for many other birds the cuckoo is a signal of doom, for it is Nature's most notorious cheat. Cuckoos across the world have evolved extraordinary tricks to manipulate other species into raising their young. How do they get away with it?

In this enormously engaging book, naturalist and scientist Nick Davies reveals how cuckoos trick their hosts. Using shrewd detective skills and field experiments, he uncovers an…


Microcosm

By Carl Zimmer,

Book cover of Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life

I know I’m double dipping here with another of Carl’s books. I love how he takes one, ubiquitous micro-inhabitant of the human body and uses it to explore what it means to be alive and interconnected with the life in and around us. I love how Carl flips away our human perspective to “view” the word through the chemical-sensing molecules of a single-celled organism – E. coli. Superb, fun science writing.  

Microcosm

By Carl Zimmer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Microcosm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the YearSeed Magazine • Granta Magazine • The Plain-DealerIn this fascinating and utterly engaging book, Carl Zimmer traces E. coli's pivotal role in the history of biology, from the discovery of DNA to the latest advances in biotechnology. He reveals the many surprising and alarming parallels between E. coli's life and our own. And he describes how E. coli changes in real time, revealing billions of years of history encoded within its genome. E. coli is also the most engineered species on Earth, and as scientists retool this microbe to produce life-saving drugs and clean fuel,…


Life On Man

By Theodor Rosebury,

Book cover of Life On Man

In Life on Man, the brilliant bacteriologist and renowned professor Theodor Rosebury became the first to introduce the public to the world of bacteria within and around them. He did so with irreverence and humor that shocked and delighted without sacrificing scientific accuracy and prudence. Though our understanding of the bacterial world has progressed light years since Life on Man was first published in 1969, it remains a classic. A must-read for everyone seriously interested in our personal microbiomes.  

Life On Man

By Theodor Rosebury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life On Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Microterrors

By Tony Hart,

Book cover of Microterrors: The Complete Guide to Bacterial, Viral and Fungal Infections that Threaten Our Health

If you can get past the sensational (fear-mongering?) title, Tony Harts' slender volume is a delight of colorful micrographs of the bacterial, viral and fungal microbes that cause human infections. His phenomenal microscopy brings the world of “germs” alive – often against the eerie landscape of our own cells and tissues. Not just a picture book, Hart provides succinct, accurate, and lay-accessible information on the spectrum of important, disease-causing microbes and the hazards they pose when they show up in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Microterrors

By Tony Hart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Microterrors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hidden dangers surrounding us.

Despite the confident strides of modern science, the threat of deadly unseen organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi still grip the imagination with their ferocious intensity.

For instance, resistant strains of bacteria can now survive the strongest antibiotics and deadly new biological weapons are being cooked up in laboratories worldwide.

Microterrors explores these threats as well as humanity's greatest living rivals that have been on the planet far longer than we have.

The introduction covers terms, definitions and a brief natural history, including the role of viruses in human evolution, as well as bioengineering…


Microbial Inhabitants of Humans

By Michael Wilson,

Book cover of Microbial Inhabitants of Humans: Their Ecology and Role in Health and Disease

Ready for a truly deep dive? Here’s the authoritative textbook on the human microbiome, by the head of the Department of Microbiology at the University College London’s Eastman Dental Institute. Medical microbiologist Michael Wilson goes beyond the microbiome of the mouth and gut, to describe the indigenous microbiota of the skin, eyes, as well as our respiratory, urinary, and reproductive systems. The serious student of microbiology will appreciate each chapter’s extensive study citations and further reading.   

Microbial Inhabitants of Humans

By Michael Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Microbial Inhabitants of Humans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This advanced textbook provides a unique overview of the microbial communities (normal indigenous microbiota) inhabiting those regions of the human body that are exposed to the external environment, including the skin, eyes, oral cavity and the respiratory, urinary, reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts. In order to understand why particular organisms are able to colonise an anatomical region and why the resulting microbial community has a particular composition, an ecological approach is essential. Consequently, the key anatomical and physiological characteristics of each body site are described throughout the book. The crucial roles of the indigenous microbiota in protecting against exogenous pathogens, regulating…


A Naturalist at Large

By Bernd Heinrich,

Book cover of A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich

It is almost impossible to choose just one of Bernd Heinrich’s many eye-opening books on the natural world. These beautifully written essays on “the inconnectedness of all of life” explore how species solve the problems of surviving and reproducing in a world packed with millions of other species. These stories, gleaned from his detailed observations and experiments in nature, relate how species depend on, defend, and manipulate each other. The battles and manipulations among species he describes are the raw material for relentless coevolution. Heinrich infuses his observations in the Maine woods with wonderfully original insights, grounded in a clear-thinking understanding of current ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral science. 

A Naturalist at Large

By Bernd Heinrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Naturalist at Large as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In essays that span several decades, Heinrich finds himself at home in his beloved camp in Maine, where he plays host to annoying visitors from Europe (the cluster flies) and more helpful guests from Asia (ladybugs); and as far away as Botswana, where he unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of elephants' bruising treatment of mopane trees. Heinrich turns to his great love, the extraordinary behaviors of ravens, some of them close companions for years. Finally, he asks "Where does a biologist find hope?" while delivering an answer that informs and inspires.


Monarchs and Milkweed

By Anurag Agrawal,

Book cover of Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution

Plants and insects make up most of the species on earth, and they have spent millions of years interacting and coevolving with each other. In this book, Anurag Agrawal weaves together what scientists have learned about one of the most charismatic of these interactions, those between milkweeds and monarch butterflies. He explores why the evolution of these interactions never ceases, but he also shows us just how difficult it can be to sort out how particular species coevolve. The book is a window into why the interactions between plants and insects may be the most diverse interactions that have ever evolved between complex organisms. Agrawal is a leading researcher on the evolution of interactions between plants and insects, and, fortunately, he is also an absorbing writer. 

Monarchs and Milkweed

By Anurag Agrawal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monarchs and Milkweed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fascinating and complex evolutionary relationship of the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant Monarch butterflies are one of nature's most recognizable creatures, known for their bright colors and epic annual migration from the United States and Canada to Mexico. Yet there is much more to the monarch than its distinctive presence and mythic journeying. In Monarchs and Milkweed, Anurag Agrawal presents a vivid investigation into how the monarch butterfly has evolved closely alongside the milkweed--a toxic plant named for the sticky white substance emitted when its leaves are damaged--and how this inextricable and intimate relationship has been like an…


What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19?

By Michael Burgan, Who HQ, Manuel Gutierrez (illustrator)

Book cover of What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19?

This book is for older children. I would offer it to strong readers in grades 4 through 6. Now that I think about it, it would probably be a really informative read for grown-ups… it doesn’t take long to get through the whole book, and the straightforward tone leaves little room for emotions or biases. It’s a refreshing presentation of the facts (though the content, of course, is not “refreshing”). This book opens with a vignette about the lockdown in March 2020 and then goes into a factual description of viruses in general and the coronavirus in particular. It then talks about the early spread of this new disease, the search for treatments, and even the overall economic and governmental impacts that stemmed from the whole phenomenon.

At the end of this book, there are a couple of interesting additions. You will find two timelines: A timeline of the coronavirus…

What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19?

By Michael Burgan, Who HQ, Manuel Gutierrez (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is the Coronavirus Disease Covid-19? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times Best-Selling series tells the story of how COVID-19, a coronavirus, was first identified and how it spread throughout the world in the new Who HQ Now format for trending topics.


The coronavirus disease COVID-19 emerged in November 2019. By March 2020, cities all around the world closed schools, offices, restaurants and other public spaces deemed "non-essential" in an attempt to contain the fast-spreading virus. People struggled to follow government orders, stay indoors, and limit contact with others.
But the virus that caused one of the world's deadliest pandemics eventually killed over five million people worldwide.…


The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

By Edward C. Holmes,

Book cover of The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

Into the deep weeds, for those who dare! Eddie (as he is famously known) Holmes is one of the world’s leading experts on molecular evolutionary virology, particularly regarding the RNA viruses—which are the scariest and most menacing ones, the ones that mutate often, evolve fast, and spill over from animals to cause gruesome new diseases in humans. Ebola. Marburg. Nipah. Hendra. SARS-1. MERS. Zika. The dengues. And of course SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 beast. Eddie Holmes explains, in lucid but authoritative prose, where these creatures come from, how they adapt so well to infecting people, and why RNA virology is a crucial survival tool for the human future.

The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

By Edward C. Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

RNA viruses provide unique insights into the patterns and processes of evolutionary change in real time. The study of viral evolution is especially topical given the growing awareness that emerging and re-emerging diseases (most of which are caused by RNA viruses) represent a major threat to public health. However, while the study of viral evolution has developed rapidly in the last 30 years, relatively little attention has been directed toward linking work on the
mechanisms of viral evolution within cells or individual hosts, to the epidemiological outcomes of these processes. This novel book fills this gap by considering the patterns…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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