80 books like Contagion

By Erin Bowman,

Here are 80 books that Contagion fans have personally recommended if you like Contagion. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Fever 1793

Elizabeth Langston Author Of Whisper Falls

From my list on fish out of water” historical novels.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved learning about the past. Whenever we travel for vacation, my family has become resigned to making a stop at a historical site, especially for Colonial America. It was no surprise to them that I set parts of my first published novel (and series) in 18th century North Carolina. Each novel on my book list is set in a different century and features ordinary people who, when thrown into extraordinary circumstances, respond with strength, courage, and grace. These historical “fish-out-of-water” stories remind us how much people have changed across time—and how they’ve stayed the same. 

Elizabeth's book list on fish out of water” historical novels

Elizabeth Langston Why did Elizabeth love this book?

When I first read Fever 1793—set in Philadelphia during a yellow fever epidemic—I thought it was a well-written and thought-provoking glimpse into how people would respond in a crisis. After re-reading it post-pandemic, I would now add “prophetic.” Mattie is a typical grumpy teen who would rather have fun than work in her family’s coffee house. But there is a deadly fever rapidly spreading through the city. Desperation unleashes her inner strength, allowing her to prevail over disease, fear, food shortages, unscrupulous thieves, and well-intentioned but poorly-managed medical science.

By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fever 1793 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Joanne McLaughlin Author Of Chasing Ashes

From my list on digging out when life just buries you.

Who am I?

That moment when you realize, whew, you’ve survived the catastrophe, but the greater challenge lies ahead? That intrigues me. Maybe that’s because my grandmother was struck by a Vespa in Italy when I was five years old, and we traveled home by ship through a hurricane that rocked much of the East Coast. Stories about “What’s next?” and “How do we push the rubble away?” are my go-to now, as they were during the years I worked as a journalist, first as a reporter, then for much longer as an editor. After my husband’s death in 2011, clearing the rubble yielded the first two installments of my vampire trilogy. 

Joanne's book list on digging out when life just buries you

Joanne McLaughlin Why did Joanne love this book?

I used to be paid to ponder the end of the world as we know it: I was a health editor during the early years of the COVID pandemic; at the same time, I was editing environmental stories.

What I loved most about this book is that the worst has already occurred, and the protagonist, a teenager, chooses her own new way to navigate what’s still to come. I was engaged by the concepts of resilience as a survival skill, reinvention as a necessity, and rebirth as an act of personal and global faith.

I am not a fan of religion as such, but this book made me believe.  

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI

--

We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…


Book cover of Severance

Jinwoo Chong Author Of Flux

From my list on to cure (or rather validate) your post-capitalist malaise.

Who am I?

In 2017, I was laid off from my first job out of college, an experience that I think more young people are going through as we move further into an uncertain economic future. That experience formed the basis of my novel, which was published earlier this year. Afterwards, I met a lot of people, most of whom I didn’t know, who told me they’d resonated with the feeling of malaise captured by those first few chapters: of working jobs that seem to be dead ends, wondering if you’ll be here, at this desk, twenty years from now. It’s something most everybody can relate to but doesn't appear in novels nearly as much as it should.

Jinwoo's book list on to cure (or rather validate) your post-capitalist malaise

Jinwoo Chong Why did Jinwoo love this book?

Objectively, Severance fits into many lists, being a masterpiece of literary fiction, as well as a speculative, near-future puzzle, as well as an intimate and moving portrait of survival both physical and metaphorical.

But it’s also an office novel, one that through sheer coincidence depicted the surrealism of white collar office work while a deadly pandemic enacts devastating change across the planet at exactly the same time it was happening in reality. The book is one of my favorites of all time. Every read offers something different.

By Ling Ma,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Maybe it’s the end of the world, but not for Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood in Ling Ma’s offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire, Severance.

"A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring." ―Michael Schaub, NPR.org

“A satirical spin on the end times-- kind of like The Office meets The Leftovers.” --Estelle Tang, Elle

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: NPR * The New Yorker ("Books We Loved") * Elle * Marie Claire * Amazon Editors * The Paris Review…


Book cover of A Beginning at the End

Kelly McWilliams Author Of Agnes at the End of the World

From my list on engaged with pandemics, past, present, and imagined.

Who am I?

In June of 2020, I published a cult escape/pandemic mashup novel, Agnes at the End of the World. Of course, pandemic novels aren’t for everyone right now, but there are some readers, like myself, who seek out what frightens us in fiction to survive our present moment. I read a bajillion pandemic novels before embarking on my own, and I hope that it helps someone, as novels have always helped me. Ultimately, every pandemic novel is about social ills, large and small, and about grief. They remind us that we’re all in this complex world together, telling stories around a campfire to shine some light in the dark.

Kelly's book list on engaged with pandemics, past, present, and imagined

Kelly McWilliams Why did Kelly love this book?

A Beginning at the End is probably the novel I’d recommend to most readers now, because it’s not just about a pandemic—it’s the story of a pandemic’s long aftermath. The novel paints of picture of societal resilience and growth, and individuals holding out hope for the future after the greatest of tragedies.

By Mike Chen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Brotherhood

Four survivors come together as the country rebuilds in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic. A character-driven postapocalyptic suspense with an intimate, hopeful look at how people can move forward by creating something better.

Six years after a virus wiped out most of the planet’s population, former pop star Moira is living under a new identity to escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world for those still too…


Book cover of The Diviners

Amy Carol Reeves Author Of Ripper (A Ripper Novel)

From my list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix.

Who am I?

I think the lure of the detective novel lies in our human instinct to problem solve. There’s something satisfying about following a smart, observant, and even flawed character as they solve a crime. We’re working through a complicated puzzle, deciphering clues and theorizing, alongside the detective. Personally, I love detective novels set in richly drawn historical settings. I grew up addicted to Edgar Allan Poe and Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins in a few days because I couldn’t put it down. The following books are a must-have for any Sherlock Holmes fans.

Amy's book list on to get your Sherlock Holmes fix

Amy Carol Reeves Why did Amy love this book?

Evie O’Neill has been sent to live with her Uncle Will when she can’t obey the conventional rules of her hometown. The good news is that he lives in glitzy New York City during the 1920s, but Will runs a very different scene, operating the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. After a girl’s body is discovered with clues indicating that the murder was motivated by the occult, Evie, her uncle, and a few new friends find themselves involved in the investigation. A Young Adult book, what I particularly love about this novel, is the way Evie evolves from a thoughtless party-girl to a young detective who embraces the psychic gift she has long kept at bay. In the process, she becomes wiser about the larger, complicated world around her.  

By Libba Bray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Diviners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just…


Book cover of Illuminae

Bridget Tyler Author Of The Pioneer

From my list on bold narrators.

Who am I?

I tell stories for the page and the screen (and sometimes to bribe my kid to brush her teeth). The stories I tell have one thing in common – they transport the reader to another world. For me, building a new world starts with building a new character a narrator with strong opinions and a complicated past that will shape how the reader experiences their world. We don't experience the real world objectively no matter how hard we try, our past, our feelings, and even our bodies affect how we experience the world. That's why the worlds I build and the stories I tell are all filtered through the particular truth of a bold narrator.

Bridget's book list on bold narrators

Bridget Tyler Why did Bridget love this book?

Illuminae is the first book in a YA science fiction series called the Illuminae Files Trilogy.

The story is told through intersecting first-person narratives constructed from journals, letters, texts, reports, and pictures. You want to absorb all that “found footage” goodness on paper. Trust.

There’s almost no exposition in Illuminae, especially in the first few chapters. That’s the beauty of these books – the narration is so visceral and urgent that you get invested in the story long before you really understand what’s happening. Putting the pieces of the world-building together is an addictive mystery in and of itself.

I don’t recommend cracking open this book the night before anything requiring a good night’s rest and lots of focus – your mind will be in 2575 until well after you’ve finished the last page. 

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Illuminae as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'Never have I read a book so wholly unique and utterly captivating.' Marie Lu

'It certainly filled the Battlestar Galactica-shaped hole in my heart.' Victoria Aveyard

The internationally bestselling first book in a high-octane trilogy

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she'd ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has…


Book cover of Icarus

Caryn Lix Author Of Sanctuary

From my list on YA to scare away a good night’s sleep.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved to be scared! When I was young I turned off the lights to watch movies like Alien and It. When I got older, I played Resident Evil and Silent Hill. And when I got even older, I started writing things that would make me jump if the dog came in too suddenly mid-chapter. I think we are drawn to scary books and movies because they give us a safe way to explore the unknown – and, less philosophically, because sometimes it’s just fun to get sucked into a dark and creepy universe!

Caryn's book list on YA to scare away a good night’s sleep

Caryn Lix Why did Caryn love this book?

Icarus is a totally different kind of scary read from what I normally pick up, more psychological thriller than actual horror – but don’t let that stop you from reading this amazing book. In Icarus, Stone leads us through a complicated, dark, and forgotten history until we find the place Tess’ present intersects with her half-forgotten past. The ride is thrilling and the conclusion won’t leave you disappointed!

By Danika Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Being the ‘new kid’ at school is hard, but for Tess Novak - who’s moved more times than she can remember - it’s a role she knows by heart. Transferring during senior year means yet another place she’ll eventually leave, more classmates she’ll forget. Fate, it seems, has other plans.From the moment Tess is introduced to honor student Drew Martinez, she is convinced she has met him before. But when? Confident and attractive, Drew is exactly the type of ‘rich kid’ Tess’s father hates, and Tess avoids. Thrown together by a class project, their tentative friendship sparks a smoldering attraction.…


Book cover of House of Furies

Caryn Lix Author Of Sanctuary

From my list on YA to scare away a good night’s sleep.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved to be scared! When I was young I turned off the lights to watch movies like Alien and It. When I got older, I played Resident Evil and Silent Hill. And when I got even older, I started writing things that would make me jump if the dog came in too suddenly mid-chapter. I think we are drawn to scary books and movies because they give us a safe way to explore the unknown – and, less philosophically, because sometimes it’s just fun to get sucked into a dark and creepy universe!

Caryn's book list on YA to scare away a good night’s sleep

Caryn Lix Why did Caryn love this book?

This is another period piece, this one a classic Victorian gothic that appeals to my secret nostalgia for the old original horror pieces such as Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, or Jane Eyre. The main character finds herself enmeshed in a strange and dark world where right and wrong become blurred as she struggles to find the place she fits in. You won’t be able to stop reading between one chapter and the next. 

By Madeleine Roux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked House of Furies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

An all-new creepy fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author of Asylum.

Featuring stunning interior illustrations from artist Iris Compiet, plus photo-collages that bring the story to chilling life, House of Furies invites readers to a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin.

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house.

But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more…


Book cover of Dustborn

Jodi Meadows Author Of Nightrender

From my list on to transport you into another world.

Who am I?

I love books that take you to another world, stories that show you bits of our reality while exploring another. It’s thrilling to step into a world where anything can happen, where dragons exist, where our laws of nature may not apply. But also, I love seeing the familiar in fantastical places: love, friendship, and hope. Though the characters in books may inhabit worlds made mostly out of paper, ink, and imagination, their stories are universal.

Jodi's book list on to transport you into another world

Jodi Meadows Why did Jodi love this book?

A transporting and unforgettable blend of science fiction, dystopia, and Old West. The world of Dustborn is both familiar and unfamiliar at once, filled with tight-knit communities, dangerous villains, and maps to a better place. In these pages, you'll find a story of survival, family, and hope

By Erin Bowman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Delta of Dead River sets out to rescue her family from a ruthless dictator rising to power in the Wastes and discovers a secret that will reshape her world in this postapocalyptic Western mashup for fans of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl.

Delta of Dead River has always been told to hide her back, where a map is branded on her skin to a rumored paradise called the Verdant. In a wasteland plagued by dust squalls, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, many would kill for it—even if no one can read it. So when raiders sent by a man known…


Book cover of The Last Jews in Berlin

Alex Gerlis Author Of Agent in Berlin

From my list on to get a sense of Berlin under the Nazis.

Who am I?

I worked as a journalist for the BBC for nearly thirty years: my writing of espionage novels set in Europe during the Second World War goes back to 1994 when I was covering the 50th anniversary of D-Day for the BBC. I became fascinated with the human stories behind big military events and especially the British deception operation that was so crucial to the Allies’ success. This led to my first novel, The Best of Our Spies. To ensure my novels feel as authentic as possible my research means I travel around Europe and I’ve also amassed a collection of maps and guidebooks from that period.

Alex's book list on to get a sense of Berlin under the Nazis

Alex Gerlis Why did Alex love this book?

When the Nazis came to power in 1933 the Jewish population of Berlin was 160,000. By the start of the war, it had fallen to 80,000 due to people emigrating. By late 1943 almost the entire Jewish population of Berlin had been deported to the death camps, but around 4,000 remained in the city, living in hiding, with false identities, underground, and in constant fear. This book was first published in 1982 and is a remarkable account of how some of these people survived (though the majority of those who went underground were eventually caught and murdered).  The book reads like a thriller and is also a tribute to the many non-Jews who risked their lives to help save those of others.

By Leonard Gross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Jews in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In February 1943, four thousand Jews went underground in Berlin. By the end of the war, all but a few hundred of them had died in bombing raids or, more commonly, in death camps. This is the real-life story of some of the few of them - a young mother, a scholar and his countess lover, a black-market jeweler, a fashion designer, a Zionist, an opera-loving merchant, a teen-age orphan - who resourcefully, boldly, defiantly, luckily survived. In hiding or in masquerade, by their wits and sometimes with the aid of conscience-stricken German gentiles, they survived. They survived the constant…


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