100 books like The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

By Edward C. Holmes,

Here are 100 books that The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses fans have personally recommended if you like The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses. 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 Plagues and Peoples

Gary Clayton Anderson Author Of Massacre in Minnesota: The Dakota War of 1862, the Most Violent Ethnic Conflict in American History

From my list on stories so engaging you loose track of time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the Northern Plains, visiting Indian Reservations where my mother was a social worker. The poverty, hopelessness, and general lack of medical care and schooling made a profound impact on me. It led me to Graduate School and the study of American Indians. Of my twelve books, two have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and several others have won minor prizes. As a historian, I realize that we can turn things around. We can strive to better understand the past, and prepare our children and grandchildren for the future. But this will never happen by banning books. We must face the brave, new world that is upon us.

Gary's book list on stories so engaging you loose track of time

Gary Clayton Anderson Why did Gary love this book?

As a historian, some books just keep coming back to you. McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples is just such a book. 

He is really the first historian to outline the dramatic impact that infectious diseases have had on human history. He outlines the spread of smallpox, diphtheria, Yellow Fever, Malaria, the Plague, and many others, as they originate mostly in Africa and come into the Mediterranean Ocean, to produce cycles of death. 

But the people who lived on the edge of that ocean soon came to develop antibodies, and ultimately, master the impact of such terrible diseases.  

Unfortunately, those diseases were soon transferred to the Americas, where perhaps a hundred million American Indians died from them. They had no immunities!

Had such a calamity not occurred, the two western hemispheric continents might easily be dominated by Natives, who spoke a different language and prayed to a different God.

By William H. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Plagues and Peoples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Upon its original publication, Plagues and Peoples was an immediate critical and popular success, offering a radically new interpretation of world history as seen through the extraordinary impact--political, demographic, ecological, and psychological--of disease on cultures. From the conquest of Mexico by smallpox as much as by the Spanish, to the bubonic plague in China, to the typhoid epidemic in Europe, the history of disease is the history of humankind. With the identification of AIDS in the early 1980s, another chapter has been added to this chronicle of events, which William McNeill explores in his new introduction to this updated editon.…


Book cover of No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Peter Piot was a young microbiologist at a lab in Belgium, in 1976, when he was assigned to analyze specimens in a thermos bottle shipped up from Zaire, where villagers were dying of a horrific and unknown disease. The thermos contained a virus that came to be known as Ebola. This was the event, as his book vividly recounts, that led Piot to a long and distinguished career in infectious viral diseases, from Ebola to AIDS and beyond.

By Peter Piot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Time to Lose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Peter Piot was in medical school, a professor warned, "There's no future in infectious diseases. They've all been solved." Fortunately, Piot ignored him, and the result has been an exceptional, adventure-filled career. In the 1970s, as a young man, Piot was sent to Central Africa as part of a team tasked with identifying a grisly new virus. Crossing into the quarantine zone on the most dangerous missions, he studied local customs to determine how this disease-the Ebola virus-was spreading. Later, Piot found himself in the field again when another mysterious epidemic broke out: AIDS. He traveled throughout Africa, leading…


Book cover of The Origins of AIDS

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Scientists now know that the AIDS virus, HIV-1, entered the human population much earlier than is commonly thought—back around 1908, give or take a margin of error, and via a single spillover from a chimpanzee into a human, probably by blood exposure when a chimp was killed and butchered for food. Pepin’s book illuminates how the virus might then, slowly and quietly at first, have spread from a forest in southeastern Cameroun, down tributaries of the Congo River to major cities such as Brazzaville and Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), and from there to the world. Pepin’s work was vastly helpful to me when I assembled my own account of that story, included in my own books.

By Jacques Pépin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is now forty years since the discovery of AIDS, but its origins continue to puzzle doctors, scientists and patients. Inspired by his own experiences working as a physician in a bush hospital in Zaire, Jacques Pepin looks back to the early twentieth-century events in central Africa that triggered the emergence of HIV/AIDS and traces its subsequent development into the most dramatic and destructive epidemic of modern times. He shows how the disease was first transmitted from chimpanzees to man and then how military campaigns, urbanisation, prostitution and large-scale colonial medical interventions intended to eradicate tropical diseases combined to disastrous…


Book cover of Lifting the Impenetrable Veil: From Yellow Fever to Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever & SARS

David Quammen Author Of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

From my list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist and an author, I’ve been covering the subject of scary viruses for twenty years—ever since I walked through Ebola habitat in a forest in northeastern Gabon, on assignment for National Geographic. I’ve interviewed many of the eminent experts—from Peter Piot to Marion Koopmans to Tony Fauci—and have spent field time with some of the intrepid younger disease ecologists who look for viruses in bat guano in Chinese caves and in gorilla blood in Central African forests. My book Spillover, published in 2012, drew much of that research together in describing the history and evolutionary ecology of animal infections that spill into humans.

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

David Quammen Why did David love this book?

Charlie Calisher is a veteran in the field of killer viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and other arthropods, retired now after decades of dangerous work for the CDC, in collaboration with the WHO, and at Colorado State University. He’s also a sly, plainspoken curmudgeon with a golden heart, a piquant sense of humor, and a wonderfully easy way of telling the stories of science in a conversational tone. The fact that he has honored me with his friendship, and been an invaluable counsel to me and to others on the subject of viruses, biases my high opinion of this book practically not at all.

By Charles H. Calisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lifting the Impenetrable Veil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

History books can be boring to read but Dr. Charles Calisher has written a history of the early days of virus research that is anything but boring. His book emphasizes viruses, organization, and people, the combination which has led us to today. Using yellow fever and the virus that causes it, yellow fever virus, as an example of a disease caused by a virus transmitted by insects, Calisher takes us through the days when knowledge of these diseases was in short supply, techniques were primitive, but researchers were brilliant, innovative, and hard-working. From Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, to Walter…


Book cover of Virolution

David Seaborg Author Of How Life Increases Biodiversity: An Autocatalytic Hypothesis

From my list on evolution, ecology, and biodiversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an evolutionary biologist who wrote two books on my theory that all species increase the biodiversity of their ecosystem in a natural environment (humans are an exception to this). I am a dedicated conservationist and founder and president of the World Rainforest Fund (worldrainforest.org), a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the Earth’s rainforests. I collected reptiles and fossils when I was a child, and never out-grew my passion and love for science, biology, biodiversity, the natural world, animals, plants, ecology, and evolution. I love reading about these topics, hearing lectures on them, and learning about them. I love being in nature, traveling to natural ecosystems, and seeing wildlife. 

David's book list on evolution, ecology, and biodiversity

David Seaborg Why did David love this book?

I am working on a theory that viruses were crucial in the evolution of higher organisms and major evolutionary breakthroughs. This book is about that very topic.

It is full of incredible information and has me jumping with excitement. Seeing a scientist who shares my ideas is exciting. It is well-written and comprehensible. The examples are great. I found it thought-provoking and could hardly wait to read the part I had not yet read!

By Frank Ryan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The extraordinary role of viruses in evolution and how this is revolutionising biology and medicine.

Darwin's theory of evolution is still the greatest breakthrough in biological science. His explanation of the role of natural selection in driving the evolution of life on earth depended on steady variation of living things over time - but he was unable to explain how this variation occurred. In the 150 years since publication of the Origin of Species, we have discovered three main sources for this variation - mutation, hybridisation and epigenetics. Then on Sunday, 12th February, 2001 the evidence for perhaps the most…


Book cover of A Planet of Viruses

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From my list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

John N. Thompson Why did John love this book?

Parasitism of other species is probably the most common way of life on earth. It is not uncommon for a species to have tens to hundreds of parasites that exploit it. Viruses have fine-tuned the parasitic lifestyle to the extreme, attacking just about all other forms of life and fueling the evolution of counter-defenses in their hosts. Viruses co-opt the genetic machinery of their hosts for just about everything they need to replicate themselves. Carl Zimmer’s book is not only the best introduction I know to the remarkable diversity of viruses, it also is written with the crystal clear, elegant prose and solid scientific grounding that are the hallmarks of all his writing. 

By Carl Zimmer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 2020, an invisible germ-a virus-wholly upended our lives. We're most familiar with the viruses that give us colds or Covid-19. But viruses also cause a vast range of other diseases, including one disorder that makes people sprout branch-like growths as if they were trees. Viruses have been a part of our lives for so long that we are actually part virus: the human genome contains more DNA from viruses than our own genes. Meanwhile, scientists are discovering viruses everywhere they look: in the soil, in the ocean, even in deep caves miles underground.

Fully revised and updated, with new…


Book cover of The Covenant of the Wild: Why Animals Chose Domestication

Jan Dohner Author Of Farm Dogs: A Comprehensive Breed Guide to 93 Guardians, Herders, Terriers, and Other Canine Working Partners

From my list on dogs domesticated humans irreplaceable partners.

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from a family of dog lovers, I have lived a lifetime of loving dogs and reading (and writing) books about dogs. My childhood animal books were “dog-eared” for sure, but when I began to read dog books like those on my list, my relationship with dogs became deeper and richer beyond how a dog looks or acts; these books opened a door on our mutual history and how our lives fit together. As our oldest animal partner, dogs choose to travel this shared path with us. A gift to us, it is now our responsibility to honor them.

Jan's book list on dogs domesticated humans irreplaceable partners

Jan Dohner Why did Jan love this book?

I cannot imagine my life with animals without the understanding I have drawn from this book. While biologists and the public have long viewed domestication as a form of forced servitude, Budiansky details another revolutionary theory that some special animal species “choose” to throw their futures in with humans.

How this happened is a fascinating story that challenges our long-held assumptions and reveals our huge debt and responsibility to these animals who chose to live with us. This book is the foundation stone of my work with dogs and other domesticated animals. 

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Covenant of the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Animal rights extremists argue that eating meat is murder and that pets are slaves. This compelling reappraisal of the human-animal bond, however, shows that domestication of animals is not an act of exploitation but a brilliantly successful evolutionary strategy that has benefited humans and animals alike.

"Budiansky's slim, elegant discourse is a persuasive counterweight to the pastoral delusions of sentimentalists intent on seeing humans as malevolently at odds with the noble animal kingdom."-Manuela Hoelterhoff, Wall Street Journal

"Forcefully argued and eloquent."-Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

"A subtle look at the mysteries of evolution and a stinging response to animal-rights extremists.…


Book cover of Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species

Deena Emera Author Of A Brief History of the Female Body: An Evolutionary Look at How and Why the Female Form Came to Be

From my list on capturing the magnificence of female biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my career studying the evolution of female biology. My PhD thesis was on the evolution of pregnancy and menstruation. I am currently a researcher at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging studying the evolution of menopause. I also inhabit a female body and have a personal interest in understanding how and why my own body works the way it does. As a lifelong teacher who has taught high school, college, and graduate students, I am passionate about sharing what I know with other women. I hope you enjoy these fascinating books about the female body and its amazing evolutionary history. 

Deena's book list on capturing the magnificence of female biology

Deena Emera Why did Deena love this book?

Mother Nature completely changed the way I think about motherhood. As a mother of 4 kids, I am consumed both by my maternal responsibilities and with guilt for not meeting those responsibilities perfectly.

In this paradigm-shifting book, Hrdy takes her readers on a journey through human history and the animal world to reveal a different view of motherhood than the one mothers are conditioned to have—that mothers should sacrifice everything for their children.

Hrdy uses evolutionary theory, experimental evidence, and examples from nature to show how mammalian and primate mothers evolved to skillfully deal with the competing demands of survival and motherhood. Our bodies and brains are exquisitely built to balance our own needs with those of our children.

By Sarah Blaffer Hrdy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mother Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mother Nature is the big new popular science book for the end of the millennium. It starts from the standpoint of Darwinist evolutionary theory, but turns it on its head. It is the first such major book by a women, qho ia professor of SocioBiology at the University of California, trained in Anthropology and an expert on Primates in particular. She's also one of the few women members fo the US Academy of Sciences. It's not for nothing that Nature is known as Mother Nature. Evolution is controlled, Hrdy demonstrates, not by the male of species, but by the female…


Book cover of The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art

William Hirstein Author Of Responsible Brains: Neuroscience, Law, and Human Culpability

From my list on bridging the gap between mind and brain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like trying to solve problems about the mind: Is the mind just the brain? What is consciousness, and where is it in the brain? What happens in the brain during aesthetic experience? Why are we prone to self-deception? In approaching these questions, I don’t limit myself to one discipline or set of techniques. These mental phenomena, and the problems that surround them, do not hew to our disciplinary boundaries. In spite of this, someone needs to collect, analyze, and assess information relevant to the problems—which is in many different formats—and build theories designed to make sense of it. During that time, more data will become available, so back you go.

William's book list on bridging the gap between mind and brain

William Hirstein Why did William love this book?

The brain people are all over art.

Anjan Chatterjee has managed to write a book that a) is very accessible, b) provides thorough coverage of current attempts to understand art and aesthetic experience by using information from the cognitive sciences, and c) outlines an original hypothesis about why humans evolved a love for art. That last part changes the book from a nice review of the topic to a groundbreaking attempt at an explanation of our art practices.

Chatterjee examines our judgments of peoples’ attractiveness, the brain’s system of reward chemicals, and our evolutionary history, in an attempt to understand our passion for art scientifically. 

In an upcoming book on art, I refer to Chatterjee frequently. I don’t always agree with him, but his sensible, clear, and broad approach made his book very useful to me. 

By Anjan Chatterjee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Aesthetic Brain takes readers on an exciting journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Using the latest advances in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Anjan Chatterjee investigates how an aesthetic sense is etched into our minds, and explains why artistic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses such fundamental questions as: What is beauty? Is it universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What
is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art?

Early on, Chatterjee probes the reasons why we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful, highlighting the…


Book cover of The Reinvention Of Science: Slaying The Dragons Of Dogma And Ignorance

Fernando J. Ballesteros Author Of E.T. Talk: How Will We Communicate with Intelligent Life on Other Worlds?

From my list on humanistic answers from the skies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astronomer and astrobiologist, and my field of work leads me to wonder about the origin of life in the universe and how scientific discoveries (and especially those related to space) affect culture, people's lives, or even civilization itself. All of the books listed here focus precisely on answering some of these concerns, which is why I find them extremely interesting.

Fernando's book list on humanistic answers from the skies

Fernando J. Ballesteros Why did Fernando love this book?

I like this book because it challenges conventional scientific thinking, advocating for a more open-minded and exploratory approach to scientific inquiry.

I find it interesting because it delves into various scientific disciplines, from physics to biology, highlighting instances where entrenched dogma and ignorance have hindered progress. It argues for the necessity of questioning established paradigms and embracing curiosity-driven research to foster genuine innovation.

As I’m interested in the intersection of philosophy, history, and science I find this book very compelling, as it offers fresh perspectives on how scientific breakthroughs occur and the importance of intellectual humility in the pursuit of knowledge.

By Bernard J T Jones, Vicent J Martinez, Virginia Trimble

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reinvention Of Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout the history of science, different thinkers, philosophers and scientists postulated the existence of entities that, in spite of their not being visible or detectable in their time, or perhaps ever, were nevertheless useful to explain the real world. We started this book by looking at a handful of these entities. These included phlogiston to account for fire; the luminiferous ether for propagation of radiation; the homunculus to provide for heredity; and crystalline spheres to carry the wandering planets around the earth. Many of these erroneous beliefs had held up progress, just as dragons drawn on the edges of a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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