The best books on Cholera

3 authors have picked their favorite books about Cholera and why they recommend each book.

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The Ghost Map

By Steven Johnson,

Book cover of The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Johnson’s exploration of a public health crisis and science in the making was one of the references I used in writing my own book. In August 1854, hundreds of people in the impoverished Golden Square neighborhood of London fell violently ill. Many died. By mapping the movements of the victims, Dr. John Snow traced the source of the infection to the Broad Street pump, a public water source that had been contaminated with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera. Johnson’s account shows how a normally benign microbe was rendered deadly in a crowded mass of people who ended up drinking their own sewage—at a time before the existence of microbes was known. 


Who am I?

I fell in love with the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary thirty years ago, when I first moved to town. At the time, I was working as a field biologist, and I loved to hang out at the marsh and birdwatch—I’d see everything from pelicans to peregrine falcons. Later I shifted from field biology to science writing, and some of my first articles were about how the Arcata Marsh serves both as a wildlife habitat and a means of treating the city’s sewage. I learned about the grassroots movement that created the marsh, and the global history of wetlands loss. I’ve been hooked on wetlands ever since.


I wrote...

The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

By Sharon Levy,

Book cover of The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

What is my book about?

The majority of the original wetlands in the US have vanished, transformed into farm fields, or buried under city streets. The Marsh Builders delves into the intertwined histories of wetlands loss and water pollution. 

The book’s springboard is the tale of a citizen uprising in Humboldt County, California, which led to the creation of one of the first US wetlands designed to treat city sewage. The book explores the global roots of this local story: the cholera epidemics that plagued 19th-century Europe; the researchers who invented modern sewage treatment after bumbling across the insight that microbes break down contaminants in water; the discovery that wetlands act as powerful filters for the pollution unleashed by modern humanity.

The Painted Veil

By W. Somerset Maugham,

Book cover of The Painted Veil

Set and published in the 1920s, this novel wasn’t written as historical fiction. However, the backdrop of mainland China, and the situation the lead characters create for themselves is of another world and time. 

We follow Kitty who, in punishment for an affair, joins her scientist husband on a mission to a colony infested by cholera. Ultimately though, this is the story of a woman who learns the difference between passion and love. While the incorrectness of the time may be a little uncomfortable to read, Kitty’s determination that the next generation of women should be fearless and frank, and as independent as any man rings just as true today.


Who am I?

Author of Pippo & Clara and Alberto’s Lost Birthday, Diana Rosie writes historical fiction that tells a story first and foremost, while gently uncovering the history of a time and place. In the vast spectrum of the genre, where historians like Hilary Mantel and James A Michener sit at one end, the novels that inspire her most can be found at the other. The books she recommends here are stories to make your heart ache and your soul sing. And they just happen to be set in the past.


I wrote...

Pippo and Clara

By Diana Rosie,

Book cover of Pippo and Clara

What is my book about?

Italy, 1938. Mussolini is in power and war is not far away... When Mamma goes missing early one morning, both Clara and Pippo go in search of her. Clara turns right; Pippo left. As a result of the choices they make that morning, their lives will be changed forever. Pippo and Clara tells the story of a family and a country divided. But will Clara and Pippo – and their mother – find each other again?

The Secret Garden

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Secret Garden

This book is special to me as it was the first book that really fired up my desire to write! I was a little girl and the edition my parents brought me came with a cute skeleton key necklace which I still have. I like to think that my obsession with mysterious gardens, vintage things, and skeleton keys all come from having read this beautiful book. 


Who am I?

I have a passion for this because I feel that books nowadays focus more on being dark to shock, and while everyone deserves to read what they like, I don’t want people to lose sight of things such as happy endings. There’s enough darkness in the world and reading should make people smile.  


I wrote...

The Siren's Call

By Alonna Williams,

Book cover of The Siren's Call

What is my book about?

Oh little one, the darkness is waiting, oh little one, run from it if you can; come little one, where the light can find you...

This was a familiar shanty to Manchester-born, Trevor Henderson; having grown up being mesmerized by stories of swashbuckling rogues, adventurous pirates, and captivating aquatic creatures, he was no stranger to sea shanties. These tales instilled in him a longing for the sea. Upon turning sixteen, he begins hearing whispers in the night, coaxing him to leave his posh life behind and follow his dreams; when Trevor finally takes the risk, he’s swept away on an adventure he never expected. He soon learns the truth about his own identity and history, causing him to wonder if he should have set foot outside his comfort zone...

Love in the Time of Cholera

By Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

Book cover of Love in the Time of Cholera

This is a classic. No movie, even starring Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, can do it justice. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a master storyteller and has always been one of my icons. It’s one of the greatest love stories of all time. A love that lasts a lifetime. The writing is beyond amazing, as only GGM’s can be. His metaphors bring tears to your eyes as he penetrates the soul of his characters in a way few other writers do. There is love on every page. 


Who am I?

I am a number one international bestselling author. I have written thirty titles and sold over six million copies worldwide. I have written since I was a child but got my first book published when I was 31. I love reading books that have love at their core and which are beautifully written. Frankly, if a book doesn’t have love, I’m not interested. In the same way that life without love is pointless! I don’t like thrillers, dystopia, or shallow romances. I give up very quickly if I’m not gripped by the first few pages, but when I love a book, there is nothing better than floating away on the wonderful story. 


I wrote...

Songs of Love and War

By Santa Montefiore,

Book cover of Songs of Love and War

What is my book about?

West Cork, Ireland, 1900. The year marks the start of a new century and the birth of three very different women: Kitty Deverill, the flame-haired Anglo-Irish daughter of the castle; Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the Irish cook; and Celia Deverill, Kitty's flamboyant English cousin. Together they grow up on the dreamy grounds of the family's grand estate, Castle Deverill. Yet their peaceful way of life will soon be threatened by Ireland's struggle for independence.

This novel is the first of five in the Deverill Chronicles series.

The Secret Garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett, Tasha Tudor (illustrator),

Book cover of The Secret Garden

Fictional narratives have just as much power to connect kids with nature as nonfiction. This book was given to me by my grandmother when I was eleven and my dog-eared copy has travelled around the world with me. I credit my first crush on the character Dickon with my sense of wonder for natural systems. It prompted a lifelong love of nature. The Secret Garden may contain old-fashioned language and a story of British imperialism, but for me, this is an oldie, but a goodie. When they turn the last page, buy your kids a trowel and a packet of seeds!


Who am I?

When I was on holiday in Borneo with my daughter, we met an inspirational conservationist who was basically single-handedly saving sun bears from extinction. I asked what I could do to help. “Do what you do best,” he said. Those five powerful words shaped my last decade, most recently prompting the growing series of Wildlife Wong nonfiction children’s books based on his true adventures with rainforest creatures. I feel strongly about the importance of connecting kids to nature. Not only is it good for their physical and mental health, but my generation hasn’t done a particularly good job of environmental stewardship, and we need all the help we can get. 


I wrote...

Wildlife Wong and the Bearded Pig

By Sarah R. Pye,

Book cover of Wildlife Wong and the Bearded Pig

What is my book about?

When he was a boy, Malaysian ecologist Wildlife Wong dreamed of working with animals, and eventually his dream came true. In this exciting story, Wildlife Wong spends three years living in the middle of the jungle trying to trap bearded pigs. Along the way, he meets some crazy characters like Michael, his mate Mary, and their three piglets Pork, Chop, and Bacon!

This unusual book for kids aged 8-12 includes an engaging nonfiction story about a real-life scientist, cool animal facts, and experiments that encourage your youngsters to connect with the world around them.

Age of Pandemics (1817-1920)

By Chinmay Tumbe,

Book cover of Age of Pandemics (1817-1920) : How They Shaped India and the World

It manages to leverage the world history of coping with pandemics over the last couple of centuries by focusing on India’s Experience with them. A readable academic book with frequent reference to the author's own life experience. It uses the history of public health to illuminate all aspects of the nation’s history

Who am I?

I have been trying to understand India’s evolution especially its economic path for the last half-century— by reading, traveling, and writing on aspects of that evolution. Originally this started with the Cold War concern about how a democracy would navigate using a democratic political system. So I took appropriate courses in college and graduate school, worked in India in the Peace Corps, and then spent a little under a decade teaching about it a doing research. For the following five decades I have continued my interest and publishing and studying. Whether I have understood much is for others to determine but these are my five book nominees.


I wrote...

The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas

By Thomas A. Timberg,

Book cover of The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas

What is my book about?

What makes the Marwaris so successful?

The book shows how Marwaris rely on their centuries old system for conserving and growing capital along with a community business ethic and supporting network. Building on an earlier book by the same author on the history of Marwari businessmen up to 1960 it surveys the extent to which they have been able to retain their position relatively and absolutely into the twenty-first century.

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