The most recommended books on Cholera

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to Cholera, and here are their favorite Cholera books.
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The Painted Veil

By W. Somerset Maugham,

Book cover of The Painted Veil

Nanine Case Author Of Cannibal King

From the list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown.

Who am I?

Some look through the glass and admire what lies beyond. I look beyond the glass and imagine what's ahead. What is an adventure? It's an encounter with the unexpected, an exquisite moment in time that can never be repeated, those memorable chapters in our personal story that cause us to go to the attic and lift the lid of the trunk. I've lived the experiences in my books because I walked the beaten paths where those stories were born and embraced the culture that colors the pages. I'm an intrepid traveler and adventurer with still a few personal chapters to write. As I look beyond the glass, I wonder… Will my trunk ever be full?

Nanine's book list on adventure capturing the challenges of the unknown

Why did Nanine love this book?

I love adventure stories that offer unexpected challenges in foreign lands. 

This story, set in upper-class England and rural China in the 1920s, is about Kitty, a selfish, beautiful, and attention-seeking woman, and the shy and unattractive English bacteriologist, Walter, who falls hopelessly in love and asks for Kitty’s hand in marriage. Kitty consents, but Walter’s discovery of her lover and the resulting social pressure, force the couple to enter into a marriage doomed for failure. 

Even though bitterness prevails, the couple set off for Walter’s assignment in the cholera-infected area of China. It is an act of suicide, fraught with peril. 

During their dangerous sojourn in this strange and foreign land, the couple’s discoveries are many. In the end, they realize that the greatest discovery is their mutual love.

By W. Somerset Maugham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'She did not know what to say. She was undecided whether indignantly to assert her innocence or to break out into angry reproaches. He seemed to read her thoughts. "I've got all the proof necessary" '

Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with Charles Townsend, a man whom she finds charming, attractive and exciting. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange but terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera…

The Cholera Years

By Charles E. Rosenberg,

Book cover of The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849 and 1866

Andrew M. Wehrman Author Of The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

From the list on understanding health and politics in the early US.

Who am I?

I am a historian of early American history who discovered the history of medicine somewhat by accident. As a history graduate student, I wanted to understand how ordinary Americans experienced the American Revolution. While digging through firsthand accounts written by average Americans, I came across a diary written by a sailor named Ashley Bowen. Although Bowen wrote made entries daily beginning in the 1760s, he hardly mentioned any of the political events that typically mark the coming of the American Revolution. Instead, day after day, he wrote about outbreaks of smallpox and how he volunteered to help his community. From then on, I began to understand just how central and inseparable health and politics are. 

Andrew's book list on understanding health and politics in the early US

Why did Andrew love this book?

Charles E. Rosenberg published his book, The Cholera Years, in 1962, and it has remained the classic book on the history of medicine in the 19th century United States. Rosenberg has had a singular impact on the field and has written on many public health topics, but his first book remains my favorite. Cleverly integrating the histories of social change, religion, and the contentious politics of New York City into a richly detailed chronicle of three separate epidemics of cholera, Rosenberg provides a gripping account of how Americans’ responses to public health crises have changed over time.

By Charles E. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method…

On the Map

By Simon Garfield,

Book cover of On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks

Matt Duckham Author Of GIS: A Computing Perspective

From the list on maps and mapmaking.

Who am I?

I’ve been surrounded by maps all my life. As a child, a highlight of family summer holidays was the night before, pouring over road maps, planning every step of our drive from my home in rural English midlands, via the cross-channel ferry, to a rented gîte in France, perhaps in the Dordogne or the Loire Valley. Maps are to me a paragon of design: a true marriage of science and art. In an amazingly compressed space, a well-designed map can be incredibly beautiful at the same time as containing an incredible amount of raw data, more than could be contained in reams of tables or many pages of text. 

Matt's book list on maps and mapmaking

Why did Matt love this book?

On the Map provides a whistlestop tour of the stories behind some of the best-known maps in history (including the Hereford Mappa Mundi, John Snow’s Broad Street cholera outbreak map, and Harry Beck’s London Underground map) as well as many less well-known but no less-fascinating tales of fantastic maps.

I love this book simply because it is a joyful celebration of all things maps and mapping: a compendium of compelling, cheerful, and often incredible stories that provide a glimpse of not only the immense variety and complexity maps, but also their inherent fun.

It is that fun which I think first attracted me to maps and mapping, and still sparks joy for me upon encountering new maps and mapping innovations today.

By Simon Garfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Maps fascinate us. They chart our understanding of the world and they log our progress, but above all they tell our stories. From the early sketches of philosophers and explorers through to Google Maps and beyond, Simon Garfield examines how maps both relate and realign our history.

With a historical sweep ranging from Ptolemy to Twitter, Garfield explores the legendary, impassable (and non-existent) mountains of Kong, the role of cartography in combatting cholera, the 17th-century Dutch craze for Atlases, the Norse discovery of America, how a Venetian monk mapped the world from his cell and the Muppets' knack of instant…

The Secret Garden

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Secret Garden

Carla Kessler Author Of Terracolina: A Place to Belong

From the list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference.

Who am I?

As a child, one of my favorite places was in the top branches of a tree. From up there I could watch the world pass by, remaining invisible. I could make up stories about the world below and no one would challenge me. The second best place for me was inside the story of a book, the kind that took you to magical places where children always found a way to win the day. I knew when I “grew up” I would write one of those empowering books. I became a middle school teacher and have since read many wonderful books for this age. Enjoy my list of favorites.  

Carla's book list on where kids who believe in nature make a difference

Why did Carla love this book?

This book touched many from my generation.

For me, Mary’s abandonment by the adults around her, came close to home. I rooted for her to free her soul. It was the beauty of the garden and the gentle robin that first melted the ice around her heart by connecting her with nature.

Then along came Dickon, who had grown up deeply connected with the earth and inspired her further, and finally Colin, who, like her, had been neglected. They healed each other as they revitalized the garden, experiencing the joys of mother earth.

It reinforced my own faith in mother nature, who also supported me whenever I grappled with my reality. 

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Secret Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rediscover the magical story of Mary Lennox, who arrives in the wild and windswept Yorkshire a sickly and miserable girl - until she discovers a forgotten, Secret Garden.

As Mary works hard to bring the garden back to life, its magic begins to work on her too . . .

This classic and beloved story has been beautifully retold by Claire Freedman and brought to glorious visual life by new illustration talent Shaw Davidson

Book cover of The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Lesley Glaister Author Of Little Egypt

From Lesley's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist Dog lover Pond lover Yogi Eater of cake

Lesley's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Lesley love this book?

I was reluctant to read this novel because it’s partly set in a POW camp during WW2, where Far East Prisoners of War slave on what is often called the Burma Death Railway. My dad was one of these prisoners and, even though I’ve written about it before, the more I know of what he went through, the more disturbed I feel.

However, once I’d given in and began to read, I was utterly gripped. The main character, a surgeon is wonderfully portrayed, flawed yet deeply sympathetic. I was as horrified and disturbed as I feared, but also fascinated, and moved by the dynamics between the characters. And there is an excellent – and quite erotic – love story threaded through.

By Richard Flanagan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Narrow Road to the Deep North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Forever after, there were for them only two sorts of men: the men who were on the Line, and the rest of humanity, who were not.

In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Burma Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This is a story about the many forms of love and death, of…

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

Hannah Wunsch Author Of The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care

From the list on medical history that reads like fiction.

Who am I?

As a critical care doctor, I love pausing when taking care of patients in a modern ICU to reflect on how far we’ve come in the care we can provide. I want to be entertained while learning about the past, and so I seek out books on medical history that find the wonder and the beauty (and the bizarre and chilling) and make it come alive. I get excited when medical history can be shared in a way that isn’t dry, or academic. These books all do that for me and capture some part of that crazy journey through time. 

Hannah's book list on medical history that reads like fiction

Why did Hannah love this book?

The Ghost Map is the fantastic story of an important Cholera epidemic in London in 1854.

The book swept me along with its narrative, plunging straight into the fetid world of Victorian London. Johnson weaves together the stories of the people affected, and the desperate hunt by Dr. John Snow to understand the cause of the disease. He also provides fascinating descriptions of the dangers to life in a time before sewers, and the evolution of such systems that ultimately transformed city life.

I definitely look at toilets, pipes, and sewer grates differently after reading this book.

By Steven Johnson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Ghost Map as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A National Bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year

It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.

In a triumph of…

The Sick Rose

By Richard Barnett,

Book cover of The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration

Cecilia Ruiz Author Of The Book of Extraordinary Deaths: True Accounts of Ill-Fated Lives

From the list on pictures about death.

Who am I?

My name is Cecilia Ruiz and I am a Mexican author and illustrator living in Brooklyn. Apart from desperately trying to make more books, I teach design and illustration at Queens College and the School of Visual Arts. I’m fascinated by visual storytelling and its evocative power. One of my idols, the French filmmaker Robert Bresson, says that art lies in suggestion. Bresson believed that things should be shown from one single angle that evokes all the other angles without showing them. All the books in this list do that—they show us death but they make us think about the mysterious and poetic ways in which life operates. 

Cecilia's book list on pictures about death

Why did Cecilia love this book?

This is another book that attracted me because of the innumerable contradictions it made me feel.

Horror and fascination; awe and disgust. This dissonance inhabits the art. An exquisitely rendered necrotic leg; the gorgeous color palette of a virulent face. Organized by disease, The Sick Rose is an elegant collection from the golden age of medical illustration. 

Without the need for words, this book is a beautifully disturbing reminder of our mortality and the unresting human desire to try to understand our bodies, cure diseases and extend life.

By Richard Barnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bizarre and captivating images, including close-up details and revealing cross-sections, make all too clear the fascinations of both doctors and artists of the time

The Sick Rose is a visual tour through the golden age of medical illustration. The nineteenth century experienced an explosion of epidemics such as cholera and diphtheria, driven by industrialization, urbanization and poor hygiene. In this pre-color-photography era, accurate images were relied upon to teach students and aid diagnosis. The best examples, featured here, are remarkable pieces of art that attempted to elucidate the mysteries of the body, and the successive onset of each affliction. Bizarre…

Love in the Time of Cholera

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Book cover of Love in the Time of Cholera

Jacqui Furneaux Author Of Hit the Road, Jac!: Seven years. Twenty Countries. No Plan

From Jacqui's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Motorcyclist Optimist Word lover Swimmer Handy

Jacqui's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Jacqui love this book?

One morning, desperate to find a new rear tire in Cartagena, Colombia, I almost rode onto the film set that, overnight, had transformed the street outside the romantically crumbling hotel I was staying at. Years later, I watched the film and was transfixed. Only recently have I read the book.

This is a historical novel set in a time of great hardship, and it describes a country I enjoyed riding through on my journey through South America. Márques has a magical way of describing events, and although this book, as its title suggests, is a love story, in no way is it over-romanticized. 

In fact, it is brutally descriptive in parts, but through it all, the main character never lets go of his heart’s desire. 

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Love in the Time of Cholera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are novels, like journeys, which you never want to end: this is one of them. One seventh of July at six in the afternoon, a woman of 71 and a man of 78 ascend a gangplank and begin one of the greatest adventures in modern literature. The man is Florentino Ariza, President of the Carribean River Boat Company; the woman is his childhood sweetheart, the recently widowed Fermina Daza. She has earache. He is bald and lame. Their journey up-river, at an age when they can expect 'nothing more in life', holds out a shimmering promise: the consummation of…

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

Thomas A. Timberg Author Of The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas

From the list on India now.

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.

Thomas' book list on India now

Why did Thomas love this book?

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

By Chinmay Tumbe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Age of Pandemics (1817-1920) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From lockdowns to lock-ups, viruses to vaccination, the movement of people to the movement of bowels, from rats to cats, and more, The Age of Pandemics chronicles the many facets of the cholera, plague and influenza pandemics, which claimed over 70 million lives between 1817 and 1920, with India being the epicentre in all these episodes. A time otherwise known for the worldwide spread of the industrial revolution, imperialism and globalization, the period between the early nineteenth century and the early twentieth century was also the age of pandemics. This book documents the scale of devastation, the likely causes and…