The most recommended books on malaria

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to malaria, and here are their favorite malaria books.
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Book cover of Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: Performed Under the Direction and Patronage of the African Association, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797

Alan Huffman Author Of Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer

From my list on traveling to dangerous places.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out like most travelers, attracted to new places and to meeting people whose worlds were different from my own. Typically, this meant tried-and-true destinations in Europe until a book project required me to visit an utterly daunting place, the West African nation of Liberia during a civil war. I was in no way prepared for the experience and it changed everything. Seeing how people behave when faced with extreme circumstances profoundly altered my view of the world. Everything was magnified. Though I still enjoy a cup of espresso on the Piazza Navona, there is nothing like traveling to a forbidden zone and meeting someone destined to be a lifelong friend on the roof of a bombed-out building. It opens the world in ways that are challenging and scary, but also incomparably rewarding. 

Alan's book list on traveling to dangerous places

Alan Huffman Why did Alan love this book?

Beyond the occasional adrenaline rush, one of the chief attractions of risky travel is that it enables us to see how we and others behave under challenging circumstances. For readers whose exposure typically comes from UNILAD Adventure posts or edgy Bruce Chatwin travelogues, this book is refreshingly unself-conscious and uniquely terrifying.

In his quest to locate the legendary Niger River as a potential trade route during the late 18th century, when most of Africa was still unmapped, Park, at 24, set off with two days’ worth of provisions and a few strategic supplies (including an umbrella – he was Scottish), relying upon his wits and native guides to complete an epic journey in which he suffered bouts of malaria, nearly starved, was held captive by Moors, got repeatedly robbed and at one point had to bang on a village gate to escape being eaten by lions.

Given modern sensibilities,…

By Mungo Park,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now for the first time these high-quality digital copies of original 18th century manuscripts are available in print, making them highly accessible to libraries, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.
Delve into what it was like to live during the eighteenth century by reading the…


Book cover of Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails

Lou Bustamante Author Of The Complete Cocktail Manual: Recipes and Tricks of the Trade for Modern Mixologists

From my list on the future of cocktails by SF Bay Area writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

While the Bay Area’s impact on the way we eat as a country, being at the forefront of the farm-to-table and seasonal produce movement, cocktails are being equal consideration. Why not? Distilled spirits are agricultural products, the same way wine and beer are, and so it reasons that we would worry about how they are made, their history, and the future. Can cocktails be made in a more sustainable way? Can I use beets in my cocktail? Do spirits have a sense of place? And will applying beer to a wound help it heal (note: it won’t)? Here’s a selection of books that explore the past, present, and possible future of how you drink.

Lou's book list on the future of cocktails by SF Bay Area writers

Lou Bustamante Why did Lou love this book?

A fun read that explores the surprising history of alcohol used to treat medical maladies, from the Carthusian monks creating herbal elixirs, to the invention of tonic water to cure malaria.

English winds though the various maladies like wounds to worms to snakebites, and all the questionable, but delicious prescriptions, from gin and tonics to bourbon whiskey.

By Camper English,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“At last, a definitive guide to the medicinal origins of every bottle behind the bar! This is the cocktail book of the year, if not the decade.” —Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants

“A fascinating book that makes a brilliant historical case for what I’ve been saying all along: alcohol is good for you…okay maybe it’s not technically good for you, but [English] shows that through most of human history, it’s sure beat the heck out of water.” —Alton Brown, creator of Good Eats

Beer-based wound care, deworming with wine, whiskey for snakebites, and medicinal mixers…


Book cover of Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World

Kathryn Harkup Author Of The Secret Lives of Molecules

From my list on chemistry that aren’t chemistry.

Why am I passionate about this?

After many years of studying the subject and still more writing about it, my mind is still blown away by the fact that pretty much everything around you is a chemical of some kind. Even more impressive to me is that all of the molecules that make up everything you can see, smell, touch, and taste are made from combinations of just a handful of elements. The periodic table is a one-page summary of pretty much everything, the ultimate Lego kit to build a whole universe. I love finding out about and telling the stories of these incredible chemical constructions.

Kathryn's book list on chemistry that aren’t chemistry

Kathryn Harkup Why did Kathryn love this book?

A biography of a molecule that features in my book.

Mauve changed fashion, industry, and medicine. While trying to make quinine in the lab, the only malaria drug available at the time, William Perkin created mauve, the first artificial dye. Other chemists later discovered malaria drugs derived from Perkin’s mauve.

By Simon Garfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1856 eighteen-year-old English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered a way to mass-produce color. In a "witty, erudite, and entertaining" (Esquire) style, Simon Garfield explains how the experimental mishap that produced an odd shade of purple revolutionized fashion, as well as industrial applications of chemistry research. Occasionally honored in certain colleges and chemistry clubs, Perkin until now has been a forgotten man.

"By bringing Perkin into the open and documenting his life and work, Garfield has done a service to history."-Chicago Tribune "[A]n inviting cocktail of Perkin biography, account of the dye industry and where it led, and social and…


Book cover of The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty

William MacAskill Author Of What We Owe the Future

From my list on doing good.

Why am I passionate about this?

William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. He cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism, and Y Combinator–backed 80,000 Hours, which together have moved over $300 million to effective charities. He is the author of Doing Good Better and What We Owe The Future.

William's book list on doing good

William MacAskill Why did William love this book?

In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer makes the case that we can do a tremendous amount of good by donating to high-impact charities. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children die from preventable diseases, and at little cost to ourselves, we can make an enormous positive difference by giving to organizations like the Against Malaria Foundation. 

By Peter Singer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life You Can Save as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time in history, eradicating world poverty is within our reach. Yet around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for bottled water.

In The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer uses ethical arguments, illuminating examples, and case studies of charitable giving to show that our current response to world poverty is not only insufficient but morally indefensible. The Life You Can Save teaches us to be a part of the solution, helping others as we help ourselves.

'A persuasive and inspiring work that will change the way…


Book cover of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Thomas R. Verny Author Of The Embodied Mind: Understanding the Mysteries of Cellular Memory, Consciousness, and Our Bodies

From my list on neuroscience and the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a thirteen-year-old boy, I read Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and I became totally fascinated by Freud’s slow, methodical questioning that eventually revealed deeply hidden unconscious conflicts in the lives of his patients. Then and there I resolved to become a psychiatrist. As a psychiatrist, I explored my patients’ early memories. Over the years, I authored seven books, including The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, published in 28 countries now. I have previously taught at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, York University (Toronto), and St. Mary’s University. This book takes my studies of memory a step further and drills right down to the intelligence of cells.

Thomas' book list on neuroscience and the mind

Thomas R. Verny Why did Thomas love this book?

I like it because it is written almost jargon-free and it’s a lot of fun, as the title indicates. As Sapolsky explains, when we worry or experience stress, our body turns on the same physiological responses that an animal's does. However, animals stop experiencing stress when the environmental emergency passes,  while we humans can worry for long times and thus produces the same physiological responses which, if chronic, can take a toll on our bodies and, if prolonged, can make us sick. 

By Robert M. Sapolsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in a third edition, Robert M. Sapolsky's acclaimed and successful Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers features new chapters on how stress affects sleep and addiction, as well as new insights into anxiety and personality disorder and the impact of spirituality on managing stress. As Sapolsky explains, most of us do not lie awake at night worrying about whether we have leprosy or malaria. Instead, the diseases we fear - and the ones that plague us now - are illnesses brought on by the slow accumulation of damage, such as heart disease and cancer. When we worry or experience stress,…


Book cover of The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery

Tom Vater Author Of Kolkata Noir

From my list on Kolkata (Calcutta India).

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and journalist with an eye on South and Southeast Asia. I first visited Kolkata, or Calcutta as the city was known back then, in 1995 and fell in love with its spirit, culture, architecture, politics, and decrepitude. I have been back regularly reporting on the city’s cultural life for media like CNN and Nikkei Asia. In 2019, I was selected as artist-in-residence for the Indo-European Art Residency by the Goethe Institute and spent 10 weeks writing a crime fiction set in the Bengali capital. Kolkata is, hands down, my favorite city in the world – despite its poverty, systemic injustice, and political cruelty, there is an energy in the place that is hard to beat.

Tom's book list on Kolkata (Calcutta India)

Tom Vater Why did Tom love this book?

The Calcutta Chromosome is part thriller, part science investigation, part cult conspiracy, and part homage to the West Bengal Capital. Set across several time periods, the novel explores how Malaria was first linked to the mosquito and how this discovery by the Britisher Ronald Ross may have been manipulated by a shadowy movement invested in immortality. Not Gosh’s best, but his evocation of Calcutta is fantastic.

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this extraordinary novel, Amitav Ghosh navigates through time and genres to present a unique tale. Beginning at an unspecified time in the future and ranging back to the late nineteenth century, the reader follows the adventures of the enigmatic L. Murugan. An authority on the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sir Ronald Ross, who solved the malaria puzzle in Calcutta in 1898, Murugan is in search of the elusive 'Calcutta Chromosome'.

With its astonishing range of characters, advanced computer science, religious cults and wonderful portraits of Victorian and contemporary India, The Calcutta Chromosome expands the scope of the novel as we…


Book cover of Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World

John Gaudet Author Of Papyrus: The Plant that Changed the World: From Ancient Egypt to Today's Water Wars

From my list on plants that changed the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer, lecturer, biologist, ecologist, and two-time Fulbright Scholar (to India and Malaysia). I'm now a fiction writer, but basically I’ve always been a storyteller who writes in a historical framework. While I feel an almost compulsive obligation to keep faith with the facts, my main objective is to tell a story—as dramatically and suspensefully and entertainingly as I can. My first non-fiction book, Papyrus: the Plant that Changed the World, tells the story of a plant that still evokes the mysteries of the ancient world while holding the key to the world’s wetlands and atmospheric stability. It changed the world as did all five of the plants on my list below. 

John's book list on plants that changed the world

John Gaudet Why did John love this book?

Rocco is the great-granddaughter of Phillipe Bunau-Varilla, a soldier, engineer, and former Panamanian ambassador to the United States.

A genius in the art of lobbyist statecraft, he has been referred to as the “Inventor of Panama.” He, like Rocco, survived malaria, so she knows about malaria and quinine from street level. From its discovery in the 17th Cent. by Jesuit missionaries in Peru to its use by expanding European colonial powers and its role in the development of modern anti-malaria pills, quinine proves to be a real factor in the history of the modern world.

The Jesuits learned of the bark of the cinchona tree, which was used by Andean natives to cure shivering, at a time when malaria, then known as Roman ague or marsh fever, was devastating southern Europe. They eagerly began the distribution of the curative bark, which also helped European explorers and missionaries survive the disease…

By Fiammetta Rocco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Quinine 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?

The fascinating story of the intensive search to discover and possess quininethe only known cure for malaria Malaria kills someone every 12 minutes in Africa. Now known mostly as a disease of the tropics, malaria led to the demise of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago and ravaged Europe for years afterwards. At the start of the 17th century, Jesuit priests developed quinine, an alkaloid made out of the bitter red bark of the cinchona tree from the Andes. When quinine arrived in Europe, the Protestant powers resisted the medicine fearing that it was a Popish poison. Quinines reputation improved,…


Book cover of The Bedlam Stacks

Katherine Carté Author Of Religion and the American Revolution: An Imperial History

From my list on historical fiction about the nineteenth century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of early American history and a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I came to my love of history through reading fiction as a child, and I’m still an avid reader of good stories of all kinds. Asking new questions about history requires imagination, and writers of good historical fiction provide brilliant ways to engage the past. They offer something real and human that transcends the need to footnote or fact check, so I turn off my historical accuracy meter when I read books like these. My list encapsulates some of my favorite novels for when I want to be a time traveler from my couch. 

Katherine's book list on historical fiction about the nineteenth century

Katherine Carté Why did Katherine love this book?

Readers probably know Pulley best through her amazing best seller, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. That’s how I first encountered her work too, but she became my favorite writer with Bedlam Stacks.

It is the story of Merrick Tremayne, an experienced wilderness traveler whom British colonial authorities hope can help discover new troves of quinine, a material essential for the British colonization of India. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, the story follows Tremayne as he reluctantly journeys into Peru’s distant and remote forests. 

Once there, he enters a magical world that retains just enough realism to make the truths of European colonization vividly clear. Violence and self-interest create unexpected and far-reaching consequences. Peoples at the fringes of empire guard their borders at the peril of those who intrude.

At the same time, Pulley’s deft imagination counterbalances harsh historical realities with magical threads. She brings Tremayne into a place of humanity…

By Natasha Pulley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE'S ENCORE AWARD 2018 LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE 2018 'A sheer fantastical delight' The Times 'Epic' New York Times 'An immense treat' Observer Books of the Year 'A fast-paced adventure story' i 'Magical' Sunday Express In uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a mysterious forest. Deep within are cinchona trees, whose bark yields the only known treatment for malaria. In 1859, across the Pacific, India is ravaged by the disease. In desperation, the India Office dispatches the injured expeditionary Merrick Tremayne to Bedlam, under orders to…


Book cover of How to Spend a Trillion Dollars: Saving the world and solving the biggest mysteries in science

Mark A. Maslin Author Of How To Save Our Planet: The Facts

From my list on helping you save our beautiful precious planet.

Why am I passionate about this?

The world around us is an amazing and beautiful place and for me science adds another layer of appreciation. I am a Professor of Earth System Science at University College London - which means I am lucky enough to research climate change in the past, the present, and the future. I study everything from early human evolution in Africa to the future impacts of anthropogenic climate change.  I have published over 190 papers in top science journals. I have written 10 books, over 100 popular articles and I regularly appear on radio and television. My blogs on the 'Conversation' have been read over 5.5 million times and you might want to check them out!

Mark's book list on helping you save our beautiful precious planet

Mark A. Maslin Why did Mark love this book?

I love this book. Rowan asks a very simple question, if you had a trillion dollars how could you make the world a better place? And the trillion dollars is not really that much money. It is the amount of taxpayers' money that Governments give to fossil fuel companies each year in the form of subsidies.

It is one-hundredth of what the world makes every single year. So with a trillion dollars could you cure all diseases, go carbon zero, save life on Earth, set up on new planets, find aliens, or even create artificial life with the intelligence and creativity of a human? 

Well I could tell you the answers but that would spoil your fun of reading this excellent thought-provoking book.

By Rowan Hooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Spend a Trillion Dollars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you had a trillion dollars and a year to spend it for the good of the world and the advancement of science, what would you do? It's an unimaginably large sum, yet it's only around one per cent of world GDP, and about the valuation of Google, Microsoft or Amazon. It's a much smaller sum than the world found to bail out its banks in 2008 or deal with Covid-19.

But what could you achieve with $1 trillion?

You could solve the problem of the pandemic, for one, and eradicate malaria, and maybe cure all disease. You could end…


Book cover of Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914

Carol R. Byerly Author Of Fever of War: The Influenza Epidemic in the U.S. Army During World War I

From my list on how diseases shape society.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carol R. Byerly is a historian specializing in the history of military medicine. She has taught American history and the history of medicine history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was a contract historian for the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, Office of History, and has also worked for the U.S. Congress and the American Red Cross. Byerly’s publications include Fever of War: The Influenza Epidemic in the U.S. Army during World War I and Good Tuberculosis Men: The Army Medical Department’s Struggle with Tuberculosis. She is currently working on a biography of Army medical officer William C. Gorgas, (1854-1920), whose public health measures, including clearing yellow fever from Panama, enabled the United States to construct the canal across the Isthmus.

Carol's book list on how diseases shape society

Carol R. Byerly Why did Carol love this book?

McNeill, William McNeill’s son, examines the intersection of disease, ecology, race, and international politics to show how infectious disease shaped the fortunes of colonial empires in the Caribbean. In the wake of the encounter between Europeans and the New World which destroyed up to 90 percent of the Amerindian population, European empires restructured the region into a colonial economy of sugar and slavery. Mosquitos bearing malaria and yellow fever flourished in this environment and McNeill shows how anyone seeking power in the region had to reckon with both them and disease.

By J.R. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book explores the links among ecology, disease, and international politics in the context of the Greater Caribbean - the landscapes lying between Surinam and the Chesapeake - in the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. Ecological changes made these landscapes especially suitable for the vector mosquitoes of yellow fever and malaria, and these diseases wrought systematic havoc among armies and would-be settlers. Because yellow fever confers immunity on survivors of the disease, and because malaria confers resistance, these diseases played partisan roles in the struggles for empire and revolution, attacking some populations more severely than others. In particular, yellow fever…