The most recommended books about Polio

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to Polio, and here are their favorite Polio books.
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What type of Polio book?


Flexible Bodies

By Emily Martin,

Book cover of Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture from the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS

Andrea Kitta Author Of The Kiss of Death: Contagion, Contamination, and Folklore

From the list on reads before the next pandemic.

Who am I?

I’ve been interested in medicine and how stories influence the decisions that people make for as long as I can remember. Watching family and friends make choices about their own healthcare was always fascinated to me and I was always curious as to why some narratives had more staying power than others. After getting my BA in history, I was lucky enough to talk to someone who suggested that I study folklore. I ended up with both a MA and PhD in folklore and became a professor who studies the intersection of folklore and how it affects the medical decisions we all make in our own lives and the lives of others. 

Andrea's book list on reads before the next pandemic

Why did Andrea love this book?

Emily Martin’s work was some of the first things I read when I wanted to understand how we understand medicine.

There’s such a gap between the health information we’re given and what we actually believe and Martin really covers how Americans have understood the concept of immunity and how we’re influenced by popular culture and the media.

This book is absolutely crucial for understanding both how we look at immunity and understanding how doctors are not free of bias. 

By Emily Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Argues that changing attitudes towards sickness and immunity are reflected in other views, such as the trend towards temporary employees who can be let go when no longer needed

Book cover of The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering

Sarah Walton Author Of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering

From the list on finding hope and comfort in difficult times.

Who am I?

I believe the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that he loves us. But after enduring years of physical, mental, and emotional pain, special needs in one of our children, two job losses, and a degenerative ankle, I’ve struggled to understand why he’s allowed it. Over the years, God has been teaching me that there is more to our suffering than meets the eye. And what we see as pointless, God promises to redeem and use for his good purposes. As I’ve grown to trust Jesus, he’s changed me, and given me comfort, hope, and joy in the midst of my sorrows. 

Sarah's book list on finding hope and comfort in difficult times

Why did Sarah love this book?

Between suffering from polio as a child, post-polio syndrome as an adult, betrayal, the loss of a son, and a husband who left soon after – Vaneetha Risner has endured unimaginable suffering. For that reason, her honest words about suffering have left an incredible impact on me as I’ve endured my own. She doesn’t “preach” to us as if we need to get our act together, but she writes with compassion, honesty, and comfort as one who’s been there. Despite having every reason to be angry and bitter at the people who have hurt her and God himself, she is full of wisdom, grace, and joy, and shares about the hope she has that has enabled her to endure. 

By Vaneetha Risner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Scars That Have Shaped Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty-one surgeries by age thirteen. Years in the hospital. Verbal and physical bullying from schoolmates. Multiple miscarriages as a young wife. The death of a child. A debilitating progressive disease. Riveting pain. Abandonment. Unwanted divorce.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner begged God for grace that would deliver her. But God offered something better: his sustaining grace.

In The Scars That Have Shaped Me, Vaneetha does more than share her stories of pain; she invites other sufferers to taste with her the goodness of a sovereign God who will carry us in our darkest of days.

“Vaneetha writes with creativity, biblical faithfulness, compelling…

Small Steps

By Peg Kehret,

Book cover of Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio

Marsha Hayles Author Of Breathing Room

From the list on when illness touches a young person's life.

Who am I?

I am an author fortunate to be alive because of emergency medical treatments I received as an infant, treatments not available to one of my older sisters who died as a result. That I grew up in Rochester Minnesota—home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic where my father worked as a pediatric endocrinologist—also may have increased my awareness of how illness and its medical treatments can affect a young person’s life. 

Marsha's book list on when illness touches a young person's life

Why did Marsha love this book?

Peg Kehret brings humor and a genuine can-do attitude to her memoir about being struck by polio when she was twelve years old, leaving her paralyzed in both her arms and legs. The story of her fight to recover and to walk again is enriched by her friendship with fellow patients, the generous love of her family, and the care of a determined nurse. Peg is neither saint nor grouch—just someone you like as much as you admire. This is a feel-good book about a feel-bad topic. 

By Peg Kehret,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peg Kehret was stricken with polio when she was twelve years old. At first paralyzed and terrified, she fought her way to recovery, aided by doctors and therapists, a loving family, supportive roommates fighting their own battles with the disease, and plenty of grit and luck. With the humor and suspense that are her trademarks, acclaimed author Peg Kehret vividly recreates the true story of her year of heartbreak and triumph.

Book cover of The Secret World of Connie Starr

Nicky Pellegrino Author Of P.S. Come to Italy

From the list on all the feels.

Who am I?

I’ve written fourteen novels about family, friendship, food, and love; stories that I hope transport people so completely and utterly, that they almost forget they are reading and instead find themselves walking in the shoes of the characters. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway. As a reader it’s what I want also – to laugh and cry, and feel the characters are people that I know and feel sorry to leave them behind when I turn the last page. 

Nicky's book list on all the feels

Why did Nicky love this book?

This novel totally swept me away.

Often while I was reading, it felt like I was right there, in the Australian town of Ballarat, a part of a small community as everyone’s lives are being reshaped by a war raging across the world.

Connie Starr is a watchful misfit of a child who lives in a dream world. But this is as much a story about the people who surround Connie – parents and siblings, neighbours and friends – and the way their lives intertwine. We rarely witness any violent acts of war in this novel.

Instead, it is focused mostly on the people left behind at home, on their heartbreak and loneliness, the friendships that sustain them, and the determination that gets them through the toughest times.

By Robbi Neal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret World of Connie Starr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning evocation of Australian life through the war to the 1950s, this novel is intimate and sweeping, immediate and dreamlike - a magical rendering of darkness and joy, and the beauty inherent in difference. For readers of Sarah Winman's Still Life, Trent Dalton's All Our Shimmering Skies and Rosalie Ham's The Dressmaker.

Connie Starr was always a difficult child. Her mother knew as soon as Connie entered the world that day in Ballarat in 1934 and opened her lungs to scream, there was more chaos in the world than before and it wouldn't leave until Connie did. From the…


By Gail Godwin,

Book cover of Flora

Ellen Prentiss Campbell Author Of Frieda's Song

From the list on life in a haunted house.

Who am I?

In my stories and novels, in my reading, and in my life, I'm inspired and captivated by what I call resonant places, places with deep connections to the past as well as the present moment. I grew up in a mid-century modern house my parents built. Although no other family had lived in it before, our own family—like all families—was haunted by ghosts of our past. My childhood home was bulldozed by the next owners; the house has become a ghost itself. But memories remain long after a family or a home is gone. As a writer, a reader, and a psychotherapist, I believe that memories are the seeds for both remembering and imagining.

Ellen's book list on life in a haunted house

Why did Ellen love this book?

Godwin’s psychological mystery Flora takes place in a remote, isolated house, a former mountaintop sanatorium in Tennessee. Adult narrator Helen looks back on her ten-year-old self, and her premature coming of age the summer she lived there with her young adult cousin and temporary guardian, Flora. Helen’s father has gone to do war work, her mother is dead. Flora and Helen cannot leave the mountaintop due to a polio threat in the valley. Both child and caretaker fall under the spell of a charismatic jack of all trades, Quinn. The consequences of their unconscious competition play out in the shadowy rooms of the big house.

This is a tale of psychological possession in a lonely estate; Godwin’s homage to Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. Years ago, I visited my great-aunt in her mountaintop summer home in Tennessee. Reading this book unlocked memories of that mysterious house. Good novels…

By Gail Godwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ten-year-old Helen and her summer guardian, Flora, are isolated together in Helen's decaying family house while her father is doing secret war work in Oak Ridge during the final months of the Second World War. At three Helen lost her mother and the beloved grandmother who raised her has just died. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact with all its ghosts and stories. Flora, her late mother's twenty-two-year old first cousin, who cries at the drop of a hat, is ardently determined to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played…


By Philip Roth,

Book cover of Nemesis

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?

This is actually fiction that reads like non-fiction! It is the story of a polio epidemic in the 1940s in New Jersey and how it infiltrates a summer camp.

For me, the book completely captures, better than any real descriptions, the fear of polio, and the way it completely upended lives. It’s a great story, and it is the book that made me want to learn more about this complex and terrifying disease – and also made me so grateful for the polio vaccine.

By Philip Roth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 'the stifling heat of equatorial Newark', a terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of the New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, life-long disability, even death. This is the startling and surprising theme of Roth's wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely-knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.

At the centre of Nemesis is a vigorous, dutiful, twenty-three-year old playground director, Bucky Cantor, a javelin thrower and a weightlifter, who is devoted to his charges and disappointed with himself because his weak eyes have excluded him…

Flute in the Forest

By Leela Gour Broome,

Book cover of Flute in the Forest

Vikas Prakash Joshi Author Of My Name Is Cinnamon

From the list on YA from India with a great slice of Indian culture.

Who am I?

I'm a writer for kids and YA based in Pune, India and it’s been my passion to read books for this age group, from the time I was that age. Unfortunately, when I borrowed books from my library as a boy, so many kids and YA books were either not at all “story like” (moralistic or preachy) or we had to read books from abroad. Fortunately, Indian kids and YA literature has blossomed and provided us many excellent writers, some of whom are now household names. I interviewed some of them for my podcast on books Literary Gupshup. It's my desire to make readers outside India more aware of the wonderful kids’ books in India. 

Vikas' book list on YA from India with a great slice of Indian culture

Why did Vikas love this book?

Nature and wildlife are something I always enjoyed, and loved from my school days.

Flute in the Forest is a truly memorable story, mesmerizing and beautiful, rooted in the landscape of South India’s forests.

It focuses on Atiya Sardare, a daughter of a forest officer, and her treks into the forest. It is on these treks she hears the sound of a flute playing, and resolves to learn to play it.

Atiya’s flute playing calms a rogue elephant in the forest, Rangappa. I recommend it to anyone who loves a moving story. 

By Leela Gour Broome,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Thirteen-year-old Atiya will win the hearts of young readers. Although physically handicapped; her adventurous spirit takes her on lonely rambles into the wildlife sanctuary. She knows the ways of the jungle and its creatures great and small. A charming story; full of incident and good feeling. Atiya's flute has a special magic of its own.'-Ruskin Bond

Atiya Sardare lives with her dad, a forest officer. An only child, afflicted by polio, she finds solace and peace in the jungle, exploring it on short, secret, often dangerous treks. On one occasion she hears the haunting notes of a flute. It gives…

War and Millie McGonigle

By Karen Cushman,

Book cover of War and Millie McGonigle

Charlotte Herman Author Of My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

From the list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean.

Who am I?

I grew up on Chicago’s home front during WW2. President Roosevelt wanted everyone—adults and children—to do their part for the war effort. So we neighborhood kids formed a Victory club, where we marched around singing, “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor,” and other patriotic songs. And though we had fun, we understood the meaning of the gold stars in the windows, and knew that terrible things were happening on the other side of the world. There are so many wonderful books set during this time period, and I can never read enough of them. These books, along with my memories, are what inspire me to write historical fiction of my own.

Charlotte's book list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean

Why did Charlotte love this book?

Even though I lived across the country from San Diego where this story takes place, and even though I was several years younger than Millie McGonigle, the picture of home front USA during WW2 is familiar in many ways. Soldiers and sailors filled the streets of Chicago, and kids scanned the sky for “enemy planes.” There was the fear of polio, the struggles with rationing, and the shortage of bubble gum. 

This story is filled with humor and memorable characters. But most memorable of all is Millie, who tries to deal with the death of a grandmother and her worries about the war getting closer to home. And even though she’s obsessed with drawing in her Book of Dead Things, she comes to understand what her grandmother had told her when she said, “Whatever is lost stays alive if you remember it.”

By Karen Cushman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Newbery Award-winning author of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice tells a heartfelt and humorous story of WWII on the homefront.

Millie McGonigle lives in sunny California, where her days are filled with beach and surf. It should be perfect--but times are tough. Hitler is attacking Europe and it looks like the United States may be going to war. Food is rationed and money is tight. And Millie's sickly little sister gets all the attention and couldn't be more of a pain if she tried. It's all Millie can do to stay calm and feel in control.


Cracking India

By Bapsi Sidhwa,

Book cover of Cracking India

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From the list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Who am I?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Why did Nev love this book?

Sidhwa’s book describes the partition of India that formed present-day India and Pakistan. These tortured days and the tragedies and massacres that followed are viewed through the lens of a gentle and educated Parsi family. The narrator is Lenny, a young girl afflicted with polio, whose active observations center on the members of her family and servants. Her eighteen-year-old Ayah and the devotion of the ice-candy man play out against the backdrop of terrible hatred and betrayal, where religious affiliation trumps all, even what some call love, and others, lust. 

This book had me weeping for days. Its simplicity is deceptive. The simple narration from a six-year-old is entirely believable, the confusion of what really happened, and what it means. But the adult me could read between the lines and understand the full measure of tragedy, the horror, the inevitable result. And I was glad that Lenny was too young…

By Bapsi Sidhwa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book: A girl’s happy home life is suddenly disrupted by the 1947 Partition of India in this “multifaceted jewel of a novel” (Houston Chronicle).

Young Lenny Sethi is kept out of school because she suffers from polio. She spends her days with Ayah, her beautiful nanny, visiting with the many admirers that Ayah draws. It is in the company of these working-class characters that Lenny learns about religious differences, religious intolerance, and the blossoming genocidal strife on the eve of Partition.

As she matures, Lenny begins to identify the differences between the Hindus, Moslems, and…

The Remember Box

By Patricia Sprinkle,

Book cover of The Remember Box

Susan Grant Author Of The Bottle House

From the list on authentically illustrating genuine Christian faith.

Who am I?

I am a Bible college graduate whose faith has always been a practical matter. Because I learned to find the “so what” of the Bible, when I became a teacher of the Bible in the public schools of Rowan County, North Carolina, my elective courses had waiting lists for students to get in to. As I now teach in Maine, I found I could continue to share a practical Christian faith through my writing. The books I have listed here do the very thing that I seek in my own writing.

Susan's book list on authentically illustrating genuine Christian faith

Why did Susan love this book?

I laughed out loud reading The Remember Box. Though the story is serious, Sprinkle captured the concerns and problem-solving that 11-year-old girls have in a time in history, 1949, when life in the South was confusing for those families who took a stand against prejudice.

The author sprinkles Carley’s sense of humor throughout the novel, such as describing an imaginary friend her young neighbor has. You grow to love and understand Carley.

That Carley’s Uncle Stephen is a minister, and the novel describes the difficulties of applying God’s word to real-life issues, makes the book even better. As Carley deals with the loss of her mother to polio, she must decide if she wants to embrace her uncle’s Christian faith or reject it.

By Patricia Sprinkle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Summer in Job's Corner meant big trees, cool grass, and sweltering afternoons stretching endlessly under the Southern sun. Those were the days without plastic, microwaves, television, or air conditioning, a time when clocks ticked comfortingly in the night and a cool breeze was a gift. But as the long sultry summer of 1949 comes to an end, events will transform this sleepy Southern crossroads.

After losing her mother to polio, eleven-year-old Carley Marshall comes to Job's Corner to make a new start, along with her Aunt Kate and Uncle Stephen Whitfield and her cousins Abby and John. The family is…

Living with Polio

By Daniel J. Wilson,

Book cover of Living with Polio: The Epidemic and Its Survivors

Meredith Eliassen Author Of Helen Keller: A Life in American History

From the list on disability and related inclusive movements.

Who am I?

There have always been disabled people shaping my worldview and understanding, however, I am an expert only about my own disabilities. Disabled storytellers, including Helen Keller, sometimes utilize tactical silence to scream… I value that! However, barriers confronting the disabled require broad and sometimes loud collective action from many people in many communities and not just a marginalized few. Disability activism is a complex, tactical fight over time for self-determination that touches all of us at some point. COVID, world events, and experiencing some barriers disabled and marginalized groups face all the time have compelled me to share a few of my favorite reads related to disability and inclusion.

Meredith's book list on disability and related inclusive movements

Why did Meredith love this book?

We do not know the toll that the COVID pandemic will have in the future, we collectively only know the trauma it has wrought. Most of the disabled people I have known, including Paul Longmore, became disabled from poliovirus attacking child populations. Polio was a vector for societal transformation as the disabled constructed new lives abruptly altered by the disease. This book focuses on polio survivors. Wilson surveyed over 150 polio narratives focusing on the Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers (1930-1960) to learn about experiences over lifetimes. While some experienced temporary paralysis, others faced lifetime disability dealing with the disability industry, public relations campaigns, and rehabilitation programs. Survivors fought for accessibility and the ability to work in mainstream occupations. This book offers layered experiences still relevant today.

By Daniel J. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Polio was the most dreaded disease of twentieth-century America. Whenever and wherever it struck, hospitals filled with victims of the virus. Many experienced only temporary paralysis, but others faced a lifetime of disability. "Living with Polio" is the first book to focus primarily on the personal stories of the men and women who had acute polio and lived with its crippling consequences. Writing from his own experience as a polio survivor, Daniel J. Wilson shapes this impassioned book with the testimonials of numerous polio victims, focusing on the years between 1930 and 1960. He traces entire life experiences of the…


By Richard Carter,

Book cover of Breakthrough: The Saga of Jonas Salk

Andrew Lam Author Of The Masters of Medicine: Our Greatest Triumphs in the Race to Cure Humanity's Deadliest Diseases

From the list on the history of medicine.

Who am I?

I’m a surgeon who loves history. I always have. I studied military history in college but decided to become a doctor because I also love helping people. In my medical training I marveled at the incredible treatments and operations we use to save lives and always felt the unsung heroes who gave us these miracles deserve to be better known. That’s why I wrote this book.

Andrew's book list on the history of medicine

Why did Andrew love this book?

This fantastic biography recounts one of the greatest rivalries in medical history during the race for the polio vaccine, which pitted Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin against each other.

Salk favored a killed-virus approach, which was easier but perhaps less protective and long lasting. Sabin preferred an attenuated-virus method that was more difficult to make but could be life-long and delivered orally rather than by serial injections.

Salk’s vaccine arrived first and saved thousands of lives, but Sabin still publicly criticized it, even in testimony to Congress. Sabin’s vaccine later became favored, but the debate about whose was superior persisted and continued long after each man’s death.

Carter’s superb narrative benefited from his weeks-long interviews with Salk, and interviews with other major figures in the effort to defeat polio.

By Richard Carter,

Why should I read it?

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


By Selina Alko,

Book cover of Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From the list on strong inspiring women.

Who am I?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Why did Jennifer love this book?

“Joni Mitchell painted with words,” begins this beautifully lyrical book on the well-known singer/song-writer. The colorful and imaginative collage illustrations jump off the page, telling the story of the girl from a small town in Canada who vanquished polio to go on to become a household name. Joni Mitchell used poetry to paint her feelings into song. We know her music and lyrics as a familiar soundtrack to our lives; now children can learn about the enigmatic spirit behind all that creative musicality.

By Selina Alko,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Colors burst across each page, with layers of collage-work emphasizing the richness of Mitchell's influences and imagination. Will speak to readers just starting their own exploration of artistic expression." -Booklist (starred review)

Celebrate the captivating life of Joni Mitchell, the world-famous songbird who used her music to ignite and inspire an entire generation, in this stunning picture book biography from award-winning author and illustrator Selina Alko. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It's a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity…


By David M. Oshinsky,

Book cover of Polio: An American Story

Michael B.A. Oldstone Author Of Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present, and Future

From the list on understanding how viruses cause disease.

Who am I?

Michael B.A. Oldstone was head of the Viral-Immunobiology Laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, devoting his career to understanding viruses, the diseases they cause, and the host’s immune response to control these infections. His work led to numerous national and international awards, election to the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine. Oldstone served on the SAGE executive board of the World Health Organization and as a WHO consultant for the eradication of polio and measles.

Michael's book list on understanding how viruses cause disease

Why did Michael love this book?

In a clear presentation, Oshinsky’s presents the gripping history of the conquest of poliomyelitis. The new and advanced role of the media’s impact and widespread community participation is detailed as is the terror of polio, efforts to understand the virus, and the disease it caused. The intense and competitive effort to find a cure adds to the story. Lastly, this book describes how the polio experience led to the establishment of government oversight for new drugs.

By David M. Oshinsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

All who lived in the early 1950s remember the fear of polio and the elation felt when a successful vaccine was found. Now David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines-and beyond.
Here is a remarkable portrait of America in the early 1950s, using the widespread panic over polio to shed light on our national obsessions and fears. Drawing on newly available papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and other key players, Oshinsky paints a…


By Jonathan M. Berman,

Book cover of Anti-Vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement

Jonathan Charteris-Black Author Of Metaphors of Coronavirus: Invisible Enemy or Zombie Apocalypse?

From the list on the human reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Who am I?

I founded Critical Metaphor Analysis, an approach that has become well known in English language studies. My books Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis, Politicians and Rhetoric: The persuasive power of metaphor, and Analysing Political Speeches have over 5,000 citations. I am also ranked first on Google Scholar on political rhetoric. I have always tried (though not always successfully) to write in an accessible style to reach out to audiences beyond academia. As well as lecturing, I assist in the training of Westminster speechwriters. I love languages and speak French, Spanish, Moroccan Arabic, and Malay with varying degrees of incompetence; I have rediscovered the pleasure of watercolour painting.

Jonathan's book list on the human reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic

Why did Jonathan love this book?

Since my mother had polio before vaccinations were available I am especially involved with the issue of vaccination. This book does not pull any punches in taking to task the anti-vaccination movement; by exploring and unpicking its historical, psychological, and sociological basis the author provides a convincing account of the scientific and post-Enlightenment argument in support of vaccine development. He explores the values underlying anti-vaccine sentiments but also offers hard statistical data on the dangers presented when vaccines are avoided. There are many winning arguments in support of the development of vaccinations especially the evidence of the resurgence of diseases such as polio and measles in places where they have been, and are, opposed. 

By Jonathan M. Berman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “clear and insightful” takedown of the anti-vaccination movement, from its 19th-century antecedents to modern-day Facebook activists—with strategies for refuting false claims of friends and family (Financial Times)

Vaccines are a documented success story, one of the most successful public health interventions in history. Yet there is a vocal anti-vaccination movement, featuring celebrity activists (including Kennedy scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and actress Jenny McCarthy) and the propagation of anti-vax claims through books, documentaries, and social media. In Anti-Vaxxers, Jonathan Berman explores the phenomenon of the anti-vaccination movement, recounting its history from its nineteenth-century antecedents to today’s activism, examining its…


By Marguerite Henry, Robert Lougheed (illustrator),

Book cover of Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West

Troon Harrison Author Of Cold Freedom

From the list on brave kids and horses.

Who am I?

I was four years old when I was given a pony. The freedom of roaming the countryside with her was amazing, and I was hooked! All horse breeds have supported humans; their strength and speed have enabled farming, war, travel, and settlement. Horses feature in the art, religion, and sports of diverse cultures. My Historical Horse series contains three books—each one is a completely different story about a specific breed of horse, and a fictional girl who loved it and depended on it, even to stay alive. Writing the books was like time-traveling with horses!

Troon's book list on brave kids and horses

Why did Troon love this book?

This true story was one of my favorites growing up, and I’ve read it many times. Annie is a polio survivor with a limp, but this doesn’t stop her from riding the range.  Neither does being a girl stop her from battling a terrible situation: the slaughter of mustangs. Annie risks her life to photograph mustang roundups and then takes the fight to the US government, finally getting a bill passed to prevent the inhumane treatment of wild horses. So inspiring!

By Marguerite Henry, Robert Lougheed (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Horses were in Annie Bronn's blood. For as long as she could remember, she had been fascinated by the spirited wild mustangs that roamed free throughout the West. So when greedy cattlemen started to round up the mustangs for slaughter, Annie knew it was up to her to save the breed.
The true story of Wild Horse Annie's crusade to save the mustangs is inspiring. Readers will cheer her on, all the way to the White House, in her struggle to preserve these beautiful creatures from extinction.