The best books about viruses

Who picked these books? Meet our 55 experts.

55 authors created a book list connected to viruses, and here are their favorite virus books.
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What type of virus book?


The Passage

By Justin Cronin,

Book cover of The Passage

Cassandra Lynn King Author Of Peak of the Panthers

From the list on helping you escape reality.

Who am I?

I have loved reading since I was very young, and would bring home an armful of books from the library. I first discovered the dystopian genre while in junior high, and it quickly became my favorite genre. My favorite aspect of dystopias is the new world created within each book. When I began writing my own stories, I spent several hours building the world within my book. Even today, nearly 20 years after I first began writing, I spend hours drawing and designing everything within each book, whether or not it’s dystopian. My hope is that my readers find my worlds as fascinating as I found the worlds of the stories on my list!

Cassandra's book list on helping you escape reality

Discover why each book is one of Cassandra's favorite books.

Why did Cassandra love this book?

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had me experiencing as many emotions as The Passage. Starting in present day and bouncing between now and 100 years in the future, this story navigates the humanity (and lack thereof) of survivors of a vampiric apocalypse. The Passage was tugging at my heartstrings from the first chapter, and the dystopian world Cronin built around the book’s epidemic completely sucked me in. I was dealing with major anxiety when I first read this book, and the gripping story was some of the only relief I could find. I couldn’t put this book down and couldn’t wait for the next two to come out.

By Justin Cronin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she's the most important person in the whole world. She is. Anthony Carter doesn't think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row. He's wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming. It is. THE PASSAGE. Deep in the jungles of eastern Colombia, Professor Jonas Lear has finally found what he's been searching for - and wishes to God he hadn't. In Memphis, Tennessee, a six-year-old girl called Amy is left at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy and wonders why her…

The Pandemic Century

By Mark Honigsbaum,

Book cover of The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris

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

Discover why each book is one of Jonathan's favorite books.

Why did Jonathan love this book?

This highly informative book offers a well-written overview of most of the pandemics occurring from the “Spanish flu” of 1918 until Covid-19 of 2020. By giving a detailed historical account of everything from AIDS to SARS and Zika this book reassured me by showing how pandemics in the past had been overcome and so by implication how the Covid-19 pandemic could also be overcome. The author conducts detailed research into the exact chronology of each pandemic so that by helping to understand its epidemiology, he also creates an interesting and exciting detective story. 

By Mark Honigsbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How can we understand the COVID-19 pandemic?

Ever since the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, scientists have dreamed of preventing such catastrophic outbreaks of infectious disease. Yet, despite a century of medical progress, viral and bacterial disasters continue to take us by surprise, inciting panic and dominating news cycles. In The Pandemic Century, a lively account of scares both infamous and less known, medical historian Mark Honigsbaum combines reportage with the history of science and medical sociology to artfully reconstruct epidemiological mysteries and the ecology of infectious diseases. We meet dedicated disease detectives, obstructive or incompetent public health officials and brilliant…

The Great Influenza

By John M. Barry,

Book cover of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Marcia Calhoun Forecki Author Of Blood of the White Bear

From the list on pandemics, historical, or fictional.

Who am I?

I divide my reading between works of imagination and historical nonfiction. All good fiction requires research to enhance it’s authenticity. Several years ago, I published a story set in the 1918 influenza epidemic. The research for the story was fascinating, and led me to John M. Barry’s book included in my recommendations. After editing a memoir for retired screenwriter and film director, Gerald Schnitzer (sadly now deceased), he invited me to co-author a novel set in the Four Corners featuring a virologist who combines science and spirituality to find a cure for a pandemic, which became Blood of the White Bear

Marcia's book list on pandemics, historical, or fictional

Discover why each book is one of Marcia's favorite books.

Why did Marcia love this book?

This brilliant non-fiction work by John M. Barry is fascinating for its scholarship and engaging prose. We learn about the source of the H1N1 influenza virus in birds through its mutations to a deadly pandemic engulfing the globe and responsible for killing an estimated 50 million people. In addition to writing layman’s course in virology, Mr. Barry focuses on individuals who perished and those who searched unceasingly for a vaccine. This is the most timely of books for readers who have endured the twenty-first century coronavirus pandemic. 

By John M. Barry,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Great Influenza as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the height of WWI, history's most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, "The Great Influenza"…

The Virus Touch

By Bishnupriya Ghosh,

Book cover of The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media

Marika Cifor Author Of Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS

From the list on how to have sex in an epidemic.

Who am I?

Amidst COVID-19, HIV/AIDS is a touchpoint for journalists, scholars, writers, and a public who seek a usable past in understanding the present and making an uncertain future less so. The challenge of how to love, live, and survive amidst pandemics isn't new, I play here on the title of one of the first safer sex books, How to Have Sex in an Epidemic. As someone who studies how activists document their work and how they bring those materials to life today, I'm both fascinated and troubled by pandemic comparisons. These books offer crucial stories and productive tools to think with as we navigate questions of how to survive, and maybe even thrive amidst intersecting pandemics. 

Marika's book list on how to have sex in an epidemic

Discover why each book is one of Marika's favorite books.

Why did Marika love this book?

One of the best academic books written at convergence of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics is The Virus Touch.

Here, Bishnupriya Ghosh showcases how “epidemic media” inform how epidemics are understood and experienced—making this text so relevant right now. She looks at how media—images, numbers, and digital models—whether generated by scientists, artists, or activists enable us to see and understand viruses and bear witness to their effects in new ways.

What is unique about Ghosh’s scholarship is how looks to the environment to study health which illustrates the complex and tangled relationships between epidemics, humans, animals, and media. Ghosh’s rich examples, ranging from modelling viruses to reading test results to tracking infection rates and mortality numbers, ensure that Virus Touch speaks to diverse readers.

By Bishnupriya Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Virus Touch Bishnupriya Ghosh argues that media are central to understanding emergent relations between viruses, humans, and nonhuman life. Writing in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 global pandemics, Ghosh theorizes "epidemic media" to show how epidemics are mediated in images, numbers, and movements through the processes of reading test results and tracking infection and mortality rates. Scientific, artistic, and activist epidemic media that make multispecies relations sensible and manageable eschew anthropocentric survival strategies and instead recast global public health crises as biological, social, and ecological catastrophes, pushing us toward a multispecies politics of health. Ghosh trains…

Plague of the Dead

By Z.A. Recht,

Book cover of Plague of the Dead

S. L. Smith Author Of The River Dead

From the list on zombie apocalypse that take you on an epic journey.

Who am I?

S. L. Smith is an author, attorney, and Catholic theologian with deep roots in southern Louisiana. Despite being better known for his work in Catholic theology and history, Smith has also published extensively in the Southern Gothic genre. This crucible of tastes, religion, and location resulted in the Cajun Zombie Chronicles. Beneath the oaks and moss, lie shadows that bite.      

S. L.'s book list on zombie apocalypse that take you on an epic journey

Discover why each book is one of S. L.'s favorite books.

Why did S. L. love this book?

The Morningstar Strain takes us around the world and block-by-block across America. Let me say this. This is not high-concept literary artwork. Z. A. Recht is not William Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor. Recht knows what he does well, though, and he sticks to it. He puts you in the setting. Great detail work. Have you fantasized about scavenging in the zombie apocalypse? Recht puts you there. 

I still feel that urge from time to time to join Army General Francis Sherman and Dr. Anna Demilio in their continent-spanning quest for the zombie cure. They may be the same old characters saying the same old dialogue you find in every Jerry Bruckheimer film ... but. That serves as something as a bridge from the familiar to the apocalyptic.         

So, join General Sherman, Dr. Demilio, and the other survivors as they hitch a ride on the island-hopping USS Ramage to the Pacific…

By Z.A. Recht,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The “zombie apocalypse,” once on the fringes of horror, has become one of the most buzzworthy genres in popular culture. Now, in Plague of the Dead, Z.A. Recht delivers an intelligent, gripping thriller that will leave both new and die-hard zombie fans breathless.

The end begins with a viral outbreak unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before. The infected are subject to delirium, fever, a dramatic increase in violent behavior, and a one-hundred percent mortality rate. But it doesn’t end there. The victims return from death to walk the earth. When a massive military operation fails to contain the living…

Book cover of Death is a Welcome Guest

Lesley Kelly Author Of The Health of Strangers

From the list on pandemics and humanity.

Who am I?

In my day job working for a charity, I work with emergency planners, examining how we can minimise the harm caused by disasters, including outbreaks of disease. I’m fascinated by the measures in place to deal with catastrophes, and how contingency planners respond on a practical and a human level. When writing my novel about a killer virus, I devoured both fiction and non-fiction books tackling pandemics ranging from the Black Death to Aids. I am confident I know the skills needed to survive when a pandemic reduces the world’s population to a small, doughty band of survivors. I am not confident I possess these skills.

Lesley's book list on pandemics and humanity

Discover why each book is one of Lesley's favorite books.

Why did Lesley love this book?

Louise Welsh has written three novels about a pandemic called the Sweats – her Plague Times trilogy. This is the second book in the series. I particularly liked this one because its protagonist, Magnus, is a Scottish not-very-good stand-up comedian, and I too was once a not-very-good aspiring comic! After a series of unfortunate events, Magnus ends up in prison, where the disease is rife. Breaking out, he decides to make for his childhood home on Orkney, accompanied by fellow escapee Jeb. The fast-moving plot will keep you racing through this book.

By Louise Welsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death is a Welcome Guest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year

The second instalment in the thrilling new Plague Times trilogy from the author of A Lovely Way to Burn.

Magnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run and there is nothing to laugh about.

Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish…

The Violence

By Delilah S. Dawson,

Book cover of The Violence

Sarah Gailey Author Of Just Like Home

From the list on for making you lose sleep.

Who am I?

I love books that keep me up at night. I'm constantly trying to get into a good, healthy bedtime routine—but I am also constantly sabotaging that effort by finding books that I simply can’t put down. The feeling of being drawn so deep into a story that the hours slip away is easily one of my favorite feelings in the world. I also love books that make me wake up in the middle of the night, books that slide into my brain and plant new ideas there. As an author, I am always striving to write those books. I can think of no higher compliment than “I stayed up all night reading it.”

Sarah's book list on for making you lose sleep

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

This book delivers truly striking insight into the nature of fear, the cost of survival, and cycles of violence. Dawson’s writing shines here, grounded and visceral, and deeply honest. Between the propulsive and tense plot, the exquisitely rendered characters, and the unflinching examination of the world we live in, this one kept me up late and woke me up early.

By Delilah S. Dawson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How far would you go to be free? Three generations of women forge a new path through an America torn by a mysterious wave of violence in this “chilling [and] dizzyingly effective” (The New York Times Book Review) novel of revenge, liberation, and triumph.

“A compulsively readable fusion of domestic thriller and modern horror.”—Kameron Hurley, author of The Light Brigade

“A novel that defines this era.”—Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians

They call it The Violence: a strange epidemic that causes the infected to experience sudden bursts of animalistic rage, with no provocation…

The Circle

By Ted Dekker, Ted Dekker,

Book cover of The Circle: The Complete Volumes of Black, Red, White, & Green

Sarah Ashwood Author Of Land Beyond the Sunset

From the list on portal fantasy adventures.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by fairytales since I was a little girl, watching Disney movies with my grandparents. As I grew older, I read fairy tales almost insatiably and was also drawn to mythology and folklore of every variety. When I discovered the fantasy genre, in my early teens, it was like coming home…a genre that combined all of the elements I’d grown up devouring: fairytales, mythology, and folklore. My love of fantasy developed my love of portal fantasy—the idea that other realms, other worlds, other dimensions exist, and we can travel between or to them. I wrote my first portal fantasy novel at eighteen and have continued writing fantasy and portal fantasy novels ever since. 

Sarah's book list on portal fantasy adventures

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

Christian/Inspirational fantasy and thriller with a solid portal fantasy plot. I read several Ted Dekker books and series when I was a teen, but this one stood out to me because of the notion of two realms and how a protagonist could be a normal human being in one realm, Earth, and a savior, a leader, a “chosen one” in the other. 

By Ted Dekker, Ted Dekker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ted Dekker’s bestselling and most beloved series—together in one volume. It’s an epic tale of evil and rescue, betrayal and love, and a terrorist threat unlike anything the human race has ever known.

Thomas Hunter is an unlikely hero who finds himself pulled between two worlds. In our reality, he works in a coffeehouse. In the other, he becomes a battle-scarred general leading a band of warriors known as the Circle.

Every time he falls asleep in one reality, he wakes in the other—and both worlds are facing catastrophic disaster. In one world, Thomas must race to outwit sadistic terrorists…

Book cover of The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses

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

From the list on rigorously scientific scary viruses.

Who am I?

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

David's book list on rigorously scientific scary viruses

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Into the deep weeds, for those who dare! Eddie (as he is famously known) Holmes is one of the world’s leading experts on molecular evolutionary virology, particularly regarding the RNA viruses—which are the scariest and most menacing ones, the ones that mutate often, evolve fast, and spill over from animals to cause gruesome new diseases in humans. Ebola. Marburg. Nipah. Hendra. SARS-1. MERS. Zika. The dengues. And of course SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 beast. Eddie Holmes explains, in lucid but authoritative prose, where these creatures come from, how they adapt so well to infecting people, and why RNA virology is a crucial survival tool for the human future.

By Edward C. Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Evolution and Emergence of RNA Viruses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

RNA viruses provide unique insights into the patterns and processes of evolutionary change in real time. The study of viral evolution is especially topical given the growing awareness that emerging and re-emerging diseases (most of which are caused by RNA viruses) represent a major threat to public health. However, while the study of viral evolution has developed rapidly in the last 30 years, relatively little attention has been directed toward linking work on the
mechanisms of viral evolution within cells or individual hosts, to the epidemiological outcomes of these processes. This novel book fills this gap by considering the patterns…


By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Book cover of Illuminae

Bridget Tyler Author Of The Pioneer

From the list on bold narrators.

Who am I?

I tell stories for the page and the screen (and sometimes to bribe my kid to brush her teeth). The stories I tell have one thing in common – they transport the reader to another world. For me, building a new world starts with building a new character a narrator with strong opinions and a complicated past that will shape how the reader experiences their world. We don't experience the real world objectively no matter how hard we try, our past, our feelings, and even our bodies affect how we experience the world. That's why the worlds I build and the stories I tell are all filtered through the particular truth of a bold narrator.

Bridget's book list on bold narrators

Discover why each book is one of Bridget's favorite books.

Why did Bridget love this book?

Illuminae is the first book in a YA science fiction series called the Illuminae Files Trilogy.

The story is told through intersecting first-person narratives constructed from journals, letters, texts, reports, and pictures. You want to absorb all that “found footage” goodness on paper. Trust.

There’s almost no exposition in Illuminae, especially in the first few chapters. That’s the beauty of these books – the narration is so visceral and urgent that you get invested in the story long before you really understand what’s happening. Putting the pieces of the world-building together is an addictive mystery in and of itself.

I don’t recommend cracking open this book the night before anything requiring a good night’s rest and lots of focus – your mind will be in 2575 until well after you’ve finished the last page. 

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Never have I read a book so wholly unique and utterly captivating.' Marie Lu

'It certainly filled the Battlestar Galactica-shaped hole in my heart.' Victoria Aveyard

The internationally bestselling first book in a high-octane trilogy

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she'd ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has…

The Child Garden

By Geoff Ryman,

Book cover of The Child Garden

BP Gregory Author Of Automatons

From the list on where women fight while their world crumbles.

Who am I?

As a woman who writes fantasy, sci-fi, and horror I’m fortunate my family never said “why can’t you be more girly?” Instead I was supported to challenge myself; to study psychology, psychophysiology, and archaeology; and to write about my passions. From that came my love for novels like these: with women who are complicated, difficult heroes, struggling with the same feet of clay as everyone.

BP's book list on where women fight while their world crumbles

Discover why each book is one of BP's favorite books.

Why did BP love this book?

Cancer was defeated, but at the accidental cost of longevity. Children no longer have time to grow up and are force-educated by viruses. All except for Milena, who is resistant and almost died from them; Milena with secret love in her heart, doesn’t yet know herself; Milena who, over her life, will become determined to set the children free. 

The Child Garden is quite a challenging read with its non-linear structure and worldbuilding, and I admit it won’t be for everyone. But if you are up to trying something unusual you will find it richly rewarding and emotionally devastating (in the best way).

By Geoff Ryman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.

"An exuberant celebration of excess set in a resource-poor but defiantly energetic twenty-first century."—The New York Times

"A richly absorbing tale—with a marvelous premise expertly carried out."—Kirkus Reviews

"Excellent. . . . Dark and witty and full of love, closely observed, and sprinkled with astonishing ideas. Science fiction of a very high order."—Greg Bear

"One of the most imaginative accounts of futuristic bioengineering since Greg Bear's Blood Music."—Locus

In a future London, humans photosynthesize, organics have replaced electronics, viruses educate people, and very few live past forty. But…

Lock In

By John Scalzi,

Book cover of Lock In

Jacqui Castle Author Of The Seclusion

From the list on dystopian reads of the past five years.

Who am I?

I love dystopian novels because they allow us to explore our fears and follow those pesky what-ifs floating around our heads to their most extreme conclusions. Often, when I talk to people about dystopian literature, their minds go straight to the classics such as 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, or Fahrenheit 451. While these are timeless and amazing books, there have been so many ground-breaking dystopian novels written in the past five years that you won't want to miss.

Jacqui's book list on dystopian reads of the past five years

Discover why each book is one of Jacqui's favorite books.

Why did Jacqui love this book?

In Lock In, John Scalzi presents a truly unique and complex world, in which a large portion of the population has experienced a virus that leaves about one percent of its victims with a condition known as Haden's Syndrome. Those with Haden's Syndrome are "locked in," and are trapped in a sleep-like, paralysis state. 

About twenty-five years after the pandemic, scientific advancements have allowed those with Haden's Syndrome to interact with the world through surrogates or artificial intelligence. This is one of those books that is so complex that you will just have to dive in and enjoy the creativity.

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A blazingly inventive near-future thriller from the best-selling, Hugo Award-winning John Scalzi.

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent - and nearly five million souls in the United States alone - the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a…


By Joseph Osmundson,

Book cover of Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between

Marika Cifor Author Of Viral Cultures: Activist Archiving in the Age of AIDS

From the list on how to have sex in an epidemic.

Who am I?

Amidst COVID-19, HIV/AIDS is a touchpoint for journalists, scholars, writers, and a public who seek a usable past in understanding the present and making an uncertain future less so. The challenge of how to love, live, and survive amidst pandemics isn't new, I play here on the title of one of the first safer sex books, How to Have Sex in an Epidemic. As someone who studies how activists document their work and how they bring those materials to life today, I'm both fascinated and troubled by pandemic comparisons. These books offer crucial stories and productive tools to think with as we navigate questions of how to survive, and maybe even thrive amidst intersecting pandemics. 

Marika's book list on how to have sex in an epidemic

Discover why each book is one of Marika's favorite books.

Why did Marika love this book?

It takes a great writer to make the complex structure and mechanics of viruses legible, and moreover, deeply compelling.

Osmundson draws together his personal experiences, expertise in microbiology, and a queer politics and studies in eleven essays that reflect critically on how viruses like HIV and COVID-19 (and their intersections) have redefined each of our daily lives.

The book offers powerful insights into illness politics, sex and pleasure amidst pandemics, and our collective responsibility for one another through a very personal narrative in ways that promise crucial insights. We need such personal and critical work as we continue to figure out new ways to live alongside viruses and viral pandemics.

By Joseph Osmundson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Invisible in the food we eat, the people we kiss, and inside our own bodies, viruses flourish-with the power to shape not only our health, but our social, political, and economic systems. Drawing on his expertise in microbiology, Joseph Osmundson brings readers under the microscope to understand the structure and mechanics of viruses and to examine how viruses like HIV and COVID-19 have redefined daily life.

Osmundson's buoyant prose builds on the work of the activists and thinkers at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS crisis and critical scholars like Jose Esteban Munoz to navigate the intricacies of risk reduction, draw…

The End of Men

By Christina Sweeney-Baird,

Book cover of The End of Men

J.A. Christy Author Of SmartYellow™

From the list on women in dystopian worlds.

Who am I?

I write women in dystopia. I live in the North West of the UK and I also write psychological thrillers and women’s fiction – I am currently writing my 9th book. I love books set in the near future and in alternate dystopian worlds – I recently discussed this with my brother and we settled on ‘mind-bending’ as our go-to for this genre. I have a PhD in narrative and storytelling and my mission as a writer was to write fiction about issues that affect women, and what better way than to place them in hypothetical but possible situations to explore that reality? 

J.A.'s book list on women in dystopian worlds

Discover why each book is one of J.A.'s favorite books.

Why did J.A. love this book?

I read The End of Men recently during the pandemic. Without giving the plot away, this book is about a pandemic written before the actual pandemic. The thing I love about this book is the deep feelings it invoked. It is written from many viewpoints and I really cared about the characters – if a book can resonate so deeply that it makes you wonder how your life would be in the same circumstances, the author has succeeded. The women in the book face an almost unimaginable struggle and I rooted for them all the way.

By Christina Sweeney-Baird,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?











GLASGOW, 2025. Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a young man with a mild fever. Within three hours he dies. The mysterious illness sweeps through the…

Plagues and Peoples

By William H. McNeill,

Book cover of Plagues and Peoples

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

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

Who am I?

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

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

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Why did Gary love this book?

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

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

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

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

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

By William H. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


By Mira Grant,

Book cover of Feed

John Bierce Author Of The Wrack

From the list on sci-fi/fantasy about plagues and pandemics.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by epidemiology since I was a little kid first reading about the Black Death, and that interest only grew as I learned more about it over the years. Diving into the study of environmental history was especially fascinating for me, as I learned how under-emphasized the role of epidemics and pandemics has been in history, as if humans were trying to pretend that history was actually under our own control. This eventually culminated in me writing The Wrack, my own plague novel which, for better or worse, ended up coming out at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Slightly awkward timing, there.)

John's book list on sci-fi/fantasy about plagues and pandemics

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

Most zombie stories have horribly unscientific epidemiology, but Feed is definitely the exception. Mira Grant knocks this tale of journalists covering a post-zombie apocalypse presidential election out of the park- it’s a brilliant take on both epidemiological fiction and zombies. Considerably more action-packed than the rest of this list, and the sequels are excellent as well.

By Mira Grant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Gripping, thrilling and brutal . . . a masterpiece of suspense' Publishers Weekly

'The zombie novel Robert A. Heinlein might have written' Sci-Fi Magazine

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives -…

The Resurrected

By Megan Hart,

Book cover of The Resurrected

Rob E. Boley Author Of That Risen Snow

From the list on for readers who are sick of zombies.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading horror books and watching horror movies since I was entirely too young to do either—thanks to my father’s collection of Stephen King books and my uncle’s love of horror movies. Now I’m a horror writer and wake early each morning to make blank pages darker. Zombies remain one of my favorite horror sub-genres. There’s something relentlessly compelling about these mindless ghouls linking inside each of us waiting for some triggering event to set them loose. Maybe it’s the resulting chaos. Maybe it’s the gruesome horror. Mostly, it’s how such tales show us the fragility of our civilization and the darkness of our own nature. 

Rob's book list on for readers who are sick of zombies

Discover why each book is one of Rob's favorite books.

Why did Rob love this book?

Originally released in ten parts as a horror serial, The Resurrected is a real treat. For starters, the zombie virus has a unique origin. The planet is hit by a series of freak storms. In the aftermath, strange flowers bloom, spreading a virus that transmits across humanity. The shocking action that follows is told from a shifting array of characters with many of their stories intertwining. My favorite thing about this book is Hart’s visceral description. Her sensory details will transport the reader right into each moment. It’s a wicked read, and features the best zombie sex scene you’ll ever read!

By Megan Hart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Resurrected, The Compendium, includes the entire contents of the original serial, parts 1-10. Some content has been revised or updated and may differ from the original. When a series of freak storms sweep across the world, they leave behind something more than devastation. First come the swift-growing flowers, smelling like heaven and dying as quickly as they bloom. Next comes the infestation as the flowers breed and multiply inside their hosts. After that, chaos, mayhem and death. And after that...resurrection.


By Marilyn J. Roossinck,

Book cover of Virus: An Illustrated Guide to 101 Incredible Microbes

Nicholas P. Money Author Of The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization

From the list on microbes and their amazing world.

Who am I?

Microorganisms have bewitched me since childhood when I remember seeing floating dust particles glinting in sunbeams and wondering what they were and if they were alive. Decades later, my research has included experiments on the amazing mechanisms that shoot fungal spores into the air to form part of that dust, which is one of several odd coincidences in my life. As an educator (Miami University in Ohio) and science writer my interests in biology go beyond the fungi, but I never stray too far from my obsession with the smallest organisms. Microbes are everywhere and will outlive us by an eternity.

Nicholas' book list on microbes and their amazing world

Discover why each book is one of Nicholas' favorite books.

Why did Nicholas love this book?

Viruses are infectious particles containing small sets of genes. They reproduce by penetrating and destroying cells. Marilyn Roossinck’s book introduces the subject of virology with succinct descriptions and superb illustrations. The tininess and beauty of viruses belie their power to ruin our lives, which is something that everyone can appreciate at this time.              

By Marilyn J. Roossinck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This stunningly illustrated book provides a rare window into the amazing, varied, and often beautiful world of viruses. Contrary to popular belief, not all viruses are bad for you. In fact, several are beneficial to their hosts, and many are crucial to the health of our planet. Virus offers an unprecedented look at 101 incredible microbes that infect all branches of life on Earth--from humans and other animals to insects, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Featuring hundreds of breathtaking color images throughout, this guide begins with a lively and informative introduction to virology. Here readers can learn about the history of…


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

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

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 Sherri L. Smith,

Book cover of Orleans

Joshua David Bellin Author Of Ecosystem

From the list on environmental catastrophe.

Who am I?

When I was eight years old, I read a book titled Dar Tellum: Stranger from a Distant Planet, by James R. Berry. It told the story of a boy who communicates with an alien intelligence to save the Earth from… global warming. That was in 1973, and it was the first time I’d heard about “the greenhouse effect”. Some things haven’t changed since then: I still read (and write) sci-fi, and I still have Dar Tellum on my bookshelf. But our climate is changing, and I’ve chosen four books of science fiction and one of science facts that help us think about the future—and present—of our planet.

Joshua's book list on environmental catastrophe

Discover why each book is one of Joshua's favorite books.

Why did Joshua love this book?

In the wake of super-hurricanes and the deadly pandemic that follows, New Orleans has been quarantined from the rest of the United States, and those who seek to cross the border wall are killed. Narrator Fen, a member of the clan-based culture that has developed behind the wall, tells the story of her people and her personal quest for freedom in a dialect voice that is both beautifully rendered and brutally honest.

By Sherri L. Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First came the storms.

Then came the Fever.

And the Wall.


After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct…but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.  

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood…