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Pandemics: An Essential Reading List

Learn more about how outbreaks become pandemics and how to manage lockdown life from these books by some of the world's best nonfiction authors.
by The Blinkist Team | Oct 7 2020

We originally posted a pandemic reading list on March 17th before we knew what it would really mean to be in lockdown long-term or to live and work remotely for months on end. Now, we’re updating this list with books that can expand your knowledge about pandemics and contagion and help you manage living in a pandemic-fatigued world.

Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Pandemic (2016) explores the fascinating world of pathogens and diseases and how they can spread from a bat in China to five other continents in a single day. How do these diseases evolve, and how does modern society help contribute to their success? And most importantly: what can we do to stop the next pandemic?

An Elegant Defense by Matt Richel

An Elegant Defense (2019) is an erudite and approachable exploration of the immune system. Using the difficult story of a dear friend as a starting point, author Matt Richtel leads the reader through a mind-boggling tour of one of the world’s most complex systems – what he calls our “elegant defense.”

Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrmann, MD

Super Immunity (2011) reveals the secret to a better, stronger immune system and healthier body: superfoods. These blinks shed light on the shortcomings of modern medicine and teach you how to take advantage of the healing powers of plant foods rich in nutrients and phytochemicals.

Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang

The Chinese city of Wuhan was the first to go into strict lockdown due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Daily dispatches written by celebrated Chinese writer and Wuhan resident, Fang Fang, were largely suppressed by the Chinese government. Now, the 60 posts she wrote over the 76-day lockdown have been collected and translated by HarperCollins. Learn more about Wuhan Diary here.

Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

In Remote, you are given an inside look at a new kind of work relationship made possible by modern technology, called “remote work.” The book details companies’ common fears about allowing employees to work remotely and in contrast, outlines the many benefits of remote work. Importantly, it offers practical advice to managers who employ remote workers or are considering introducing remote work options for their company.

Need a little practical help handling long-term remote work? Check out this article by Ben Hughes, Head of Content at Blinkist, who knows a thing or two about making remote life work for you.

A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer

A Planet of Viruses (2011) takes you on a whirlwind tour into the hidden world of viruses. You’ll discover how our understanding of these tiny, abundant organisms has evolved over time and how our lives are influenced by them, from their power to kill to their protective properties.

Deadliest Enemy by Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

This release from 2017 warned about the serious threat that infectious diseases could pose to modern life. Taking examples such as Ebold, SARS, and Zika, this book serves as a primer on epidemiology and how diseases spread to become full-blown pandemics.

The Rules of Contagion by Adam Kucharski

Released in February 2020, it’s hard to think of a more timely publication than The Rules of Contagion. In this title, Kucharski takes a scientific and mathematical look at how viruses spread and how, from diseases to ideas to social media content, everything viral follows more or less the same path.

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

Before COVID-19, the world hadn’t seen a pandemic on a global scale since the 1918 influenza, which was estimated to have killed 5% of the world’s human population at the time. Author John M. Barry throws a clear eye over the context in which the influenza pandemic arose, and how it changed the course of world history.

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell

The Knowledge (2014) provides a practical guide for surviving global crises and examines how we might rebuild civilization from scratch should the worst case scenarios all turn out to be true. If 2020 has given you a taste for survivalism, this book could be a good place to start.

This reading list is a touch doom and gloom, but the reality of COVID-19 is that we’re all in this together and by wearing masks, washing our hands, and remaining socially distant, we’re taking care of each other and we will pull through. However, if you need something a little more upbeat, check out this list of soothing nonfiction books for stressful times. We’ve got you.

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