Feeling COVID curious? Here’s a librarian-curated reading list

March 10, 2020 Alex Williamson

With the growing sense of panic in the city and a wealth of misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, Brooklyn Public Library has put together a list of books on epidemics of the past to help New Yorkers put coronavirus in context.

The list covers a broad swath of history, from the 1918 flu pandemic, to London’s worst cholera outbreak in the 19th century, to America’s AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s. For kids, there are age appropriate books on viruses, bacteria and microbes, all curated through BPL’s BookMatch program, a free service that gives library patrons book recommendations custom-made by BPL librarians.

Here are a few selections from the 23-book list:

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  1. Germs: fact and fiction, friends and foes

By Lesa Cline-Ransome

Image via Amazon

This illustrated children’s book is a primer on the microscopic world of germs, both good and bad.

  1. Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918

By Albert Marrin

Image via Penguin Random House

A work of nonfiction for young adults that examines the history, science and impact of one of the deadliest pandemics in recent memory.

  1. The Ghost Map: the story of London’s most terrifying epidemic

By Steven Johnson


Image: Penguin Random House

This book details a vicious outbreak of cholera in Victorian London, and the way it shaped the cities of today.

  1. How To Survive a Plague

By David France

Image: Penguin Random House

A 2016 retrospective on the AIDs crisis of the 1980s and 90s, and the activists and scientists who fought to bring the disease under control.

  1. The End of Epidemics

By Jonathan D. Quick

Image via Amazon

A leading doctor examines the looming threat of global pandemics, and how we might prevent the next.

For the complete reading list, visit here.


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