Talking Books Talk

Talking Books Talk provides news and updates about the Kansas Talking Books Service (KTBS). Talking Books staff will highlight relevant announcements from KTBS and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Questions: or 800-362-0699

View All Posts

Apr 08

Pandemic Lit

Posted on April 8, 2020 at 2:25 PM by Michael Lang

Pandemic literature has become very popular during this time of uncertainty as we all deal with the constraints, fears, and stress of COVID-19. We have selected a few books for readers of all ages about pandemics, both real and fictional. For many, it shows how humans have survived much worse and will continue to strive for survival, providing comfort during these turbulent times.

Try one of these books showing how humans have overcome catastrophes throughout history.

We wish you happy reading. Stay safe, calm, and healthy during this crisis.
We’ll get through this together.

--Maggie Witte

Adult Nonfiction
DB 49373 Flu: The story of the great influenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus by Gina Bari Kolata
Annotation: A science reporter for the New York Times describes how a mysterious virus, nicknamed the "Spanish flu," killed 20-100 million people worldwide, leaving no clue to its origins. Striking during wartime in 1918, the epidemic affected young adults disproportionately. Discusses other historic plagues and the possibility of future pandemic scourges. 1999.

DB 86538 Plague: A very short introduction by Paul Slack

Annotation: Professor of early modern social history provides a thematic overview of the disease that, owing to the virulence of its epidemics, has shaped the course of human history. Cases include the Black Death of 1348--which cut the population of Europe by one-third--and the Great Plague of London, in 1665. 2012.

DB 75676 Spillover: Animal infections and the next human pandemic by David Quammen
Annotation: Science reporter investigates the field of epidemiology, specifically the transmission of disease from animal to human. Traces the development of illnesses such as Ebola, SARS, avian influenza, and Lyme disease and theorizes on the likelihood of where the next outbreak may occur. 2012.

Youth Nonfiction

DB 71644 Disasters: Natural and man-made catastrophes throughout the centuries by Brenda Z. Guiberson
Annotation: Discusses smallpox in the New World, the 1871 Chicago fire, 1889 Johnstown flood, 1906 San Francisco earthquake, 1911 Triangle factory fire, 1912 Titanic sinking, 1918 flu pandemic, 1930s Dust Bowl, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and 2005 Hurricane Katrina. For grades 6-9. 2010.

DB 84942 Bubonic panic: when plague invaded America by Gail Jarrow

Annotation: Recounts the initial emergence of the plague in 542 A. D. and the global spread through shipping ports during the subsequent outbreaks in Asia, Europe, and finally in the United States in 1900. Discusses symptoms, mortality rates, the disease vector, prominent scientists, and potential treatments. For grades 5-8. 2016.

DB 84259 Ebola: Fears and facts by Patricia Newman

Annotation: Explains what Ebola is, how it spreads, and how the virus affects the human body. Discusses Africa's 2014 Ebola outbreak and puts the virus in perspective in comparison with other viral outbreaks, such as the common flu. For grades 6-9 and older readers. 2016.

Adult Fiction

DB 79693 Station eleven by Emily St. John Mendel
Annotation: On the eve of civilization's collapse due to pandemic, actor Arthur Leander dies on stage while performing King Lear. Eight-year-old Kirsten Raymonde is also in the play, and as she grows older, she discovers secrets of their new dystopia link back to Arthur. Some strong language and some violence. Commercial audiobook. 2014.

DB 36888 Doomsday book: Oxford time travel novel by Connie Willis
Annotation: Kivrin, a young, twenty-first-century history student, travels back in time on assignment to fourteenth-century Oxford. But something goes wrong, and she is stranded in the Middle Ages right at the outbreak of the bubonic plague. As her modern mentor struggles to rescue her, Kivrin must come to terms with life and death in an age of superstition, fear, and suffering. Winner of the 1992 Nebula award.

DB 98624 A beginning at the end by Mike Chen
Annotation: In the wake of a devastating global pandemic, four survivors with disparate backgrounds struggle to build new lives for themselves. But reports of another outbreak threatens America's still-fragile society and force the friends to face their past lives. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

Youth Fiction
DB 77050 A matter of days by Amber Kizer
Annotation: On the fifty-sixth day of the BluStar pandemic, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. Protected by a vaccine, the siblings use survival skills taught by their deceased father to make their way to their remaining relatives. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

DB 75631 Cinder: The Lunar Chronicles, Book 1 by Marissa Meyer

Annotation: Cinder, a teen cyborg and the best mechanic in New Beijing, labors to support her stepmother--and owner--Adri and Adri's two daughters. But after Cinder's only human friend, her stepsister Peony, is infected with the plague letumosis, Adri volunteers Cinder's body for plague research. For senior high and older readers. 2012.

DBC05752 The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hinch
Annotation: Twenty years after the start of the war that caused the Collapse, fifteen-year-old Stephen, his father, and grandfather travel post-Collapse America scavenging, but when his grandfather dies and his father decides to risk everything to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen's life is turned upside down. For junior and senior high readers.