COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Social distancing, lockdowns, sanitising, masks have become the feature of our daily lives, what we now call the new normal.

One thing that the pandemic has done for me is give me time, lockdowns, less travelling, meant more time to read.

I could have spent the extra time to moan and groan or be productive and read, I chose the latter.

It made sense in March 2020 to readjust my reading list to include books on pandemics.

I wanted to understand pandemics beyond just the daily 7pm television news, radio interviews and newspapers, and well researched books on the topic were a great start.

1. Pandemic 1918 by Catherine Arnold

Here are the books I read on the pandemic this year:

It is amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same. I was quiet surprised at how a pandemic that occurred and how it was dealt with in 1918 is so similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 years later.

It really echoes what we are experiencing today. Front line people doing exceptional things and politicians and people in control often hiding and obscuring the facts. And the people who rise up for the challenge of helping others at great risk to themselves.

During the 1918 pandemic, people had to wear masks all the time, social distancing was there, lockdowns as well, sanitising as well, politicians being denial, people refusing to wear masks, vaccine deniers as well.

This is the first book I read on pandemic and it was a great introduction to understanding how viruses work and how they affect our lives.

2. Viruses, Plagues and History: Past, Present and Future by Michael B.A. Oldstone

I love history and this book gives an amazing historical background of various viruses that the world had to deal with.

It is a very informative book. It not only goes into the history of all these viruses but it also gives you an overview on how viruses and vaccines work.

The author explains everything very well and in ways anyone can understand. I believe everyone should read this. Especially those who are against vaccines.

3. Economics in the Age of COVID-19 by Joshua Gans

This book is an interesting perspective from an economist on the effects of COVID-19 on the economic health of countries.

What I liked most about the book was the discussion of the tradeoffs between health and the economy and how this is effected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

4. Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak by Reid Wilson

This book describes the epidemic of Ebola that struck Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, three countries in West Africa in 2014.

One of its chief take-home messages is the importance of working with local people and understanding local customs, even when it is necessary to go against some of those customs in order to prevent further disease and death.

The other is that future epidemics of deadly diseases, possibly including some presently unknown to science, are almost sure to occur as humans spread into natural areas where they previously have not ventured and as they travel around the world with increasing speed.

5. John Snow and the Cholera Epidemic of 1854 by Charles River Editors

Snow was a skeptic of the then-dominant miasma theory that stated that diseases such as cholera were caused by air pollution. The germ theory of disease had not yet been developed, so Snow did not understand the mechanism by which the disease was transmitted.

His observation of the evidence led him to discount the theory of foul air. By talking to local residents, he identified the source of the outbreak as the public water pump on Broad Street. 

There is still a lot to understand about pandemics, but these books have helped me grasps what pandemics are really about more than I would have learned had I followed the usual daily media narrative.

If you have a curious mind, I would recommend any of these books.

I’m sure there are other books on pandemics that you have read, please feel free to recommend them on the comment section below.

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