Who’s got time to read anymore anyway?— oh wait.
Truth is significantly more strange than fiction — isn’t that what they always say? Anyway, I often dream of a time in my life when all I have to do is wake up and drink coffee as I while away the hours reading book after book.
Of course that fantasy doesn’t involve being swept up in any type of worldwide viral outbreak. But if it did, here are the first three books that I’d pick off my shelf to reread.
By Mary Roach, 2004
This book reminds me of people who wear Chuck Taylors with a fancy cocktail dress. The upbeat, jokey style of writing doesn’t match the dark, somewhat disturbing content. But like the dressed up/dressed down outfit, it kind of works.
Mary Roach explores all of the things that happen to dead bodies, from cremation to crash testing to being stolen by 17th century grave robbers looking to study medicine. She fearlessly explains weird-as-shit research like head transplants and the impact of different types of bullets on flesh. She visits a body farm, explores cannibalism and considers the practice of human composting.
It’s a little gross, a little funny and a very interesting read for anyone who likes science, has a body and isn’t squeamish.
The Ghost Map:The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World
By Steven Johnson, 2006
Can you believe people used to just piss and shit in their basements and then just shovel it all out into the streets and rivers when their houses got full?
I’m often nostalgic about simpler times, longing for to live in a time before we were burdened by vaccines and cellphones. But when I read this book and learned that until just over 100 years ago, it was commonly believed that disease was spread by bad smells only, I changed my mind.
In the book, it’s 1854 and Cholera is mysteriously spreading through London. It was mysterious because germ theory hadn’t even been prosed yet and nary an effort had been made to prevent the people from drinking water unsullied by human feces. One doctor cracked the case when he found that a sick baby’s cholera diapers were rinsed in the well that many people drank from.
It’s well written and interesting, but above all, it made me wonder this: what are we doing today that will seem unfathomably ignorant to our offspring a few decades from now?
By Piers Paul Read, 1974
Here we have another true story about tragedy, death and the urgency that the human spirit feels to prevail.
This time, a rugby team flying over the Andes Mountains experiences a life-altering plane crash. It’s freezing cold and the few survivors are stuck in the middle of nowhere without any means of calling for help.
It’s a dire situation, but the young men in it are healthy and fit. They work together to eke out shelter and treat each other’s injuries. A search team looks for them but gives up due to difficult conditions.
Two of the survivors leave the wreckage behind in search of help. They are successful and return to their teammates with a rescue crew.
The rescuers notice that the crash victims appear to be well-fed and healthy. You’ll have to read it to learn why.
Look, I know you have choices when it comes to reading material. But save Michelle Obama’s Becoming and that Crawdad book for when you are reading in public and everyone can see you and applaud you for being so on-trend.
Since you’re tucked away in your house or cruise ship cabin, you might as well take a dive into these deep, dark books. Whose going to judge you? Nobody.