10 Apr

Plague Reading!

We're All Fine Here.

Here are some suggestions to help you cross off the "Plague Reading About Plagues" square on our Book Bingo Cabin Fever edition, aka quarantine edition, aka pandemic edition, aka WE HOPE THIS IS THE ONLY EDITION OF THIS EDITION EVER AGAIN.

The Plague, Albert Camus

Who would've thought that a French existentialist writing about a plague as allegory for war would top all the best summer reading lists? I'd type "LOL" and end it there but I just can't do that to my college boyfriend Al. Set in the 1940s, this is a deep dive into the deep end. Without floaties. Without flippers. To the abyss, where Ed Harris is. But like Ed, you find space to breathe down there, and it's really quite beautiful.


Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan

Soon to be a show, "Y", and written by BKV who can do no wrong, this is one of our absolute favorites! A mysterious plague wipes out everything with a Y chromosome (males, if you missed science class) EXCEPT for a guy and his pet monkey. 10 volumes, perfect length, funny, sincere, may destroy you.


Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

The first book in Atwood's "Madaddam Trilogy" followed by Year of the Flood and Maddaddam. Atwood's dystopias are BRUTAL but of all the books on these apocalyptic lists, hers are the most possible...which is what makes them SO GODDAMN TERRIFYING.


Station 11, Emily St. John Mandel

We ADORE this book, which is a weird word to use in the context of death and destruction but, we do. On the more literary and realistic end of the dystopia spectrum, this book focuses on a traveling Shakespeare troupe and asks: what is the role of art during the end times? Also it does that cool thing where it weaves past and present and you don't realize it's happening and then BAM your mind is blown.


The Stand, Stephen King

This is THE book we think of, when we think of plague reading. Good vs Evil in such an epic way, a serious KU personal fave. This says it in a nutshell:

"The Stand has everything. Adventure. Romance. Prophecy. Allegory. Satire. Fantasy. Realism. Apocalypse. Great!"--The New York Times Book Review


Zone One, Colson Whitehead

We were so excited to learn that Whitehead, author of the bestselling The Underground Railroad, wrote a post apocalyptic story in 2012 and we cannot wait to read it:

 “Uniquely affecting. . . . A rich mix of wartime satire and darkly funny social commentary. . . . Whether charged with bleak sadness or bone-dry humor, sentences worth savoring pile up faster than the body count.” —The Los Angeles Times

"A zombie story with brains. . . . [Whitehead is a] certifiably hip writer who can spin gore into macabre poetry.” —The Washington Post

"Zone One is not the work of a serious novelist slumming it with some genre-novel cash-in, but rather a lovely piece of writing...Whitehead picks at our nervousness about order's thin grip, suggesting just how flimsy the societal walls are that make possible our hopes and dreams and overly complicated coffee orders." —Entertainment Weekly


The Passage, Justin Cronin

You guys, imagine if the entire United States was quarantined from the rest of the world, enforced with explosive barriers in the water, and left to fend for itself?
First in a trilogy, and briefly a show that got canceled after one season (which was pretty decent! And had Zach Morris! But grown!) this is one of the few stories on these lists that tells you the story of the before, the now, and the after. This isn't a virus that goes away in a few months with some good quality quarantine time, this is the characters you get attached to and then their children and their children, who grow up in quarantine.


The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker

We are super excited to read this! This illness manifests as SLEEP, and the sleepers have heightened brain activity indicating that they are dreaming...BUT WHAT ARE THEY DREAMING ABOUT?!

“This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker’s sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting—of a true, ethereal beauty. . . . This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity.”Entertainment Weekly


Slapstick, Kurt Vonnegut

And now, for something completely different. Slapstick was the first Vonnegut I read, (took it off of my parents bookshelves as a preteen) and still one of my faves. This is the first book with "adult themes" I remember reading (not sex, get your minds out of the gutter) it careens between humor, tenderness, science fiction, and satire in a way that thrilled my adolescent self, and still does. Come for the prologue, (I wouldn't hesitate to rank it as some of Vonnegut's best, most affecting writing) but stay for the "Chinese plague" that is timely, in a not what you would expect kind of way. If other plague reading has given you the blues, this is the wry, melancholy cure.


The Road, Cormac Mccarthy

Sorry to admit that I only saw the movie, and MAN did I not want to go and read the book after! But Mccarthy's fans are die hard and this is one of the most apocalyptic apocalypses, AND won the Pulitzer Prize, so it has to make the cut.


White Noise, Don Delillo

Despite the fact that there is a toxic airborne event in this book, it is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Fans of Beckett and Vonnegut will appreciate this. The dialogue is so quick and witty, it reads like a play.


The Girl with All the Gifts, M.R. Carey

I knew and loved Mike Carey for his comic book series Unwritten, so when I found out M.R. Carey was one and the same I was PSYCHED. I can't tell you why I liked this particular infection/apocalypse novel without spoiling it but I'll say this: it's got some staples of the genre but is unique in some really interesting ways...


Bird Box, Josh Malerman

Ok haters, you can't judge a book on it's television or movie adaption. I personally loved the movie, but I know a lot of people didn't. I think invisible/psychological villains are always tricky to visually translate, and I think the descriptions of what people are seeing in the book are going to be terrifying and give me nightmares and I can't wait.


World War Z, Max Brooks

This has been on my to do list for ages, and now is the time! Max Brooks is probably the most prominent literary voice of the zombie apocalypse out there, having written a survival guide before this.

“...It is gripping reading and a scathing indictment of weak responses to crises real and over-hyped.”
- Hartford Courant

“A sober, frequently horrifying and even moving account. . . . Brooks has delivered a full-blown horror novel, laced with sharp social and political observations and loads of macabre, gruesome imagery. . . . The real horror of World War Z comes from the all-too-plausible responses of human beings and governments to the menace.”
- Fangoria

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks

If you'd prefer historical fiction to post-apocalyptic futures, Year of Wonders is set in 17th century England and based on an actual "plague village" that Brooks stumbled upon and then researched.

“The novel glitters with careful research into such arcana as seventeenth-century lead-mining, sheep-farming, and, of course, medicine, but its true strength is a deep imaginative engagement with how people are changed by catastrophe.” -The New Yorker

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