Ready to flatten the curve, everyone? Sure, Netflix is great, but after telling the damnable thing that YES, I’M STILL WATCHING “THE OFFICE” for the 47th time, it may be time to turn to books. If you’ve a bit of schadenfreude in you, or if you’d like to remind yourself that it could always be worse, how about a trio of plague books? Most of us recall freezing in place with every sniffle and sneeze that came along while reading The Stand. Why not revisit that anxiety with one of these three fantastic stories???
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
This epic novel takes place in Boston in the aftermath of the 1918 Influenza epidemic. With cameo appearances by Babe Ruth and other historical figures, Lehane brings to life a city under pressure as a police force tasked to protect against revolutionaries decides to strike.
The Last Town on Earth By Thomas Mullen
A small town in Washington state tries to ride out the Flu epidemic by cutting contact with the outside world. This first novel is imaginative, historical, and powerful. This is beautiful, atmospheric period writing at its best.
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Sure, the comparisons to ‘The Stand’ were inevitable and probably warranted, but this story of a band of sleepwalkers and the family and friends who shepherd them along as they wend their way west from Pennsylvania puts the pandemic story in a modern light. This is a great illustration of why the real danger to society comes
not from the illness itself but from the fear and our reaction to it. A run on TP may just be the beginning…
Look, reading these now might not be the thing for you. If that’s the case, tuck them away for September (fingers crossed). But confronting our fears is sometimes the way to go, and others of us are just messed up enough in the head to enjoy reading about the end of the world even as we careen down the highway toward it.
Colin Rea is Director of the Fern Ridge Library District in Veneta, Oregon. A former bookseller and Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association board member, he may be the only Oregonian to actively dislike the Grateful Dead. His favorite foods are scotch and sandwiches.