5 Books to Read during Pandemics

The Spanish Influenza that first hit the world in the capital of Spain, Madrid. The flu then killed 100 million civilian lives all over the world and was the deadliest of the diseases to have been known. Although World War 1 was over and the tired soldiers were now seeking their way back home their battles were not yet over, there was a bigger battle coming in and this was to be fought with guns and armies, but with dear old life.

They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell

The top most book on our list is one that will make you cry your eyes out. “They Came like Swallows” is a fictional book that follows the Morrison family who have 2 sons, Robert and Bunny for whom their mother is the most important part of their life. Robert being 13 years old feels that it is his duty to protect his mother, for 8 year old bunny she is the centre of his universe and for Mr. Morrison his wife is the foundation on which on which the family rests. The plot that is greatly influenced by the flu portrays how all childly innocence is taken away and in the end the only thing that is left is the love that their mother left on for them. This fiction allows the reader to understand the tragedy, the innocence, the love that somehow is lost that can never be felt again and how the one thing that makes a human feel alive is taken away just by this fever.

Pale horses, Pale Riders by Anne Kathrine Porter.

The title story “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” written by Anne Kathrine Porter is about the relationship between a newspaper woman, Miranda, and a soldier, Adam, during the influenza epidemic of 1918. In the course of the narrative, Miranda becomes sick and delirious, but recovers, only to find that Adam has died of the disease, which he likely caught while tending to her. The story closely follows an account of Porter’s own illness and recovery during the pandemic, when she was working as a reporter in Denver. Porter once said of her illness, “It just simply divided my life—cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered, ready”. The book is Pale Horse, Pale Rider to be such an exceptional depiction of the suffering caused by the influenza that would soon be called as the “forgotten Pandemic”

If I Die Before I Wake by Jean Little.

if you liked reading Anne Frank: the diary of the young girl, you are sure to like this next book on our list. in this book a girl named Fiona who comes from a large and loving family in which her older sisters and her mother are all twins. As the soldiers fighting in World War 1, come back to Canada they carry along the Spanish flu that then affects millions. In the book Fiona turns to her diary as she encounters the virus spread in her household. Fiona finds herself admist the confusion and chaos of being around loved ones who have caught the flu.

On being Ill by Virginia Woolf

The next one on our list is an essay written by Virginia Woolf. No one had articulated the peculiar vexations of illness, nor addressed the psychic transcendence accessible amid the terrors of the body, more thoughtfully than Virginia Woolf. In her essay she looks upon the illness with a seriousness that was probably not that felt during those times, she talks of the flu with the same seriousness that people consider while talking of love, jealousy and battle. Her essay is the perfect manifestation of how illness shapes our life in a way that other worldly emotions fail to.  She says that we may not have the words to describe the illness at hand because literature was not sufficiently sensual, not primitive enough and not obscure to understand the degree with which it affects our lives. Even though not a book but this essay is one to read.

The Great Influenza by John. M Barry

There is no better book to read to know the Spanish Influenza than “The Great Influenza” by John M Barry. Recommend by Bill Gates himself this book is an absolute wonder. In the book Barry examines the pandemic with respect to United States at that time while also teaching the reader about the American history placing it against the flu. The Great Influenza is the greatest depiction of the horrid times of the flu. The Spanish flu that spread in the USA after the return of World War 1 troops was a disease that killed more in 24 months than AIDS killed in 24 years of its spread. This book is an absolute delight and will teach you all about pandemics.

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