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Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

The Pandemic Century: A History of Global Contagion from the Spanish Flu to Covid-19

by Mark Honigsbaum, Penguin RandomHouse India

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

A timely book that traces the history of 10 major outbreaks of disease in last 10 decades with a new chapter on COVID-19. Racy and rivetting, the book by medical historian Mark Honigsbaum, combines medicine, sociology, science, history and frontline reportage of the pandemics through the last century. He builds the story around the 1918 Spanish flu, 1924 pneumonic plague in Los Angeles, 1930 parrot fever pandemic to the recent SARS, Ebola, Zika and the present novel Coronavirus, outlining some striking similarities among the diseases. It leaves the reader with a renewed sense of being cautious and the knowledge that there will indeed be another pandemic. A state of preparedness is a better option than reacting with fear or indifference.

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Yes to Life In spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl, Penguin RandomHouse India

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

The 1946 book about horrors in Nazi concentration camps where the author's parents, wife, and brother died, has been published for the first time in English. It holds good as a profound and timeless lesson to look at everything in life as an opportunity, even when times are dark. Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School, Viktor's voice during the holocaust finds resonance in these uncertain times, as he tells us never to lose compassion, spirit, and the thirst for life.

Human Touch by Mitch Albom, Hachette India

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

This is an eight-part series of a fictional story of people in a small town in Michigan, where the Coronavirus takes root and compels hitherto friendly neighbours into distancing and mistrust. Only self-protection matters as humanity begins to fray. The plot is built around a doctor and a pastor and their respective families, an elderly couple and a young Chinese couple whose housekeeper has an eight-year-old son and unsuspectingly becomes a focal point in the plot. The little boy Moses has blood that protects him against everything. He secretly visits neighbours' homes and gives them what everybody is missing now, the human touch. He hugs and embraces fellow citizens and soon becomes an object of medical curiosity. The story is layered in twists and sub-plots as there are people who think money can be made in his capture, but the entire neighbourhood gets together and ensures his safe return.

The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread -- and Why They Stop

by Adam Kucharski, Profile Books

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

This book delves into peoples' lives and behaviour following a deadly viral explosion. A political movement and an innovative idea work in tandem to establish the new normal and connect the world like never before. At a bewildering speed, Kucharski introduces a mesh of friendships, information networks, hidden laws, crumbling financial systems and dithering social dynamics that collectively explain how we can get better at predicting what can happen next. The author is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and works on global outbreaks such as the Ebola epidemic and the Zika virus.

Anxiety: Overcome It and Live Without Fear

by Sonali Gupta, HarperCollins Publishers India

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

Are we able to differentiate between anxiety and stress? Mumbai -based clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta offers empathetic guidance to not only identify anxiety as a mental health crisis affecting 30 lakh Indians at the moment, but also how it is triggered at work, in relationships, and by social media. By highlighting multiple case studies, she gives a glimpse into the lives of those affected and how they confront fears to take control of situations.

TinyHabits: The Small Changes that Change Everything by BJ Fogg

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

This is a much anticipated book by the Founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford because he shows us how to change our lives for the better, one tiny habit at a time. Based on 20 years of research and his experience of coaching over 40, 000 people, B J Fogg cracks the code of habit formation whether you want to sleep better, lose weight, work smarter or be a hands-on parent. The author says the secret is to start small. Using his science-based approach, Fogg asks us to focus on what’s easy to change, instead of going after what you ‘should do’ and what is hard. Quick wins can be smart solutions to make changes that are simple to achieve and sticky enough to last, he says.

Soap and Water & Common Sense: The Definitive Guide to Viruses, Bacteria, Parasites, and Disease by Dr Bonnie Henry, Juggernaut

Words of wisdom: books that bring the focus back to illnesses and infections

The author, who currently helms COVID-19 operations in Canada’s British Columbia region, and has worked on viral epidemics across the world, takes readers through the world of microbes. Written simply, despite its technical content, takes us through a brief history of various diseases from pathogens (viruses, bacteria, parasites): smallpox, SARS, influenza, cholera, malaria and more. She helps us understand how we get sick, who the ‘disease detectives’ have been through time, and takes up famous case studies like Typhoid Mary, who was responsible for spreading the illness to many. Through it all runs the basic common sensical thread: wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, stay home when you’re sick. Her “Top 10 Myths and Truth About Bugs” is useful too.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 12:14:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-that-focus-on-pandemics-and-after-effects/article32383015.ece

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