Recent Books about Covid-19

By Chris Breitenbach

This year has seen a number of interesting, thoughtful books published about the Covid-19 pandemic. I know that personally, when I look back at the events of the last 2½ years, I’m still trying to make sense of just what happened. I’m grateful to these authors for trying to do just that, by shedding light and giving context to those turbulent times and the long wake we’re still churning in.

  • The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure

    2022 by Werb, Dan

    This big picture overview of coronavirus history is written by an epidemiologist and details how it went from being the mild, cold-causing virus of the past to the deadly, ever-adapting one we know and live with today. The book spends time with some of the numerous scientists who have studied coronaviruses over the years and shares the hard-won lessons they’ve gleaned.

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  • Pandemic, Inc: Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick

    2022 by McSwane, J. David

    A lot of federal money was pumped into the flailing U.S. economy during the Covid-19 crisis. While much of this was used judiciously, some of it…wasn’t. Reporter J. David McSwane’s muckraking book goes after and investigates and shines a light on the “shady networks” of those who criminally took advantage of the pandemic to enrich themselves.

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  • Plagues in the Nation: How Epidemics Shaped America

    2022 by Price, Polly J.

    Covid-19 was not the first public health crisis the country has weathered. In the past, we’ve experienced flu, smallpox, polio, yellow fever, and AIDS, to name a few. This book burrows down into the history of these so-called plagues and details how divisiveness and conflict have repeatedly hindered our responses over the years and how we might do better in the future.

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  • The Helpers: Profiles from the Front Lines of the Pandemic

    2022 by Gilsinan, Kathy

    The Helpers spends time with a handful of individuals who all, in ways large and small, worked toward combating, overcoming, or simply dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States. Through the eyes of a funeral director, a nurse, a vaccine developer, a chef, and others, the author offers moving portraits of everyday people who gave their all to help us weather the storm.

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  • The Desperate Hours: One Hospital's Fight to Save a City on the Pandemic's Front Lines

    2022 by Brenner, Marie

    To be a health care professional during Covid-19 was to be on the frontlines of a frightening, quickly escalating crisis. The Desperate Hours directs its attention on the New York-Presbyterian Hospital system as a kind of microcosm of what was happening in medical facilities almost everywhere–-the lack of preparedness, the failure of leadership, the chaos and trauma. We failed once to be prepared. Will we fail again?

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  • The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children's Lives, and Where We Go Now

    2022 by Kamenetz, Anya

    For many children, in the middle of their most formative learning and socializing years, Covid-19 and the massive disruption it caused came with significant long-term consequences. This book, by NPR’s lead education correspondent, offers a broad and insightful overview of the impact Covid-19 had on children, their parents, and the educational system itself.

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  • Cabin Fever: The Harrowing Journey of a Cruise Ship at the Dawn of a Pandemic

    2022 by Smith, Michael

    I think one of the first stories about Covid-19 I really remember (besides Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson being diagnosed with it), were the reports of this Covid-plagued luxury cruise liner trying desperately to find a port that would give it safe harbor. This riveting work gives firsthand accounts of the ship’s harrowing journey from passengers dying of a mysterious illness to the claustrophobic quarantining and eventual resolution.

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  • The Year Time Stopped: The Global Pandemic in Photos


    Throughout the first couple years of the pandemic, members of the online community-based image marketplace Scopio posted photos, offering extensive (worldwide) visual representation of those truly unprecedented times. Editors sorted through and picked 200 of them, and the results help to tell the story of Covid-19’s pervasive impact.

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  • Saving Main Street: Small Business in the Time of COVID-19

    2022 by Rivlin, Gary

    One of the many consequences of Covid-19 was the economic crisis it left in its wake, leaving many small businesses struggling to survive. Rivlin, a journalist, not only offers vital insight into how Covid-19 affected small business throughout the U.S., but also includes additional, equally sobering stories about many of the enduring difficulties small businesses have faced over the years.

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  • Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus

    2022 by Quammen, David

    After the 2003 SARS outbreak, numerous scientists began to raise red flags about an inevitable, more consequential pandemic. Author (and respected science journalist) David Quammen was one of them. And along came Covid-19, nearly two-decades later. This highly readable book offers one of the finest play-by-play overviews of how the world, particularly its scientists, responded to the virus.

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