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Pandemic Reading

Fictional tales of pandemics to keep you occupied while we ride out a real one.

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Songs for the End of the World

- by Saleema Nawaz

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"In these dark days, Saleema Nawaz dares to write of hope. Songs for the End of the World is a loving, vivid, tenderly felt novel about men, women, and a possible apocalypse. I couldn't put it down." -- Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors and The Wagers

NATIONAL BESTSELLER. An immersive, deeply engaging, and hopeful novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending catastrophe. Named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, 49th Shelf, and a Book You Should Read by Maclean's and Chatelaine. 


How quickly he'd forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.
     This is the story of a handful of people living through an unfolding catastrophe.
     Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of a growing outbreak--all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life crisis. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.
     As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters' ties to one another--and to those whose lives intersect with theirs--in an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone. Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor.
     Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz's glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people--and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

Wanderers

- by Chuck Wendig

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A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world's last hope. From the mind of Chuck Wendig comes "a magnum opus . . . a story about survival that's not just about you and me, but all of us, together" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD o NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post o NPR o The GuardianKirkus Reviews o Publishers Weekly o Library Journal o Polygon

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other "shepherds" who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them--and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them--the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart--or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

In development for TV by Glen Mazzara, executive producer of The Walking Dead o Look forthe sequel in 2022

"This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King's The Stand."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A suspenseful, twisty, satisfying, surprising, thought-provoking epic."--Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

"A true tour de force."--Erin Morgenstern, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus

"A masterpiece with prose as sharp and heartbreaking as Station Eleven."--Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

"A magnum opus . . . It reminded me of Stephen King's The Stand--but dare I say, this story is even better."--James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible   

"An inventive, fierce, uncompromising, stay-up-way-past-bedtime masterwork."--Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World 

"An American epic for these times."--Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year

Hamnet and Judith

- by Maggie O'farrell

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WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD 
WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"[An] exceptional winner.... It expresses something profound about the human experience that seems both extraordinarily current and at the same time, enduring."
--Martha Lane Fox, Chair of The Women's Prize for Fiction judges

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A PLAGUE THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.


England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an eccentric young woman: a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles on the Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband. His gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when their beloved twins, Hamnet and Judith, are afflicted with the bubonic plague, and, devastatingly, one of them succumbs to the illness.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, Hamnet & Judith is mesmerizing and seductive, an impossible-to-put-down novel from one of our most gifted writers.

Published as Hamnet in the US and the UK.

The Pull of the Stars

- by Emma Donoghue

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THE NEW #1 BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE WONDER AND ROOM  Dublin, 1918: three days in a maternity ward at the height of the great flu. A small world of work, risk, death and unlooked-for love, by the bestselling author of The Wonder and Room.  In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders--Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.  In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other's lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, caregivers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.  In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds. 

Greenwood

- by Michael Christie

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WINNER OF THE ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A CBC BOOKS "BEST CANADIAN FICTION" TITLE OF THE YEAR
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.


They come for the trees. It's 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and rapacious timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie's effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.

Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.

The Year of the Flood

- by Margaret Atwood

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From the Booker Prize-winning author of Oryx and Crake, the first book in the MaddAddam Trilogy, and The Handmaid's Tale. Internationally acclaimed as ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by, amongst others, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Village Voice

In a world driven by shadowy, corrupt corporations and the uncontrolled development of new, gene-spliced life forms, a man-made pandemic occurs, obliterating human life. Two people find they have unexpectedly survived: Ren, a young dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails (the cleanest dirty girls in town), and Toby, solitary and determined, who has barricaded herself inside a luxurious spa, watching and waiting. The women have to decide on their next move--they can't stay hidden forever. But is anyone else out there?

The End of October

- by Lawrence Wright

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"An eerily prescient novel about a devastating virus that begins in Asia before going global . . . A page-turner that has the earmarks of an instant bestseller." --New York Post
 
"Featuring accounts of past plagues and pandemics, descriptions of pathogens and how they work, and dark notes about global warming, the book produces deep shudders . . . A disturbing, eerily timed novel." --Kirkus Reviews

"A compelling read up to the last sentence. Wright has come up with a story worthy of Michael Crichton. In an eerily calm, matter-of-fact way, and backed by meticulous research, he imagines what the world would actually be like in the grip of a devastating new virus." --Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

"This timely literary page-turner shows Wright is on a par with the best writers in the genre." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

In this riveting medical thriller--from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author--Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons--microbiologist, epidemiologist--travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city . . . A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare . . . Already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic . . . Henry's wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta . . . And the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions--scientific, religious, governmental--and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.

The Dreamers

- by Karen T. Walker

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A strange illness induces sleep and heightens dreams in an isolated college town, transforming the lives of ordinary people, in this mesmerizing novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles.

A college girl tells her friends that she's feeling strangely tired. The next morning, when they find her in bed, she is still breathing--but she won't wake up.

Within a few days, another student, down the hallway, won't wake up.

As the sleeping sickness spreads, the town is turned upside down. We meet Ben and Annie, a young couple determined to keep their newborn baby safe; Sara and Libby, whose survivalist father has long prepared for disaster; Mei and Matthew, and other college students. A quarantine is established, the national guard is summoned. Yet, those who have fallen asleep are showing unusual patterns of brain activity. More than has ever been recorded in any brain--asleep or awake. They are dreaming--but of what?

With gorgeous prose and heart-stopping emotion, The Dreamers startles and provokes about the possibilities contained within a human life, when we are awake and, perhaps even more, when we are dreaming.

The Stand

- by Stephen King

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Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting--eerily plausible--as when it was first published. The New York Times called it "the book that has everything. Adventure. Romance. Prophecy. Allegory. Satire. Fantasy. Realism. Apocalypse. Great!"

Now a limited series on CBS All Access
 
A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world's population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge--Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious "Dark Man," who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them--and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.

(This edition includes all of the new and restored material first published in The StandThe Complete And Uncut Edition.)

Station Eleven

- by E. St.john Mandel

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Summer of Canadian Reading 2019

Winner of the Toronto Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Sunburst Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Prize and for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
A New York Times and Globe and Mail bestseller

The international publishing sensation now available in paperback: an audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame and ambition, set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse

One snowy night, a famous Hollywood actor dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time--from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains--this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend and a young actress with the Travelling Symphony caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame and the beauty of the world as we know it.

The Modern Classics Plague

- by Albert Camus

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The Plague is Albert Camus's world-renowned fable of fear and courage

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they are forced into quarantine. Each person responds in their own way to the lethal disease: some resign themselves to fate, some seek blame, and a few, like Dr Rieux, resist the terror.An immediate triumph when it was published in 1947, The Plague is in part an allegory of France's suffering under the Nazi occupation, and a story of bravery and determination against the precariousness of human existence.

'A matchless fable of fear, courage and cowardice' Independent

'Magnificent'The Times

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. He studied philosophy in Algiers and then worked in Paris as a journalist. He was one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement and, after the War, established his international reputation as a writer. His books include The Plague, The Just and The Fall, and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Camus was killed in a road accident in 1960.