Recommended reading list

To help inspire you to set up your own microbiology book club, we are sharing a list of a few recommended reads, as provided by the Bad Bugs Book Club. Don't forget to share any titles you recommend using our #MicrobioBookClub on Twitter. 



The Girl with All the Gifts is a science fiction novel published by M.R. Carey. 

The plot focuses on a fungal infection caused by Cordyceps, the ‘zombie fungus’ which attains pandemic status.

The manifestations of infection vary with different hosts, and the novel focuses on Melanie, a bright and intelligent child, imprisoned – and studied – by military, psychological and medical personnel. 



I Contain Multitudes is written by Ed Yong and is a New York Times bestseller about the trillions of microbes that live on us and within us.

While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, giving us a grander view of life and the opportunity to peer into that world for the first time. 

Learn more about the book and Ed Yong in our Microbe Talk interview.



The Death of Grass by John Christopher is a post-apocalyptic novel about a virus that kills off all forms of grass.

Following the introduction of a new pesticide, developed to breed resistant crops, a newly mutated virus appears and infects the staple crops of West Asia and Europe. The novel follows the struggles of engineer John Custance and his friend, civil servant Roger Buckley, as, along with their families, they make their way across an England which is rapidly descending into anarchy encountering other survivors on their way.



Nemesis written by Philip Roth describes an outbreak of polio in a Jewish area of Newark New Jersey in 1944.

During this time, it was known polio was a virus, but it wasn’t understood how it spread and why it would cripple or kill some of its victims. The story is written in 1971, narrated by a child who was affected during the outbreak. The child in turn describes the impact of the events in the life of Bucky Cantor, the school playground instructor.



Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood describes a future world which has, essentially, been destroyed by science.

The lead character, once called Jimmy and now called Snowman, is a lone survivor who does not seem to have been manipulated in any way by the interventions that were routinely and readily available. He is looking after ‘the children of Crake’, who have been engineered in different ways.

A thought-provoking read, this is the first novel of its trilogy.


To view a full list of recommended reads, please visit the Bad Bugs Book Club website, where you can download example reading guides and meeting reports.