I wish I could remember what it was that first sparked my interest in communicable diseases (and some noncommunicable), but I’ll tell you, there are just not enough books out there to quench my thirst on this topic. I’ve read just about every public health book on the subject that I can get my hands on (and if anyone out there has read a great book on malaria, please send it my way. I’ve been looking for one for a few years now).
Get Well Soon was tremendously satisfying. Each chapter is devoted to a different disease. Now, as a public health professional, I pride myself on having intimate knowledge of most of the famous epidemics throughout history: bubonic plague in Europe in the Middle Ages, cholera in Dickensian London, Spanish flu during World War I. Public health professionals know that the REAL hero of the story isn’t Jon Snow, future king of Westeros, but John Snow, the doctor who basically invented epidemiology. So one of the things I loved most about this book was that there was a lot in here that I didn’t know, even about diseases that I THOUGHT I knew a lot about.
Who would enjoy this book? It’s hard for me to see how anyone could NOT enjoy a book about plagues, but honestly this one is a good one even for you strange folk who don’t normally enjoy reading that stuff. Jennifer Wright uses a very casual, conversational tone that’s pretty fun (although it does get a bit annoying after awhile), and she does a good job of making the information in here accessible to the general public. The hardest chapter for me to get through was the one on lobotomies because it was incredibly sad, but I really enjoyed this book. Wright does a great job of highlighting the heroes throughout the stories–sometimes they are doctors or researchers, but sometimes they are ordinary people who show kindness to their neighbors or friends who are sick (the story of St. Damien of Molokai is going to stick with me). Even though the book is filled with death and suffering, it really is uplifting and will make you feel good about humanity.