World War Z writer Max Brooks recommends the book you should read to survive a pandemic
World War Z author Max Brooks has long been interested in infection and disease. So, which book would the writer recommend people read to help survive a global pandemic?
"Microbe Hunters," says Brooks, referring to the 1926 non-fiction best-seller by microbiologist Paul de Kruif. "Microbe Hunters was read to me as a children’s bedtime story by my mother [the late actress Anne Bancroft] who was a secret, closet scientist. And the Microbe Hunters traces the history of germs and how humans discovered them and eventually linked them to disease. To me, that is a fascinating detective story of human-microbe evolution."
Brooks' newly published novel concerns a threat considerably larger than a microbe. In Devolution, the residents of a remote and tiny Washington town called Greenlop are menaced by Bigfoot creatures following the eruption of Mount Rainier.
"As with all my books, for every hour I spent writing, I must have spent maybe between 10 and a hundred hours researching," says Brooks. "I mean, I researched everything. I researched how Mount Rainier would really erupt. I researched how those houses — these smart eco-homes — would actually work with a friend of mine who worked for Microsoft. I made those weapons, by hand, just to see if they were possible, with the materials the characters have. I went to the Pacific Northwest to the space where I put Greenloop to see if my characters could walk out on their own. And, just FYI, they couldn’t. That is some brutal lethal terrain out there. As far as the Bigfoot creatures themselves, I've always studied the lore but I really tried to research genuine primate biology and behavior. I tried to go the factual route. If there was a giant species of ape living in North America, how would they live? I went the path of facts and science."
Despite the terrors contained in his novels, Brooks reveals that he isn't the biggest fan of reading horror fiction.
"Well, I don’t read to get scared," he says. "I read to calm down. I’m already scared! I’m not a horror guy, I’m an anti-horror guy. You know the premise of being a horror reader is you assume, well, life is good and safe and kind of boring and I’d like a good scare. That ain’t where I live."