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Staff Picks - Thrilling Tales of Disasters (Fictional and True)

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All titles are shelved in the fiction section alphabetically by the author's last name unless otherwise noted.

A Walk Across the Sun 
by Corban Addison
Orphaned and homeless after a tsunami decimates their coastal India town, teenage sisters Ahalya and Sita Ghai are abducted and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner before they are helped by an American attorney fighting human trafficking.

The Dressmaker
by Kate Alcott
A spirited young maid on board the Titanic captures the attentions of two men including a kindhearted sailor and an enigmatic Chicago millionaire and barely escapes with her life before witnessing media scorn targeting her famous designer mistress.

Things We Didn’t See Coming
by Steven Amsterdam
Nine connected stories set in a dystopian near-future follows the narrator's three-decade effort to survive a series of cataclysmic events, from a Y2K breakdown and catastrophic floods to the plague and a decimation of law enforcement. 

The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood
When a natural disaster predicted by God's Gardeners leader Adam One obliterates most human life, two survivors trapped inside respective establishments that metaphorically represent paradise and hell wonder if any of their loved ones have survived. 

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
by Chris Bohjalian
Living in an igloo of ice and trash bags half a year after a cataclysmic nuclear disaster, Emily, convinced that she will be hated as the daughter of the drunken father who caused the meltdown, assumes a fictional identity while protecting a homeless boy.

2030
by Albert Brooks
June 12, 2030 started out like any other day--until a massive earthquake devastated Los Angeles, and the government, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, was unable to respond.

The Tin Roof Blow Down (MYSTERY)
by James Lee Burke
Follows the adventures of detective Dave Robicheaux, who struggles with alcoholism and rage while fighting to protect lives in Katrina-devastated New Orleans.

Waypoint Kangaroo (SCIENCE FICTION CHEN)
by Curtis C. Chen
Kangaroo, a spy with special powers, is sent on a mandated vacation to Mars, but when a hijacker, who is part of a conspiracy to destroy the solar system, threatens to crash the ship, it is up to Kangaroo to stop him.                      

Did You Ever Have a Family  
by Bill Clegg
Surviving a disaster that kills everyone else in her family, June relocates West and settles into a directionless existence while other people impacted by the tragedy struggle with new circumstances.

Devil’s Gate
by Clive Cussler
A Japanese cargo ship cruises the eastern Atlantic near the Azores- when it bursts into flames. A gang of pirates speeds to take advantage of the disaster-when their boat explodes. What is happening in this part of the world? 

Wild Fire
by Nelson DeMille
Detective John Corey of The lion's game, Plum Island, and Night fall returns in a new novel about a conspiracy to detonate nuclear bombs in two American cities, setting off a world war of unimaginable proportions.

After Disasters
by Viet Dinh
Recounts the experiences of four rescue workers who put their lives at risk to save others after a life-shattering earthquake in India.

One Amazing Thing
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Late afternoon in a passport and visa office in California, nine people are in the office when an earthquake rips through the building trapping these nine together struggling to survive.

The Endless Forest
by Sara Donati
The spring of 1824 is a challenging one for the inhabitants of Paradise N.Y. when a flood devastates the village. But for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner, it's also a time of reunion as their children return from far-off places, a childhood friendship evolves into a romance, and family secrets threaten heart and home. 

The Lost Prince
by Selden Edwards
Taking her place in late-19th-century Boston society, Eleanor Burden, who believes she has advance knowledge of every major event that is to occur in her lifetime, struggles to balance the expectations of her family with her resolve to prevent historical disasters.  

Blackout (MYSTERY)
by Marc Elsberg
After a cyber-attack causes Europe's electrical grid to collapse and its nuclear reactors to begin to overheat, a former hacker and activist goes on the run with a young American reporter based in Paris, and soon becomes a prime suspect as threats to the United States emerge.

Shades of Grey
by Jasper Fforde
Color Control Agency employee and House of Red member Eddie Russett experiences discontent with his limited vision when he meets Gray Nightseer Jane, who suggests that their color-blind world was brought about by a disaster that nobody is allowed to acknowledge.

From Time to Time
by Jack Finney
In the long-awaited sequel to Time and Again, Ruben Prien is attempting to prevent World War I--but the man carrying papers to America that might avert the catastrophe is traveling aboard the Titanic.

Promise Me This
by Cathy Gohlke
Michael, a Titanic survivor living in New Jersey, develops a friendly correspondence with Annie, an Englishwoman whose brother died in the disaster, that evolves into love, but their budding relationship is threatened by the onset of World War I. 

Crabwalk
by Gunter Grass
Presents a fictional exploration of the worst maritime disaster in history, the 1945 sinking of a German cruise ship packed with refugees by a Soviet sub--a disaster that killed nine thousand people.

The Widow’s War
by Sally Gunning
When Lyddie Berry's husband is lost in a whaling disaster, she becomes the dependent of her ruthless son-in-law, who tries to take everything she and her husband had worked for.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things
by Alice Hoffman
The daughter of a curiosities museum's front man pursues an impassioned love affair with a Russian immigrant photographer who after fleeing his Lower East Side Orthodox community has captured poignant images of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. 

The House of Velvet and Glass
by Katherine Howe
Her Boston family shattered by the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl attempts to contact her departed loved ones at a medium's table before reconnecting with former flame Ben, with whom she tackles a harrowing (MYSTERY).

Solar
by Ian McEwan
Nobel Prize-winning scientist Michael Beard coasts through his professional life as his fifth marriage disintegrates but gets an unexpected chance at redemption when he is called on to save humanity from environmental disaster.

The Innocent Sleep
by Karen Perry
When the son they thought was lost in an earthquake in Tangiers five years earlier reappears on a crowded street in Dublin, Harry and Robin must find out if Dillon was actually alive the whole time. 

The Day the Martians Came (SCIENCE FICTION POHL)
by Frederik Pohl
After a space ship disaster, thirty-eight survivors have landed on Mars awaiting rescue from Earth. It is then they stumble upon a city beneath the Red Planet's crust.

The Woman on the Stairs
by Bernhard Schlink
Hired by an artist and the beautiful woman he painted, who want to reclaim a portrait from the woman's husband to keep it from being deliberately destroyed, a naïve young lawyer in Frankfurt becomes embroiled in an unexpectedly toxic case marked by a disappearance, a natural disaster and a past betrayal.

Sisterland
by Curtis Sittenfeld
When the strongest earthquake in U.S. history occurs just north of their St. Louis home, Kate and Jeremy find the disaster further complicated by Kate's twin sister's prediction about a more powerful earthquake.

Rushing Waters
by Danielle Steel
An interior designer, her independent architect mother, a British investment banker, an ER doctor who survived Hurricane Sandy, and two NYU students are thrust together when a major hurricane descends upon New York City and wreaks unimaginable devastation.

Seveneves (SCIENCE FICTION STEPHENSON)
by Neal Stephenson
Five thousand years after a catastrophic event sends a small surviving remnant of humanity into outer space, the progeny of those survivors--seven distinct races now three billion strong--embark on a journey into the unknown to return to Earth.     

Supervolcano: Eruption (SCIENCE FICTION TURTLEDOVE)
by Harry Turtledove               
Survivors of a super volcanic eruption in Yellowstone Park must rise from the ashes of the apocalyptic catastrophe to continue civilization.    

The Children of the Sky (SCIENCE FICTION VINGE)
by Vernor Vinge       
Ten years after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy, Ravna Bergnsdot must try to prevent power-seeking humans and intelligent pack animals called Tines from dragging the fledgling civilization on Tines World into chaos.  

When the English Fall (SCIENCE FICTION WILLIAMS)
by David Williams       
A tale told through the diary of an Amish farmer recounts his struggles to protect his family and way of life when a catastrophic solar storm decimates modern civilization, causing "English" outsiders to violently target the Amish for their resources. 

NON-FICTION

The Unthinkable (155.935)
by Amanda Ripley
Offers a glimpse at disasters and their aftermath, describing the three stages of disaster response, how we react--or do not react--in moments of catastrophe, and how we can train ourselves and other victims to survive in the event of a disaster.

Spy Sub (359.933)
by Roger C. Dunham
This is the true story of an American nuclear submarine's desperate search for a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine lost in the depths of the north Pacific. Told by a sailor on board the U.S. spy sub, it reads like a techno-thriller, but the events recorded here actually happened.

Five Days at Memorial (362.11097 F499)
by Sheri Fink
Reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina destroyed its generators to reveal how caregivers were forced to make life-and-death decisions without essential resources. 

Inferno: A Doctor’s Ebola Story (362.196 HATCH)
by Steven Hatch
A doctor from Massachusetts shares his first-hand experience in helping fight the Ebola epidemic that hit Liberia in 2013, describing how both his small hospital & the country tried to contain the disease. 

Lights Out (363.11933 K836)
by Ted Koppel
A renowned broadcast journalist reports that a major cyberattack on America's power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be unimaginably devastating and that the United States is shockingly unprepared. 

Trapped Under the Sea (363.11962 S976)
by Neal Swidey
Documents the disastrous 1990s mission during which two members of a five-man diving team were killed while completing construction on a ten-mile tunnel at the end of Boston's Deer Island waste treatment plant.

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (363.1799 L812)
by David A. Lochbaum
Recounts the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing a triple meltown that became the worst nuclear crisis in over two decades, and discusses the future of nuclear power. 

Disaster Profiteers (363.344 M993)
by John C. Mutter
Argues that the aftermath of natural disasters becomes a means by which the elite prosper at the expense of the poor, pushing the modern world towards more extremes of inequality.

Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family (363.34525)
by Arthur T. Bradley
Covers all 14 basic needs: food, water, shelter, light, power, heating/cooling, air, sleep, sanitation, medical/first aid, communication, financial preparedness, transportation & protection.

Eruption (363.349 OLSON)
by Steve Olson
Combining history and (SCIENCE, describes the 1980 eruption of Washington's Mt. St. Helens, one of the largest in human history, which killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.

Facing the Wave (363.3494 E338)
by Gretel Ehrlich
Collects survivors' accounts of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tåohoku coast of northeastern Japan.

Tambora (363.3495 W875)
by Gillen D’Arcy Wood
Discusses the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, which caused catastrophic changes to Earth's weather and climate, and examines the social and political effects of the damage, including a worldwide cholera epidemic and economic depressions.

Megafire (363.37 KODAS)
by Michael Kodas
A forest-fire expert shares his experiences in some of the world's most dangerous and remote regions to explore the rising phenomenon of large-scale fires, the damage they cause, and how they are being battled by elite firefighters.    

Visit Sunny Chernobyl (363.73)
by Andrew Blackwell
A tour of the world's most environmentally compromised regions provides satirical analysis of "destinations" ranging from hidden bars and convenience stores to radioactive wildernesses and the waters of India.

The Esperanza Fire (364.1523 O989)
by John N. Maclean
Relates the events of the 2006 Esperanza Fire in southern California, the tragic deaths of a five-man Forest Service engine crew, and the high-profile murder trial of the person convicted for setting the fire.

Year Without Summer (551.21095 K656)
by William K. Klingaman
Traces a year of dramatic global change in the aftermath of a massive early 19th-century Indonesian volcanic eruption that disrupted weather patterns and triggered food shortages, religious revivals, migrations, and a typhus epidemic. 

The Asteroid Threat (551.397 B972)
by William E. Burrows
Discusses how to protect Earth from asteroids, comets, and other space-borne threats, and suggests that humans should colonize other worlds so that some can survive a terrestrial catastrophe.

The Power of the Sea (551.46)
by Bruce B. Parker
Describes our struggle to understand the physics of the sea so we can use that knowledge to predict when the sea will unleash its fury against us.

Storm Surge (551.552 S677)
by Adam H. Sobel
An award-winning scientist explains how the extreme example of Hurricane Sandy reflects the planet's changing climate, outlining what individuals need to do to protect themselves and their cities. 

Thunder and Lightning (551.6 R318)
by Lauren Redniss
Weather is the very air we breathe—it shapes our daily lives and alters the course of history.

The Sixth Extinction (576.84 K812)
by Elizabeth Kolbert
Draws on the work of geologists, botanists, marine biologists, and other researchers to discuss the five devastating mass extinctions on Earth and predicts the coming of a sixth.

Hope in Hell (610.601)
by Dan Bortolotti
A look at the Nobel Peace Prize-winning independent medical humanitarian organization that sends more than three thousand volunteers annually to the most desperate and dangerous conflict zones and refugee camps.

The Ultimate Survival Manual (613.69 J687)
by Richard Johnson
Collects practical advice and first-person stories in a guide to surviving a range of life-threatening scenarios, from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to random acts of violence and animal confrontations.

Mighty Silence (779.092 H236)
by Yasushi Handa
Offers a photographic account of the devastation caused by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2001 in East Japan.

Into Thin Air (796.522 K89)
by Jon Krakauer
The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers and explains why he survived.

Denali’s Howl (796.52209 H174)
by Andy Hall
Denali's Howl is the white-knuckle account of one of the deadliest climbing disasters of all time.

Fire (909.829)
by Sebastian Junger
From the best-selling author of The Perfect Storm comes a fascinating look at the inner workings of the elemental force of fire & the daring individuals who risk everything to stop the inferno burning out of control in the steep canyons of Idaho. 

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage (910.91634)
by Hugh Brewster
An account of the experiences of the Titanic’s wealthy and famous passengers and their world, drawing on original research to place their lives within an arc of the Titanic's dramatic demise, explaining how their stories reflect tenets of the Edwardian era.

Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes (951.056)
by James Palmer
Documents the tumultuous years in China surrounding the death of Chairman Mao, covering such factors as growing anger towards the Gang of Four, the devastating 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, and resistance to the Cultural Revolution. 

The Big Burn (973.911)
by Timothy Egan
Offers a dramatic account of the largest-ever forest fire in America, which cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy because the heroism shown by the forest rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, which Roosevelt wanted to conserve.

A Place of Remembrance (974.71)
by Allison Blais
Shares photographs and architectural plans while describing the symbolism of the Twin Towers, the horror of the attacks and the ongoing efforts to build the memorial.   

The Third Wave (974.71044)
by Alison Thompson
Traces the author's experiences as a volunteer after the tsunami in Sri Lanka, when she, her boyfriend, and two other volunteers attended to first-aid, rebuilding efforts, & creating a tsunami early-warning center. 

Zeitoun (976.33506 Z48)
by Dave Eggers
Describes how Abdulrahman Zeitoun remained in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, his subsequent efforts to help other victims, his disappearance a week later, and the effect of these events on his wife Kathy and their children.

Isaac’s Storm (976.4139)
by Erik Larson
Provides an account of the hurricane which struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900 and killed ten thousand people.