What do you get when you combine a love of reading with an interest in biology/public health/medical history and a background in podcasting? The TPWKY book club, of course! This season’s miniseries of bonus episodes features interviews with authors of popular science books, covering topics ranging from why sweat matters to the history of food safety, from the menstrual cycle to the persistence of race science and so much more. So dust off that library card, crack open that e-reader, fire up those earbuds, do whatever it takes to get yourself ready for the nerdiest book club yet.
We’re starting off this book club strong with a discussion of Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus, the latest book by award-winning science writer David Quammen (@DavidQuammen). Breathless recounts the fascinating - and sometimes frightening - story of how scientists sought to uncover the secrets of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID. In this interview, Quammen, whose 2012 book Spillover explores the increasing pathogen exchange occurring among humans, wildlife, and domestic animals, shares with us how he decided to write Breathless and why this story of discovery needs to be told. Our conversation takes us into musings over why we saw this pandemic coming yet could not keep it from happening, the controversy over the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and the question of whether future pandemics are preventable or inevitable. Through this discussion, we find that the global response to future pandemics depends just as much on locating the gaps in our knowledge about this virus as it does on applying what we have learned so far. Tune in for all this and more.