Books, a Podcast and a Fascinating Article About Natural Disasters
Please tell me I'm not the only person with a weird fixation on natural disasters? Just me?
I like learning about natural disasters, not because I want to make light of them or because I get pleasure out of them happening, but because it helps the anxiety-focused parts of my brain somehow. Like, if I learn everything there is to know about surviving earthquakes, if I ever encounter one, I'll know what to do. It's definitely the wing 5 of my enneagram personality, knowledge is power to me, and I'll always feel most comfortable when I know the most about any given subject.
If you read my recent book review, I hope you're picking up your own copy of The Displacements to read right now. The book follows the actions and aftermath of the world's first category 6 hurricane, directly caused by climate change. If you've read that, and you're in the mood for more about natural disasters, here's some of the things I've enjoyed in the past.
Station Eleven: Almost everyone's heard of Station Eleven by now, but if you liked The Displacements, you will love this book (and series on HBO Max -- different and equally incredible). A pandemic with an incredibly high mortality rate spreads rapidly across the world, this book picks up 20 years later with the surivors.
The Dreamers: Another pandemic book (apologies). A mysterious sleeping sickness takes over a college town.
Project Hail Mary: More of a space disaster than anything else, but one of my favorite books of 2021. A man wakes up in space to find the rest of his crew dead, and with no memory of how he arrived on the space ship.
Goldilocks: An all-female team of astronauts sets out to find an inhabitable planet as Earth is slowly becoming uninhabitable due to the effects of climate change. A fascinating space adventure with some compelling plot-twists.
Life As We Knew It: Book 1 in a YA series where an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it too close to Earth. The resulting tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and other disasters leave a difficult world behind for the survivors. Great for younger readers, one of my favorite series from middle school.
When I'm really fascinated by a subject, I'm definitely going to look and see if there's a podcast on the topic. I found this one when I went through a deep-dive on earthquakes (more on that in the next section). The Big One, by the LA NPR station, follows one man's journey to prepare himself and his family to survive the big one. Each episode takes the listener on a journey through the likely aftermath of a massive earthquake along the San Andreas Fault. More than a how-to guide, this podcast is surprisingly intimate and tender in ways I didn't expect. I truly loved it, even though I don't necessarily need the information (you never know). It's an interesting thing to think about, you want to be prepared for disasters that are likely, but you also don't want to become to crazy-obsessed, extreme doomsday prepper, can't think of anything else. I think this podcast provides practical tips for anyone in earthquake territory, and realistic ways to prepare, while also taking you on an excellent narrative journey.
I read this article in the New Yorker and literally could not think about anything else for at least 3 days. Not an exaggeration. The San Andreas Fault gets all of the attention, but there is another really, really big earthquake looming over the Pacific Northwest.
The most insane part is that no one even knew this earthquake was coming until very, very recent history. Now, there is significant work happening in the region to prepare as much as possible for what is likely coming. I am telling you this article will haunt you, but it is worth the read, especially because I think this is a much lesser-known potential disaster.