Read about historic storms and the impact of hurricanes on the lives of people who live through them. Fiction and nonfiction titles curated by Jessica Schiefelbein.
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson
September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history–and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy.
Using Cline’s own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man’s heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac’s Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.
Salvage the bones by Jesmyn Ward
large print book
A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn’t show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt, while brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting. As the twelve days that comprise the novel’s framework yield to the final day and Hurricane Katrina, the unforgettable family at the novel’s heart—motherless children sacrificing for each other as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to struggle for another day. A wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks
At forty-five, Adrienne Willis must rethink her entire life when her husband abandons her for a younger woman. Reeling with heartache and in search of a respite, she flees to the small coastal town of Rodanthe, North Carolina to tend to a friend’s inn for the weekend. But when a major storm starts moving in, it appears that Adrienne’s perfect getaway will be ruined — until a guest named Paul Flanner arrives.
At fifty-four, Paul has just sold his medical practice and come to Rodanthe to escape his own shattered past. Now, with the storm closing in, two wounded people will turn to each other for comfort — and in one weekend set in motion feelings that will resonate throughout the rest of their lives.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
book / book / book / book
Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a black woman in the ’30s. Janie’s quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.
Camino Winds by John Grisham
large print book
book on cd
Welcome back to Camino Island, where anything can happen—even a murder in the midst of a hurricane, which might prove to be the perfect crime . . .
Just as Bruce Cable’s Bay Books is preparing for the return of bestselling author Mercer Mann, Hurricane Leo veers from its predicted course and heads straight for the island. Florida’s governor orders a mandatory evacuation, and most residents board up their houses and flee to the mainland, but Bruce decides to stay and ride out the storm.
The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are leveled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people lose their lives. One of the apparent victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s and an author of thrillers. But the nature of Nelson’s injuries suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of his death: He has suffered several suspicious blows to the head.
Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed in the aftermath of the storm and ill equipped to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels might be more real than fictional. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel. Could the key to the case be right there—in black and white? As Bruce starts to investigate, what he discovers between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists—and far more dangerous.
Sudden Sea by R.A. Scotti
In the tradition of “The Perfect Storm, Sudden Sea” harkens back to a natural disaster that struck terror in the hearts of many. In this narrative, readers experience The Great Hurricane of 1938, the most financially destructive storm on record.
Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
book on CD
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
book / book
book on CD
book on Playaway
The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home.
Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.
Rushing Waters by Danielle Steel
large print book
book on CD
Hurricane Ophelia is bearing down on New York City. And in a matter of hours, six people, along with their families, friends, and millions of other New Yorkers living around them, will be caught up in the horrific flooding it unleashes.
Ellen Wharton has flown into New York from London, regardless of the weather and her husband’s worry. The successful interior designer is intent on seeing her lively architect mother and has an important personal appointment to keep. But despite Ellen’s urging, when the storm hits, seventy-four-year-old Grace Madison refuses to leave her Tribeca apartment in the midst of the evacuation zone, and they must eventually wade through chest-high water to the police boats outside.
British investment banker Charles Williams is traveling on business but is also eager to see his young daughters, who live with his beautiful, estranged ex-wife in SoHo. Desperate to find them, he checks the shelters where thousands have taken refuge and runs into Ellen and her mother.
Juliette Dubois, a dedicated ER doctor, fights to save lives when the generators at her hospital fail.
NYU students Peter Holbrook and Ben Weiss, living in a shabby downtown walkup, are excited by the adventure of the approaching hurricane, refuse to evacuate, and settle in with junk food and beer until their building threatens to collapse. Should they swim for it or not?
A day of chaos takes its toll. Lives, belongings, and loved ones are swept away. Heroes are revealed as the city and New Yorkers struggle to face a natural disaster of epic proportions. And then the real challenge begins, as the survivors face their futures, with damage to repair and scars to heal.
*All summaries courtesy of the publisher unless otherwise noted.