Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them” as Want to Read:
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  5,299 ratings  ·  1,110 reviews
A humorous book about history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and the heroes who fought them

In 1518, in a small town in France, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced herself to her death six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had died from the mysterious danc
Audible Audio
Published February 7th 2017 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Get Well Soon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Get Well Soon

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,299 ratings  ·  1,110 reviews

Sort order
Jennifer Wright
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Look: I'm quite fond of it. Five stars out of five, like Dorothy Parker and Oliver Sacks had a word baby. (I also wrote it, but am definitely not biased.)
Diane S ☔
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading a book on plagues may not be everyone's idea of a pleasurable way to spend their reading time, but that is exactly what I did. While I can't say it was pleasurable, it was certainly intriguing and informative. Plagues, many times changed the course of history, were used in our nursery rhymes , illnesses, like tuberculosis and EL were prevalent in art and literature. Many artists painted pictures of women dying from consumption, painting them as ethereal and haunting, thought beautiful at ...more
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

I loved Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them so, so much. In fact, I think it's in my top three non-fiction audiobooks ever.

I'm an unabashed science geek, so it's really no surprise that I was drawn to this one. I'm a devotee of authors like Mary Roach, so humor mixed with science-y non-fiction is sort of my weakness. However, even I was pretty amazed at how much I adored this story, even more so because I tend to shy away from anything sad or depressing.

May 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unreadable
I love a good disease book. Unfortunately, this isn't one.

Want to know why? Written in short, declarative sentences, with ample! misplaced exclamations!, too many self-referential "I" sentences, dated pop culture references and sophomoric efforts at humor, it reads like... Well, a sophomore's effort at a book report. Which is to say: it is actually not readable at all.

Too bad, especially given that it's clear Wright did a ton of research on these topics. If only the maturity of the research ef
R * A Reader Obsessed *
5 Stars

No one is more shocked than I for thoroughly enjoying this because I don’t even come close to being a history buff nor even the occasional dabbler in various such things.

To put it succinctly, the real terror is the devastation disease can wreak on the human population, and this highlights some really truly scary awful times and what went oh so wrong but also thankfully, what went right.

To say the least, this was highly entertaining in all its gory horror. It was delivered with smarts, hu
While entertaining at times, I was wanting more medical science, more about plagues and diseases- rather than commentary on pop culture references. There is a whole host of references in the back and it seems she had done her research-I had just wished she would have included more of it throughout rather than trying to be funny the whole time.

I also didn't like the shaming of people in this book who didn't live up to her opinion (yes she even did this after shaming someone to drive it home a se
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The purpose of this book is not to scare you. Instead, like all good books, it is intended to distract you from the screaming baby one aisle over from the airplane where you are currently trapped for the next five hours."
This book was a blast. The history is fun and engaging and crazy. (Did you know that the crazy anti-plague beak doctor costumes kind of worked? I didn't.) And the author's commentary is brash and opinionated and purely entertaining.

The Antonine plague: apparently Galen was a
Angus McKeogh
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book to start the year on. 5 stars. Should be required reading for every vaccine denier, religious zealot, general hater of anyone with a different lifestyle, or any combination thereof. Wright pulls no punches and has great hopes for mankind. Look at history people. We can’t really afford to repeat it.
So, those of you who know me are probably not at all surprised that I read or loved this book. I love some interesting sciencey nonfiction, whether it's where we come from, how we live and think and behave, things that kill us (this is one of those!) or what happens to us after we're dead, I likes them. And I love audio for these kinds of books. It's the best of both worlds - I get to learn about something new, and at the same time not get bogged down in footnotes or graphs or what-have-you.

Suanne Laqueur
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Touches forehead) Do I feel hot? Am I running a fever? I'm running a fever, aren't I. Is that a spot? Is this a lump a buboe? I must be dying...

Hypochondriacs will just LOVE this dark, fascinating, terrifying and often hilarious read. You feel like shit for thinking it's hilarious but gallows humor serves a certain purpose. Also, it was meticulously researched out the wazoo: the book ends at 75% and the rest is footnotes and annotations. (Yay, footnotes and annotations!)

I felt personal connecti
Madalyn (Novel Ink)
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-dec-18
this is some of the best nonfiction I’ve read in a long while. seriously, what a gem. I loved this.
Mike (the Paladin)
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I have for a long time been interested in plagues both their causes and results. For instance the Black Death was largely spread by the fleas from the ubiquitous rats in the cities. Just one odd fact I came across (before I read this book) was that since cats were regarded as evil the people in London and other European cities ran around killing cats...thus helping the spread of rats.

Here Ms Wright does her best to tell the story of several plagues down through history. While she never belittles
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Who knew that a book on diseases could be so entertaining? Get Well Soon is a compassionate, witty and scary history of plagues. Wright's commentary manages to be scathing and funny without being flippant. She is passionate about the devastation of disease as well as the heroes and villains who have helped or hindered mankind. This is an amazing book - thought-provoking and unputdownable!
BAM The Bibliomaniac

Absolutely fascinating! Everything is covered from leprosy to lobotomy. Not only are the causes discussed, but also we hear about the conquerors of the horrid diseases that, believe it or not, do not all exist solely in the past. I recommend the audio book; the narrator is excellent.

P. S. The epilogue that discusses AIDS is absolutely heartbreaking
Brendan Monroe
There’s nothing I find scarier, or more fascinating, than a viral epidemic. Growing up, I read books like The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus and I’m still convinced, deep down, that half of humanity will one day be wiped out by an incurable contagion like Ebola.

When Ebola itself made a comeback in 2014, I watched with horrified fascination as the disease spread to countries where it had never appeared before, like the United States. Remember Kaci Hickox, t
Initially I was skeptical about this one due to the author's ill-supported claims that the Antonine Plague caused the Roman Empire to fall (“was a very significant contributor to the decline” would have made me less uncomfortable), but, as it turned out, that first chapter was the only one where her “history” struck me as noticeably iffy.* Telling the stories of various plagues throughout history, Wright explores each plague (she includes fourteen of them) from the level of bacteria to that of g ...more
If you're interested in plagues and epidemics you're probably already familiar with the diseases in Get Well Soon. The book is light on medical science and heavy on pop culture references. The author's juvenile humour isn't amusing, especially her gleeful shaming of everything she disagrees with.

You might also enjoy:
The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have
Beating Back the Devil
The Coming Plague
The Ghost Map
Panic in Level 4
The Demon
It is not OK for authors to give themselves 5* reviews. It can dramatically skew the ratings for new books and defeats the purpose of Goodreads.

Update July 2018:
I apologize for upsetting some Goodreads friends with this review. Please see comment stream below for an interesting discussion.

I am clearing the 1* rating now, because I appreciate the argument from friends that this undermines my other reviews more than it has any chance of changing behavior/policy on Goodreads.

The issue I was brin
I thought the premise for this book sounded really interesting. However, I got about 150 pages into it, and found that it just was not holding my interest. While the author's commentary was humorous at times, for the most part I didn't care for it. Also, I realize that this was an Advance Reading Copy, but truly, it was the worst-edited ARC I've ever read - and I've read more than 100. It was so poorly edited that it was distracting - sentences didn't make sense, words were missing. Maybe that h ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to stop reading this book at page 12. The writing up until page 11 was underwhelming, and then I got a taste of Wright's "humor" and abandoned ship. On the Roman physician Galen she writes, "Peronality-wise we could think of him as the Donald Trump of ancient Rome." Next to that gem is an engraving of Galen under which she writes, "Tiny little hands not pictured". Good grief.

I'm not a Trump fan by any stretch of the imagination. I'm also not a fan of sophomoric attempts at humor.
Seriously so good.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
Jennifer Wright writes with a delightful combination of snark and compassion. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through many of history’s worst plagues. The heroes of which she speaks are not always doctors and scientists, but everyday compassionate people who care about their fellow man. There is also a villain or two.

The book also comes with a bit of preaching, which I didn’t mind. There are two major lessons I think she wants us to walk away with.

1) Stigmatizing and ostracizing victims of disea
I'm not sure whether it's something to be proud of or not, but I've always been fascinated by disease and plagues. So when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint.

I could see how some people would find Wright's casual and almost flippant tone at times to be a little off-putting, but for me, I felt as if we were two women discussing these horrific plagues and diseases over a cup of coffee. And there's just enough lightness to keep the book from being completely and
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I planned on a four star rating but the more I read, the more I liked it. So I gave it 4.5. I've read several books about epidemics, plagues and am always fascinated by how diseases and their victims are treated. The author has done a tremendous amount of research and also has a sense of humor, just enough to get you through some of the horrible aspects of these epidemics. A quote from the leprosy chapter about Father Damien, the priest who went to live and care for the lepers on the island of M ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this one a few days ago and while I found it interesting, the social commentary from the author was a little hit and miss. Jennifer Wright gives us a great overview of some of the worst of the worst plagues and misses the AIDS plague which I was hoping would've provided us some insight.
The book is a 3.5 and I liked it enough to keep reading. Some of the humour didn't fit and I'm a huge fan of pop culture but I was a little baffled here. Wright should of left some of the commentary to
Wright is a bit of a Mary Roach—funny and voice-y and opinionated, while simultaneously unloading lots of learning about the history of disease. She is firmly on the side of sufferers and the people who’ve tried to help them, and just as firmly condemns anyone who has judged, abandoned, or exploited the sick. From the dancing plague of the sixteenth century to typhoid, cholera, and polio—by way of lobotomies and a brief mention of AIDS—she covers the pestilential waterfront. Taught me stuff and ...more
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, medicine
Most of the information included in this book was not new, and I can’t even say it was put together in a new way that helped me see the subject matter through a new lens. Despite that, I will probably read any book Jennifer wright authors because I simply love her writing style. Her humor, wit, and strong opinions set a tone early in the book that made old and recycled information feel refreshing.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was fascinating, and the author kept it interesting throughout.
I read this for the Doomsday square for Halloween Bingo.

Previous Updates:

Antonine Plague

Bubonic Plague

Dancing Plague

Small Pox

Syphilis, Tuberculosis, and Cholera

Leprosy, Typhoid, and Spanish Flu

Encephalitis Lethargica

There is still no cure for EL, and its rise and subsequent disappearance is still regarded as something of a mystery.

I have heard of this before but only in the obscure and morbidly fascinating sense, think more horror movie than documentary. The unknown-ness of this one draws me a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Get Well Soon- Jennifer Wright- 3-ish stars 4 24 Jan 11, 2018 11:43AM  
  • Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals
  • The Drug Hunters: The Improbable Quest to Discover New Medicines
  • Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
  • Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond
  • The Home Front: Life in America During World War II
  • The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul
  • 1066: The Year That Changed Everything
  • The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis
  • The Poison Squad: One Chemist's Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
  • Vaccinated: One Man's Quest to Defeat the World's Deadliest Diseases
  • The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
  • Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World
  • America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918
  • Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery
  • Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivalries that Ignited the Space Age
  • Evil Has A Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation
  • Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital
  • The White Death: A History of Tuberculosis
“When we are electing government officials, it is not stupid to ask yourself, “If a plague broke out, do I think this person could navigate the country through those times, on a spiritual level, but also on a pragmatic one? Would they be able to calmly solve one problem, and then another one, and then the next one? Or would bodies pile up in the streets?” 14 likes
“Persecuting religious minorities is always ill-advised, every single time it occurs in history. I have never in my research found an instance where a historian says, “Wow, we were on the right side of history for torturing Group X back then.” 11 likes
More quotes…