Accounts of big disasters often fascinate people. Did you draw this quest?
In the children's room we have two biographies of Molly Brown The heroine of the Titanic : a tale both true and otherwise of the life of Molly Brown by Joan Blos and Heroine of the Titanic : the real unsinkable Molly Brown by Elaine Landau. as well other versions of the story, including even a Magic Tree House book - Tonight on the Titanic
In the adult stacks we have Walter Lord's classic A night to remember (910.45 LORD) and about a dozen others. Even Danielle Steel wrote a Titanic book, No greater love.
Storms - Hurricanes (551.552), Tornadoes (551.553), and Blizzards (551.555)
In the J room you can find Eye of the storm : chasing storms with Warren Faidley (J 778.9 KRAMER) and other non-fiction books about tornadoes and hurricanes. Fiction? Remember Oz.
Particularly big, disastrous storms will also make it into the history books, for example Blizzard! : the storm that changed America - Jim Murphy (CD-BOOK 023 or J 974.7 MURPHY) which is about the great snow storm of 1888.
In the adult room? Lots of captivating, readable books.
The big storm (J 551.55 HISCOCK) written and illustrated by Bruce Hiscock.
Isaac's storm : a man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history - Erik Larson. (976.413 LARSON)
The perfect storm : a true story of men against the sea - Sebastian Junger. (974.45 JUNGER)
Storm warning : the story of a killer tornado - Nancy Mathis. (363.349 MATHIS)
Storm of the century : the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 - Willie Drye (975.941 DRYE)
We have several books about Katrina, including The storm : what went wrong and why during hurricane Katrina-- the inside story from one Louisiana scientist - Ivor van Heerden (976.044 VAN HEE)
In 551.55 you will find Faidley's adult memoir - Storm chaser : in pursuit of untamed skies
Earthquakes (551.22) and Tsunamis (551.47024)
Check both the J room and the adult stacks, and don't forget the reference collection where you will find The encyclopedia of earthquakes and volcanoes. (San Francisco? See Fire, below)
Some of the earthquake or tsunami accounts can be found outside the 500s, in other areas.
A small sample:
Mama : a true story in which a baby hippo loses his mama during the tsunami, but finds a new home, and a new mama - Jeanette Winter. (J PIC WINTER)
Wave of destruction : the stories of four families and history's deadliest tsunami - Erich Krauss. (959.304 KRAUSS)
When the Mississippi ran backwards : empire, intrigue, murder, and the New Madrid earthquakes - Jay Feldman. (551.22 FELDMAN)
Right there on the shelves just to the left of the earthquakes...
The eruption of Krakatoa - Rupert Matthews (J 551.21 MATTHEW)
Krakatoa : the day the world exploded, August 27, 1883 - Simon Winchester (CD-BOOK 043, also in paperback and hardback)
Kathy Furgang's Mount Pelee : the deadliest volcano eruption of the twentieth century and Mount St. Helens : the smoking mountain (both are J 551.21 FURGANG)
Don't forget Vesuvius. Look for: Bodies from the ash (J 937.7 DEEM); Charles Pelegrino's Ghosts of Vesuvius : a new look at the last days of Pompeii, how towers fall, and other strange connections (937.7 PELLEGR); Magic Tree House #13 - Vacation under the volcano. For a first hand account, you need to look at Pliny's text online, and skip down to letter LXV. "On the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother..."
Firefighting books are divided between two Deweys - 628.925 for the heavy equipment and 363.37 for the firefighters and their work. Both are popular sections with children and contain fine quest books. Of course, as in the following examples, you can also find accounts of particular fires in literature and history.
One of the most famous fire disasters in US history was the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. We have a book of poems - Fragments from the fire : the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire of March 25, 1911 : poems - Chris Llewellyn. (811.54 LLEWELL)
San Francisco is famous for its big earthquake and subsequent fire. Take a look at Disaster! : the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 - Dan Kurzman (979.461 KURZMAN) and other books at the same Dewey. And yes indeed, there is even a Magic Treehouse book about this, Earthquake in the early morning (J FIC OSBORNE),
Plane crashes (363.124) and Shipwrecks (363.123, or 910.452 if particularly adventurous)
Except for the Titanic (see the top of this post) not much can be found in the children's room, but the adult section has many engaging accounts including:
Deep survival : who lives, who dies, and why : true stories of miraculous endurance and sudden death - Laurence Gonzales. (613.69 GONZALE)
Alive; the story of the Andes survivors - Piers Paul Read. (982.6 R325)
A furnace afloat : the wreck of the Hornet and harrowing 4,300-mile voyage of its survivors - Joe Jackson. (910.916 JACKSON)
In the wake of madness : the murderous voyage of the whaleship Sharon - Joan Druett. (909.096 DRUETT)
And for a lulu of a title (and good writing) The story of a shipwrecked sailor : who drifted on a life raft for ten days without food or water, was proclaimed a national hero, kissed by beauty queens, made rich through publicity, and then spurned by the government and forgotten for all time written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and translated from the Spanish by Randolph Hogan. (910.4 Garcia) This is a short book, only 106 pages.