Learning new skills and sharpening existing ones is an indispensable part of prepping. The old adage that says if you don’t use it, you lose it, is absolutely true and to keep the old brain matter functioning you’ll need to be feeding it new information on a regular basis.
Pound-for-pound, the best way to get the information you need to keep your survival skills up to snuff is through books. Be they digital or old-fashioned ink and paper, the value of books cannot be overstated.
For the meager price of a few dollars and a little bit of your time you can learn new skills, broaden the horizons of your survival lore, and sharpen your mindset against the trials and tribulations to come.
I wouldn’t give anybody a hard time for reading any book they can get their hands on, but none of us have all the time in the world. You’ll have to prioritize your reading if you want to be the best person, and prepper, you can be.
To help you with this endeavor I have assembled a list of recommended survival-centric reading, each and every title more than deserving of a place on your bookshelf for a little space on your tablet’s hard drive.
I truly hope you will read some or even all of them, even the ones that don’t look particularly appealing. Some of the most rewarding books are the ones that are the most challenging or the ones that don’t necessarily interest you.
No matter what you think of the books on this list they are all considerably valuable for preppers and well worth your time. That is all I have to say about the matter for now, so without further ado, on to the list.
Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual, by Mykel Hawke
Former Green Beret Mykel Hawke is most famously known for his leading role alongside his wife on the hit Discovery Channel shows Man, Woman, Wild and One Man Army, but he is not just some Hollywood-cool actor with a little military experience.
His career spans 25 years in conflict zones all around the world, and he is an extraordinarily experienced survival instructor. His book is written for the untrained civilian, not the seasoned snake eating prepper or salty, hardcore member of the military.
Packed full of diagrams and tons of information on everything from sourcing fire, food, water and shelter to survival psychology, and it includes a really excellent and in-depth section on tools and austere environment first-aid. Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual is an excellent first step for the neophyte survivor or the beginning prepper.
S.A.S Survival Handbook, 3rd Edition, by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
One of the longest-running and best selling survival guides for general outdoor readiness ever written, and one that is more than deserving of a spot in your survival Library, the SAS Survival Handbook is jam-packed with intricate, hard-earned wisdom covering survival in every conceivable situation that may happen in every environment on earth.
The latest, revised Third Edition also sprinkles in some urban survival lore, and will teach you how to defend your property against break-ins and societal unrest, deal with home invaders, and other personal problems that may arise due to malicious two-legged creatures.
The author, John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman, is a celebrated veteran of Great Britain’s Special Air Service, and perhaps most famously founded the counter-terror element that resolved the Iranian Embassy siege. He is a living legend, and you should listen to what he has to say. Get it here.
The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure, by Colin Towell
This hefty survival tome is notable for an abundance of excellent illustrations, and several sections about survival that you don’t often see in your typical bushcraft survival manuals.
The Survival Handbook spends a lot of time teaching you how to think both before and during an emergency or survival situation. Prioritizing your survival necessities, choosing the correct gear, and sharpening your decision-making process when confronted with various choices in an emergency – are all covered in excellent detail.
Note that this book is quite a beast, and probably not one you want to put in your BOB to take with you! Make sure to study ahead of time so you don’t have to tote it around. get it here.
Pocket Reference, 4th Edition, by Thomas Glover
This tiny reference book stands out for just how useful it is. I mean it is really, really useful. The Pocket Reference is a tiny pocket size encyclopedia jam-packed with all the useful information that any prepper, and for that matter just about anybody, could ever want.
Everything from maps and meteorological data to wild animal tracking and taxonomy information, hand signals for the coordination or operation of heavy equipment, construction and electrical information, first aid skills, wilderness lore and much, much more.
This is one of those books that belongs in every BOB since it takes up very little in the way of space or wait. Be warned, the print is a bit on the small side so bring your readers. When Google isn’t around anymore, this will be the next best thing. Get it here.
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival, by Dave Canterbury
Dave Canterbury, the hard-charging former co-host of Dual Survival, is well-known and respected for his in-depth and intricate knowledge of traditional and primitive wilderness survival techniques.
Dave knows not only how to construct various survival shelters, but which ones are best suited for which environments depending on the season, what you have at hand and the situation at large. He can tell you where your best bet to find food is, how to avoid the food that will make you sick, and when you need to take risks in order to try to survive.
Dave’s wisdom is accompanied by excellent hand drawings that perfectly complement his breezy and down-to-earth writing style. More than mere survival, Dave preaches that you should seek to reconnect with nature my learning how to coexist in it, not struggling against it. Get it here.
Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72- Hour Disaster Survival Kit, by Creek Stewart
Having a BOB is seen as something mandatory for preppers. Your BOB is the combination storehouse, pantry, pharmacy and toolbox you will carry with you on your back when disaster strikes and it is time to get the heck out of Dodge City.
But putting together a BOB is a skill onto itself, and it can be overwhelming when you consider the sheer magnitude of what you might be up against. What is most important? What should you take with you?
Survival instructor and expert Creek Stewart knows what to do, and can guide you through the process. His book includes a bug out bag checklist, plenty of photographs, and detailed explanations of the concepts featured in the book and, most valuable, practical exercises that will let you practice what you’ve learned with your actual bug out bag.
Don’t make the mistake that many preppers do, and wait to get put to the test with an untried and unproven bug-out bag! Get it here.
When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes, by Cody Lundin
Cody Lundin is another former co-host of the hit show Dual Survival, and is also well known for his strict adherence to a conservationist lifestyle in addition to teaching primitive and austere environment skills at his Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona.
Lundin really does walk the walk, and his expertise and experience is radiantly visible in every line of his book, When All Hell Breaks Loose. This book details all kinds of survival techniques and procedures, from cooking rodents to creating a microclimate inside your own home to survive inclement weather in a grid-down scenario.
The author takes pains to explain the ‘why’ of every technique so that you will never be in question about the efficacy of anything you are learning. Lundin’s writing style is conversational, humorous and easygoing, and the book is likewise packed full of none-too-serious cartoon illustrations to explain important concepts.
Make no mistake, however: this is not a manual for kids or crunchy granola peaceniks. Some of the content covered is pretty grisly, and it is treated with respect but also an unflinching approach to arming you with the knowledge you need to survive. Get it here.
The U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Survival Manual, by Dick Couch
One of the worst threats that many preppers are ill-prepared for is posed by hazards you cannot see, cannot hear and cannot detect until it is way too late. Those threats are chemical, biological and radiological weapons.
From a bio-weapon release in a packed train station to the detonation of a dirty bomb in the middle of a city center, you’ll have to know exactly what to do if you want to stand any chance of survival.
Luckily, this manual will tell you everything you need to know along with the correct procedures, appropriate preparations and the right common, everyday supplies that may make all the difference if you are exposed to an event of this nature.
This book is a work of synthesis, consolidating information from many top military manuals on the subject as well as civilian expertise in the private sector. Highly recommended. Get it here.
Sustainment and Homesteading
Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen
Permaculture and homesteading is a word that is perennially on the lips of preppers. But in a strange omission you will rarely hear those terms mentioned in the same breath as urban survival.
Long-term sustainment in an urban survival scenario usually consists of the trite advice “Stock up on a bunch of canned goods, lol.” That is not an answer, and doesn’t do anybody any favors.
For all the challenges of urban survival, it is possible to use self sustainment techniques to make your own urban homestead.
This brisk and extremely readable book will teach you how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your home without the use of common cleansers and chemicals, implement energy independence, and even raise livestock along with so much more.
Packed with tips, humorous stories, and sharp insights into the challenges and the advantages of urban homesteading, this is one of the few books of its kind. Get it here.
Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide, by Jim Cobb
The Preppers Long-Term Survival Guide is a valuable resource for almost any prepper, because it covers quite a few topics that are usually skipped in your typical survival manuals.
Tutorials, insight and advise on stockpiling high-worth items for bartering, off-grid power considerations and community-building and bonding strategies are all present.
This book is an excellent work for drafting a long-term sustainment plan to keep society alive at the small scale in the aftermath of a major disaster or crisis. Get it here.
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 50th Anniversary Edition, by Carla Emery
A beloved and long-running book, full of all the skills you need to live away from Big City Life and even completely off the grid. If your great-great-great grandparents were going to write a manual on living, as life was back then, this would be it.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary. This weighty book will cover everything from delivery of babies without a doctor to raising your own crops and livestock on as little land as possible, and caring for all of them.
If you are serious about permaculture and homesteading this volume will form the nucleus of your efforts. For city slickers, you will no doubt think you are heading to live on another planet.
For the rest of us who live out in the boonies, the sticks or the middle of nowhere, this is an indispensable reference book, and invaluable in a scenario where you can’t just hop on Google or call for help. get it here.
The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game: Volume(s) 1 & 2, by Steven Rinella
Popular host of the TV show Meateater, Steven Rinella knows a thing or two about bagging and processing wild game, every size, every shape and every flavor. He’s going to teach you all the tricks of the trade for both harvesting and processing your own fresh, delicious wild-caught protein, big game and small game alike between these two volumes.
For those of us who did not grow up hunting, and did not have a relative who did who cared to pass on the skills and traditions these books are indispensable since the only way to get large amounts of quality protein will be through successful hunting in the aftermath of a crisis.
A Year Without a Grocery Store, by Karen Morris
Lots of preppers talk about canning and preserving food, but very few are really about that life, and fewer can do it successfully when the chips are down.
In a long-term survival situation, your canning and food preservation skills may make all the difference between a full pantry and surviving the winter, or suffering from malnutrition and even starving to death. Simple does not mean easy, and the mass production of canned and preserved food is definitely not easy.
This is one of the few books of its type that gets into the serious logistics of canning, preserving and preparing food for the long haul. It also includes helpful sections on stretching your dollars to improve your personal survival economy, and a guide to storing up to one entire year of food in your own home.
If you are planning on, or counting on, preserving your own food as part of your overall survival strategy, you need to bump this book near the top of your list. Get it here.
Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self Reliance, by John & Martha Storey
This humble book is far from some serious, gritty survival manual, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are new to prepping, lack an assortment of more, let’s say, practical hands-on skills, or have just gotten on the prepping train recently, make this book your first read.
For urban and suburban dwellers alike, it covers everything from canning vegetables, how to grow those vegetables, developing irrigation and water storage systems, raising livestock, and sharpening tools.
This book is intended to make you more self-reliant, and wean you off of the customer support culture that is currently rampant in America and much of Europe.
If you’ve never even baked your own bread, you’ll be in good hands with the authors of this book. For those of us who grew up with a little more grit this book still makes a handy reference. Get it here.
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ of an Acre, by Brett L. Markham
You’d be forgiven for thinking you need an awful lot of land if you want to make a good go of farming, but as it turns out you would be mistaken.
Author Brett L. Markham will in this book show you how to provide 85% of the needed food for an entire family, and even have some left over for making a little extra money with. His holistic approach to compact, small-area-high-yield farming is like supercharged gardening.
Covering everything from choosing, storing and planting seeds, tending seedlings, fertilizing soil, running off and exterminating pests, coping with crop diseases, planning your harvests and so much more.
Even touches on topics like raising backyard chickens and canning the fruits (or vegetables) of your labors. High-quality diagrams and illustrations, guides for tools, materials and all farming techniques are well covered. Get it here.
Survival Medicine and Healthcare
The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for when Medical Help is NOT on the Way, 3rd Edition, by Joseph Alton, M.D and Amy Alton, ARNP
You’ll be able to count on two things when disaster strikes: injuries will happen, and help will be either completely unavailable or too far away. It is up to you to become your own first responder in a crisis, and this 670 page hardcore guide will help you do that.
Helping you get medically prepared for any disaster that may befall you is Joe Alton, MD and Amy Alton, ARNP, founders of survival website DoomAndBloom.
This is no wimpy first aid guide, no sir, far from it.
This heavy duty medical manual will help you come up with man-made and natural medicines, implement effective medical care and triage skills, sterilize surgical implements, identify and prevent the spread of diseases, avoid harmful chemicals and plants, and treat life-threatening trauma inflicted by combat or carnage, things like knife wounds, bullet wounds, radiation sickness, exposure to bio-warfare agents and much, much more.
When modern medical help is completely overwhelmed or totally non-existent, the skills you learn in this book may mean the difference between living and dying. Get it here.
Bushcraft First Aid, by Dave Canterbury and Jason A. Hunt, PhD
Dave Canterbury’s second book on our list is an excellent companion to his first one. Survival in the deep woods or any other remote wilderness setting entails plenty of risks, and one overarching risk is a lack of access to trained and professional medical care.
Even if you can contact them, they are often so far away that you’ll need to jump in and take care of business, either your own or someone else’s.
Dave’s Bushcraft first aid will teach you how to deal with everything from cuts, lacerations and punctures to burns, broken bones and even head and neck injuries in an austere environment.
They will teach you what to pack in your wilderness first aid kit, but also how to improvise what you need from natural or carry materials if you get in a pinch.
There’s also an excellent section on using plants with various medicinal properties for pain relief and the treatment of illness. This book can be a lifesaver when you are on the move in a wilderness setting. Get it here.
Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to First Aid and Medical Emergencies, 6th Edition, by Paul S. Auerbach, MD, MS, FACEP, MFAWM, FAEEM
One of the most comprehensive, complete and diverse works of its kind, Medicine for the Outdoors has long set the standard for austere environment medical care. Logical flow charts, a mammoth index and guided explanations can help you unravel the cure for any problem that may befall you out in the world.
It is hard to put into words just how intricate this book’s information really is. It covers diseases and injuries of all kinds, and features helpful appendices on localized threats in various parts of the world, expanded and alternate treatment instructions, casualty care resulting conflict, canine medicine, injury prevention, and much more.
The instructions are nearly total, the drawings are plentiful and the information presented in this book is irreplaceable and invaluable. Buy it!
Emergency Field Dentistry Handbook, by Met Clark
Most medical manuals, even those covering emergency medicine in the middle of a survival setting, do not cover dentistry.
This book does, and in fact is all about dentistry that can and must be applied in the middle of austere environments, combat zones and other places where trained personnel are scarce, there is no dentist to be found and the implements, well, let’s just say the dental implements are probably improvised.
Peppers are fairly notorious for ignoring or completely for going dental care as part of their long-term survival preparations. After all, what is a little bad breath when you have the serious business of survival to tend to? Well, the joke maybe on them as an infection, abscess we’re out of control cavity will lead to blinding agony and a slow death by sepsis.
This book is thick, and its content is very crunchy and often uncomfortable to read. Nevertheless, you must take it upon yourself to obtain the knowledge and skills to hopefully save a tooth from loss and if it cannot be saved to get it out before it becomes a threat to life or limb. Get it here.
Acupressure’s Potent Points, by Michael Reed Gach
You want to know what a really serious medical situation would be during a survival scenario? How about one where you have absolutely no medical care, no medicine, not even access to medicinal plants, I mean nothing to aid you, nothing of any kind.
As it turns out, so long as you still have your own two hands you may be able to heal yourself, or barring that at least provide yourself with some relief.
Acupressure has been used for thousands of years to relieve discomfort and pain, and even activate the body’s own healing and coping mechanisms. This book will teach you how to diagnose and correctly apply self-care using acupressure no matter where you are. Get it here.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 5th Edition by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Not all of the folklore and wives tales handed down over the generations regarding health and wellness is complete bunk. As it turns out, your grandma did know a few things about staying healthy.
This book combines the very best in traditional remedies with the latest in cutting-edge food science to give your body the tools it needs to deal with all kinds of aches, pains, injuries and even recurrent, chronic diseases. I know a few preppers who personally and absolutely swear by this book, and say that the content changed their lives.
You won’t be able to run down to the local pharmacy or your friendly family doctor in the aftermath of a major crisis. You’ll have to look at alternative edibles if you want to give your body the resources that it needs to heal, relieve pain and stay healthy. You’ll need to do all three if you want to stand any chance of surviving a society-toppling event. Get it here.
Combatives and Self-Defense
Combatives for Street Survival, by Kelly McCann
Anyone who knows anything about the brutal calculus of no-holds-barred hand-to-hand combat knows and respects the name Kelly McCann.
Far from some dusty reference tome for employing old, ineffective and ritualized traditional martial arts, McCann instead presents a logical, efficient and positively devastating methodology for negotiating a street fight successfully, and disabling or dispatching your attacker without mercy and with a minimum of fuss.
Emphasizing techniques that are easy to learn, easy to practice and quick into action the content of this book has no sporting applications: it is suitable only for real, life-or-death combat.
If you want to learn how to fight, really fight, and don’t have a background or a basis in some other formal hand-to-hand skills, you could do a lot worse than starting with this book. Get it here.
Green Eyes and Black Rifles: Warrior’s Guide to the Combat Carbine, by Kyle E. Lamb
A prior member of the US Army’s elite Delta Force, Kyle Lamb is today a respected pillar in the firearms training community. His first book, Green Eyes and Black Rifles, is an excellent work of reference for anyone who is interested in building their carbine and rifle skills to the level of excellence previously thought unattainable.
In his trademark easygoing style, Lamb gives readers everything they need for success what the modern fighting rifle. He covers stances, positions, gaining stability when traditional positions cannot be obtained or are ineffective, and outfitting your rifle for success.
His combat experience is nearly legendary, and it shows in this book. There’s an emphasis on minimalism, on keeping the rifle light and handy, and setting yourself up for success by using both rifles and accessories that have known quantity reputations for reliability in all conditions.
The highlights of the book including an entire chapter on unconventional positions and a detailed analysis of choosing and obtaining a correct zero for your rifle based on your objectives. Still one of the best books of its kind, and highly recommended by this author. Get it here.
Stay in the Fight!! Warriors Guide to the Combat Pistol, by Kyle Lamb
Kyle Lamb’s follow-up book to Green Eyes and Black Rifles is instead focused on the employment of the pistol in combat. It covers in detail all aspects of using the pistol at close, intermediate and long ranges, as well as a healthy section on fighting from concealment and at extreme close quarters.
All serious pistoleros should own a copy of this book, as its lessons are just as valuable to civilians trying to survive in the gravest extreme on the streets as they are for our nation’s war fighters on faraway battlefields.
Tactical Pistol Shooting: Your Guide to Tactics & Techniques That Work, 2nd Edition by Erik Lawrence and Mike Pannone
This is a clear-cut, no B.S. approach to learning how to run a pistol with sharp efficiency. Authors Lawrence and Pannone are highly respected members of the firearms training community and both have a ton of time in the military. Their experience shines through in their approach to handling and employing pistols in a logical way.
Minimizing wasted movement and solving problems that might occur during the fight are emphasized, as is improving all facets of pistol handling through the ruthless elimination of errors and inconsistencies.
While somewhat dry compared to Kyle Lamb’s book on pistol shooting, there are tons of photos to accompany the text and all facets of handling, operating and shooting a pistol are dissected and explained in extreme detail.
It is a big bite for a beginner to handle, but worthwhile, and an excellent reference for intermediate and advanced shooters alike. Get it here.
Strategy, Tactics and Personal Security
Kick Ass Home Security!, by Sgt. Mark Buschena
Learning how to harden your home in order to make it less appealing to burglars and home invaders is an essential skill for preparedness in this day and age.
Author Mark Buschena is a veteran police officer who has responded to and worked tons of robbery, burglary and other home invasion cases dealing with the scum of the earth. He knows how they think, he knows what they like and, more importantly, what they don’t like when it comes to choosing a target.
Using information that he provides in this book you learn how to harden your home by reinforcing key entry points, installing security gear and even some less obvious things like reshaping the landscape, and using a little bit of psychology to influence the bad guys into a moseying down the street and picking another house.
Considering that FBI statistics say a burglary occurs every 15 seconds, you might want to pick up the pace on picking up this book. Get it here.
Sentinel: Become the Agent in Charge of Your Own Protection Detail, by Patrick McNamara
If you have done more than even dip your toe into the gun sector, you will already know well the author of this slim, but wisdom-filled book: you know him, you love him, he is the inimitable PatMac! Pat McNamara is a ferociously intense, intensely focused an extremely colorful trainer and consultant in the firearms training sector.
A 22-year Delta Force veteran PatMac has been involved in conflict and clandestine operations all over the world. To say he knows a little bit about high-stakes preparation and extreme responsibility in high-pressure situations is probably the understatement of the decade.
The premise of this book is simple: it advocates that you should treat your own safety and well-being, and that of your family and loved ones, with the same intensity, dedication and procedures as an executive protection agent would who was running a detail for a VIP.
In this book, PatMac will lay out procedures, tactics and theoretical scenarios that will cover everything from situational awareness in urban environments to high-speed getaway driving and close quarters reactive shooting.
Planning a trip across town or halfway across the world, the process is the same if you want to make sure you and yours make it home alive.
This book is not very big, and not too long. It moves along at a brisk pace, but lest you think the author is being stingy with info you have my assurances that each and every page, paragraph and chapter is packed to the rafters with usable information.
This book serves as an excellent primer to the methodology of being the agent in charge of your own protection detail, and serves as an outline to guiding your further education in various disciplines. One of my favorites and I cannot recommend it enough. Get it here.
How to Disappear, by Frank Ahern and Eileen Horan
In the twilight years of this information age, everything is collated, everything is databased, everything is recorded. Nothing you do is ever deleted, it will never go stale, and you’ll never escape your electronic footprint and the unblinking eye of Big Brother.
It is a sobering thought for people who want to get away from their problems, or just keep a low profile.
Even though our infotech surveillance state is more expansive than ever, you still have some countermeasures that can help you take control of your privacy and give people trying to find you the slip.
Author Frank Ahern has lived something of a checkered life, with one side on the team of justice and law, and the other on the side of those who would not be friends with the first… At any rate, his experience on both sides of the court, so to speak, is invaluable and he has professionally worked as a skip tracer and P.I. for both private and public concerns.
His proven and time-tested methods can help you reduce if not entirely eliminate the trail of information bread crumbs that you leave behind every day.
Making yourself harder to find for anyone is definitely in your best interest, but especially valuable if you think you have dedicated stalkers on your tail. Get it here.
U.S. Army Guerilla Warfare Handbook, by Dept. of the Army
If you have made it through the great cataclysm unscathed and are fortunate enough to have your friends and family with you, you are essentially operating in a hostile environment as a small unit.
When all you have is a small unit, the ability to remain hidden will be essential, as well the capability to strike like a rattlesnake at larger, stronger foes before disappearing without giving your foes a chance to strike back.
This kind of dirty, sneaky asymmetric warfare has played out since before history began, and is an essential part of human conflict. Every technique, every tactic, and all the strategies and procedures you might possibly want to conduct such warfare effectively are found within this handbook. Get it here.
Fiction & Other
The Martian, Andy Weir
The Martian is a tale of survival, one where the struggle to survive a hostile environment is taken to the absolute zenith. In the book, an astronaut, one of the first to walk on the surface of Mars, winds up getting marooned on the Red Planet, left behind by the rest of his crew, mistaken for dead after being overtaken by a powerful dust storm.
In the aftermath, he must draw on every bit of determination and skill that he has to overcome the incredibly hostile environment with no supplies, failing equipment and more against him.
The surface of an airless, exotic planet is just about as extreme an environment to survive in as imaginable. And while definitely a work of Science Fiction, this is hard sci-fi that I think most preppers will enjoy, and could even learn a few lessons from.
The stranded astronaut shows a remorseless, dogged determination to survive at any cost as he approaches each seemingly unsolvable problem logically. He absolutely will not give up, even when he is certain that he will be the first man to die on the iron rich soil of another planet. Get it here.
The Stand, by Stephen King
A masterpiece from famed horror writer Stephen King, this colossal work of fiction tells the tale of a world on the brink of annihilation.
A mysterious plague sees the bulk of humanity wiped out and the rest struggling to survive, and merely find the will to survive, in a ruined world where only the worst elements of humanity seem to remain.
Personalities clash, and survivor groups begin to fall apart in the face of ever-mounting pressure and terror, and the protagonists begin to realize the events may not have a strictly mundane cause, however horrible they have been.
It is suggested, and then finally confirmed, that a clash between good and evil is unfolding during and around the events portrayed in the book. This is one of the writer King’s very best works, and remains as chilling, terrifying and hypnotic today as when it was first written. Get it here.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing
A true account that is more incredible and more unbelievable than any work of fiction, Endurance tells the tale of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s doomed voyage to and through the Antarctic Circle.
What follows is a chilling, horrifying tale of mishap, misadventure and utter hopelessness, but one that is surmounted by raw determination, true grit and an absolute refusal to die.
A tale of monumental humanity in the face of completely overwhelming odds, and one of the most shining reminders that no matter what you were facing, no matter how bleak the situation and how dark the night, it can always, always get worse. But no matter how bad it does get, if you have the strength to persist and the courage to endure you can survive. Get it here.
One Second After, by William Forstchen
Probably one of the most famous, or perhaps infamous, books on this list One Second After tells the fictional tale of an event that may become nonfiction in the very near future. We should pray that it does not.
The book details the population of a small town in their struggle for survival after a coordinated EMP strike on America sees most of the country plunged apocalyptically back to a pre-industrial level of technology.
The tale centers around one man and his struggle to survive, and keep his family alive and together in the face of an increasingly deteriorating situation.
What sets this novel apart from others in the apocalyptic fiction genre is its exquisitely researched and horrifyingly detailed account of what we can expect if we were to ever suffer a similar EMP strike.
A loss of technology we take for granted, shortage, death and despair will follow in the wake of such a catastrophic event. The book pulls no punches in detailing what must be done practically and at the societal level if we hope to survive. A highly believable and chilling novel. A must-read for all preppers. Get it here.
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
This novel more than any other book on this list will strike a chord in you. If this does not see you giving thanks for everything you have and how easy you’ve got it, nothing will.
This book spins a tale of a father and son trying desperately, doggedly to survive an unknown apocalypse that is seen much of the country’s population dead and what is left of America itself completely shattered. The duo are heading south, walking, in an effort to escape the oncoming grip of winter and an almost certain death.
The images of devastation, loss, and depravity that Cormac McCarthy weaves with his trademark lean prose will torment you and haunt your dreams. The physical suffering and emotional pain that the father must confront for the sake of his son will touch your soul.
Be warned, there are scenes of unknowable brutality in this book that almost defy print, but they are handled with an unflinching realism that will make you shiver. This is not a tale of swashbuckling adventurism in the wake of a catastrophe.
This book more than most vividly illustrates how excruciating and how uncertain minute-to-minute survival is in the aftermath of a true SHTF event. Get it here.
The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller
Peter Heller’s trademark poetic prose and evocative writing shines through in this novel of survival in the wake of a disease that has slain most of the nation’s population. The sense of loss is persistent and danger is always just around the corner but nonetheless this book is sometimes funny, often beautiful and always touching.
Life, loss, struggle and risk are the watchwords and always accompany the protagonist as he sets out in his small single-engine plane while trying to scratch out a living among the rubble and desolation of post-apocalyptic America.
His uneasy, “odd couple” relationship with a hyper-prepared, heavily armed and perhaps slightly unstable fellow survivor is usually hilarious but will also make you think about your own choice of survival group mates.
This novel stands out among the countless thousands of other apocalyptic novels for its introspective, reflective tone. Even facing what seems to be an oncoming wall of hopelessness and nihilism, the protagonist often, against his better survival instincts, seeks out beauty and contemplation in nature among the remnants of society.
This shines a light on a part of humanity that is often not considered in the context of a paradigm-shifting disaster. Get it here.
Day by Day Armageddon, by J.L. Bourne
Day by Day Armageddon is one of the only works in the zombie uprising sub-genre that does not read like a sort of wishful fantasy fulfillment put to paper by an author.
This novel is written in the style of the classic survival journal, an apocalyptic log of what the survivor writing it has been through, what they have seen, their thoughts and experiences.
Handled poorly, works of this type are often dry, hard to follow, and lacking in narrative snap. Not so with this excellent book!
The story follows the journey and struggles of a United States military pilot through the onset of a mysterious plague that seems to sweep the globe with alarming speed. His chronicle details the rapid collapse of society in the face of something that is so unknowable, unexplainable, and seemingly unstoppable.
The writing is believable, and the author clearly has expertise with much of the subject matter at hand, and although there must be a lot of him in the protagonist, the tale never came across to me as a sort of shameless self-insert that so many lesser authors are prone to handling clumsily.
The protagonist makes mistakes, occasionally survives only by sheer luck, and has to roll the dice and take his chances just like any of us. I found myself genuinely sweating what would happen more than once. I cannot recommend this one enough, even if you were not normally a fan of zombie apocalypse fiction. Get it here.
Farewell and Happy Reading!
There you have it: 36 survival-centric titles that every prepper should be pleased to make a part of their personal library.
Each and every book on this list taught me something about survival, what to do, how to do it, why I should do it, what I shouldn’t do or sometimes more esoteric things like keeping my mind right and focusing on what is really important even when everything seems to be falling apart around me.
Some of the books taught me to appreciate what I have, since we can never know how long we are to keep it.
It is my sincere hope that you read all of them, and hopefully learn something from them as I have, even if you learn different lessons.
I know that no matter who you are and where you are on your prepping journey you have a new favorite book waiting for you among the titles on this list. Good luck, Godspeed, and happy reading!