Ahhhhhhhh, there’s nothing like a comfy armchair and a good book to relax after a long hard apocalypse. Did you bring a good book with you? We hope so, because there’s no going back.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best books to have on your shelf for when the proverbial shit hitteth the fan.
Our reading list is divided into two sections. On the one hand: useful tomes of knowledge from which to construct new objects, infrastructure, and a post-apocalyptic utopia; and on the other hand: excellent apocalyptic fiction for your reading pleasure.
- The Total Bike Maintenance Book: DIY Repairs Made Easy – Mel Allwood
The apocalyptic future will be pedal powered. And your local bike repairs shop will be closed indefinitely. Actually, we’ve met a lot of DIY bike-repair enthusiasts who are also preppers, so maybe your local bike repairs garage is not a bad place to head when disaster strikes. Self-reliance starts at home, and building and maintaining your own form of transport, being able to rely simply on your fitness instead of fossil fuels, is a start.
Max Brooks is a, or maybe the, zombie journalist. He’s got nearly a dozen books out somewhere on the spectrum between fact and fiction. Let’s face it: it’s an incredibly fun genre, and as we’ve said before, using the zombie apocalypse as a hypothetical scenario can provide you with loads of useful skills and strategies for every situation.
- Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance – ed. Deborah Burns
Everything that country people know how to do that you don’t.
- Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook – CrimethInc.
- Where There Is No Dentist – Murray Dickson
- Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills – ed. Abigail R. Gehring
- Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability – David Holmgren
- Edible Forest Gardens, Volume 1: Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture – Dave Jacke
- A Steampunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse – Margaret Killjoy
A small but gorgeous volume of apocalyptic scenarios and how to survive them with a touch of steampunk flair. Despite the fantasy/sci-fi associations, none of the steampunkery in this book is impossible or even impractical – this is 100 percent useful information, with a side of fashionable goggles and a knack for clockwork defense systems. If you only buy one book on this list, make it this one.
- Food For Free (Collins Gem) – Richard Mabey
A pocket book with color photo illustrations of widely available edible weeds: how to identify; when and what parts to forage; and how to eat them.
- How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times – James Wesley Rawles
- The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World – Robert Richardson
- When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency – Matthew Stein
- Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Considered a classic of the wilderness survival genre, this non-fiction account follows the author as he spends several years building a home in the woods and adapting to a rather different life.
- Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest: Timber Press Field Guide – Steve Trudell, Joe Ammirati
All field guides are going to be dry, but this one is pretty good. An extensive book with excellent color photographs of fungi to be found in the Pacific Northwest coast of the US and Canada. The guide focuses on western Washington but should be useful as far south as Northern California and as far north as Vancouver.
- Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook – David Werner
This book shows people with little access to professionally trained doctors how to treat most illnesses, injuries, disease outbreaks and chronic health problems. It aims to help small communities be able to handle most medical issues on their own, but also shows communities how to recognize problems they cannot deal with and when to seek out professional medical care.
- SAS Survival Guide (Collins Gem) – John Wiseman
Carry this in your pocket until to know it back to front. Each section just scrapes the surface, but it’s a great first leap into survival knowledge and skills. If you only buy two books on this list, this should be your second choice.
- SAS Urban Survival Handbook – John Wiseman
As above, but particularly suited to those of us who may find themselves in cities when TSHTF.
Long known as a standard in the industry, this heavy duty manual is only for the serious.
A very informative and fun-to-read guide on how you can immediately “disaster proof” your home. Contains many little known tips that are not in other books. Must-have reading for anyone with a home or a family. It could just save a life.
- Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse – ed. John Joseph Adams
Wastelands is an incredibly high-quality anthology of post-apocalyptic short stories by writers like Stephen King and George R. R. Martin.
- The End is Nigh – ed. John Joseph Adams
- The End is Now – ed. John Joseph Adams
- The End has Come – ed. John Joseph Adams
These three anthologies – collectively known as The Apocalypse Triptych were edited following on from the success of Wastelands. They break the genre down into pre-, during- and post-apocalypse, and contain many more commissioned stories than Wastelands. Overall, they are all good quality collections, but on average they didn’t stick quite as intensely in my mind as the brilliantly imaginative and evocative scenarios in Wastelands.
- All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders
- Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood
A near-future dystopian masterpiece.
- The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
As above, but with more intentional-disaster-preparedness flavor. The sequel to Oryx & Crake.
- The Water Knife – Paolo Bacigalupe
- The Drowned World – J G Ballard
- The Postman – David Brin
- Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
- The Einstein Intersection – Samuel Delaney
- The City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau
- The Start Of The End Of It All And Other Stories – Carol Emshwiller
- Wool – Hugh Howey
- Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
- The Dispossessed – Ursula K Le Guin
- The Road – Cormac McCarthy
- A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M Miller Junior
- Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
- A Long Earth – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
- On the Beach – Nevil Shute
- The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
- The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
Graphic novels / comics:
- Romantically Apocalyptic – Vitaly. S. Alexius
- East of West – Jonathon Hickman
- The Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman
- V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
- 28 Days Later – Michael Alan Nelson
- Y: The Last Man – Brian K Vaughan
How About You?
Let’s hear from you. What do you think about our list? Have you read any of these, care to offer an endorsement? Did we leave anything off the list?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Let’s make this the best prepper reading material list out there! Go.