In today’s lightning-speed world, with websites, blogs, and videos, one age-old source of information stands strong: the book.
You can dive into a book’s in-depth information at your leisure, wherever you want. Its value is especially apparent when you’re preparing for disasters—times when there may not be an Internet for those websites and blogs.
I asked readers to recommend the best survival books out there. This list is the result. I’ve added a few of my favorites too. (Click the book covers to see them on Amazon.*)
This is an evolving database. Got a review or a favorite survival book of your own? Please add it in the comments section on this page. (I’d like to credit you, so if I add your comments here, I may include your name and a link to your website unless you tell me otherwise.)
These are not all personal recommendations; I don’t vouch for everything. This is a community compilation.
Have fun diving into some great survival-book reads. Browse them all below, or click on a topic to start:
Best General Disaster-Preparedness Books
Breathe No Evil: Tactical Guide to Biological and Chemical Terrorism (Second Edition), by Stephen Quayle and Duncan Long
2001, Safe-Trek Publishing, 266 pages, prices vary
Emergency Preparedness and More: A Manual on Food Storage and Survival, by Howard Godfrey
2011, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 334 pages, $19.95
This book is good for people just starting to prepare for emergencies, says Bonnie, a The Survival Doctor reader. The author “describes ways to improvise whenever possible. He delivers information in a way that you can understand and even gives reviews on actual products. His information on food storage, water and equipment is straight forward. He tells you about different regions and how to get and filter water, has pictures of different equipment he has made and tells you how to make it. A must read book.”
The Enlightened Prepper: The Complete How to Guide for Disaster Preparedness, by Survival Monk
2012, Amazon Digital Services Inc., 157 pages, $9.99 (for Kindle or computer)
Recommended by Tysn Beckholt, who calls it “Amazing!”
SAS Survival Guide: For Any Climate, for Any Situation (Second Edition), by John Wiseman
2010, Collins Reference, 384 pages, $7.99
Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places, by Joel M. Skousin
2010, Swift Printing, $35 (out of print on Amazon; buy from other sellers there or author here.)
Recommended by Bill Bychowski, who says it has “some good things to consider.”
Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios, by Lisa Bedford
2012, HarperOne, 336 pages, $19.99
When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency (Revised and Expanded), by Matthew Stein
2008, Chelsea Green Publishing, 493 pages, $35
Best Medical-Preparedness Books
The Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep Your Loved Ones Healthy in Every Disaster, From Wildfires to a Complete Societal Collapse, by Joseph Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP
2012, Doom and Bloom LLC, 440 pages, $34.99
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Home Reference Guide to 550 Key Herbs With All Their Uses As Remedies for Common Ailments (Second Edition), by Andrew Chevallier
2000, DK Adult, 336 pages, $40
Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid, by James Hubbard, MD, MPH
2013, Living Ready, 192 pages, $12.99
The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Burns: What to Do When There Is No Doctor, by James Hubbard, MD, MPH
2012, Hubbard Publishing LLC, 39 pages, $3.99. Use a reader other than your computer or a Kindle? Click here for other editions.
The Survival Doctor’s Guide to Wounds: What to Do When There Is No Doctor, by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.
2012, Hubbard Publishing LLC, 66 pages, $3.99. Use a reader other than your computer or a Kindle? Click here for other editions.
Where There Is No Dentist (13th Updated Printing), by Murray Dickson
1983, Hesperian Foundation, 283 pages, $14
Recommended by Nurse Laura, a The Survival Doctor reader.
Where There Is No Doctor (Revised Edition), by David Warner, Jane Maxwell, and Carol Thuman
1992, Hesperian Foundation, 446 pages, $22
Best Fiction Survival Books
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank
1959 (original), Harper Perennial Modern Classics (reissued), 352 pages, $15.99
The Host: A Novel, by Stephenie Meyer
2008 (original), 864 pages, Little, Brown and Company (reprint), $9.99
Recommended by Leigh Ann Otte, who says: “In this novel, people survive in secret after aliens take over. I don’t know that there are a lot of survival tips, but it’s a suspenseful read and a look into what it might be like to live in hiding in close quarters with a big group of people.”
The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
2008 (original), Scholastic Press (reprint), 384 pages, $10.99 for the first book
The Jakarta Pandemic, by Steven Konkoly
2010, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 464 pages, $16.99
Recommended by Lisa Bedford, a.k.a. The Survival Mom. Read her interview with the author here.
The Last Centurion, by John Ringo
2009, Baen, 608 pages, $7.99
This book “combines global cooling with a moderately lethal pandemic,” says Charles Stewart, MD, EMDM, MPH, director of the Oklahoma Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. It “describes the difference between adequate preparation for a pandemic and ‘progressive’ preparation for the same pandemic.”
One Second After, by William R. Forstchen
2011, Tor Books, 528 pages, $9.99
Recommended by Joseph Coda, who says the book details “how folks might survive (or not survive) after a terrorist EMP attack brings down the national power grid. One that I also like, that folks might not think of, is Last of the Breed, by Louis L’Amour—not so much for valuable information as for providing an inspiring example of what one man can do when all the odds are against him.”
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles
2012, Ulysses Press, 384 pages, $24
also: Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles
2012, Pocket Books, 496 pages, $7.99
Recommended by Dale Petersen, who says Patriots “takes you through making a group and selecting equipment and having a safe place. There are instances of what can happen and what they did to prepare for some instances. I thought it was a great read for fiction and what to do to prepare for collapse.” He hasn’t read Survivors yet but wants to soon.
Pulling Through, by Dean Ing
1955, Ace, 288 pages, prices vary
Recommended by David Rea, who says the book is “not only a great survival novel, but also has an appendix with step by step instructions for making devices which could save your butt in case of a nuclear war or accident.”
The Pulse: A Novel of Surviving the Collapse of the Grid, by Scott B. Williams
2012, Ulysses Press, 400 pages, $14.95
The Road, by Cormack McCarthy
2006 (original), Vintage Books (reissued), 287 pages, $15
The Survivalist series, by Jerry Ahern
1981 (original), Speaking Volumes LLC (reissued), $14.95 for the first book
Best Survival Books for Kids
Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
1932 (original), HarperCollins (reissued), $6.99 each for the first two books
My Side of the Mountain series and handbook, by Jean Craighead George
1959 (original), Puffin Books (reissued), $6.99 for the first book
Recommended by Wendy Knight-Nutty, who says: “Great way for kids to get enthusiastic about this topic. Also, scouting handbooks are great for basic skills and are chock full of entertainment ideas that require no electricity. There are step by step directions for everything, making them accessible to everyone.”
Want to comment or suggest an addition to this list of the best survival books? Just click here, and go to the comments section. (To give you credit, if I add your comments here, I will include your name and website unless you say otherwise.)
*Full disclosure: The Amazon.com links on this page are affiliate links, meaning someone who works on this site receives a commission if you buy something through one of the links.