survival books, keyboard, knives and a gas mask
Photo by Scott Conditt
These survival books will make you re-think what you know, and teach you what you don’t.

When it comes to survival, amassing knowledge on preparedness is half the battle. Nothing helps you bone up on your survival skills and scenarios better than great survival books.

Many of the books presented here constitute survival-fiction. They all contain compelling narratives and offer practical survival tips and tricks. Each book presented digs deeply into the psyche of a survivor protagonist. They hit on the kind of “what would you do if  SHTF” types of scenarios that we all hope remain hypothetical.

As a thought experiment, each of these books will exercise your mind. And at the very least leave you entertained. The detail and descriptions contained in all books listed here, especially the ones that involve how-to’s, are downright survival-bootcamp thrill-rides.

If you’re in the mood to be entertained, educated and enlightened on survival, consider these your reading homework.

One Second After by William Forstchen, Foreword by Newt Gingrich

Possibly one of the most widely recognized and well-vetted pieces of survival fiction to date is One Second After.The New York Times Best Seller is heralded by military brass and scientists alike for it’s portrayal of a grid-down scenario. Author William Forstchen’s PhD’s in Military History and Technology are put to good use in this novel. It is about a small town professor’s struggle to save his family after an EMP attack. This cautionary tale depicts an America suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. It describes in painstaking detail the collapse of a once great society in the aftermath. It is cited on the floor of the US Congress as a book “all Americans should read.” The book’s theme echoes it’s title, describing how drastically everything would change just One Second After such an attack.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This book is one of the most deeply moving and dismal portrayals of survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is very much worth traveling, if you can handle it. Awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Road tells the story of a father and his young son seeking out a paradise lost amidst the drab grey ashen wasteland. Roving gangs of cannibals, endlessly bleak and charred horizons, having to make the toughest of sacrifices, and heartbreaking recollections of loved ones lost along the road of daily survival litter the story. The Road will surely make you appreciate the important things and all you take for granted, that’s for sure…

World War Z by Max Brooks

A list of great survival books wouldn’t be complete without the undead surfacing somewhere along the way. Many would argue “the book is better than the movie” when it comes to World War Z, no offense intended to Mr. Pitt’s performance, it’s just that the source material is a vastly different beast altogether – and it’s awesome. World War Z chronicles numerous survivor’s war stories in an oral history / war journal style that’s as entertaining as it is practical. What begins as a survival how-not-to that details the  failures of a crumbling global response effort facing down a zombie outbreak quickly evolves into a hero’s tale of epic proportions as the remaining survivors band together to fight against the undead army for the fate of the world.

Bush Craft 101: A Field Guide to The Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft is both a skill and art form to be mastered. This is the textbook and masterclass rolled into one. Presenting multi-faceted and critically important survival skills, Bushcraft 101 author, survivalist and self-reliance expert Dave Canterbury serves as your course instructor.  The book teaches the Five C’s for Self Reliance, cutting tools, covering elements, combustion devices, containers, and cordages. Also covered: Tips and techniques for outfitting your kit with the best gear for you. Manufacturing tools in the wilderness. Collecting and processing food in the wild. This book instills a healthy dose of respect for Mother Nature while educating the reader on how to manage all manner of elements. Bushcraft 101 is a solid survival guide to study, practice with, and tuck into your pack for your next wilderness adventure.

Disaster Diaries by Sam Sheridan

Disaster Diaries is a well-crafted, expertly narrated first person recounting of the author’s (Sam Sheridan) crusade to learn everything he might need to survive the apocalypse. Woven throughout the book is an action-packed fictitious narrative. This helps set up each new chapter and lesson. As a mixed martial arts fighter, EMT, and firefighter you would think he had seen it all, right? Not Sheridan. As he reflects, the more he learns throughout the survival pilgrimage, the less he realizes he knows. Firearms training.  Learning how to steal and drive a car with a former gang member and stuntmen. Building an igloo. Enduring extensive wilderness training. He self-deprecatingly throws himself headfirst into the study of survival. During which he relays his successes and failures in survival study with humor, seriousness, and completely transparent candor.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

Zombies have invaded the survival book list twice?! By the same author, no less?! Yes, because Max Brooks kills it and then kills it again when it comes to blending practical real-world survival skills within the pages of his outlandish brain-muncher fiction. The Zombie Survival Guide is a humorous and fun mutation. It blends the well-worn format of a traditional field survival guide with specialized tactics and training instructions on how to best handle the undead hordes.

With chapters like “blades don’t need reloading” and “get out of the car, get onto the bike” you’ll learn everything you need to survive the zombie apocalypse. This guide also lays out a number of general survival skills that are just plain practical. Even when the dead aren’t rising, there are cover-and-concealment principles. Included are evaluating terrain types, weapons training, strategies for evasion, vehicle advantages (and disadvantages).

Survival Books Equal Survival Power

True power becomes evident when you put all that accumulated data rattling around in your noggin to practice. And practice you should. The hope is that some nugget of wisdom may surface when you least expect it – and most need it. And that it might, just might even save the day.

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