Best survival and prepper books

We’ve spent countless hours tracking over 185 of the top survival books so you don’t waste time and money. There’s an overwhelming amount of books for emergency preparedness. But a lot of them are derivative junk that spend more time on politics and Doomsday Porn than actually helpful advice — or worse, some actually give harmful prepping advice. We used our years of experience as preppers, survival instructors, and authors to curate the best books for you.

Last Updated: December 25, 2017
Added bullet list of all books. Added fiction section and top recommendations. Added "Where There Is No Doctor" series to medical. Updated editions for Survival Medicine guide and handbook.
Top Pick
Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens
Great for beginners:

Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens

One of the best overall introductions to household preparedness for the beginning prepper. Useful for families. Great gift to non-preppers. Covers how to shelter in place in a variety of situations.
Just in Case is one of the best books on household preparedness and overall introduction to prepping we’ve ever found. It’s especially useful for families, and a good choice to give people you care about who haven’t yet started preparing. Just in Case covers how to shelter in place under a wide variety of circumstances and how to prepare and decide to bug out if you need to. It doesn’t cover as much of what to do after bugging out. It does preach a “use and replace” supply cycle, which we have some issue with because life gets in the way and interrupts the cycle, potentially leaving you unprepared when you need it.

Top Pick
SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere
Great for Bug Out Bags:

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

Popular choice among preppers. Excellent survival manual that fits nicely in a Bug Out Bag. Wisemen prepares you to survive in literally any situation. Focus on mental strength and skills, not just gear.
A classic work on how to survive in any environment, SAS Survival Handbook is a favorite across the spectrum of the prepper movement. It picks up where Just in Case leaves off. There’s not much about sheltering in place, but plenty about what to do after bugging out. Small size that fits great in a Bug Out Bag.

Top Pick
The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster
When there's no help coming:

The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster

Written by a retired medical doctor and nurse practitioner, this great beginners guide is better than most because it doesn't assume help is on the way.
The smaller 330 page The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide and larger 700 page The Survival Medicine Handbook, by Joseph and Amy Alton, a husband/wife and doctor/nurse duo, are great books for laypeople on how to help if there is no way to reach medical professionals or a modern medical setting. Most emergency first aid books cover stabilizing and transporting the sick and injured to hospitals. In emergency scenarios where there is no hospital or help, the buck may stop with you. This is the book you’ll want if that time comes.

List of the best survival books for preppers (reviews below):

Why you should trust us

This list is curated by preppers and survival instructors with 15 years of combined experience. Some are writers themselves, actively publishing prepping related material while working day jobs as university-level English professors.

Sarah Avery. Escaped academic with a Ph.D. in English Literature, decades of teaching experience, and award-winning fiction author. Started prepping after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey.
Founder of The Prepared. Prepping for 16 years and teaching others for 12. Background mostly in Silicon Valley and government. Advised White House and DOD on emergency technology (eg. I co-founded the Defense Innovation Unit) and related issues like economic decline. Have worked in 30+ countries on everything from climate change to social unrest.

How we picked and reviewed the best prepper books

Our goal with this curated list is to separate the noise from the value so you can quickly find the best books. It’s a little different than our other reviews — there’s just too many books to have an exhaustive list of winners and losers. Absence from this list doesn’t necessarily mean a book is bad.

We’ve spent countless hours tracking over 185 of the books most often recommended in the prepper community. We’ve read or at least partially reviewed most of them. It’d be great if we could fully read every book about preparedness and survival, but unfortunately that’s just not possible. We bought or borrowed every book, unless specifically noted in a review.

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Our search began by scouring the web for book lists, tallying frequently named and popular books in prepper forums and blogs, and poring over Amazon’s bestseller lists in relevant categories. We also asked other experienced preppers what books they’ve read and recommend. Then we looked at recommended reading lists in books we already knew and respected, consulted librarians, and took a hard look at our own collections.

Once we had our long list, we divided books into categories that made sense to us, and started culling.

Sometimes it’s easy to quickly tell if a book will be good or not — for example, it’s pretty easy to judge a self-published “prepper” book with amateur clip art on the cover and a sole focus on severe Doomsday scenarios. Beyond those quick smell tests, we used these criteria:

  • Info that applies to most people rather than specialized expert knowledge
  • More recent books over older books
  • Books in print over books out of print
  • Little or no political partisanship over more partisan books
  • Books complete in themselves over books that referred to affiliated online or DVD materials
  • Books from presses large enough to have a gatekeeping function over self-published books or books from micro-indie presses
  • Books laid out to be easy on the eye and user-friendly, especially if the material relied heavily on diagrams or illustrations
  • Books that encouraged problem solving over books that whipped up fear of problems
  • Books that actually taught core concepts rather than memorization of meaningless lists

That shortened the long list until it made sense to get our hands on some physical copies and read them. In a few cases, we found books so excellent in some particular way that we included them despite a questionable trait. In those cases, we noted the issue in the review.

Our best prepper and survival books list will be updated over time

The current list is just the beginning of what we plan for our book recommendations. Over the months and years to come, we’ll be adding some new releases, out-of-print classics, small-press or self-published diamonds in the rough, and whatever else stands out as excellent.

Have a favorite book? Leave a comment and let us know! We keep a tally of recommendations, and if we frequently see a book suggested, we’ll buy and review it.

Best household emergency preparedness and beginner prepper books

Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens

Kathy Harrison, Storey Publishing, 2008

Great for beginners:

Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens

One of the best overall introductions to household preparedness for the beginning prepper. Useful for families. Great gift to non-preppers. Covers how to shelter in place in a variety of situations.
In our assessment, this is the best overall introduction to household preparedness for the beginning prepper. Harrison packs an enormous range of readiness into a manageable, welcoming book by applying a seemingly simple system: Organize, Acquire, and Rotate. Rotating supplies involves practicing skills that use them, so the OAR cycle leads to a constant fine-tuning of skill.

Harrison opens the book with stories of two hypothetical families riding out a winter storm with a long power outage. The unprepared family’s experience is typical of what most Americans suffer when a natural disaster strikes. It’s miserable in ways that will be familiar to anyone who’s read newspaper accounts of real disasters. The prepared family has practiced all the skills they need for a week without electricity. They have what they need and they know where to find it. They experience the disaster as an adventure and emerge feeling empowered.

In the chapters that follow, Harrison leads the reader through an introduction to the OAR cycle as applied to the individual, the immediate family (including pets), the close social circle, the systems of the home itself, and the car. Then, with all those elements in mind, she walks you through several kinds of disaster, from the common (power outage, fire), to the rare (pandemic, terrorism). A final section lays out processes for developing and practicing skills she calls “The Arts of Self-Sufficiency” in everyday life.

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for Disaster

Bernie Carr, Ulysses Press, 2011

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for Disaster

A book about preparedness, not “prepping”. Breaks the big process of household prepping into bit-size pieces for beginners. It’s compact enough you can pop it in your pocket on the way to Home Depot.
This book focuses on preparing your home and family for sheltering in place, with the last chapter devoted to bugging out. Carr’s pocket guide is clear-eyed and practical. She starts by urging you to put your financial life in order before you spend any money on preparedness gear.

Begin with the likeliest disasters, she tells us. For most people, financial setbacks are more probable and frequent than natural or national disasters. She insists we should declutter before we bring anything new into our homes, because it doesn’t matter what you have if you can’t find it.

Carr organizes her 101 easy things into chapters covering all the basic survival needs. The book’s brevity makes it a good starting point for an overwhelmed beginner, or an easy book to carry on a commute. It can’t function as a one-volume prepper’s library in miniature. For that, you’d want a book with more coverage, and one whose scope doesn’t end when the decision to bug out begins.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit

Creek Stewart, Betterway Books, 2012

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit

Comprehensive, versatile book on BOBs for preppers of all kinds. It’s useful both for beginners and longtime preppers looking to optimize their kit. Includes sections on special considerations like children and pets.
Creek Stewart is one of the most reputable prepper authors out there, and this book on Bug Out Bags was the beginning of what has become a small preparedness publishing and business empire. His years of teaching survival skills, hands-on, in the wilderness gives him a special claim on credibility. In a couple of places, he allows his right-of-center political perspective onto the page for a sentence or two, but he never lets it distract him from the book’s goal.

We disagree with framing Bug Out Bags as “72 hour kits” — in our own Bug Out Bag guidelines, we think assuming you’ll only need to survive for 72 hours is too limiting and assumes you know what will happen in the future.

The book is organized around ten categories of need: water, food, clothing, shelter/bedding, fire, first aid, hygiene, tools, lighting, communication, and protection. Each category’s chapter explains what makes that particular need so important, and then discusses a variety of items that can meet it.

Each item has its advantages and drawbacks (weight, ease of use, etc.). Which items are most appropriate depends on the user’s situation (traveling with children or elders, setting out from an urban or rural home), and on the local conditions the user sets out into (desert in summer, boreal forest in winter, etc.). Stewart makes it easy to use the particulars of your life to sort your options into a manageable packing list.

Additional chapters cover: selecting the pack itself, special concerns for traveling with pets, organization and maintenance of the BOB, mental preparedness, developing a plan, and practicing skills. It doesn’t matter what you have in your pack if you can’t find it or don’t know how to use it. The checklist pages at the end of the book are well laid out and easy to use.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Laurence Gonzales, W.W. Norton, 2017 (Reprint, 2004)

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Stoicism for preppers. This book explores the strange, counterintuitive things the human mind does in emergencies. Some can save you, others can get you killed. Research based with fascinating case studies.
Your most important survival asset is your mind. Some people, through luck or flukes of personal history, seem to have an effortless knack for survival. Others’ impulses, although suitable for everyday life, lead all the wrong ways when disaster strikes. Laurence Gonzales devotes this book to discovering what the differences are between those two sets of people and their responses to their environments. He argues that, even for a person who has no knack for survival, it’s possible to learn the responses and habits of thought that the seemingly natural survivors have.

The first section of the book focuses on how disasters actually unfold and the range of things people do when caught up in them. The science of disaster produces answers that seem counterintuitive in our Hollywood-saturated society. Gonzales wraps complex concepts from cognitive science in real-life stories as exciting as any adventure novel.

The second section focuses more on cautionary tales and exemplary survivors. Each chapter’s arresting narratives can be boiled down to a common problem you can recognize when you’re caught in it — inflexibility of plan, bending the map, etc. — and habits of mind you can practice in everyday life that may help you stay alive and help others in an emergency.

Best field guides for your Bug Out Bag

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

John “Lofty” Wiseman, William Morrow Paperbacks, 2014

Great for Bug Out Bags:

SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

Popular choice among preppers. Excellent survival manual that fits nicely in a Bug Out Bag. Wisemen prepares you to survive in literally any situation. Focus on mental strength and skills, not just gear.
The consensus across the prepper movement is that this is the best survival manual to bring with you if you need to evacuate. Our research so far confirms it. Wiseman sets out to prepare the reader to survive in literally any situation. That’s a tall order, especially in a single volume that can fit in a pack.

His three most important principles of learning for the survivor are will to live, knowledge, and kit, in that order. “Survival is, above all, a mental exercise,” he says. That’s the foundation of everything else he teaches. The chapters organized around the knowledge and kit for particular needs, environments, and events all assume the centrality of the will to live.

That’s fortunate, because the broad effort to offer information for every possible situation inevitably means that no one situation can be covered in depth. Consider where you live, what environment you’re likely to face, and which kinds of disasters are most common in your area. Prepare for the common case. The knowledge and kit, to use Wiseman’s terms, that you need for bugging out are very different from the knowledge and kit for sheltering in place. It’s worth it to have both a comprehensive book on the domestic side of survival, and another for roughing it.

That said, if you can only carry one how-to book on your back, the book that covers everything outside your home is the one to bring.

Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods

Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling, 2009 (Reprint 1982)

Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods

Best field guide we’ve found for foraging in North American wilderness. Organized better than most foraging books, in a way that's meant for "I need to eat now" rather than a hobby.
The organization scheme for Edible Wild Plants is what sets it apart from other field guides. Whereas most field guides organize information by scientific Linnaean classification, Elias and Dykeman organize Edible Wild Plants around the seasons. If you’re hungry, lost, and standing in snow up to your knees, it does you no good to flip through photos showing summer growth. This book’s photos show you what you can eat right now and how to find it.

Every entry has simple graphics to show what it’s used for and what you need to do to eat it safely. If you have a fire, you can forage for plants that must be boiled to be break down toxins; if you’re limited to what you can eat cold, you know at a glance which plants, and which parts of them, are safe.

Indexes by scientific and common names, and by Linnaean characteristics, supplement the photo-rich seasonal core of the book. An introduction offers nutritional information, cooking techniques particular to wild foods, notes on Native American uses of wild plants, and a consideration of ethics, sustainability, and common sense. The ethics will be familiar if you hunt or fish: leave enough behind for the population to bounce back. Endangered and threatened plants are not included. Mushrooms and other fungi are not included because the dangers of misidentification are too common and serious. The book also has a section on common poisonous plants with warnings and symptoms, at the end where you can find it in a hurry.

Best survival food and water books

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource

Daisy Luther, Ulysses Press, 2015

The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource

Compact, focused guide on water preparedness for home and bugging out. Includes small steps for beginners, big projects for longtime preppers, and instructions for water-related skills.
You don’t always need a natural disaster to have a water emergency. Human error and political malfeasance can happen in any kind of weather or terrain. Luther shows you how to do water tests on your everyday tap water, because it might not be as safe as you assume. Her tips for how to conserve water may, for readers in California and other progressive-but-arid climates, be old hat, but for those of us with limited drought experience, those sections are useful.

Check out our review of the best emergency water containers to cover your minimum two weeks of home supplies.

If you live in a water-rich area and have assumed that will carry you, it’s worth learning how to harvest the safest water and handle it in ways that will keep you and your family from getting sick. Filtration, purification, boiling, and other methods are all here, along with non-obvious information about storage containers and practices.

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

Ellen Zachos, Storey Publishing, 2013

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

Best book we’ve found on foraging in North American urban and suburban settings. Some plants are wild, but most are common in manmade environments. Use it to forage, or to design your stealthy home food forest.
The wilderness isn’t the only place to forage. If you ever need to find food in an urban or suburban environment, or you want to plan your own landscape to be a secret food forest, it’s good to know what common plants are safe and nutritious to eat. Moreover, humans have for centuries selectively bred our food crops to be sweeter and less fibrous than their native forebears, so that wild varieties of foods you can find at a grocery store may be much richer in nutrients and safer for your insulin levels than commercially available varieties.

After an introduction on the safety issues of foraging and the basics of plant identification, Zachos organizes most of her chapters around plant types and common edible parts, such as greens, nuts, and tubers. A final chapter details techniques for preparation and preservation of wild foods. The book is for readers interested in the current foraging trends, and requires no previous knowledge.

Best medical books for preppers

The Survival Medicine Handbook: Emergency Preparedness for Any Disaster

Joseph Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP, Doom and Bloom Publishing, 2016

The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster

The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster

Written by a retired medical doctor and nurse practitioner, this great beginners guide is better than most because it doesn't assume help is on the way.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: Third Edition

The Survival Medicine Handbook: Third Edition

Almost 700 pages thick, this home reference medical guide walks you through emergency medical situations when there's no help coming.
The Altons have published multiple books and editions. There are two versions we’d recommend, depending on your needs. The naming is a little confusing: the third edition “Handbook” is almost 700 pages and $38, while the “Guide” is 330 pages and $20.

Most books on first aid focus on stabilizing and transporting the sick and injured, on the assumption that the goal is to get the patient to a modern medical setting. But what if no modern medical setting can be reached? The Altons, a retired medical doctor and nurse practitioner, respectively, wrote this book for readers with no previous medical background, to prepare them for situations of widespread emergency or social collapse.

Their case in point is Hurricane Katrina, after which hospitals were understaffed, undersupplied, and overwhelmed with patients in need. Even in temporary disasters, and certainly in long-term ones, laypeople can find that the buck stops with them. The authors’ goal is to help people become medical resources for their families and communities.

Sections on basic principles, prevention, and sanitation open the book. The following sections are organized by types of illness and injury that you’d find in an EMT textbook. The Altons present their information with an emphasis on flexibility and improvisation, training the eye and mind to find useful materials where no medical supplies are available. The book’s graphic design is a holdover from earlier editions, when the Altons self-published, with some whimsical use of obviously stock photos, but the quality of the book’s content outweighs those issues.

The final section on medications covers how to procure antibiotics that are safe for humans from veterinary sources, which do not require a medical license. Antibiotics raise issues of allergy, overuse, resistant microbes, and storage, all of which the Altons cover. Many preparedness books and sites try to cover antibiotic use for laypeople, but many of them give short shrift to these issues. It’s worth getting your information from medical professionals. The supply checklists for personal first aid kits, family first aid kits, and community clinics are the best we’ve seen.

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Healthcare Handbook, Revised Edition

David Werner, Carol Thuman, & Jane Maxwell, Hesperian Foundation, 1992

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Revised Edition

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Revised Edition

Prepping classic. Written by doctors with practical field experience in 50 countries. Great for emergencies because it assumes a lack of modern medical resources.
Where There Is No Dentist

Where There Is No Dentist

Practical. Illustrated. The 2012 updated reprint includes Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART), a way to fill cavities without modern drilling.
Although significantly older than the Survival Medicine book series from Dr. Alton, the “Where There Is No…” series are a prepping classic and have been updated over time. Where There Is No Doctor ($27), Where There Is No Dentist ($17), and Where Women Have No Doctor ($26) are practical books written by doctors and practitioners who’ve worked in over 50 countries through organizations like UNICEF and the Peace Corps. The World Health Organization said these books have saved countless lives in second and third world countries since the 1970s. These books have a prominent spot in The Prepared’s experts’ personal libraries.

The Complete Medicinal Herbal: A Practical Guide to the Healing Properties of Herbs

Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, 1993

The Complete Medicinal Herbal: A Practical Guide to the Healing Properties of Herbs

Covers how to make and use your own herbal medicines from scratch, with clearly illustrated instructions. Rich pictures help make sure you've got the right plant. Make sure you get the Dorling Kindersley edition.
Although there’s a 2017 edition of this book, the visuals in the 1993 edition are far superior, and so important, that it’s worth getting the out-of-print version. This is the only out-of-print book that made our list.

Richly photographed to ensure correct identification of plants and their parts, The Complete Medicinal Herbal is the most user-friendly of the serious herbal medicine books for laypeople that we’ve found. Whereas many herbal medicine resources give only an herb’s name along with the maladies it treats, Ody’s book details which plant parts are suitable, which kinds of preparations to use (infusion, decoction, ointment, etc.), even which season those parts should be harvested in what season, when that matters.

One major section is organized by plant, another by malady. Both are intuitively laid out. The shorter section on making the various kinds of preparations also abundantly photographed and detailed, assuming no previous knowledge of the techniques. The Complete Medicinal Herbal is beautifully designed and photographed enough to be a coffee table book, well enough researched and explained to be a practical medical reference (with the usual caveats about not being intended to take the place of a doctor’s advice).

Best tradecraft and survival skills books

The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair, 4th Edition (Black & Decker)

Editors of Cool Springs Press, 2016

Black & Decker The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair

Although there are a lot of general home repair books, this complete guide by Black & Decker is the top seller on Amazon in this category.
To prepare for common, small emergencies on the household scale, it’s worth having an up-to-date home repair manual. There are many manuals of this kind, and they generally cover the same things in similar ways. All other things being equal, we went with Amazon’s top seller in the category.

Ham Radio For Dummies, 2nd Edition

H. Ward Silver, For Dummies, 2013

Ham Radio for Dummies

When the grid goes down, Ham radio is the best reliable communication method. But it can get tricky and technical. Everything you need is in this book.
In the age of the internet, ham radio seems old school, but in grid-down emergencies ham radio can be a crucial means of communication. Modern ham radios can connect wirelessly to the internet to transmit data and images from places where no cellular service is available. Ham radio operators need a license, which requires sitting for an exam, so you need to learn more than you’re likely to use before you can legally get started. This book is slightly outdated due to changes in government testing requirements since publishing in 2013, but the core concepts and radio knowledge are all valid.

See our own intro guide to Ham radio for emergency preparedness.

Best fieldcraft, homesteading, and gardening books

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It Yourself

Carla Emery, Sasquatch Books, 2012

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition

Traditional small-scale agriculture for homesteaders, in a current edition of a classic from the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s. It’s perfect for sheltering in place in rural areas.
Would-be homesteaders looking for an all-in-one book to get them started will find mention of a lot of beloved classic titles, most of which are now out of print. The best of the surviving titles is The Encyclopedia of Country Living, written as a first taste for beginners as well as a reference work for longtime homesteaders.

Most chapters are organized around categories of plants and animals — all dairy animals together, all garden vegetables together, and so forth. The individual entries are impressively comprehensive. An entry on, for instance, pears has information on the tree’s needs for soil pH and light, which varieties are suited to different planting zones, what insects need to be attracted for pollination, how to tend the trees and harvest the fruit, and numerous recipes to prepare and preserve the fruit. Entries for animals include all the analogous information, including breeding and butchering.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living doesn’t go into great depth about solar power or other off-grid sources of electricity. Emery’s approach to country living does not require it. If yours does, you will want to supplement with other books.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Toby Hemenway, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

Intro to permaculture, a farming method that uses interplanting, insect management, and soil organisms to create manmade ecosystems. Start from zero and build a “food forest” that runs itself.
Toby Hemenway’s classic Gaia’s Garden is the classic introduction to permaculture. Even if you have no gardening experience, or have used more traditional row-based farming in the past, Gaia’s Garden gets you up to speed quickly. There’s detail for those who enjoy deep dives or have encountered specific issues that require them, broad overviews for readers trying to figure out what permaculture is, and garden plans with diagrams and photographs for visual thinkers and readers who want to get their hands in the soil as soon as possible.

Traditional agriculture, with its rowed crops, can require backbreaking work every season and requires a constant struggle against weeds and pests. By contrast, permaculture organizes plants, landscape features, and insects, into small human-made ecosystems. “Food Forests” interplant different species closely to meet each other’s needs, so chemical inputs are unnecessary. The early years of a permaculture landscape can involve backbreaking labor, digging up suburban grass lawns to build swales and berms, but an established food forest is mostly self-regulating.

Edible landscaping and permaculture aren’t quite synonymous, but there’s a lot of overlap. Preppers looking to turn their lawns into food sources should absolutely have this book in their libraries.

The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide: How to Make Sure the End of the World as We Know It Isn’t the End of Your World

Jay Cassell, Ed., Skyhorse Publishing, 2014

The Ultimate Prepper's Guide: How to Make Sure the End of the World as We Know It Isn’t the End of Your World

Tries to cover every skill and project you'd need after a total collapse. Growing and hunting food, tanning leather, making textiles, home maintenance, and even personal electricity.
This is a huge, thick book printed on light, cheap, acid-heavy paper. It has the space to go in-depth on topics you don’t always get to see in a one-stop-shopping book on this subject, but the printing materials are not durable, and may break down even if they sit unused on a shelf. What The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide has that other all-in-one prepping manuals don’t is a DIY/maker/life-hack approach. Case in point: the chapter on “How I Built an Electricity-Producing Wind Turbine.”

The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide does surprisingly well with images and diagrams, considering the paper quality. There’s more about homesteading than you usually see in books that aren’t specifically about homesteading. The book keeps its title’s promise to address the end of the world as we know it .

When writing on his own, Cassell specializes in books on hunting, fishing, and shooting. A heads-up to readers who are troubled by graphic explanations of how to disassemble dead animals or shoot living ones: Cassell and his team are clinical and thorough.

Best self defense books

When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake

Tim Larkin, Little, Brown and Company, 2017

When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake

Prepares your mind for vigorous self defense. Includes techniques and tactics. This book is great for those who aren't comfortable with the thought of using violence to protect themselves or loved ones.
“Violence is rarely the answer,” Larkin begins, “but when it is, it’s the only answer.” Most of us can agree on the first part of that statement. Some of us would broaden it to say violence is never the answer, or is only an answer for trained and accountable law enforcement professionals. Larkin emphatically disagrees.

He sets out to persuade readers who have no idea how to use violence in self defense or defense of others that they shouldn’t wait to change their thinking until a threat is upon them. Only if we look at violence as a neutral tool that doesn’t care who uses it or for what can we be prepared to use it for good. Although this is an argument that many people at the center and on the left of the political spectrum will find uncomfortable, Larkin’s argument is not a partisan one. The categories he cares about are social versus asocial.

In social violence, the combatants are operating in the same set of imagined rules, what’s at stake is usually position in the pecking order, and the violence may be disrupted by efforts to deescalate or intervene. In asocial violence, the aggressor doesn’t feel bound by the victim’s social norms. The violence may even be intended as an attack on the norms themselves. “At the end of the day,” says Larkin, “all violence has the potential to be a matter of life and death. The difference with asocial violence is that death and destruction are not its by-products; they are its purpose.” He proposes that everyone should be prepared to respond to asocial violence without hesitation with absolute commitment to self defense.

Much of the book covers tactics and techniques to use when confronted with asocial violence. Tactics and techniques can be found in many places. What makes this book unusual is its focus on the psychological, emotional, and social patterns ingrained in us that make us hesitant to use violence. Larkin spends a good many pages also on how to tell when violence is social or asocial, and what behaviors might work to prevent violence from breaking out, or at least to avoid being in the most dangerous positions when it does.

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

Clint Emerson, Touchstone, 2015

100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation

What sets this book apart is its storyboard illustrations for every one of its 100 skills. The storyboards are utilitarian, easy to understand, and entertaining.
The most notable feature of 100 Deadly Skills is that each skill has a storyboard to illustrate when and how to use it. Anyone who searches on Pinterest for preparedness information will have seen some of those storyboards. Emerson’s goal is “not to enable a deadly class of citizens but to entertain while simultaneously imparting a body of knowledge that may come in handy in the absolute direst of emergencies.”

The entertainment part is well represented here, with sections titled “Steal a Plane” and “Wage Psychological Warfare.” Even if you never need to follow the storyboard to perform any of the more cinematic special ops skills, there are plenty that deal with smaller-scale interpersonal threats and violence. For instance, the sections on how to break your hands out of handcuffs, zip ties, and duct tape would be of interest to anyone concerned about home invasions.

The Total Gun Manual (Field & Stream): 335 Essential Shooting Skills

Phil Bourjaily and David Petzal, Weldon Owen, 2012

The Total Gun Manual (Field & Stream): 335 Essential Shooting Skills

Best book for those starting from scratch with firearms or want to plug gaps in their knowledge. Richly illustrated and photographed. The authors approach emphasizes responsible gun ownership.
There are plenty of books for people who already know about shooting, or know they enjoy it but want to get better at it. Not many books are out there that try to cover the full range of basic gun skills for readers who are starting from zero. The authors of The Total Gun Manual are unapologetically enthusiastic about their subject, which readers ambivalent about firearms may find off-putting. But ambivalent authors could not have written a book as comprehensive and easy to understand as this one. A prepper who has decided against owning firearms may still want to be informed about them.

All the gun jargon that can seem impenetrable elsewhere is explained clearly here. The large ideas, processes, and artifacts that go into being a skilled and responsible gun owner are broken down into manageable pieces. Diagrams, illustrations, and photographs are plentiful and useful. We looked at dozens of books on firearms for readers starting from zero background knowledge, and this was the only one that made the cut.

Best books about reasons and context for emergency preparedness

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

Rebecca Solnit, Viking Penguin, 2010

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

Think people turn against each other as soon as SHTF? Wrong. This study of history shows that the anarchy Hollywood has taught us to expect doesn’t actually arrive.
Although Hollywood has trained us to expect anarchy after disasters, research shows that in real life, disaster-struck people immediately start organizing to take care of each other. Rebecca Solnit weaves together what she learned from interviewing disaster survivors with historical and sociological research to reveal a surprising, hopeful, and remarkably consistent pattern. Emergencies bring out the best in people — not just in individuals, but in communities spanning whole cities and regions, from the grassroots up. With the demands of everyday life taking a backseat to the challenges of survival and saving lives, ordinary people are free to organize themselves for mutual benefit. Survivors tend to recall these most challenging times of their lives as some of the most joyful and meaningful.

The countercurrent to that good news is that elites and leaders of institutions sometimes see the improvised bottom-up organization of their less elite fellow citizens as reason for panic. Elite panic can lead to violence and threats of violence, as when New Orleanians trying to evacuate after Hurricane Katrina were turned back at gunpoint by police from a wealthy suburb. Beliefs matter, Solnit reminds readers many times, and when people who have more resources believe that people who have fewer resources are savages, the haves tend to treat the have-nots savagely, and then to blame their victims.

Because beliefs matter, Solnit’s mission in this book is to replace Hollywood cliches with evidence. If we want to prepare for disasters, one thing to prepare for is an eruption of neighborly kindness. If we welcome it and foster it, we can fare well. If we ignore it and assume our neighbors are threats to our survival, we become part of the problem, and we lose out on the survival benefits of beloved community — to say nothing of what could be the time of our lives.

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

Ted Koppel, Crown, 2015

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

The United States’ electrical grid is shockingly vulnerable to cyberattack. Famed journalist Koppel dives into the human and technical sides of the story. He sees the prepper movement as one source of hope.
This impressively researched warning about the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid seems simultaneously dated and urgent. The cyberattack on the United States hasn’t been on our electrical systems, but it has been disruptive enough to add to Koppel’s case that no institution, public or private, is prepared to withstand such an attack. The first section of Lights Out lays out the scope of the problem: the degree of the grid’s vulnerability, the surprising number of potential targets in need of defense, the ingenuity of our likely foes, the projections for how long it might take to restore power (months at least, perhaps two years).

The book’s second section, “A Nation Unprepared,” gives a dismaying picture of the many layers of public and private inertia that keep us from doing anything to protect the grid. No institution or organization comes out of this section of the book looking good, though many devoted individuals are shown trying heroically to get reluctant corporations and government entities to prepare against a cyberattack on the grid. Most private citizens, especially urban dwellers, look unlikely to outlast even the briefest of the disruptive scenarios Koppel’s sources predict.

Tentative hope arrives in the book’s third section, when Koppel travels the country to interview a diverse group of preppers. His research trip to interview high officials in the Church of Latter-Day Saints, who lead what is probably one of the most prepared demographics in the world, is a highlight of the book, and shows a model that any community could learn from. If the majority of Americans developed personal disaster plans, even without a lot of resources, that would be a huge change, but Koppel thinks it would still not be enough to get our population through two years with the grid mostly down.

If FEMA had a comprehensive plan for such a scenario and made sure every adult in the country knew what their part of that plan would be, we might have a brighter prognosis for recovery. But due to legislative gridlock, shortsighted industry lobbying, and the information overload in an executive branch trying to prepare for hundreds of kinds of threats at once, such a comprehensive plan is nowhere in sight. Koppel’s hope in 2015 was that the American people would demand a plan of their leaders that the nation prepare against a cyberattack on the grid, for both prevention and response.

Best emergency, doomsday, or dystopian fiction books

One Second After

One Second After

One of the most popular fictional prepper books. Set in the US after an EMP takes out the electrical grid. Follows a family as they try to survive.
Very popular book among preppers (almost 8,000 Amazon reviews!), partly because it hits so close to home. Written by a New York Times bestselling author, One Second After is about a family struggling to survive in North Carolina after America suddenly loses a war. The enemy used an EMP, sending the States back to the Dark Ages in just one second. Many readers felt it was “scary” to read just how fragile we are (see Ted Koppel’s Lights Out above) and just how difficult survival would be for a normal family in a grid-down emergency. The sequel, One Year After, is also very popular. Note that this series does have some political ideology, with a forward written by Newt Gingrich.

MaddAddam Trilogy

MaddAddam Trilogy

Follows Snowman, who was known as Jimmy before a corporate-engineered plague made him the last man on earth. Different from most post-SHTF stories.
The MaddAddam Trilogy, written by a New York Times bestselling author, is a popular series among preppers. Set after a corporate-engineered plague in the near future, the main character fears he’s the last man on earth and sets off on a journey through post-apocalyptic cities and wilderness. Some reviewers felt the first book had too much setup for the sequels or had too much “dry science”, but overall the trilogy has an enthusiastic fanbase. Book 1: Oryx and Crake ($12). Book 2: The Year of the Flood ($12). Book 3: MaddAddam ($10).



Beloved young adult novel. Required reading in many schools. Follows a teenager who survives a plane crash in the Canadian wilderness with only a hatchet.
A beloved young adult classic from award-winner Gary Paulsen that’s read by many 10-15 year olds in school. Equally popular with adults looking for an easy, enjoyable read. Hatchet follows thirteen-year-old Brian as his single-engine plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness. He struggles to survive, since all he has is a windbreaker jacket and a new hatchet. Over 3,200 positive reviews on Amazon. Makes a great gift, or something parents and children can read together.

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

Follows a black teenage girl after losing her family during total collapse. As she navigates an environment destroyed by climate change, she becomes a prophet for a new religion.
A popular favorite among preppers looking for stories not about rural white men. Parable of the Sower is a dystopian classic that follows a black teenage girl trying to survive an environmental and economic collapse after losing her family. As she journeys through the wilderness, she becomes a prophet for a new faith called Earthseed. Reviewers thought the author did a great job creating a realistic scenario based on what we’re likely to face in the next decades due to climate change.


    • t. kerce

      The recommendation of One second after puts your non political approach in doubt.
      The forward Newt Gringrich wrote alone was pretty telling about the ideology of the book.
      Racism, sexism and misogyny are rampant. The “White American male” is superior to anyone of color or who is a woman. Heavy anti liberal/Democrat/progressive slant.

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      • John RameyStaff t. kerce

        We considered that when deciding whether or not to include that book, but decided to include it because people in the community said “yeah it has some slant, but overall we like it.” From your feedback, however, I will update the description to note it has some political slant.

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      • t. kerce t. kerce

        And that put the entire list in doubt.
        This book was BLATANT in it’s right wing politics, it’s derision and sexualization of women and it’s contempt for anyone non white.
        Racism and sexism run rampant in this book series. Women are either sex objects or family, and that includes the MCs STUDENTS.
        PoCs are either bad or good subservient lackeys to the white man.

        Have you even read this book???

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      • John RameyStaff t. kerce

        As said in the article, no, it’s impossible for us to read every book. We rely on reports from the community. This list is in need of an update soon, and I’ll keep your feedback in mind!

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      • Mike Ehrmantraut t. kerce
        [comment deleted]
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    • Tom Hindley

      You should also consider putting the FEMA CERT manual on your list. You generally get them when you take the local CERT class but they are also available at Amazon.…

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    • C P.Contributor

      I would vote this guide for a significant update (as you apparently plan).  The major issue I see is the lack of subject matter experts in the various fields.  Based on their credentials, Sarah Avery seems like a reasonable choice for reviewing fiction and maybe popular (i.e., non-technical) nonfiction and John Ramey seems well positioned to assess the quality of books describing emergency scenarios, reasons to prepare, and survival skills.  However, I don’t see how either of these authors are well qualified to evaluate books on things like violence or medicine or water purification.  Using a standard like “consensus across the prepper movement” to select a book (as they do with the SAS Survival Handbook) is pretty questionable, since most preppers are amateurs with little (if any) actual experience with extreme emergencies – after all, the worst things we prepare for haven’t happened in the US or Europe in 70 – 150 years, if ever.  Choosing something because it was “Amazon’s top seller in the category” (as they do with the B&D Guide to Home Repair again strikes me as invalid.  After all, people who actually know lots about Home Repair are not the ones buying home repair manuals, so sales of the book don’t necessarily indicate its accuracy.

      Also, unlike many subsequent guides, this one doesn’t provide a complete list of the options reviewed.  I found myself wondering whether some of my favorites had been considered.

      As for problems with particular selections, I’m a gardener and permaculturist (albeit just at a hobby level) and Gaia’s Garden isn’t the book I would recommend to most preppers.  It’s a great book, but permaculture colonies can take multiple years to get established well enough that you can harvest them without hurting them, and many permaculture staples are actually quite hard to source.  Moreover, permaculturists still plant gardens of annuals (like tomatoes or green beans or sweet potatoes) and Gaia’s Garden doesn’t teach you how to do that.  If you want one book that will help you get into gardening and even allow you to grow food in a multi-month emergency (depending on the season) from the seed packets you can get at the local store, I would recommend the classic How to Grow More Vegetables.

      Other books I would recommend for consideration include:

      -When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin.  If you only had one reference guide for an extended shelter-in-place, this is the one I’d recommend.  It covers mental mindset, clean water, staying warm or cool, etc. in a super-practical, using-what-you-already-have way, complete with (slightly silly) illustrations.  It seems to me to be superior to The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide.

      -The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour.  An encyclopedic reference guide on homesteading.  I’m not a homesteader, so I can’t promote this book as better than your pick.  However, I find it to be well-written and am curious as to whether it was considered.

      -Emergency by Neil Strauss.  This is the light read I recommend to people thinking about prepping.  I like that it stresses getting training (and practicing your skills) over buying stuff.

      I would also recommend, with a big caveat, Facing Violence by Rory Miller.  The caveat is that the second half of the book is on fighting/self-defense techniques and I don’t think you can learn fighting from a book.  But the first half is about the social dynamics that lead to violence, identifying predators, recognizing situations that can lead to violence, and having strategies to avoid these situations or get out of them without fighting.  I haven’t read your pick in this category (When Violence is the Answer) but going through the Table of Contents and Amazon sample, it doesn’t seem like it covers this material.

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      • John RameyStaff C P.

        Excellent comment! Agree with your main points. This article is distinctly different from our norm because of the nature of how hard and subjective it is to put a books list like this together. But we’ve been looking for avid-reader community members to chip in. Emailing you now.

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    • C P.Contributor

      One additional thought:

      For some of the technical areas here, you might consider dividing books into 2 categories: ‘Things to Read Now’ (i.e., to get into this area of prepping) and ‘Shelf References’ (i.e., the one thing to have on your shelf if you’re planning to do this in an emergency).

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    • Joe LeD

      Warning, eyestrain length comment here; apologies.

      First, compliments on a few of your choices.  Specifically the Atwood and Butler recommendations.  Octavia Butler has been one of my favorite authors since the first book of hers I read (Survivor) back in my late teens, some forty years ago.  As far as other books, I’m most intrigued by the titles addressing foraging for food and the medical books, two issues that will be of paramount importance if SHTF, and knowledge of same will do a lot more in helping you to survive than being able to hit a target at a hundred meters with a Mini-14.  Criticisms: it’s your web site and you can do what you want, but I personally would never recommend a book I had never read to anyone.  As others have pointed out, Amazon rankings and word of mouth in the community are not reliable guides as to the quality of information those books contain.

      I have to turn a thumbs down on your recommendation of One Second After.  I found it childish and utterly irrelevant to any real survival issues.  Why?  Because the only real EMP weapons anyone has consists of atomic bombs and if one hits us, the collapse of information infrastructure is going to be the least of your worries.  In that event you’d be far wiser to instead realize that those high-altitude EMP bursts will without doubt be followed up by many more warheads detonating at, shall we say, a much lower altitude.  In any EMP attack your real problems are going to be fireball, blast overpressure, and fallout, not your dead iPhone or no internet. As far as any sort of a sneak attack intending to decapitate command and control, it would be utter suicide for any country to do this as the most hardened parts of the US military are those addressing the launching and targeting of ballistic missiles and anyone, but anyone, who launched even a few at us would be getting a massive response before their warheads even got here.  Besides the absurdity of the premise, I also found the book to be more of the old-white-guy-with-fantasies-of-heroism type of a story like the very worst of Tom Clancy.  Which is every book Clancy ever wrote.

      And now the good stuff: Fiction — the first appearance of what we now call a survivalist or prepper in literature appeared in Robert Heinlein’s 1964 novel Farnham’s Freehold.  When the book was written an established term for such a person didn’t even exist.  It’s not his best book, and about halfway in the book takes a bonkers turn into a completely different type of story, but most preppers would probably find the first half fascinating if a little bizarre.  It’s all based on Heinlein’s own preparations, including a shelter beneath his home, so there’s a lot of practical stuff in it.  Heinlein was a prepper before I was even born.  Another novel is the must-read book War Day by Whitley Streiber and Jim Kunetka.  It’s compelling and well-written fiction, coupled with the most exhaustive real-world research anyone has ever done for a novel about nuclear war.  Back in 1986 I gave my copy to a close relative whose job was being a junior nav and weapons officer on a SAC B52, and the novel left him depressed as hell.  Why?  “Because they got it all right.  Everything.” he told me.  And for fans of One Second After, if you want to get an idea of what a real EMP attack might look like you need to be reading War Day instead of One Second After.

      A nonfiction resource is anything written by a guy named Mel Tappan, who wrote a survivalist column for Guns and Ammo magazine back in the 70s and 80s.  I believe it was he who actually coined the term “survivalist” and he was tremendously knowledgeable about an enormous variety of subjects within that field.  He published several books, but I would also recommend trying to find a collection of the columns he wrote for the magazine.  One of the books he strongly recommended was a translation of a Chinese text called something like “The Barefoot Doctor” which was issued by the Chinese government to officials in rural areas that had literally no facilities or doctors for people to turn to.  It was purportedly extremely basic and assumed no medical knowledge on the part of the reader, and as such could be a valuable reference.  Another resource that simply can’t be ignored is the huge number of field manuals and the like issued by the US military establishment over the years, which are all in the public domain and can be downloaded en masse from many websites.  Examples would be the manuals used to train combat medics or corpsmen, or the ones used to train Special Forces or clandestine troops.  A real standout would be the “Improvised Weapons” manual that shows how to make everything from napalm to directional Claymore-type mines, constructing firearms from piping, and using strike-anywhere matches as both propellant and priming compound for improvised reloading of empty cartridge cases.  The US Army Ranger Manual is also really good for that sort of thing.

      Finally, a subject I’m most intimate with, self defense and personal combat.  I was a metro police officer in a city with a violent crime rate that pretty much always surpasses those of Detroit, Chicago, DC, Miami, et al. and I’ve been bitten, stabbed, shot at, gone to the ER more than once to get sewn up, and have wrestled guns off of people many times.  I’ve also taken many psychopaths into custody at gunpoint, and/or after having to subdue them physically. I also trained in Judo, Hapkido, and Jujutsu for over a decade.  As you can probably imagine, I’m extremely skeptical about most books on combat or self-defense and I’ll be the first to tell you that 95% of the tripe you will learn in most of the traditional martial arts schools should be considered exercise and not training for combat. If you have the time to devote to it, Judo, Western Boxing, and Muay Thai are all excellent preparation for unarmed combat, though it could take you months or years to reach even a basic level of competence.  I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that you can’t learn how to fight from a book.  Aside from the massive amount of basic and advanced defensive tactics training I received as a police officer, and the martial arts training I did, I also studied every fighting art that I could find reputable literature on and successfully incorporated techniques from them in my own repertoire without the benefit of even informal training in those techniques.  I know they worked because I used them, frequently.  Two or more people with common sense and decent training texts can achieve quite a lot in skills development if they’re motivated.

      Unfortunately, the single most valuable reference I can recommend is a book that’s almost impossible to get outside of the police community, that being the PPCT system developed by Bruce Siddle.  It’s the most commonly taught system in law enforcement in this country, if not in the world and my personal experience was that I learned more about effective fighting in that initial 50 hours of training in the academy than I learned in over a decade of Asian martial arts training.  And again, I know it works because I’ve had to use it countless times.  That stuff is for when it might not be appropriate to put someone in their grave, but who still need to be shut down.  For when things get grim, the single best book I’ve ever studied is the deceptively thin WW2 commando training text “Get Tough” by W.E. Fairbairn.  It’s in the public domain and can be downloaded from multiple sources (google it).  Everything in the book is simple, nasty, and brutal beyond the norms of decency.  Nothing in it requires the abilities of a professional athlete or a brainiac genius to execute.  A word of warning though, some of the techniques in it are so dangerous that they simply can’t be practiced at full strength unless you want to break the neck or spine of the person you train with so some caution and common sense are an absolute requirement.  Finally, I’ve been collecting manuals on what the US military calls “Combatives” (and before that “hand-to-hand combat”) from multiple branches and the armies of other nations going back beyond WW2.  Most of the older stuff wasn’t nearly the quality of “Get Tough” but going into modern times the techniques have improved.  I recently ran through some new things with a few old Army buddies who have for multiple reasons kept up their proficiency in the stuff, and have seen the latest field manuals on the subject from both the Army and Marine Corps.  The most recent information is nice and brutal and simple, and is vastly superior to what they taught back in the 80s and earlier.  I can’t hype these military training manuals strongly enough, because if you search diligently you can find many or most of them free to download. Another option has been buying CDs loaded with literally hundreds of PDFs of military manuals.  They are the best and most valuable source of the “Dummies” guide to everything from carpentry to improvised explosives to how to treat a traumatic amputation in the field.  I have a lot more books and the like I could recommend, but I think I’ve wheezed on long enough now.  I hope some of that was helpful.

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      • John RameyStaff Joe LeD

        Joe! What a great comment, thanks for the contribution. We’re actually rebuilding this page as we speak and have acted on some of your ideas.

        FWIW we do think it’s worth publishing a list even though we haven’t read every book, because without this list people are left with almost no orientation other than the junk they hear about in random social forums of untrustworthy Amazon reviews. 90% awesome is better than 0%.

        On the EMP side, you may like our article

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    • Justin Baker

      Hiya’ Sara & John! This was a very detailed and expansive list
      ! thank you for putting it up! One thing I would like to add is more good books n how to use the medicinal herbs, how to find them, and how to harvest them properly! there are a couple good books on your list that touch on it, but they are very general and broad, and a good book that delves into herbs more is a better addition to any bookshelf. Granted, I have almost all the herbal and plant books you mentioned on my shelf already plus a dozen or three more! My household forages and wildcrafts many herbs and spices all season long. Most of the herbs we gather are processed into tinctures, salves, and syrups. Some we hang dry to dehydrate, then store in sealed glass mason jars in a large cabinet designed to keep out light just for our herbs! We have now taken to gathering good old dollar tree spices and things like that every time we go to town to grocery shop! Pepper, salt, and garlic powder being among the chief of these. We are in Oregon, Lane County, and there are quite a lot of trees here that provide some interesting healing properties! My mom just bought me a book for my birthday last October (I turned 44), “The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies” by Claude Davis and Nicole Apelian. Check it out here: (link removed), I loved it and immediate bought three copies for Christmas presents! I immediately noticed a superfood tree listed in its pages that I know for a fact has been quietly making its way into many American backyards! If you can spot this peaceful invader he’ll provide you with food (all parts are edible), water (it can purify it), more protein and calcium than milk, four times the iron of spinach and… a LOT more! I planted one in my backyard two years ago and was absolutely blown away by how fast it grew – over 4′ feet in just 2 months. Best of all, this tree already grows in many American backyards, so see if it grows in your own backyard as well.
      Wanted to share my good find with y’all!
      Joy & Health to you,
      Justin Baker

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      • John RameyStaff Justin Baker

        Thanks for the input Justin. We’re working on a relaunch of this list as we speak, will take a look at your recommendations. What’s the peaceful invader tree?

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      • Justin Baker Justin Baker

        Thank you for your response, John. I appreciate you looking into that relaunch! To answer your question – BIRCH! I encourage you to take this opportunity to check out this book and I look forward to seeing your new, updated list!

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    • Pamela LJ

      Hello!  Thank you so much to the team at for your hard work and dedication to writing excellent articles and doing extensive research!  I am most grateful!  I have written a brief summary (4 pages) of emergency preparedness information for my friends and family, and I emailed it to them recently, and included a link to your excellent website.  I noticed that you are updating your list of recommended books, so I would like to make a suggestion in order to help you.

      I highly recommend “Surviving when modern medicine fails: A definitive guide to essential oils that could save your life during a crisis”, 3rd edition, by Dr. Scott A. Johnson.  The book is available on his website and on Amazon. The book provides general information on essential oils, methods of use (topical, inhalation, oral), and then recommendations for an extensive list of health conditions!

      Another excellent book for emergency and survival situations is by Dr. Scott A. Johnson is “The Doctor’s Guide to Surviving When Modern Medicine Fails”, which is very helpful for use in remote areas, emergencies and other situations when medical care is not available.

      On Dr. Johnson’s website, you can get a discount if you buy books in bulk packs (pack of 10, pack of 25).  Very highly recommended overall!

      Dr. Scott A. Johnson is a Naturopathic doctor and has many other qualifications, and he is extraordinarily thorough in his research.  His lists of references in his many books are vast, and his information is very deep and evidence-based.

      These two books are available in paperback form, with minimal illustrations and concise content, so the books can be carried in a backpack, and help you during a crisis. These books are also available in Kindle form, which can be helpful, but of course, that format may be very helpful during an extended power outage

      If you want gorgeous photos and more technical content for serious study (at a technical level that suits both home users and healthcare professionals), I highly recommend his enormous book “Medicinal Essential Oils: The Science and Practice of Evidence-based Essential Oil Therapy”, which has more than 2,200 pages!

      Best wishes to everyone!  Thanks again to the team at!

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    • Trace

      Any fiction prepper/collapse book list needs to include the ones written by Franklin Horton. His ‘Borrowed World’, and ‘Locker Nine’ series are, in my opinion, the best post-collapse books out there. His first few were a little rough, needed some closer editing in the written versions (I’ve listened to the Audible books, which are great). He’s envisioned a plausible reason for a collapse, and then showcased many different intelligently developed scenarios, and characters responding to them. He’s written over 8 books and has done a good job showing what a post-collapse world could look like, both right after it happens and several months into it.

      I strongly second ‘The Survival Medicine Handbook’, by Dr Bones and Nurse Amy — great information contained in there. I’d also recommend the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook (ISBN 10: 1977597289).

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      • John RameyStaff Trace

        We’re actually working on a big update to this list as we speak, so will take a look at your suggestions, thanks.

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    • squidvicious

      The non-fiction side is obviously helpful in a definitive, objective way.  If I may offer some editorial about the *fiction* side…

      I like the post-apocalyptic genre in large part b/c it’s interesting to read about/imagine how humans respond to the various crises.  Some are overtly sci-fi in nature, others supernatural.  Those can be fun, but not particularly instructive.  Regardless, the scenarios described in any of these stories illustrate various societal/human responses with a lot of variance on the path chosen vs. outcome.

      One Second After is… interesting for it’s description of the societal response, and it’s tempting to be drawn into that world.  But, as others have noted, the book is otherwise trash.  Poorly written and entirely derivative of Alas, Babylon.  Plus, this site continuously cautions against (mocks?) the “Rambo Syndrome”… I would say that One Second After is guilty of the promoting the “Patton Syndrome”. If Rambo is the ultimate lone warrior, the Protagonist in OSA is, naturally, a veritable God with regard to leadership and command (something the author fawns over ever 3rd page).  In fairness, the fault of OSA lies more in the endless virtue of every character miraculously within the Protagonist’s universe.

      Alas, Babylon treads similar ground, with some of the same flaws.  But it does a much better job of conveying the aftermath without so much jingoistic nonsense.

      Station Eleven also has a very good opening section, which covers the initial days of a pandemic quickly spreading across the globe.

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    • Max T

      I bought the SAS Survival Handbook through your link but when it arrived it was a large book over 2 lb! Not appropriate for a bug out bag at all like you suggest.

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      • Ef RodriguezStaff Max T

        There are multiple versions of the book, including a smaller one that’s a better choice for portability.

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