The best books about Armageddon

Who am I?

I'm continually asked why I write horror. But I wonder why every writer isn't writing horror. Not a day passes without me being aghast at the world and my own species, the present, past and future. Though nor do I stop searching for a sense of awe and wonder in the world either. My Dad read ghost stories to me as a kid and my inner tallow candle was lit. The flame still burns. Horror has always been the fiction I have felt compelled to write in order to process the world, experience, observation, my imaginative life. I've been blessed with a good readership and have entered my third decade as a writer of horrors. In that time two of my novels have been adapted into films and the British Fantasy Society has kindly recognised my work with five awards, one for Best Collection and four for Best Novel. I'm in this for the long haul and aim to be creating horror on both page and screen for some time to come.


I wrote...

Lost Girl

By Adam Nevill,

Book cover of Lost Girl

What is my book about?

It's 2053 and climate change has left billions homeless and starving--easy prey for the pandemics that sweep across the globe, and for the violent gangs and people-smugglers who thrive in the crumbling world where 'King Death' reigns supreme. The father's world went to hell two years ago. His four-year-old daughter was snatched when he should have been watching. The moments before her disappearance play in a perpetual loop in his mind. But the police aren't interested; who cares about one more missing child? It's all down to him to find her, him alone.

The books I picked & why

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The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The War of the Worlds

Why this book?

This novel inspired my first imagining of the world ending. Of unfolding catastrophe. Of the terrible anxiety that fills each moment when life is reduced to a faltering hour-by-hour existence. When time becomes suspended in a permanent sense of a dreadful present. When the end of everything I took for granted has already begun.

I was introduced to the story by the Jeff Wayne album initially, as a child in the late 70s, and I remember being transfixed by terror as Richard Burton narrated passages from the text. After I'd read the novel, my fear of the world ending by means of an alien invasion, became urgent and compelling in the way that irrational fears are for children. But I was also captivated and transported by the story because it is so credible and vivid and exciting. This was also one of my first experiences of encountering sublime terror within a work of fiction - a visceral terror that is as much of awe as fear: when a mind is forced to comprehend something much greater than itself cosmically. A rare quality I've sought in fiction ever since.

Maybe I conflated my Cold War paranoia and nuclear war fears with my reading of the novel at the time I first encountered it, but I've reread the novel over the years and I still find it to be the most engaging account of an invasion of the earth and our ultimate belittling into insignificance. The story's power over me has not diminished with time. To this day, I cannot see a shooting star or satellite passing overhead without thinking of tripods and cylinders, heat-rays, black smoke, and the red weed.

The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The War of the Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

But planet Earth was not only being watched - soon it would be invaded by monstrous creatures from Mars who strode about the land in great mechanical tripods, bringing death and destruction with them. What can possibly stop an invading army equipped with heat-rays and poisonous black gas, intent on wiping out the human race? This is one man's story of that incredible invasion, from the time the first Martians land near his home town, to the destruction of London. Is this the end of human life on Earth?


Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive

By Jared Diamond,

Book cover of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive

Why this book?

A long and highly detailed study of how societies fail and collapse, but a work of non-fiction that I could not put down and eagerly sought each day until I finished the book.

A great non-fiction title for us lay/ordinary readers should process a vast amount of historical research and evidence and specialist knowledge to produce an engaging, even mind-expanding work, that leaves us feeling not just informed but awakened to truths we could previously only guess at. Collapse achieves this expertly by examining the historical and archaeological evidence of why certain societies failed - the Anasazi, Maya, the Vikings in Greenland, Angkor up to Rwanda are included. From freshwater crisis' to soil degradation, overpopulation, the destruction of the natural world, to the needs of the few exceeding the needs of the many, the author takes us through the critical missteps collapsed civilisations embarked upon to ensure their own downfall. By the end of the essay, the reader becomes aware of how precarious the balance is between collapse and survival, as well as just how we moderns are repeating the same catastrophic errors. Ultimately, a chilling read, but also uplifting because the solutions to preventing our demise are also included and expertly argued.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive

By Jared Diamond,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Collapse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations.

Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future.

What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island?
What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids?
Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the…


The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Road

Why this book?

If great works of non-fiction depict the grand and epic scale of collapse, and every historical antecedent and economic and societal and historic detail that incrementally initiated catastrophe, a great work of fiction on the apocalypse reveals the inner lives of characters. Of someone on the ground. An eye witness, whose senses and thoughts attempt to comprehend and survive.

Few works of fiction have left me feeling almost emotionally desolate but The Road did. After an unspecified event - a chain of volcanic eruptions, nuclear war, environmental holocaust? - a man and his young child try and survive in an eternal winter in which nothing grows. The ecosystems are dead. The earth and air are toxic. Food has all but gone. Mankind descends into the most inhumane savagery and opportunism. The only light remaining is a father's love for his child and their search for sanctuary.

Grim, horrifying, everything at stake all of the time on every page; few stories are so compelling. Few stories have mattered so much to me as a reader.

McCarthy's skill as a writer throughout his peerless body of work, I place next to Shakespeare. The Road is a dreadful marvel and an example of what can be achieved in the novel and how you make a work of fiction resonate with profound truths.

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked The Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • A searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive, this "tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful" (San Francisco Chronicle).

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if…


The Second World War

By Antony Beevor,

Book cover of The Second World War

Why this book?

It's too easy to dismiss the Second World War. To relegate that epochal conflict into realms of ancient history, action films, kitset models, unread Father's day gifts, and black & white footage. But we all live through the consequences of this epic global struggle. This was the last time western civilisation brought itself close to destruction and it was a close call. 60 million lives were lost and no one died easily. The war was also raging just shy of 80 years ago. In the scheme of human history, that's recent.

Beevor's history of the global conflict - and it was global - is a page-turning affair. Vivid, engaging, heartbreaking, shocking. Really fine storytelling and a first class history, encompassing the great conflicts of east and west (China's experience of the war is much overlooked in the west but not in these pages). I found myself engrossed by this monumental history of the very worst ideas and behaviour that our species is only too willing to pursue in order to self-destruct. It's also a compelling tale of so many acts of courage and sacrifice. Epic in the truest sense of the word and a chilling warning from history that I wish everyone would heed and read.

Have we learned the lessons of the Second World War? I'd say they are being forgotten, or that many alive today remain unaware of the significance of the conflict. At a time when the world has never been more interconnected, when the UK leaves a united Europe, and when there are more geopolitical upheavals than we can fully acknowledge, and when we watch the rise and rise of simple fundamentalist ideologies at the expense of humanity and reason, even logic, I'd say Beevor's The Second World War offers an important perspective for right now.

The Second World War

By Antony Beevor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Second World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A magisterial, single-volume history of the greatest conflict the world has ever known by our foremost military historian.

The Second World War began in August 1939 on the edge of Manchuria and ended there exactly six years later with the Soviet invasion of northern China. The war in Europe appeared completely divorced from the war in the Pacific and China, and yet events on opposite sides of the world had profound effects. Using the most up-to-date scholarship and research, Beevor assembles the whole picture in a gripping narrative that extends from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific and from…


The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

By David Wallace-Wells,

Book cover of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Why this book?

Amidst the perpetual blizzard of conflicting information, statistics, politicised issues, interminable arguments, denial and debunking, forecasts and predictions... amidst the saturation and exhaustion... of all that fills our small, overstuffed minds when we try to comprehend manmade climate change, WE all now have THIS BOOK. And everyone on the planet should read it.

I've read dozens of books about the consequences of manmade climate change across two decades, but this is the best of them. It's current, it's terrifying, it may leave you staring into a space in which you can imagine the gradual, inexorable end of civilisation, most of humanity, and much of the life on our planet (the only home any of us will ever know).

How did we let the situation get so bad? And what the hell can we do now?

Besides some technical innovation or invention that cools the planet down (at present, pure science fiction), we should at least begin to create a consensus, recognising that we need to act now and radically if we are to avoid an epochal endgame for mankind, and feasibly within the lifetime of our children.

There is no more important issue facing all of us, right now. The consequences of runaway climate change have to be understood. And prevented. Take it straight-up. No sugar coating. Required reading.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

By David Wallace-Wells,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Uninhabitable Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**SUNDAY TIMES AND THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER**

'An epoch-defining book' Matt Haig
'If you read just one work of non-fiction this year, it should probably be this' David Sexton, Evening Standard

Selected as a Book of the Year 2019 by the Sunday Times, Spectator and New Statesman
A Waterstones Paperback of the Year and shortlisted for the Foyles Book of the Year 2019
Longlisted for the PEN / E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

It is worse, much worse, than you think.

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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