The best books for the end of the world

Kevin A. Muñoz Author Of The Post
By Kevin A. Muñoz

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by how societies and civilizations respond to crisis. We’ve seen since 2020 just how complex and fraught those responses can be. And the biggest crisis of all is annihilation – in whatever form that comes. Good, thoughtful speculative fiction can pierce the veil and look hard at these difficult issues. How can communities adapt and cope with radical change? Do we survive, or even thrive, or do we collapse into a heap of ruined hopes? Humanity can find its way back. That, to me, is the draw of post-apocalyptic fiction: despite the despair, hope remains. We just have to go find it.


I wrote...

The Post

By Kevin A. Muñoz,

Book cover of The Post

What is my book about?

A decade ago, a pandemic sent the world into darkness and the cannibalistic infected overwhelmed the earth. Now Police Chief Sam Edison protects one of the last pockets of civilization. When refugees are murdered and a young woman is kidnapped on Sam’s watch, the Chief must come face to face with monsters far worse than the ones that hunt beyond the city walls.

The books I picked & why

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Childhood's End

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Book cover of Childhood's End

Why this book?

Childhood’s End isn’t a typical post-apocalyptic tale, but it does guide the reader toward the eventual transformation of humanity into something completely other. When I read it as a teenager, it grabbed my imagination and both fascinated and terrified me. What will it be like for humanity to transcend itself? Will we be able to do it ourselves, or will we need influences from outside to make it work?

Childhood's End

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Childhood's End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur C. Clarke's classic in which he ponders humanity's future and possible evolution

When the silent spacecraft arrived and took the light from the world, no one knew what to expect. But, although the Overlords kept themselves hidden from man, they had come to unite a warring world and to offer an end to poverty and crime. When they finally showed themselves it was a shock, but one that humankind could now cope with, and an era of peace, prosperity and endless leisure began.

But the children of this utopia dream strange dreams of distant suns and alien planets, and…


Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Book cover of Station Eleven

Why this book?

St. John Mandel is interested in the kinds of questions that interest me when it comes to apocalyptic fiction. Not how the world ends, but how the world continues. What kinds of societies will build upon the ruins of the old? What will civilization bring forward, and what will it leave behind?

Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Station Eleven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Best novel. The big one . . . stands above all the others' - George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Now an HBO Max original TV series

The New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
National Book Awards Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty.

One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whilst performing the role of a lifetime. That same evening a deadly virus touches down in…


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

By Max Brooks,

Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Why this book?

The journalistic, diarist style of World War Z both sets it apart from the rest of the genre and hearkens back to a style of writing that gave us works like Frankenstein and Dracula. There is a realism that grounds the book, despite the fantastic story being told, and asks you to treat it almost like historical fiction. This is a thing that can happen, because it did, and we are merely recording the event.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is…


The War of the Worlds

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The War of the Worlds

Why this book?

I first experienced The War of the Worlds on screen, with the movie from 1953 and then the incredibly obscure TV series in the late 1980s. I didn’t read the book until I was well into my 30s, but when I did, I was captivated. Wells told a story that was so difficult to accept that no one has even tried to accurately represent it on screen. But it’s brilliant: a tale about the horrors of war, written before any of the wars of the 20th century that would make people realize he was right.

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?


The Postman

By David Brin,

Book cover of The Postman

Why this book?

One of Brin’s central concerns throughout his work is how normal, un-heroic people can work together to make positive change in the world. The Postman is entirely about that simple concept, and how something as simple as sending letters can bring a world back from the brink of societal disintegration. If you know the movie adaptation, be prepared: the book’s themes are radically different, and much better (even though I do still like the film…).

The Postman

By David Brin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE • “A moving experience . . . a powerful cautionary tale.”—Whitley Strieber

He was a survivor—a wanderer who traded tales for food and shelter in the dark and savage aftermath of a devastating war.  

Fate touches him one chill winter’s day when he borrows the jacket of a long-dead postal worker to protect himself from the cold. The old, worn uniform still has power as a symbol of hope, and with it he begins to weave his greatest tale, of a nation on the road to recovery.

This is the story of a lie that…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in war, Mars, and Chicago?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about war, Mars, and Chicago.

War Explore 247 books about war
Mars Explore 55 books about Mars
Chicago Explore 259 books about Chicago

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Hot Zone, The Plague, and The Second World War if you like this list.