The best novels on surviving and survival

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young girl, I had an amazing man in my life – my great grandfather who taught me survival is your victory in life. Growing up in rural New Zealand, he survived the Boer War, the harsh realities of living during World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the natural disasters of rural life as a farmer. He taught me that surviving whatever I was confronted with, came down to luck, recognising when luck came your way, making your own luck, being prepared to adapt quickly, considering your family and friends when choosing your path. He was the least educated, but the wisest person I ever knew. 

I wrote...

Three Sisters

By Heather Morris,

Book cover of Three Sisters

What is my book about?

Three Sisters, Heather Morris’s third novel that is based on true events, tells the story of three Slovakian sisters and the unbreakable bond that carried them through the horrors of the Holocaust and into their lives beyond it. The novel is a testament to the power of storytelling to change the course of people’s lives and the importance of keeping family history alive for future generations.

Three Sisters follows Livia, Cibi, and Magda through their time in Auschwitz that ends when the allies start closing in and the Nazis begin the death marches for the remaining prisoners. Due to a last-minute stroke of luck, the sisters are able to escape formation and hide in the woods for days before being rescued. They return to Slovakia, only to find their home inhabited by strangers. They decide to travel to Israel to make a new home, but the battle for freedom takes on new forms. Livia, Magda, and Cibi must face the ghosts of their past—and some secrets that they have kept from each other—to find true peace and happiness.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Heather Morris Why did I love this book?

Christy has written a contemporary story of survival, hope, love, and courage. She tells the story of Nuri, a beekeeper from Aleppo, and his wife as they flee the war still raging in their country (Syria) and their journey to a new life in Britain. 

Christy spent time working in a refugee camp in Greece and saw firsthand the tragedy of those seeking a better, safe life. She provides you with the depth of this suffering beyond the six-second soundbites you watch on your nightly news.

By Christy Lefteri,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Beekeeper of Aleppo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for Audiobook of the Year - The British Book Awards 2020


Narrated by Art Malik, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life,…

Book cover of Sole Survivor: A Novel

Heather Morris Why did I love this book?

I have read this novel many times and will read it again. I admit to bias being set in my homeland. Derek weaves a story of three disillusioned, struggling survivors on a desolate island off the coast of the North Island. They are an hour away from New Zealand’s largest city, yet far away from the lives that brought them here.

Rosie, a doctor fleeing lost opportunities, rejection; Red, a former World War II POW who when asked to write down his objectives to aid recovery from PTSD, writes one word ‘Survive’; Angus, a cantankerous retired police inspector Scotsman.

I was held captive reading this story of friendship, adventure, and love as these three unlikely neighbours learn to work together, survive together.

By Derek Hansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sole Survivor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have you ever wanted to escape to a distant island? When Rosie Trethewey, a disillusioned doctor turned market researcher, unexpectedly inherits a shack on the remote northern tip of Great Barrier Island, she decides it's time to begin a new life. Arriving at her new home, Rosie finds she has two neighbors sharing the wilderness: Red O'Hara, a refugee from horrific wartime experiences on the Burma Railway, and Angus McLeod, a retired policeman who's abandoned a society he sees as soft and contemptible. Rosie's appearance panics Red and Angus, both fearing she'll disrupt their ordered lives...and they're right.

Book cover of On the Beach

Heather Morris Why did I love this book?

Nevil Shute’s novels were written several decades ago, in a simple, highly readable style. They stand the test of time with his common themes of the dignity of work, spanning all classes. Written in a simple highly readable style, he bridges the social barriers of class, race, and religion.

On the Beach is set after World War III most of the world’s population has been obliterated. A small town of residents in southern Australia awaits with dreaded anticipation as a radiation cloud drifts their way. A faint Morse code message comes from the United States and a Navy officer sets off to find the source of the message. When survival is not the ending you want or get.

By Nevil Shute,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked On the Beach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pearson English Readers bring language learning to life through the joy of reading.

Well-written stories entertain us, make us think, and keep our interest page after page. Pearson English Readers offer teenage and adult learners a huge range of titles, all featuring carefully graded language to make them accessible to learners of all abilities.

Through the imagination of some of the world's greatest authors, the English language comes to life in pages of our Readers. Students have the pleasure and satisfaction of reading these stories in English, and at the same time develop a broader vocabulary, greater comprehension and reading…

Book cover of The Stand

Heather Morris Why did I love this book?

Who doesn’t love a Stephen King novel? What better time to be reacquainted with The Stand than during the current global pandemic? No author straddles the diversity of genres; horror, crime, supernatural fiction, fantasy, suspense, and more, like S.K.

Good versus evil. As only Stephen King can tell. The story of the lives of several survivors who survived a worldwide plague that wiped out 99% of the Earth’s population. They survived for a reason; chosen by the forces of good and evil for one final showdown. I read this many years ago, will go back and read it very soon.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stephen King's apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by virus and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.

Soon to be a television series.

'THE STAND is a masterpiece' (Guardian). Set in a virus-decimated US, King's thrilling American fantasy epic, is a Classic.

First come the days of the virus. Then come the dreams.

Dark dreams that warn of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of…

Book cover of Braving the Storm, Volume 1

Heather Morris Why did I love this book?

Personal reveal – I love weather. I am in my happy place with a good thunderstorm overhead, shaking my house, lighting up my backyard in the dead of night. And so, I was drawn to read Braving the Storm.

The entire eastern seaboard of the United States is struck by Superstorm Nicole. The power grids fail, millions of residences and businesses are unprotected, in the dark. Anarchy erupts as gangs rule the streets forcing residents to make a choice; leave their homes or stay and fight. Four families flee the city, and join together, to live in a cabin in the middle of the forest and try to wait it out, survive.

This is a scenario not beyond the realm of possibility. Braving the Storm can also be read as a survival guide.

By Jennifer Brooks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Braving the Storm, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Superstorm Nicole hits the entire U.S. eastern seaboard at once, the Eastern Power Grid fails and plunges half of the country into a complete blackout--no power, no phones, and no cellphones. Hospitals, banks, and grocery stores stop running, and chaos rules. Cities are controlled by gangs, and citizens have two choices: leave their homes or fight for what supplies are left. Luckily some people are ready. Four families from Pittsburgh flee the city and join together to live in a cabin in the middle of the forest and try to wait it out. But when IS the power coming…

You might also like...

The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

Book cover of The Emerald Necklace

Linda Rosen Author Of The Emerald Necklace

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Swimmer Public Speaker Reader Lover of gardens

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It’s 1969. Women are fighting for equality. Rosalee, an insecure sculptor, and Fran, a best-selling novelist, have their issues. Will their bitter envy of each other and long-held secrets destroy their tenuous friendship? Or will Jill, Rosalee’s granddaughter, and the story behind her emerald necklace bind them together?

A multi-generational novel of friendship and frenemies, envy, and long-held secrets that explores current issues through a historical lens. The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends, and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not.

The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

What is this book about?

"Engaging and mysterious, The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not." –Rebecca Rosenberg, award-winning Champagne Widows series

Three months after her husband's death in 1969, Rosalee Linoff is determined to jump back into life.

For her, that means returning to her art. She desperately wants to be accepted as a talented sculptor, but that requires she dig up the courage to submit her work again - and be judged. Her paralyzing insecurity mounts when she meets her new neighbor, best-selling…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in good and evil, refugees, and nuclear warfare?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about good and evil, refugees, and nuclear warfare.

Good And Evil Explore 131 books about good and evil
Refugees Explore 134 books about refugees
Nuclear Warfare Explore 38 books about nuclear warfare