The best books about the end of the world and being the last person on earth

The Books I Picked & Why

I Am Legend

By Richard Matheson

Book cover of I Am Legend

Why this book?

This is the book that started my obsession with apocalyptic fiction, even before I had read it. I saw the three film adaptations before buying this book, the first I viewed was called Omega Man. I feel this book captures the loneliness one would feel if they were the last on Earth. The main character, Robert Neville, battles depression and alcoholism when not defending his home at night from the ghouls that try to enter. He overcomes the depression as he begins to search for a cure.

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By James Herbert

Book cover of '48

Why this book?

It’s been a while since I have read this one but it has always been one of my favorites. An American pilot is stranded in post World War 2 Britain. In this reality, moments before defeat, Adolf Hitler released a biological weapon that decimated the population. A hemorrhagic virus that attacks certain blood types, those not killed initially are slowly dying and desperate for a cure that they think is in the main character's blood since he is unaffected. The action in this book is some of the best I have ever read as the ‘Black Shirts’ chase our hero through the war-torn city.

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Memoirs and Misinformation

By Jim Carrey, Dana Vachon

Book cover of Memoirs and Misinformation

Why this book?

For a list of post-apocalyptic books this may seem like an odd choice. Actor, now author, Jim Carrey’s fictionalized autobiography does conclude with the end of the world. I liked seeing his famous friends fighting the alien forces meant to clean up the planet of those who did not choose to surrender. Gweneth Paltrow becoming a gung-ho warrior. Sean Penn plucking a cigarette from his own severed hand. This weird book captivated me.

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The First Days: As the World Dies

By Rhiannon Frater

Book cover of The First Days: As the World Dies

Why this book?

This book captures the horror of a sudden onset of the end of days. Zombies are suddenly real and rising all over as two badass female characters unite to survive. As a writer of zombie fiction, I am very choosey, often I find myself Monday morning quarterbacking the choices characters make when I read or watch them, this one impressed me.

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Swan Song

By Robert McCammon

Book cover of Swan Song

Why this book?

Saving the best for last. This was published after and said to be inspired by Stephen King’s The Stand, but I feel it far surpasses it. This book has the same scenario of a desolate end of everything with the remaining humans in a fight of good versus evil, but in this book, I feel the characters are more believable. The evil ones are despicable, and the good ones are likable. Especially Swan, whose innocence shines from the page.

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