The best books to help you survive the apocalypse

Jeremiah Franklin Author Of Dark Tomorrow: Rise of the Crow
By Jeremiah Franklin

The Books I Picked & Why

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

Book cover of The Road

Why this book?

If you haven’t read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, not only have you missed out on a masterpiece of writing, but I hate to say it…you are woefully unprepared for the end of the world. Focused on a father and son traveling on foot across the country after a nuclear holocaust, McCarthy paints a dark and fearsome post-apocalyptic future where food and sunlight are scarce, and roving bands of cannibals feast on those (un)lucky enough to have survived. While I would not necessarily describe the novel as an “uplifting” tale, the bond between father and son, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love at any cost are themes that loudly resonate throughout the story. In my opinion, this is one of McCarthy’s most powerful novels, and it provides a clear and chilling road map for surviving the apocalypse.

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The Last Dog on Earth

By Adrian J. Walker

Book cover of The Last Dog on Earth

Why this book?

If you are like me, and you are a vehement admirer of both dogs and tales of global destruction, The Last Dog on Earth, is the perfect canine-based/post-apocalyptic book for you! Centered around an expletive-spouting dog named Lineker, and his agoraphobic owner, Reginald, Walker’s story of survival in the dystopian ruins of a future London is at times humorous, dark, and thought-provoking. On an unexpected quest to deliver an orphaned girl to her family, Lineker and his owner are faced with dangers from all angles including riots, murderous government agents, and of course squirrels—the common and hated enemy of dogs across the world. In the end, I found the canine’s ongoing commentary to be both hilarious and spot-on, and if you’re planning to face Armageddon one step at a time, what better way to do than with a faithful and foul-mouthed dog by your side.

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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?

No list of the best books to survive the apocalypse would be complete without at least some mention of the seemingly inevitable zombie invasion described in World War Z. Although more fantastical than my own novels (which have been described as “frighteningly realistic” by more than one trembling reader), Brooks's story focuses on fictional first-hand accounts of a worldwide zombie invasion that comes incredibly close to eradicating the human race. Written by the same author who gave us the “Zombie Survival Guide”, this story features an intriguing international cast of characters and offers a disturbing look at what it takes to survive when your brain is the number one item on the menu.

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The Dog Stars

By Peter Heller

Book cover of The Dog Stars

Why this book?

This is the rare post-apocalyptic novel that not only describes a violent and disturbing future, but also leaves room for hope. The gentle main character, Hig, is not your typical survivor, and in between fighting for his life and dreaming of a better world, I grew to seriously dislike the man. In fact, at several points in the book, I honestly hoped he would be dispatched by one of the violent, club-wielding fellow survivors, and I felt a palpable sense of disappointment when he survived each encounter. Why would I recommend a book where I can’t stand the protagonist (and literally hope that he dies) you might wonder? Simply put, if a writer can get me to feel that strongly about a character, then they must be doing something right, and the story of survival that Heller spins is altogether engaging, depressing, and uplifting at the same time.

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Lord of the Flies

By William Golding

Book cover of Lord of the Flies

Why this book?

In this classic novel of survival by William Golding, a group of schoolboys endures a plane crash only to find themselves marooned on a deserted island with little hope of rescue. With no adults to guide them and no rules to follow, the boys’ fragile society begins to rapidly break down and soon devolves into fear, chaos, and even murder. This book speaks to me as a cautionary tale of what can happen when the rule of law no longer holds sway, and our most primal and savage instincts are allowed to run rampant. Not only that, but this book was actually banned at one point due to profanity, lurid passages, and defamatory statements...all of which make it a perfect book to read in preparation for the end of the world.

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