Earth Abides

By George R. Stewart,

Book cover of Earth Abides

Book description

In this profound ecological fable, a mysterious plague has destroyed the vast majority of the human race. Isherwood Williams, one of the few survivors, returns from a wilderness field trip to discover that civilization has vanished during his absence.

Eventually he returns to San Francisco and encounters a female survivor…

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

Why read it?

4 authors picked Earth Abides as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel appeared in 1949 and is eminently readable still—wise and unpredictable—about a plague that decimates the globe before it became fashionable as a topic. Stewart was a professor of English at UC Berkeley. First read it as a teenager, and several times since over the years. It holds up! Stewart was way ahead of his time—and writes a terrific story.

Global pandemics are far more enjoyable to read about than to live through. Probably the most influential novel about a pandemic is Earth Abides, written way back in 1949. The main character, Isherwood Williams, is bitten by a rattlesnake while out in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the west of the USA. After recovering from this, he returns to civilization only to discover that civilization no longer exists because a plague has spread across the world, killing much of the population. The initial chapters of this book are wonderfully evocative and terrifying. Though I must admit that I found…

From Huw's list on post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Earth Abides is the Grandparent of modern apocalypse novels. I read it for the 1st time in my early teens; it captivated me. I don’t generally reread books, but I reread Earth Abides more than once a decade. Despite its age, 75, it still reads well, it is not a page-turner, but the world building and the story are so strong they will pull you through. Isherwood, the central character, wakes up after barely surviving a snake bite after spending a season doing research in the wilderness. He returns to ‘civilization’ to find that, though many things are still working,…

From Robert's list on those good old apocalypse days.

While this novel was written in 1949, its subject matter is shockingly close to our current circumstances. Scientist Isherwood Williams is on a research trip in a remote area when he is bit by a snake and spends several days in his cabin in a feverish state. When he recovers, he emerges to a world that has been devastated by a plague, leaving few survivors behind. What follows is a story of finding others and building community, but also how the earth and all its creatures react when humanity falls, which for me, is one of the coolest things about…

From Nicole's list on that predicted the pandemic.

Want books like Earth Abides?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 62 books like Earth Abides.

Browse books like Earth Abides

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in earth, Sierra Nevada, and plagues?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about earth, Sierra Nevada, and plagues.

Earth Explore 288 books about earth
Sierra Nevada Explore 14 books about Sierra Nevada
Plagues Explore 49 books about plagues