100 books like The Unthinkable

By Amanda Ripley,

Here are 100 books that The Unthinkable fans have personally recommended if you like The Unthinkable. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Melina Palmer Author Of What Your Customer Wants and Can't Tell You: Unlocking Consumer Decisions with the Science of Behavioral Economics

From my list on brainy branding that results in buying.

Why am I passionate about this?

The more I learn about the brain, the more I want to dig in and discover more. Why do we procrastinate? Why do people buy things? Why do some people love unlocking these topics weekly on The Brainy Business podcast (where each person on this list has been a guest) and sharing those insights with the world? When it comes to selling and buying in a brainy way, behavioral economics is the best way to get there, and these books are all a great first step into learning what behavioral science is, how the brain really works, and up-leveling your brand. 

Melina's book list on brainy branding that results in buying

Melina Palmer Why did Melina love this book?

No list on behavior, sales, and brand messaging would be complete without including Robert Cialdini on the list. Concepts like social proof, scarcity, and reciprocity are key for getting customers to buy in on your product or service before they even get to the buying moment.

If you are one of the millions of people who has already read Influence, his other book Pre-Suasion is amazing as well and so helpful for brands!

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


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

Johnny B. Truant Author Of Dead City

From my list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was an author, I was a scientist pursuing a PhD in molecular genetics. When I left the lab and started writing, that scientist’s need for real-world sense stuck with me and became a theme in everything I write. The authors I like understand that “suspension of disbelief” is a limited resource, so they’d better only ask readers for it when it counts. Get the baseline facts and logic right, and I’ll believe and enjoy the fantastical stuff spun from it so much more. 

Johnny's book list on Sci-Fi real science that justifies unreal things

Johnny B. Truant Why did Johnny love this book?

This book blew me away! This time, it wasn’t about science in a strict sense but rather the “scientific mindset” the book was written with. Every aspect of a real zombie war is honestly considered—all the ramifications of an event so enormous—versus the simplistic way filmmakers portray it.

How do you fight millions of things that never back down or die? They’d spread out, for instance, so you’d be finding zombies for decades later, maybe in small pieces. They don’t need to breathe, so you could “lose” them underwater until they grab you one day. And what about military strategy? How hard would it be to fight an army of soldiers who can’t panic, never give up, and don’t care enough to retreat? 

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

23 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…


Book cover of Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes

Damon P. Coppola Author Of Introduction to International Disaster Management

From my list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professional emergency and risk management practitioner, I’ve spent my career supporting and shaping emergency management policy and practice in every context from the village to global levels. What I’ve found to be most rewarding are those opportunities where I’ve been able to translate this knowledge and practice into training the next generation of emergency managers. The textbooks I’ve written, which include the first comprehensive book on emergency management (Introduction to Emergency Management, currently in its 7th edition) and the first book on homeland security in the United States (Introduction to Homeland Security, currently in its 6th Edition), are currently in use at hundreds of universities worldwide.

Damon's book list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management

Damon P. Coppola Why did Damon love this book?

We’ve all felt like a Cassandra at times, imploring people to see the obvious disaster to come - only to be ignored.

And even when that disaster as predicted materializes, we are rarely credited for having successfully seen what others could not so easily imagine. That said, for every accurate prediction, there are dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands of predictions that prove false.

As risk managers, our job is to reduce uncertainty by predicting the future as accurately as possible. So how do we sift through the chatter and find the most accurate warnings?

This book, written by former national security experts, offers an interesting methodology that can help us do that.  

Book cover of Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies

Damon P. Coppola Author Of Introduction to International Disaster Management

From my list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professional emergency and risk management practitioner, I’ve spent my career supporting and shaping emergency management policy and practice in every context from the village to global levels. What I’ve found to be most rewarding are those opportunities where I’ve been able to translate this knowledge and practice into training the next generation of emergency managers. The textbooks I’ve written, which include the first comprehensive book on emergency management (Introduction to Emergency Management, currently in its 7th edition) and the first book on homeland security in the United States (Introduction to Homeland Security, currently in its 6th Edition), are currently in use at hundreds of universities worldwide.

Damon's book list on expanding your thinking on disaster risk management

Damon P. Coppola Why did Damon love this book?

This is an older text, but a good one nonetheless.

Normal Accidents highlights the complexity behind major disasters. In the hours, days, and even years leading up to any major incident, there are often multiple opportunities to reduce the negative impacts or even avoid them altogether.

Focusing on technological hazards, Perrow highlights the fact that major incidents are rarely the result of a single point of failure. As risk managers, we need to understand the compounding nature of risk, and this book brings that lesson to life. 

By Charles Perrow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Normal Accidents analyzes the social side of technological risk. Charles Perrow argues that the conventional engineering approach to ensuring safety--building in more warnings and safeguards--fails because systems complexity makes failures inevitable. He asserts that typical precautions, by adding to complexity, may help create new categories of accidents. (At Chernobyl, tests of a new safety system helped produce the meltdown and subsequent fire.) By recognizing two dimensions of risk--complex versus linear interactions, and tight versus loose coupling--this book provides a powerful framework for analyzing risks and the organizations that insist we run them. The first edition fulfilled one reviewer's prediction that…


Book cover of The Disaster Diaries: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Apocalypse

Christopher J. Lynch Author Of Dark State

From my list on electrical grid vulnerabilities and our survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked as an industrial electrician for over two decades. At one point during a meeting to discuss an upcoming project, a question was posed about the delivery time of a specific piece of equipment. When the answer was given that it would be about a year away, it got me thinking: what if a specialized piece of equipment—critical to the grid and with an equally long lead time—was destroyed, how would the grid survive? More importantly; how would we survive? That single statement was the spark that ignited the fire in me to learn all about the grid, and to write Dark State.   

Christopher's book list on electrical grid vulnerabilities and our survival

Christopher J. Lynch Why did Christopher love this book?

I first heard of The Disaster Diaries from an interview with author Sam Sheridan. While not a book strictly related to a grid failure, it was still about disaster and surviving the breakdown of societal norms. 

What was so amazing about the book—and something that endeared the author to me, was his humility regarding his own lack of preparedness. Here was a man who had been an EMT, a mixed martial arts fighter, a fire-fighter, and a cowboy, and yet he still didn’t feel prepared enough to survive a disaster!

What follows is a unique journey as he learns stunt driving, knife fighting, even how to steal a car, all to help him prepare for “The Big One.” 

By Sam Sheridan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Disaster Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sam Sheridan has been an amateur boxer, mixed-martial-arts fighter, professional wilderness firefighter, EMT, sailor, and cowboy, and has worked in construction at the South Pole. If he isn't ready for the apocalypse, we're all in a lot of trouble.

Despite an arsenal of skills that would put most of us to shame, when Sam had his son and settled down, he was beset with nightmares about being unable to protect him. Apocalyptic images filled his head. If a rogue wave hit his beach community, could he get out? If he was forced outside the city, could he survive in the…


Book cover of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected

Cat Connor Author Of [Whiskey Tango Foxtrot]

From my list on to relive the 70’s if you’re surrounded by spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crime and espionage are a lifelong fascination for me. I used to think my dad was a spy when I was young because he didn’t talk about work. Turned out he didn’t think I’d be interested in his day as a Quantity Surveyor, my Grandad was a LEO so talking about work wasn’t really a thing. Or they were both spies. Over the years I have made some good friends in the espionage community and various policing agencies and they’re kind enough to share their expertise with me. I’m a big fan of fast-moving stories with intricate plots and action and hopefully they'll draw you in as well. I hope you enjoy the books.

Cat's book list on to relive the 70’s if you’re surrounded by spies

Cat Connor Why did Cat love this book?

As a writer of a Spy/PI series, this book is super helpful. It’s also good for personal security and I do recommend you get it and read it.

Because of this book, I listen to my gut a lot more when I’m out. I do have a tactical pen on my person whenever I leave home and it is one of the few things that you can have in your handbag on an airplane.
It’s an easy read and you can use it as a reference book like I do. If you want to know how to disappear you can find out just how hard that is in a world where cameras are everywhere. 

By Jason Hanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller that reveals the safety, security, and survival techniques that 99% of Americans don’t know—but should

When Jason Hanson joined the CIA in 2003, he never imagined that the same tactics he used as a CIA officer for counter intelligence, surveillance, and protecting agency personnel would prove to be essential in every day civilian life.

In addition to escaping handcuffs, picking locks, and spotting when someone is telling a lie, he can improvise a self-defense weapon, pack a perfect emergency kit, and disappear off the grid if necessary. He has also honed his “positive awareness”—a heightened…


Book cover of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation

A.H. Hay Author Of Before the Storm: Exploring Protection Planning and Security Integration

From my list on operational resilience and why it's important.

Why am I passionate about this?

I practised risk, resilience, and protection of infrastructure systems for 35 years. Mid-career, I became frustrated that we could deliver highly successful projects yet didn't deliver their ultimate purpose. This difference is particularly pronounced in war zones and the developing world, where most of my work has been. My research at the University challenged what I knew: it was as if someone had taken my heuristic understanding and cast the components like a pack of cards into the wind. I have shared some highlights in my journey to gather the cards. I hope you like them.

A.H.'s book list on operational resilience and why it's important

A.H. Hay Why did A.H. love this book?

More than any other writer, Flynn explained the value and need for resilient critical infrastructure. He distinguished between foreseeable and unforeseeable threats, and made clear that we can reduce the risk and impact of both. Since 9/11, anything purporting to discuss protection/security and resilience was skewed to terrrorism, giving scant consideration to more fundamental changes in our world. Flynn brought this broader perspective to the fore, and I would like to believe he influenced political and academic thinking. I fear he was the Cassandra to the business community, who are only now starting to understand the risks they face. I made this book core reading for all the infrastructure courses I teach. It is clear, simple, and sets each concept in context with an unambiguous call to action.

By Stephen Flynn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Edge of Disaster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do we remain unprepared for the next terrorist attack or natural disaster? Where are we most vulnerable? How have we allowed our government to be so negligent? Who will keep you and your family safe? Is America living on borrowed time? How can we become a more resilient nation?

Americans are in denial when it comes to facing up to how vulnerable our nation is to disaster, be it terrorist attack or act of God. We have learned little from the cataclysms of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. When it comes to catastrophe, America is living on borrowed time–and…


Book cover of Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America

Cynthia Kierner Author Of Inventing Disaster: The Culture of Calamity from the Jamestown Colony to the Johnstown Flood

From my list on American disasters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early America and I teach at George Mason University. What got me interested in disaster history was Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged the Jersey Shore (and New York City) in 2012. Sandy destroyed places I cared about—my childhood rollercoaster plunged into the ocean! As I watched the news obsessively, I saw a pattern that was familiar to me from Katrina and from other recent disasters. Quantitative information—how many lives and dollars lost—and insights from hurricane science came first, followed by human-interest stories, uplifting news of relief and resilience, and (eventually) post-disaster investigations and recriminations. I wanted to understand the roots of this pattern—this "culture of calamity." When did it originate? Where did it come from?

Cynthia's book list on American disasters

Cynthia Kierner Why did Cynthia love this book?

Back when people understood hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters as literally being "acts of God," they sensibly concluded that human intervention could not prevent them. Yet that language—and its wide-ranging implications for public policy—has persisted, even as scientists have come to understand the physical causes of disasters and, increasingly, to believe that no disaster is wholly "natural." Ted Steinberg shows how government and corporate leaders' perpetuation of the idea of disasters as "natural" or even divinely ordained helps them to evade responsibility and avoid meaningful policy changes that might prevent future catastrophes. (Ripped from the headlines, climate change denial is a prime example!) Gripping case studies of famous disasters like the Chicago Fire and the San Francisco earthquake make this serious book a compelling read.

By Ted Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain began to pour into New Orleans, people began asking the big question-could any of this have been avoided? How much of the damage from Hurricane Katrina was bad luck, and how much was poor city planning? Steinberg's Acts of God is a provocative history of natural disasters in the United States. This revised edition features a new chapter analyzing the failed response to Hurricane
Katrina, a disaster Steinberg warned could happen when the book first was published. Focusing on America's worst natural disasters, Steinberg argues that it is wrong to…


Book cover of Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States

Robert O. Schneider Author Of An Unmitigated Disaster: America's Response to COVID-19

From my list on the “war” between politics and science.

Why am I passionate about this?

My research and writing in the field of emergency or disaster management has been focused on the concept of hazard mitigation. This means reducing the impact of disasters, the creation of hazard resilient and sustainable communities, and the application of scientific and technical expertise to the task. We all live in a world where it has become more important than ever to make intelligent decisions driven by a comprehension of the properties of the physical universe. It is also a world in which economic self-interest and political interests may impede that idealistic goal. I have a sense of urgency about reducing the efficacy of such impediments.      

Robert's book list on the “war” between politics and science

Robert O. Schneider Why did Robert love this book?

This classic book, published a quarter of a century ago, redefined the field of emergency management and has influenced my work and writing in this subject area for the past two decades.

Natural disasters are, in this landmark assessment, not events to be addressed in isolation. They are symptoms of broader problems. These broader problems require that emergency management be linked to broader concerns such as the management of natural resources, economic and social resilience, and public health and safety. This requires an orientation that emphasizes hazard mitigation to reduce the impact of disasters (natural and human-caused) and promotes the building of sustainable communities. This insight became the emphasis of the field in the decades that followed the publication of this book.

This book was certainly the most important influence on my work in the study of disaster management.

By Dennis Mileti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Disasters by Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Disasters by Design provides an alternative and sustainable way to view, study, and manage hazards in the United States that would result in disaster-resilient communities, higher environmental quality, inter- and intragenerational equity, economic sustainability, and improved quality of life. This volume provides an overview of what is known about natural hazards, disasters, recovery, and mitigation, how research findings have been translated into policies and programs; and a sustainable hazard mitigation research agenda. Also provided is an examination of past disaster losses and hazards management over the past 20 years, including factors?demographic, climate, social?that influence loss. This volume summarizes and sets…


Book cover of In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers in the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society

Charles F. Walker Author Of Shaky Colonialism: The 1746 Earthquake-Tsunami in Lima, Peru, and Its Long Aftermath

From my list on natural disasters in Latin America and Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my history of the 1746 earthquake and tsunami that walloped much of Peru taught me that disasters serve as great entryways into society. They not only provide a snapshot (today's selfie) of where people were and what they were doing at a given moment (think Pompei) but also bring to light and even accentuate social and political tensions. I have lived my adult life between Peru and California and have experienced plenty of earthquakes. I continue to teach on "natural" disasters and have begun a project on the 1600 Huaynaputina volcano that affected the global climate. 

Charles' book list on natural disasters in Latin America and Caribbean

Charles F. Walker Why did Charles love this book?

Concerns about global warming have focused much attention on glaciers and their relentless retreat. Carey shows that too much of the research has focused on the science of glaciology and the ice-capped mountain peaks themselves, overlooking the people who live near them. He studies the Peruvian Andes, the Cordillera Blanca, the site of devastating avalanches, and much contemporary research. Carey illuminates how local Indigenous people have built their lives around and protected themselves from glaciers and how they are confronting climate change. He also reviews their interactions with scientists and technicians.


In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers is a rare combination of excellent science and captivating narrative (disclaimer--Mark Carey was my PhD student).

By Mark Carey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers in the Shadow of Melting Glaciers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Climate change is producing profound changes globally. Yet we still know little about how it affects real people in real places on a daily basis because most of our knowledge comes from scientific studies that try to estimate impacts and project future climate scenarios. This book is different, illustrating in vivid detail how people in the Andes have grappled with the effects of climate change and ensuing natural disasters for more than half a century. In Peru's
Cordillera Blanca mountain range, global climate change has generated the world's most deadly glacial lake outburst floods and glacier avalanches, killing 25,000 people…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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