The most recommended natural disaster books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to natural disasters, and here are their favorite natural disaster books.
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Book cover of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

Carrie Vaughn Author Of Bannerless

From my list on imagining life after an apocalypse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have an idea. A conviction, let's call it, that humanity is not doomed. The Mad Max scenario where civilization collapses, thrusting us into an anarchic hellscape in which the living envy the dead, is totally unrealistic and not likely to happen. So let's imagine a post-apocalyptic scenario in which people come together to help each other, to save what knowledge they can, to build something new and useful. To learn the lessons from the destruction that came before. This is what I tried to imagine in my novel Bannerless, and this is why this topic interests me so much.

Carrie's book list on imagining life after an apocalypse

Carrie Vaughn Why did Carrie love this book?

When you study the long arc of history you begin to suspect that apocalypses aren't just inevitable, they're common. And so is survival, which is a really heartening thought. Human beings are crazily adaptable, and our ability to come together in communities (ideally, when we're at our best, which granted isn't always and is hard to see sometimes) will aid our survival. Annalee Newitz tells us how this is has happened before, and how it can happen again.

By Annalee Newitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scatter, Adapt, and Remember as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Science & Technology

In its 4.5 billion-year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful megavolcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How? In this brilliantly speculative work of popular science, Annalee Newitz, editor of io9.com, explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember explores…


Book cover of A Flood of Kindness

Janie Reinart Author Of When Water Makes Mud: A Story of Refugee Children

From my list on hope-filled children’s stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a word gatherer. I can sweet-talk a phrase here and surprise a pun there—finding the words to hold a feeling. I revel in playing with words for the sheer joy of writing. My passion is cultivating the heart-to-heart writer/reader connection. A joy-bringer, my glass is always half-full. A former Poetry Day Liaison for OCTELA (Ohio Teachers of English Language Arts), a Teacher Consultant with the National Writing Project, educator, author, and poet, I share hope-filled stories and poems.

Janie's book list on hope-filled children’s stories

Janie Reinart Why did Janie love this book?

I appreciate the gentle way Ellen Leventhal empowers children in this picture book—showing even the youngest child can do small things to help others. Charlotte, the main character, her parents, and her toy bear arrive at the shelter after evacuating their home because of flooding. Charlotte watches people at the shelter and in the community share acts of kindness with the flood victims. Even though she is sad and upset, she follows their example. When Charlotte sees a younger child crying because his teddy was lost in the flood, she gives her stuffie to the little boy. It reminds me of how attached my two-year-old grandson is to his teddy bear. These small gestures shine a light of healing and hope during a natural disaster. 

By Ellen Leventhal, Ellen Leventhal, Blythe Russo (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Flood of Kindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Perfect for all children experiencing loss or grief, A Flood of Kindness gracefully confronts difficult feelings and celebrates the healing power of kindness.

"The night the river jumped its banks, everything changed."

So begins A Flood of Kindness, a poignant picture book that addresses grief and loss and demonstrates how kindness can bring hope. Written in spare prose and told from an intimate first-person point of view, the story follows Charlotte, a young girl who watches floodwaters rise in her home and is forced to evacuate to a storm shelter with her parents. Kind people she doesn't know give her…


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 Resenting the Hero

Hadeer Elsbai Author Of The Daughters of Izdihar

From my list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, many of the female characters in the media I engaged with were thin stereotypes (and some still are). Slowly, culture shifted towards the “strong female character, which quickly became a stereotype of its own. As culture shifts again to more nuanced female characters, many of them are slapped with the label of “unlikeable.” The label usually means that the character isn’t a tired stereotype and is complex, multifaceted, and interesting. Also, nearly all the time, the same traits admired in a male character are despised in a female character (think of Alicent Hightower, whose moral complexity would certainly be celebrated in a man). 

Hadeer's book list on epic fantasies with "unlikable" female characters

Hadeer Elsbai Why did Hadeer love this book?

This book is told in first-person from the perspective of Dunleavy, a pretty judgmental young woman who is not happy to be partnered with the infamous Shintaro Tarish. She's stubborn, inexperienced, naive, a little full of herself, cold, overly logical, and has little to no emotional intelligence. She also takes everything in stride, has an incredible dry wit, and is genuinely caring.

She's the type of character who will make you feel so many emotions, because she's so real she leaps off the page. There were times when I audibly groaned because Dunleavy's actions were just so terribly frustrating. I was delighted by her and her slow-burn friendship with Shintaro, made so tantalizing because Dunleavy can be so terrible to him sometimes!  

By Moira J. Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a realm beset by natural disasters, only the magical abilities of the bonded Pairs—Source and Shield—make the land habitable and keep the citizenry safe. The ties that bind them are far beyond the relationships between lovers or kin—and last their entire lives…

Whether they like it or not.

Since she was a child, Dunleavy Mallorough has been nurturing her talents as a Shield, preparing for her day of bonding. Unfortunately, fate decrees Lee’s partner to be the legendary, handsome, and unbearably self-assured Lord Shintaro Karish. Sure, he cuts a fine figure with his aristocratic airs and undeniable courage. But…


Book cover of Earth

John Elkington Author Of Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism

From my list on green sci-fi books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been fascinated by history – and by the future. As a Boomer, born in 1949, I have surfed successive environmental, green, and sustainability waves. Since 1978, I have co-founded four businesses in the field, all of which still exist. I am now Chief Pollinator at Volans. I have served on some 80 boards and advisory boards and spoken at nearly 2000 major events worldwide. And I have authored or co-authored 20 books, including the million-selling Green Consumer Guide series from 1988. Science fiction has been a constant inspiration. The books I have picked are generally optimistic, in contrast to dystopias like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Finally, given the richness of this area of fiction, we can be sure that there are many many other green sci-fi shortlists out there waiting to be published, including ones featuring women like Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.

John's book list on green sci-fi books

John Elkington Why did John love this book?

Earth, published in 1990, had me dog-earing many, many pages. A sense of our responsibility to the planet is shot through the book. For me this novel was very much in the spirit of a near – but warped – future that I had so enjoyed early on in books like John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar. When I wrote to Brunner to say that his dystopian view of the future struck me as likely, he replied that he was disappointed, having written it as a warning, to minimize the risk of the future being driven off the rails by over-population. 

Earth, overall, is more optimistic. Another novel on related themes by Brin was The Postman, made into a film starring Kevin Costner. Again, I interviewed David early in 2021 for our new Green Swans Observatory—and a key theme was his inspiration by the Judaic concept of…

By David Brin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's fifty years from tomorrow, and a black hole has accidentally fallen into the Earth's core. A team of scientists frantically searches for a way to prevent the mishap from causing harm, only to discover another black hole already feeding relentlessly at the core - one that could destroy the planet within two years.


Book cover of If Tomorrow Doesn't Come

Gigi Griffis Author Of The Wicked Unseen

From Gigi's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Feminist History nerd Humorist

Gigi's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gigi Griffis Why did Gigi love this book?

This powerful, emotional book explores depression, first love, queerness, and connection against the backdrop of a catastrophic, world-ending event to come.

On the day the main character plans to end her life, instead she discovers that the entire earth only has a short time left to live. And so she moves toward the people she loves instead of away, wrestling with deeply relatable feelings of failure, loneliness, unworthiness, and disconnection. 

I cried multiple times and wanted to hold every character close.

By Jen St Jude,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If Tomorrow Doesn't Come as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

We Are Okay meets They Both Die at the End in this YA debut about queer first love and mental health at the end of the world-and the importance of saving yourself, no matter what tomorrow may hold.

Avery Byrne has secrets. She's queer; she's in love with her best friend, Cass; and she's suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. But on the morning Avery plans to jump into the river near her college campus, the world discovers there are only nine days left to live: an asteroid is headed for Earth, and no one can stop it.

Trying to spare…


Book cover of The Rapture

Jane Rogers Author Of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

From my list on believable British stories set in the near future.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my eighth novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I had to move the story into the future in order to explore the topics I was trying to understand. I think through writing: sometimes I feel it is only through writing that I really engage with the world. Work on Jessie Lamb entailed a lot of scientific and future research, and after that I read more and more future fiction, with an increasing appetite for the work of writers who are really interested in exploring where we are headed as a species, and how we might try to survive the damage we have inflicted on the earth.

Jane's book list on believable British stories set in the near future

Jane Rogers Why did Jane love this book?

Here’s another novel about ecological catastrophe, but with the addition of a violent and delusional female prophet, who predicts the very dates upon which disasters will occur. I had been meaning to read Jensen for years, but was finally reminded to by discovering that she is a fellow member of Extinction Rebellion.

I was completely gripped by The Rapture, which managed to be unpredictable right to the very end. For once, I honestly can’t say better than The Daily Mail: A gripping tale of love, death and religion, set in the not-too-distant future… deliciously apocalyptic and jammed full of ideas, this is storytelling at its rapturous best.

By Liz Jensen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a merciless summer of biblical heat and destructive winds, Gabrielle Fox's main concern is a personal one: to rebuild her career as a psychologist after a shattering car accident. But when she is assigned Bethany Krall, one of the most dangerous teenagers in the country, she begins to fear she has made a terrible mistake. Raised on a diet of evangelistic hellfire, Bethany is violent, delusional, cruelly intuitive and insistent that she can foresee natural disasters - a claim which Gabrielle interprets as a symptom of doomsday delusion. But when catastrophes begin to occur on the very dates Bethany…


Book cover of Up and Adam

Norene Paulson Author Of What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

From my list on children’s picture books on inclusion.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former middle school language arts teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles some students face trying to be accepted and the heartbreak they experience when they are not. Every child deserves to be seen and appreciated for who they are and not be excluded or ostracized due to factors over which they have little control. I write and promote picture books about friendship, acceptance, and inclusion because everyone deserves to be included…always. 

Norene's book list on children’s picture books on inclusion

Norene Paulson Why did Norene love this book?

This is a wonderful story whose main character has Down’s Syndrome, but it’s not a book about a child with Down’s Syndrome. The focus instead is on Adam’s kindness, his helpfulness, his positive attitude, and his community’s willingness to value him as a respected member. I absolutely love the sense of community inclusion found in this story.

By Debbie Zapata, Yong Ling Kang (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Up and Adam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A boy with Down syndrome lifts spirits all over town!

It’s the day after the big storm. Adam and his dog, Up, are finishing breakfast when the mayor appears on TV asking everyone to help with the cleanup. She says, “Now, it’s time to get to work. Up and at ’em!” When Adam hears the mayor tell him and Up to get to work, he’s on it! “We can help!” Adam says. And as everyone in the town is about to discover — they really can!

With kindness in his heart and a smile on his face, Adam shows readers…


Book cover of Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection and Bridging Divides

Dorothy Suskind Author Of Workplace Bullying: Finding Your Way to Big Tent Belonging

From my list on why work sometimes sucks and what to do about it.

Why am I passionate about this?

The truth is, I’ve never fit in. I'm always asking questions like: Why do we do it that way? And, what if we tried this instead? These types of questions, however, though intriguing to me and other creatives, make the keepers of the status quo really nervous. As a professor and narrative inquiry researcher, I study the stories of people who've been silenced—extracting the characters, plot, and setting these narratives have in common. For workplace abuse survivors, a salient theme is they think big! To support this mission, I'm on the Executive Board and serve as the Education Director for the National Workplace Bullying Coalition and am a regular contributor to Psychology Today. 

Dorothy's book list on why work sometimes sucks and what to do about it

Dorothy Suskind Why did Dorothy love this book?

As a narrative inquiry researcher, I study stories of people who have experienced a shared phenomenon, such as workplace bullying, sexual assault, or a natural disaster. Almost without exception, the initial plotlines are ones of devastation.

Over the years, I have attempted to come to a deeper understanding of where the hurt resides. Cohen answers that question, documenting for the reader how our desire to be a contributing member of a community is at the center of our striving, and how the surest way to wound another is by pushing them outside the inner circle. The cruelest of all acts is to revoke someone’s belonging to their community, and more tragically, themselves.

In Cohen’s masterful book, he shares stories and details the research on why our need to belong is an essential ingredient of being human and offers the reader fruitful ways to form more meaningful connections. 

By Geoffrey L. Cohen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stanford University psychology professor Geoffrey L. Cohen has used science to show that when people don't have a sense of belonging, negative consequences often follow: diminished performance at school and work, poorer health, increased levels of hostility and more divisive politics. This book offers concrete steps that we can all take to foster belonging.

Cohen is known for major studies revealing practical actions ("wise interventions") that creatively reduce conflict in all areas of life. Something as simple as affirming your core values before a test can markedly increase your score. Helping others in even small matters can improve health and…


Book cover of The Sea Knows

Charlotte Gunnufson Author Of Dream Submarine

From my list on exploring the ocean for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a children’s book author who is awed by the ocean and the creatures that dwell in its depths. I love writing for kids because they’re unabashedly eager, enthusiastic, and curious! To write this book, I dove deep into researching information about the ocean. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I kept thinking, kids will love these fascinating facts and they’ll want to learn more. The wonderful books on this list tell amazing tales, take kids on adventures, and turn dry facts into a deluge of fun. These nonfiction stories offer kids opportunities to become immersed in our awesome ocean!

Charlotte's book list on exploring the ocean for children

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did Charlotte love this book?

I was delighted to discover this short, sweet, sciency book about the ocean.

Written in rhyme and framed by the reassuring phrase “the sea knows,” this book is ideal for the youngest readers. Many of the concepts and creatures presented are opposites. For example, “the sea knows huge,” one blue whale, is paired with “the sea knows small,” a multitude of tiny krill.

The watery world comes to life in bright, colorful illustrations that are cleverly composed to help kiddos understand the concepts introduced in the text. The back of the book is filled with facts about the plants and animals featured in the story.

By Alice B. McGinty, Alan B. Havis, Stephanie Laberis (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sea Knows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Dive in and explore the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants in this lyrical, fact-filled ode to the sea! This beautifully illustrated picture book features extensive nonfiction backmatter for further exploration.

We are young. The sea is old. The sea has secrets to unfold. The sea knows.

In this playful, rhyming celebration of the marine world, readers can explore all of the wondrous things the sea knows. It knows huge whales and small krill; it knows short crabs and tall giant kelp; it knows brightly colored starfish in shallow pools; and in the inky depths it knows the alluring…