The best books about societal collapse

Who picked these books? Meet our 54 experts.

54 authors created a book list connected to societal collapse, and here are their favorite societal collapse books.
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What type of societal collapse book?


The Raft

By Fred Strydom,

Book cover of The Raft

Dave-Brendon de Burgh Author Of Betrayal's Shadow

From the list on speculative fiction by South African authors.

Who am I?

I was a bookseller specializing in SFF for around 13 years, during which I wrote two novels and many short stories, and I ran a review blog for many years. My love of SFF and Horror began when I was around nine years old, at which time I read Pet Sematary, which opened up the world of ‘grown-up’ books for me. I’m proud to say that I read more speculative fiction than anything else, and I love discovering new voices and visions in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.  

Dave-Brendon's book list on speculative fiction by South African authors

Discover why each book is one of Dave-Brendon's favorite books.

Why did Dave-Brendon love this book?

While this book is more literary than plot- or character-driven, it deals with the loss of memory and self, and the struggles to reclaim those parts of oneself. It reads like a dream, or a series of dreams – as the reader you’re not entirely sure what is important and what isn’t, but the beautiful prose and interesting situations keep things going.

By Fred Strydom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The day every person on earth lost his and her memory was not a day at all. In people's minds there was no actual event. . . and thus it could be followed by no period of shock or mourning. There could be no catharsis. Everyone was simply reset to zero."

On Day Zero, the collapse of civilization was as instantaneous as it was inevitable. A mysterious and oppressive movement rose to power in the aftermath, forcing people into isolated communes run like regimes. Kayle Jenner finds himself trapped on a remote beach, and all that remains of his life…


By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seefers (translator),

Book cover of Fever

Tony Park Author Of Blood Trail

From the list on to read on an African safari.

Who am I?

I'm an Australian who fell in love with Africa in my 30s. I've now written 20 thrillers set in Africa and several non-fiction biographies. My wife and I have travelled extensively on the continent and now spend at least half our lives in Africa, and the remainder in Australia. I'm passionate about Africa's people, wildlife, and fragile natural environment. While my books focus on some of the continent's problems – especially the illegal trade in wildlife – I'm a sucker for a happy ending and find no shortage of positive, inspirational people on my travels who serve as the inspiration for the good guys and girls in my stories. 

Tony's book list on to read on an African safari

Discover why each book is one of Tony's favorite books.

Why did Tony love this book?

South African author Deon Meyer is, in my opinion, the best crime writer in the world. Most of his books are detective stories set in Cape Town, but Fever was a radical departure for him. As an author, I know how important it is for me to keep myself engaged and interested in my writing and not become stale. Deon shook up his readership with this tale of a fictional pandemic (written before Covid 19) and its impact on South Africa. Brilliant and scary and top marks to Deon for leaping out of his comfort zone.

By Deon Meyer, K.L. Seefers (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'UK readers, you have a nice surprise coming. No, not Brexit, FEVER, by Deon Meyer. Reminiscent of THE STAND and THE PASSAGE. Great stuff' STEPHEN KING

'An epic read that
has a dystopian feel and makes
you ask the question: What if?' SUN

I want to tell you about my Father's murder.

I want to tell you who killed him and why.

This is the story of my life.

And the story of your life and your world too, as you will see.

Nico Storm and his father drive across a desolate South Africa, constantly alert for feral dogs, motorcycle…

The Year of the Flood

By Margaret Atwood,

Book cover of The Year of the Flood

Oliver Maclennan Author Of Living Wild: New Beginnings in the Great Outdoors

From the list on the weirdness and wildness of nature.

Who am I?

My choice of books reflects a lifelong passion for literature and the natural world. I’ve always enjoyed travelling, to cities or more remote locations, learning as much as I can about the people that live there, and my first published article was about a hotel in Mali, photographed by my sister. Ten years later we published our first book, The Foraged Home. With Living Wild we wanted to look more deeply at how people lived, not just where, focussing not only on day-to-day life and their work, but their relationship with the surrounding landscape, asking big questions about our place in the world.

Oliver's book list on the weirdness and wildness of nature

Discover why each book is one of Oliver's favorite books.

Why did Oliver love this book?

A novel that takes place following the extinction of most of the human species during a viral pandemic.

I decided to start reading this in March 2020, during the first lockdown. It was oddly soothing. It can’t get as bad as this, surely? Sinister corporations, marauding gangs, genetically engineered monsters.... I honestly don’t know anymore.

By Margaret Atwood,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Year of the Flood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments—the second book of the internationally celebrated MaddAddam trilogy, set in the visionary world of Oryx and Crake, is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction.

The long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life…

Ready Player Two

By Ernest Cline,

Book cover of Ready Player Two

Jason Jowett Author Of Alchemy Series Compendium

From the list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview.

Who am I?

As an avid explorer having thrice traveled around the world, living and working in over 40 countries, my inspirations as so originally science fiction have found grounding. I looked to level my imagination in the real world and filtered out the impossible from the unnecessary on a path to utopia. Sharing our ideas, exposing misgivings too, all contribute to a shared realization of human potential. This is much of the reason for who I am as a founder of business platforms I designed to achieve things that I envisage as helpful, necessary, and constructive contributions to our world. Those software endeavours underway in 2022, and a longtime coming still, are Horoscorpio and De Democracy.

Jason's book list on inspiring sci-fi that reforges your worldview

Discover why each book is one of Jason's favorite books.

Why did Jason love this book?

For the vastly impossible feat of presenting a sequel to a thoroughly immersive narrative, this did impress. The lead out of the original gives the feeling of the impossible and so it was delivered. Brokering A.C. Clarke's range of brilliance plus getting into the popular references of my youth, in the cyberpunk, virtual reality, corporate elite defining drama, aren't we all familiar with dystopia by now? Where or when does the apocalypse become inevitable and what are you steering towards there or then? I was awe-inspired by this handling of ethical uses of hyper-tech which is one I left up to my reader's imagination by the end of my own series. Whether imagined VR can ever become a coded reality, or if it's only ever going to be imagination, this is the challenge of the Age of Aquarius.

By Ernest Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything.

Hidden within Halliday's vaults, waiting for his heir to find it, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS a thousand times more wondrous - and addictive - than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest: a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.

And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who'll kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade's life and the…

Riddley Walker

By Russell Hoban,

Book cover of Riddley Walker

Sam Kates Author Of The Cleansing

From the list on post-apocalyptic novels that stay with you.

Who am I?

Many years ago, I sat down in front of the TV with my dad and watched a film called The Omega Man. I remember how thrilled I felt seeing Charlton Heston enter a department store and pick out any clothes he fancied without having to pay for them. I imagined walking down a deserted high street, calling into shops (usually toy or sweet shops—I was nine), and simply helping myself. A few years later, I watched the BBC TV series The Survivors. It was grey, gritty, and downright miserable, but cemented my love of the genre. It was inevitable that one day I would write my own apocalyptic tale.

Sam's book list on post-apocalyptic novels that stay with you

Discover why each book is one of Sam's favorite books.

Why did Sam love this book?

This novel is set a couple of millennia after the apocalyptic event in what is currently the English county of Kent. It is narrated by the title character in a form of pidgin English that’s difficult to come to grips with. It took me a few goes to get into this book, but am I glad I did.

Riddley’s narration employs phrases like ‘suching waytion’ (situation) and ‘catwl twis’ (catalyst). Neither prose nor dialogue are easy to understand at first, but the perseverant reader grows accustomed to the strangeness of the language. They find themselves so absorbed in the richness and quirkiness and heart-rending awfulness of Hoban’s future world, their earlier struggles are quickly forgotten. This tale haunted me long after I’d finished it. It still does.

By Russell Hoban,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A hero with Huck Finn's heart and charm, lighting by El Greco and jokes by Punch and Judy...Riddley Walker is haunting and fiercely imagined and-this matters most-intensely ponderable." -Benjamin DeMott, The New York Times Book Review "This is what literature is meant to be." -Anthony Burgess "Russell Hoban has brought off an extraordinary feat of imagination and style...The conviction and consistency are total. Funny, terrible, haunting and unsettling, this book is a masterpiece." -Anthony Thwaite, Observer "Extraordinary...Suffused with melancholy and wonder, beautifully written, Riddley Walker is a novel that people will be reading for a long, long time." -Michael Dirda,…

A New Path

By Arthur Haines,

Book cover of A New Path: To Transcend the Great Forgetting Through Incorporating Ancestral Practices into Contemporary Living

Jessica Carew Kraft Author Of Why We Need to Be Wild: One Woman's Quest for Ancient Human Answers to 21st Century Problems

From the list on surviving the collapse of civilization.

Who am I?

I am a writer, an anthropologist, and a mother. I spent five years researching ancient human survival skills and learning from modern wilderness survival experts about how to live the original Homo sapiens lifestyle. I became deeply invested in the importance of these skills amidst climate change and digital transformation because they connect us to our evolutionary heritage and safeguard our species’ survival into the future if and when our civilization collapses (as all past civilizations have done!) I find hope in being prepared for the possible demise of our industrial system, embracing the opportunities that arise instead of trying to preserve it at all costs. 

Jessica's book list on surviving the collapse of civilization

Discover why each book is one of Jessica's favorite books.

Why did Jessica love this book?

The secret to mastering your apocalypse experience is to think of it not as surviving, but as thrivingin the way that humans did for over 300,000 years as hunter-gatherers.

This book will drop you into that mindset as you read about how far our modern civilization has deviated from our original lifestyle, and the huge price we have paid for all of our comforts, conveniences, and technological wizardry.

This book may make you want to adopt an apocalypse-ready lifestyle even in the absence of societal collapse, since the new path he proposes offers so much in terms of improved health and wellbeing, rewarding outdoor activities, and IRL interaction (enjoy more sex, he says).  

By Arthur Haines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New Path takes a candid look at the contemporary lifeway of humans in an attempt to reinstate our biological norms--patterns of living that define each species on the planet. Whether one is to discuss a wolf, a caribou, or an eagle, there are features of these animal's lives that define them. Given their unique adaptations, they are tailored, through evolution, to living in a particular way (e.g., a caribou cannot enjoy the diet of a wolf). This book presents the forgotten species' norms of Homo sapiens and explains that when we deviate from these patterns, we experience sickness of…


By David Moody,

Book cover of Autumn

Chris Philbrook Author Of Dark Recollections

From the list on zompoc (zombie + apocalypse).

Who am I?

Chris Philbrook spent almost two decades figuring out he didn’t want to use his business degree for business, and his psychology degree for mental health. Instead, he started writing books about zombies, several of which went on to hit bestseller status, and life has been far better as a result. He has authored over 25 books now, spanning multiple genres.

Chris' book list on zompoc (zombie + apocalypse)

Discover why each book is one of Chris' favorite books.

Why did Chris love this book?

Autumn is a two-stage apocalypse story that spills out the horror of the world ending from a mysterious infection, followed up by a second, species-crushing wave of terror as the dead return to life to finish the job the infection began. Autumn is dark, and brutal, and is an older book in the genre, but a refreshing take on the trope of zombies. It’s filled with beautiful imagery and characters with depth and runs into a six-book series.

By David Moody,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In less than twenty-four hours a vicious and virulent viral epidemic destroys virtually all of the population. Billions are killed, within minutes. There are no symptoms and no warnings; within moments of infection each victim suffers a violent and agonising death. At the end of ten minutes, only a handful of survivors remain. By the end of the first day those survivors wish they were dead. By the end of the first week, as the dead get up and walk, they know they are in hell. AUTUMN, the classic free underground novel finally bursts into the mainstream. It is cold,…

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Road

Stefán Máni Author Of Deathbook

From the list on losing faith in humanity but having a good time.

Who am I?

I'm Stefán Máni, the Dark prince of Nordic noir. I was an avid book reader from an early age but I didn’t believe I could become a writer myself one day. I dropped out of school at the age of 17, worked in the fishing industry, and travelled to Europe and the United States. I started writing at the age of 23, published my first book at the age of 26, and my first best-seller at the age of 34; the thriller Black’s Game that became a popular movie in 2012. Since then I've written many best sellers and created the most popular character in Icelandic literature; detective Hordur Grímsson.

Stefán's book list on losing faith in humanity but having a good time

Discover why each book is one of Stefán's favorite books.

Why did Stefán love this book?

This is one of the bleakest books I have ever read. And then I read it again, and again.

Why? Because it is scary as hell, and extremely well written. It sets its claws into you and it won’t let go.

The Road is a dystopian masterpiece. The World has ended and what is left is mostly nothing but also horror almost beyond comprehension.

Murder, starvation, cannibalism, you name it. The book is scary because this could happen.

You are also deeply worried about the protagonists; the father and son of the story. In a World without hope, they manage to find it and keep it alive in their hearts. I still have not seen the movie and I do not want to. I love the book too much.

A well-written story creates magic in your brain. This book is magical. A must-read. But a tough one. 

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • A searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive, this "tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful" (San Francisco Chronicle).

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if…

Rising from the Ashes

By Anne K. Nagel,

Book cover of Rising from the Ashes

Justin Oldham Author Of Bibix

From the list on science fiction featuring alien invasion.

Who am I?

Alien invasion is just another form of apocalypse. The terrible truth is, our civilization and our world can end in many different ways. I think of myself as being on a life-long quest to read as many variations as possible. No matter how things end, I’m always interested in how authors portray human survival. Even when we inflict harm on ourselves, humanity always seems to be capable of bouncing back. It’s a form of optimism that I just can’t resist. I try to include some of that hope in everything I write. 

Justin's book list on science fiction featuring alien invasion

Discover why each book is one of Justin's favorite books.

Why did Justin love this book?

This is the first collection of short stories I’ve encountered that deals specifically with the aftermath of an Earth-shattering alien invasion, dwelling mostly on what humans do in the ruins after the aliens have packed up and gone home. I hadn’t really thought about that part of an invasion story before. As difficult as rebuilding would be, I was heartened to read about the satisfaction the survivors got from reclaiming what they had lost. Now that I’ve read this, it’s an aspect of the post-apocalyptic genre that I’d like to see more of. 

By Anne K. Nagel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Building for Tomorrow

Humanity was unprepared for the Xanite invasion of Earth. After decades of world-wide destruction, global infrastructure crumbled and cities fell into ruin.

As the calamity unfolded, a new generation of heroes confronted an uncertain future. They came from all walks of life – some wearing camouflage, while others were garbed in food service whites. These men and women worked courageously to stem the collapse of human civilization.

It would take new thinking and new beliefs to bring about a better future and deal with the alien menace. These are some of their stories of bravery and determination.…

The Light Pirate

By Lily Brooks-Dalton,

Book cover of The Light Pirate

Victoria Costello Author Of Orchid Child

From the list on realist that use magic to say hard things.

Who am I?

Like most children growing up with fairy tales and Bible instruction, I believed in miracles and magic. But it was the death of my father at age eight, then having his spirit return to my childhood bedroom to comfort and reassure me, that planted in me a core belief in dimensions beyond material reality. Other influences, including living as a neurodiverse woman and raising a neurodiverse son, working as a science journalist, and reading quantum physics, helped me re-embrace the liminal as part of my adult worldview. The most interesting novels to me often carry subtle messages and bring awareness to underrepresented people and issues, and many do this using magic and the fantastic.

Victoria's book list on realist that use magic to say hard things

Discover why each book is one of Victoria's favorite books.

Why did Victoria love this book?

I've resisted ‘cli-fi’ novels thinking I didn’t want or need more post-apocalyptic doom and gloom in my head.

Finally, after feeling like I was missing out on an important cultural moment, I asked a friend who reads in this genre, and he suggested I start with Lilly Brooks-Dalton’s novel.

Set in an undefined near future, The Light Pirate is more realist than fantasy or sci-fi, but the author makes clever use of an unexplainable, possibly supernatural element to set up the novel’s central question: Are humans going to adapt to climate change or will we die off as a species?

We meet protagonist Wanda, at her untimely birth, during the destructive peak of the hurricane she's named for. Readers invest in Wanda’s unlikely survival as it quickly becomes clear that a key environmental tipping point has come and gone, wiping out her home, indeed the entire state of Florida, leaving…

By Lily Brooks-Dalton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in the near future, this hopeful story of survival and resilience follows Wanda—a luminous child born out of a devastating hurricane—as she navigates a rapidly changing world: A “symphony of beauty and heartbreak” (Associated Press).

A Good Morning America Book Club pick · #1 Indie Next pick · LibraryReads pick · Book of the Month Club selection ·  Marie Claire #ReadWithMC book club selection · 2022 NPR “Book We Love” · New York Times Editors’ Choice

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches…

Lord of the Flies

By William Golding,

Book cover of Lord of the Flies

Dennis Gentilin Author Of The Origins of Ethical Failures: Lessons for Leaders

From the list on business ethics students and practitioners.

Who am I?

My interest in business ethics was forged in the fire of personal experience. In 2004, shortly after commencing my career in the banking and finance industry, I was publicly named as one of the “whistleblowers” in a trading scandal that rocked one of Australia’s largest financial institutions. The fallout was everything you’d expect from a major governance failure: the resignation of the Chair and CEO, large financial losses, significant reputational damage, and criminal charges for the traders involved. The experience caused me to ask, “Why?” Specifically, why do ethical failures happen? And why will they continue to happen? In the years since, I have spent considerable time reflecting deeply on these questions.

Dennis' book list on business ethics students and practitioners

Discover why each book is one of Dennis' favorite books.

Why did Dennis love this book?

Admittedly I don’t read enough fiction. However, good fiction books can be just as (if not more) instructive to business ethics students and practitioners as the best non-fiction works. The best ones provide lessons that are timeless. One example of this is Lord of the Flies. Based on the story of a group of schoolboys who become stranded on a deserted island, the book is a window into the dynamics that emerge when humans form groups – hierarchies naturally emerge, the battle for power is rarely pleasant, and power in the wrong hands invariably corrupts. More importantly, it shows that without the appropriate institutional guardrails to commend the good and condemn the bad, groups (and institutions) ultimately become dysfunctional and decay.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Lord of the Flies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A plane crashes on a desert island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. As the boys' delicate sense of order fades, so their childish dreams are transformed into something more primitive, and their behaviour starts to take on a murderous, savage significance.

First published in 1954, Lord of the Flies is one of the most celebrated and widely read of modern…

Book cover of A Beginning at the End

Kelly McWilliams Author Of Agnes at the End of the World

From the list on engaged with pandemics, past, present, and imagined.

Who am I?

In June of 2020, I published a cult escape/pandemic mashup novel, Agnes at the End of the World. Of course, pandemic novels aren’t for everyone right now, but there are some readers, like myself, who seek out what frightens us in fiction to survive our present moment. I read a bajillion pandemic novels before embarking on my own, and I hope that it helps someone, as novels have always helped me. Ultimately, every pandemic novel is about social ills, large and small, and about grief. They remind us that we’re all in this complex world together, telling stories around a campfire to shine some light in the dark.

Kelly's book list on engaged with pandemics, past, present, and imagined

Discover why each book is one of Kelly's favorite books.

Why did Kelly love this book?

A Beginning at the End is probably the novel I’d recommend to most readers now, because it’s not just about a pandemic—it’s the story of a pandemic’s long aftermath. The novel paints of picture of societal resilience and growth, and individuals holding out hope for the future after the greatest of tragedies.

By Mike Chen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Beginning at the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Brotherhood

Four survivors come together as the country rebuilds in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic. A character-driven postapocalyptic suspense with an intimate, hopeful look at how people can move forward by creating something better.

Six years after a virus wiped out most of the planet’s population, former pop star Moira is living under a new identity to escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world for those still too…

Book cover of The Collapse of Complex Societies

William Ophuls Author Of Electrifying the Titanic

From the list on the grim ecological-political future.

Who am I?

William Ophuls served as a Foreign Service Officer in Washington, Abidjan, and Tokyo before receiving a PhD in political science from Yale University in 1973. His Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity published in 1977 laid bare the ecological, social, and political challenges confronting modern industrial civilization. It was honored by the Kammerer and Sprout awards. After teaching briefly at Northwestern University, he became an independent scholar and author. He has since published a number of works extending and deepening his original argument, most prominently Requiem for Modern Politics in 1997, Plato’s Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology in 2011, and Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail in 2013.

William's book list on the grim ecological-political future

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

Tainter makes a powerful and almost irrefutable case for complexity as the key to understanding both the rise and the fall of civilizations. In essence, complexity builds and builds until it is no longer manageable, so collapse ensues. That Tainter does not sufficiently appreciate the role that ecological limits, physical constraints, moral decline, and practical bungling can also play in the process does not detract from the power and utility of his argument. For these latter factors, see my own Immoderate Greatness.

By Joseph Tainter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Any explanation of political collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all complex societies in both the present and future. Dr Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.

Book cover of Death is a Welcome Guest

Lesley Kelly Author Of The Health of Strangers

From the list on pandemics and humanity.

Who am I?

In my day job working for a charity, I work with emergency planners, examining how we can minimise the harm caused by disasters, including outbreaks of disease. I’m fascinated by the measures in place to deal with catastrophes, and how contingency planners respond on a practical and a human level. When writing my novel about a killer virus, I devoured both fiction and non-fiction books tackling pandemics ranging from the Black Death to Aids. I am confident I know the skills needed to survive when a pandemic reduces the world’s population to a small, doughty band of survivors. I am not confident I possess these skills.

Lesley's book list on pandemics and humanity

Discover why each book is one of Lesley's favorite books.

Why did Lesley love this book?

Louise Welsh has written three novels about a pandemic called the Sweats – her Plague Times trilogy. This is the second book in the series. I particularly liked this one because its protagonist, Magnus, is a Scottish not-very-good stand-up comedian, and I too was once a not-very-good aspiring comic! After a series of unfortunate events, Magnus ends up in prison, where the disease is rife. Breaking out, he decides to make for his childhood home on Orkney, accompanied by fellow escapee Jeb. The fast-moving plot will keep you racing through this book.

By Louise Welsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death is a Welcome Guest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year

The second instalment in the thrilling new Plague Times trilogy from the author of A Lovely Way to Burn.

Magnus McFall was a comic on the brink of his big break when the world came to an end. Now, he is a man on the run and there is nothing to laugh about.

Thrown into unwilling partnership with an escaped convict, Magnus flees the desolation of London to make the long journey north, clinging to his hope that the sickness has not reached his family on their remote Scottish…

Dies the Fire

By S. M. Stirling,

Book cover of Dies the Fire

B.K. Bass Author Of What Once Was Home

From the list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary.

Who am I?

I lived in small towns with “ordinary” people most of my life, so books where people from small towns contend with situations beyond the ordinary fascinate me. I also served in the US Army as a nuclear, biological, and chemical operations specialist and am a military history buff, so anything with a military spin is all that more engaging for me and I developed a morbid fascination for just how easy it would be for us to end civilization as we know it. Therefore, military science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are among my favorite genres. 

B.K.'s book list on ordinary people surviving the extraordinary

Discover why each book is one of B.K.'s favorite books.

Why did B.K. love this book?

Unlike the typical post-apocalyptic fare of nuclear war or other identifiable disasters, Dies the Fire posits an interesting question: What if everything just stops working? Everything we rely on to drive modern society, from combustion to electricity, fails. Against this backdrop, a cast of characters from varied backgrounds all must struggle to adapt to this new reality. Civilization falls apart, and new orders spring up in their place. What drew me most to this was the different ways in which the characters responded to this situation. Some seek simply to survive, while others seek to exploit this new reality for their own gains at the expense of others.

By S. M. Stirling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

S. M. Stirling presents his first Novel of the Change, the start of the New York Times bestselling postapocalyptic saga set in a world where all technology has been rendered useless.

The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and fuels inoperable—and plunged the world into a dark age humanity was unprepared to face... 
Michael Pound was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane’s engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And…

Book cover of The City, Not Long After

Carl Abbott Author Of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them

From the list on science fiction with really cool cities.

Who am I?

I discovered science fiction at age nine with Rocketship Galileo and Red Planet and have never lost my love for speculative worlds, even after growing up to follow a career teaching and writing about the history of cities and city planning. In recent years, I’ve also begun to write about the field of SF. So it is one-hundred-percent natural for me to combine the two interests and explore science fiction cities. I try to look beyond the geez-whiz technology of some imagined cities to the ideas of human-scale planning and community that might make them fun places to visit or live in if we could somehow manage to get there.  

Carl's book list on science fiction with really cool cities

Discover why each book is one of Carl's favorite books.

Why did Carl love this book?

For much of my academic career, I’ve battled the stereotype that cities are dangerous and deadening places, and certainly not where you want to be caught after plague decimates the population.

Pat Murphy is on my side. She imagines a post-plague San Francisco where the few remaining residents are artists, not bunkered survivalists. Her city “not long after” a plague is a place of creative eccentrics who defend themselves against outsiders with performance art.

Without the excitement of cities, there would be few new ideas, and it is great to find a science fiction book that agrees.

By Pat Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The City, Not Long After as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jax and Danny-Boy, scrambling to get by in a near-future San Francisco ravaged by plague, become fellow artists in their united struggle to stop a tyrannical general from taking over

Teeth and Tongue Landscape

By Carlton Mellick III,

Book cover of Teeth and Tongue Landscape

Elias Witherow Author Of The Third Parent

From the list on that make you feel uncomfortable.

Who am I?

Books that make me feel uncomfortable are usually the ones that have stuck with me most over the years. There’s just something so alluring to me about an author who can effectively bring out that feeling in readers. When I started writing stories, I wanted to make my readers squirm – I wanted to layer the guts and gore with underlying psychological themes that made the violence and trauma that much more impactful. These books that I mentioned acted almost as study guides on how to blend shocking violence with themes of loneliness, depression, and rage. If you layer these correctly, you’re going to effectively be able to make your reader uncomfortable and your stories memorable.  

Elias' book list on that make you feel uncomfortable

Discover why each book is one of Elias' favorite books.

Why did Elias love this book?

This is a truly bizarre novel that can be read in one sitting, but it’s worth every page. Dripping with creativity, this book is a tour of a truly imaginative world unlike anything else I’ve read. The characters and locations will stick with you long after you finish it and the loss the main character feels resonates in a way you’ll never expect. 

By Carlton Mellick III,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a world made out of meat, a socially-obsessive monophobic man finds himself to be the last human being on the face of the planet. Desperate for social interaction, he explores the landscape of flesh and blood, teeth and tongue, trying to befriend any strange creature or community that he comes across.

The Day of the Triffids

By John Wyndham,

Book cover of The Day of the Triffids

Justin Oldham Author Of Bibix

From the list on science fiction featuring alien invasion.

Who am I?

Alien invasion is just another form of apocalypse. The terrible truth is, our civilization and our world can end in many different ways. I think of myself as being on a life-long quest to read as many variations as possible. No matter how things end, I’m always interested in how authors portray human survival. Even when we inflict harm on ourselves, humanity always seems to be capable of bouncing back. It’s a form of optimism that I just can’t resist. I try to include some of that hope in everything I write. 

Justin's book list on science fiction featuring alien invasion

Discover why each book is one of Justin's favorite books.

Why did Justin love this book?

When I think of this book, the first thing that stands out to me is how we could be invaded by anyone – or anything – at any time. This was my first experience with that idea, and it shook me. Another element that gave me pause was the incidental blinding of millions of people and how that affected their ability to resist the invaders. As a visually impaired person, I can’t help wondering how I would fare in a similar situation.

By John Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Day of the Triffids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Bill Masen wakes up in his hospital bed, he has reason to be grateful for the bandages that covered his eyes the night before. For he finds a population rendered blind and helpless by the spectacular meteor shower that filled the night sky, the evening before. But his relief is short-lived as he realises that a newly-blinded population is now at the mercy of the Triffids.

Once, the Triffids were farmed for their oil, their uncanny ability to move and their carnivorous habits well controlled by their human keepers. But now, with humans so vulnerable, they are a potent…


By Erich Krauss,

Book cover of Primitives

T.S. Beier Author Of What Branches Grow

From the list on quests through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Who am I?

I’ve clocked so many hours on Fallout 3 and New Vegas (and, less so, on Fallout 4) that it’s disgusting, but my real love of wastelands began with T.S. Eliot. His poem (The Waste Land), with its evocative imagery, fascinated me in university. While not about a literal wasteland, it inspired me to seek out stories of that vein. I even have a tattoo with a line from it! What Branches Grow was the focus of my grad certificate in creative writing and has won two awards. I am a book reviewer, writer at, and the author of the Burnt Ship space opera trilogy. 

T.S.'s book list on quests through a post-apocalyptic wasteland

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Why did T.S. love this book?

This novel takes place thirty years after a disease has reduced most of the human population to a primitive state. A thriller with exceptional action scenes and tension, the novel features two converging plotlines that are quests through South America and the southern United States when it is almost devoid of uninfected humans. As with a lot of post-apocalyptic novels the real villains of the story are other humans—their greed and need for control. While this book came out two years after mine, it resonated with me. The themes of trust run strong in both our novels, as well as lengthy stretches of landscape without any humans. 

By Erich Krauss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thirty years after The Great Fatigue infected the globe - and the treatment regressed most of the human race to a primitive state - Seth Keller makes a gruesome discovery in his adoptive father's makeshift lab. This revelation forces him to leave the safety of his desert home and the only other person left in the world... at least, as far as he knows. Three thousand miles away in the jungles of Costa Rica, Sera Peoples has made her own discovery - just as horrific, and just as life-changing. It will take her far from the fledgling colony of New…

Bats of the Republic

By Zachary Thomas Dodson,

Book cover of Bats of the Republic: An Illuminated Novel

McKenna Miller Author Of Wyrforra (Wyrforra Wars)

From the list on with weird writing styles.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading and writing stories for as long as I can remember—and the weird ones have always been my favorite. I discovered many of my favorite books by wandering into my local library, telling the librarian about my strange reading interests, and allowing them to set me up with literary masterpieces of the most unusual kind. Once I knew how to bend the rules of genre and form to create something original, I took to creating my own weird stories, and have been doing so ever since in my novels, short stories, D&D characters, and bedtime stories for my bird.

McKenna's book list on with weird writing styles

Discover why each book is one of McKenna's favorite books.

Why did McKenna love this book?

Bats of the Republic is by far one of the most engaging, unique reading experiences I have ever had the delight to enjoy. The breathtaking art decorating every page (and I do mean every page, from the copyright page to the back of the dust jacket) enhances a deep and intriguing story.

One of my favorite parts of this book is that every piece of writing you encounter comes from one of the characters in the story. This makes for a completely immersive experience as you flip through maps, examine drawings of new animal species, and even uncover a few secret messages. Dodson’s incredible art and one-of-a-kind narrative style create a complex, deep world that I couldn’t help but fall in love with.

By Zachary Thomas Dodson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Archetypes of the cowboy story, tropes drawn from sci-fi, love letters, diaries, confessions all abound in this relentlessly engaging tale. Dodson has quite brilliantly exposed the gears and cogs whirring in the novelist’s imagination. It is a mad and beautiful thing.”
--Keith Donohue, The Washington Post

Winner of Best of Region for the Southwest in PRINT’s 2016 Regional Design Awards

Bats of the Republic is an illuminated novel of adventure, featuring hand-drawn maps and natural history illustrations, subversive pamphlets and science-fictional diagrams, and even a nineteenth-century novel-within-a-novel—an intrigue wrapped in innovative design.

     In 1843, fragile naturalist Zadock Thomas must leave…