Reading is a powerful tool that can help us prepare for life’s challenges. While it’s true that practice makes perfect, it all starts with gaining the knowledge of what to do. Survival books, as well as books on prepping and homesteading, can provide the knowledge we need to help us survive and thrive during emergencies, disasters, and even end-of-the-world scenarios.
With the unpredictability of the world we live in, it’s necessary to have a good understanding of how to survive in various environments and situations. Hopefully, this list of 12 survival books gives you a good headstart as you gain as much knowledge and skills on everything from wilderness survival and medical emergencies to post-apocalyptic scenarios and creative solutions for surviving with limited resources. Each book is thoughtfully written by experts in their field and has received high ratings and positive reviews from readers. And since National Reading day is just around the corner, it’s time to get your hands on these life-saving books and add them to your reading list.
1. The SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere
One of the top-selling books on survival, The SAS Survival Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere is the bible for preppers and survivalists. Written by John “Lofty” Wiseman, a former member of the British Special Air Service (SAS) and survival expert, this guide provides all the knowledge you need to survive in any environment.
The book covers several topics aimed at helping you deal with various situations. Some useful subjects tackled by Wiseman include basic survival skills such as building shelters, starting fires, gathering food, finding and purifying water, navigating, and administering first aid. It also dwells on self-defense, home security, prepping, and disaster survival. The book also teaches you how to survive in any environment, from the cold Arctic to the arid desert and from mountainous terrain to the open sea.
The SAS Survival Handbook has received rave reviews, with Outside magazine claiming it is “a classic outdoor manual [that] addresses every conceivable disaster scenario. Don’t leave home without it.” Hard to argue with a statement like that.
2. Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
Dave Canterbury is well-known in the field of survival. The former military man owns the Pathfinder School in southeast Ohio where he teaches everything he knows about survival. He also starred in a couple of survival-themed TV shows; namely, Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival and Dirty Rotten Survival on the National Geographical Channel.
On top of that, Canterbury has written three books on survival — Survivability For The Common Man, Advanced Bushcraft, and Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival. The latter, a New York Times Bestseller, serves as a comprehensive guide to the skills and techniques required to survive and thrive in the wilderness. In it, Canterbury talks about the 5 Cs of Survivability. It’s a framework for understanding the essential tools and skills required for wilderness survival, which include a cutting tool, a container, a cordage, a cover, and a combustion device. He also emphasizes the importance of picking the right items for your gear or emergency kit, making your own tools and supplies, gathering and preparing food, and staying safe from the elements.
3. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
If the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a blog post about preparing for a zombie apocalypse, you should take prepping seriously. Lucky for you, Max Brooks wrote a book on the subject.
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead is a valuable source of information on surviving a zombie apocalypse in case it becomes our reality. This book is filled with vivid illustrations and offers a full understanding of zombie physiology and behavior, as well as valuable tips on how to survive against them.
Now, before you say that this survival book is useless since there are no zombies around, it still is a fun and informative read, especially when you consider its focus on preparation and self-reliance. It teaches lessons that are applicable in everyday life, such as the importance of having a plan and being prepared for any emergency situation.
4. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales is a book that examines the psychology and physiology of survival in extreme situations. Gonzales uses a mix of engaging real-life survival stories and scientific research to explore what separates those who survive life-threatening situations from those who weren’t so lucky.
One such true story talked about in the book was that of Juliane Koepcke, who was the only survivor of the tragic 1971 LANSA Flight 508 plane crash. Only seventeen years old at the time, Koepcke survived for eleven days while walking through the Amazon rainforest without food, shelter, or equipment before she was rescued by fishermen. Meanwhile, a better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sat still waiting for rescuers and later died. Gonzales discusses the differences between Koepcke’s and the adults’ approaches to survival, citing her as a prime example of how luck, determination, and an understanding of the environment can contribute to one’s survival in difficult situations.
Throughout the book, Gonzales emphasizes the importance of preparation, training, decision-making, and the “survival mindset” in life-threatening situations. He argues that survival is not just about physical strength, but also mental and emotional resilience. By analyzing the experiences of people who have survived plane crashes, climbing accidents, wilderness emergencies, and other life-threatening situations, Gonzales identifies common traits and strategies that help people stay alive.
Denver Post describes Deep Survival as “stunning” and “enthralling.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper considers it “unique among survival books” and that it “makes [for] compelling and chilling reading.”
5. Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power, and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living
The secret to survival is being prepared. The better prepared you are, the better your chances of surviving whatever situation comes your way. However, it’s quite difficult to tell how long a crisis will last. If things don’t go back to normal after months or even years, you should be ready with a long-term plan.
The Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living by Jim Cobb is one book that’ll teach you how to plan for the worst and prepare for such circumstances. Cobb, the editor-in-chief of Survivor Weekly and other survival-themed magazines, offers readers practical advice and strategies for long-term survival in various disaster scenarios.
The book covers a wide range of topics, including gardening and farming, hunting and foraging, food storage and preservation, water collection and purification, building and fortifying a shelter, off-the-grid power generation, self-defense, and more. It’ll also teach you about how to build a new community in the new world.
6. Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival
One must be able to adapt and improvise in order to survive in the wilderness. Survival Hacks: Over 200 Ways to Use Everyday Items for Wilderness Survival by Creek Stewart is one of the most useful and informative books on survival that deserves a spot on your shelf. It teaches readers some improvisational skills that could be applied to a variety of outdoor situations.
The book provides readers with more than 200 easy-to-follow hacks explaining how to use everyday items like zip ties, foil, duct tape, garbage bags, and more to create life-saving tools and equipment. You’ll also discover how to turn a soda can into a stove, a pen into a compass, a tampon into a water filter, a can into a gas mask, and a fishing lure from a credit card. Stewart also provides tips and tricks on how to build improvised shelters, start fires, find food and purify water, and other essential wilderness survival skills.
7. 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL? If you’re too old or too frail to be one, your next best option is to inject yourself with the Super Soldier Serum. Kidding aside, you can get a feel of being a Navy SEAL by learning what these badass soldiers know. 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation is the perfect guide for anyone looking to pick up survival skills from a retired Navy SEAL.
Clint Emerson, a crisis management pro with more than 20 years of experience as a member of the Navy SEALs, National Security Agency, and Naval Special Warfare Development Group, shows a glimpse of the world of special operations with this life-saving survival handbook. Emerson discusses several skills and methods he learned from being a SEAL operative such as self-defense skills, first aid, survival strategies, and much more. He goes further by citing specific situations and detailing what steps to take to survive each one.
Emerson tackles useful skills you’ll need in dangerous scenarios like close combat moves, survival navigation, evading capture, counter-surveillance strategies, and escaping confinement. He also talks about survival strategies on how to stay off the grid and make your own tools or weapons. This book is not just a survival guide but it will also teach you how to be resourceful and creative in the face of danger.
8. The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
You need food to survive and when there are no restaurants, fast food joints, grocery stores, or delivery services available, you need to know how and where to find food. Samuel Thayer gives readers the knowledge to identify, harvest, and prepare edible wild plants in his book The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants.
This survival book identifies 32 edible plants you can find in the North American wilderness. This is useful if you’re lost in these woods, have to go off-grid, or trying to save money on groceries.
This book will teach you how to identify, harvest, prepare, and conserve these wild edible plants. It also discusses which parts of the plant are edible and which are not safe for human consumption. You’ll also get to know more about the plants, particularly their ecology and cultural history. These interesting facts are good things to know when you’re trying to impress someone while you’re out foraging for food. But more importantly, with the help of this book, you’ll never go hungry again!
9. The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way
You can’t always depend on first responders and medical personnel to be available in survival situations. They won’t magically appear at the snap of your fingers unless you have the Infinity Gauntlet. You need to learn to fend for yourself until you can find help or help finds you. Most importantly, you should be able to treat various medical emergencies when no help is coming.
The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way by Dr. Joseph Alton and Amy Alton, a nurse practitioner, offers plenty of practical information about how to diagnose, treat, and prevent common medical problems in survival situations. This book covers different medical conditions and emergencies from minor cuts and scrapes to major injuries like fractures and gunshot wounds.
What makes this book different from other medical resources is that it’s meant to guide people with zero medical background to handle medical issues and emergencies. As the title suggests, this survival book will help you take care of yourself and others in times when medical help is not available. That also means you may not have access to medical equipment, tools, and supplies which is why the authors have also included ways to improvise.
10. Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills
Humans still dominate the planet because our ancestors learned to adapt to whatever the universe threw at them. And one major reason why our species survived is that humans developed different skills to survive harsh conditions and life-threatening circumstances. Our forefathers and foremothers also learned to use the resources around them to their advantage paving the way for a better life.
Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills by Abigail Gehring revisits some of these skills and techniques. It’s a great read for those who want to be more self-sufficient since it teaches a wide range of skills that can be put to good use if you’re living off the grid, on the homestead, or even in a cramped apartment in the city.
This survival book teaches practical and useful skills that help you on your journey of self-reliance and traditional living. It provides detailed instructions and illustrations that make it easier and more fun to learn such skills as raising chickens and other animals, planting an edible garden and grafting trees, dyeing wool with plant pigments, making cheddar cheese and jams, and building anything from hutch tables to a log cabin.
With more than 200,000 copies sold, this full-color survival book is a must for anyone looking to build a sustainable lifestyle. It’s one survival book that will definitely make your reading list!
11. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-Sufficient
Be the best homesteader you can be with 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead by David Toht. This must-have book will help you master the art of self-sustainability thanks to its clear and detailed instructions, exploded-view drawings, complete lists of tools and materials, and proven techniques.
Toht, a veteran contractor with over 60 authored or edited books under his name, made it a point to make the projects in this book as simple, convenient, and affordable as possible. That makes it a good read for those who are just starting their homesteading journey.
This book covers 40 crucial projects such as building a chicken coop and run, a goat shed, and different types of beehives. You’ll also learn how to build trellised arbors, soil blocks, inclined planters, wooden raised beds, and container gardens. Some home improvement projects included in the book are installing picket or electric fences, building a saltbox shed, and installing plumbing and wiring. For self-sustainability, the book discusses how to produce food through aquaponics and hydroponics, installing a solar power system and a wind-powered system like a windmill. All these activities are not just fun and rewarding; they’re essential when it comes to prepping and survival in the long run.
12. 57 Scientifically Proven Survival Foods to Stockpile: How to Maximize Your Health With Everyday Shelf-Stable Grocery Store Foods, Bulk Foods, And Superfoods
While producing your own food should be the goal, you also need to learn how to stockpile emergency food to prepare for emergencies. Learn what kinds of food are perfect for your prepper pantry with 57 Scientifically Proven Survival Foods to Stockpile. This life-saving survival book by Damian Brindle talks about nutrient-rich survival foods that you can purchase at grocery stores and keep in your home for emergencies.
Brindle picked 27 food items that’ll supercharge your daily nutrition and 19 “superfoods” that help improve digestion, immunity, and other important body functions. To complete the roster, she also included 11 emergency foods that are best bought in bulk. Brindle also gave some tips on where you can buy these survival foods cheaply. Furthermore, the book also shares some secrets on how to store these essential pantry items properly so you’ll always have food to eat when the going gets tough.
This survival book gives lots of sound advice on how to prepare for disasters and other emergencies mainly by stocking up on the essentials. It’s common to see people crowding stores after a disaster with some of them ending up fighting for items. This book reminds you that stockpiling survival foods will keep you from being of those ill-prepared people scrambling to feed their families during such tumultuous times.
By reading these survival books, you’ll gain a better understanding of how to survive in a variety of situations, and you’ll be better equipped to face any challenges that may come your way. Don’t limit your reading list to physical books, though. There are plenty of resources you can go through to learn everything you need to learn. You can purchase e-books, visit websites or blogs, or find survival-themed podcasts and videos. You can also visit survival websites like Gentleman Pirate Club for tips, discussions, and reviews. With the right resources at your fingertips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a survival expert!
So whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a prepper, or simply someone who wants to be prepared for anything, these books are a valuable resource that you won’t want to miss.
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