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20 Survival Books for Bookworm Preppers

We strongly believe that books can provide a valuable basis for improving your survival skills. Here is our list of the 20 best survival books for preppers.

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Hello there, prepper, survivalist, adventurer or curious mind!

Following our recommendation of movies that touch or revolve around the survival world and skills, we are expanding our list of “must know” with a list of best survival books, as perceived and curated by us.

If reading is not really your thing, check out our survival movies list.

We are aware that books and movies do not make you acquire the actual skills to survive in wilderness, prepare for emergencies, face natural disasters or efficiently stockpile cans in your cabinet.

Books are more like the brain’s dumbbells if you like, they provide the tension but won’t grow the muscle. However, we strongly believe that they can provide a valuable basis for improving your survival skills.

Here is our list of best survival books for you to read.

Survival book alongside survival gear
A survival book might not be the first item that you think to include in your bug out bag, but it can provide a sense of confidence in a desperate situation.

Best Non Fiction Survival Books

1. US Army Survival Manual

Department of Defense (1956)

A book that was written more than 60 years ago and it is still applicable in our times. Although its target audience would be a soldier in the battlefield, any survivalist will find useful advice in it.

Starting with how to navigate, having a medical preparedness for unexpected injuries, how to protect yourself and how to find resources while in wilderness.

The US Army Survival Manual is released by the US Department of Defense which probably makes it the most reliable and well documented encyclopedia of survival advice you can get.

Where we place US Army Survival Manual: Military Survival Guide

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2. SAS Survival Handbook

John Wiseman (1986, revised edition in 2009)

Probably on the most complex survival guides out there, since the author John Wiseman thought of any emergency you could be faced with in your lifetime.

The SAS Survival Handbook provides a wide range of advice, starting with basic survival tips, like what to have with you when you go into wilderness or building a fire with natural elements.

It also goes into heavier tactics, like overcoming challenging climates or terrains and how to protect yourself during natural disasters like storms, avalanches, earthquakes or erupting volcanoes.  

We particularly recommend this piece for the richness of situations covered, making it suitable for beginner and advanced preppers at the same time.

Where we place SAS Survival Handbook: Survival Guide

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3. Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere

Les Stroud (2008)

Les Stroud is a well-known player in the survival game, as we could all see during the seven seasons and specials of his one man show, Survivorman.

Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere is a complete encyclopedia of survival facts captured during the author’s diverse journeys across the globe.

We see this one as a must-have item  for any adventurer, mostly because you will find here the best survival stories you can get from one’s own experience.

There is no tip in this book that Stroud hasn’t tested himself, either in the desert, forest, jungle or on the mountain top.

Where we place Survive!:  Survival Bible

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4. Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors

Piers Paul Read (1974)

This book might be a bit scary and emotional, telling the story of the survivors of a plane crash caused by a human error.

The plane carrying a rugby team, their friends and families started landing procedures too early, leading to the plane hitting the mountain and eventually crashing at a 3,570 altitude, in the heart of the Andes remote area.

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors follows the path of the 16 survivors that lived to tell the story of how they overcame living in wilderness at very low temperatures without any survival skills previously acquired.

Their story might send chills down your spine, but it is worth witnessing “the miracle of Andes” as counted by Read.

Where we place Alive: Survival Books Non-fiction

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5. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants

Lee Allen Peterson (1999)

Not more to say about it than the title itself, except for one fact: the book is small enough to be carried with you in your wilderness adventures.

The information in A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants can be literally life saving if you find yourself in the extreme situation of not having supplies and forced to feed on whatever nature offers you.

Where we place A field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Survival Guide Examples

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6. Outdoor Survival Skills

Larry Dean Olsen (1997)

The best part about this book is that it provides survival tips for situations where minimal to no tools or pre-built elements are available.

In Outdoor Survival Skills you can learn how to work with nature, by identifying the terrain you are in, understanding basic ways to build a shelter over your head, finding or forging drinkable water.

All this knowledge passing is based on the author’s own life learnings. It is a practical guide accompanied by graphic representations to make your survival skills better.

Although some of the techniques here have been marked as outdated by the readers and critics, we still have a deep respect for some of the ancient survival skills. After all, you never know when you might find yourself in a survival situation without smartphones or paracord bracelets.

Where we place Outdoor Survival Skills: Outdoor Survival Books

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7. When all hell breaks loose

Cody Lundin (2009)

With more and more disasters hitting the planet all over, we could not have missed one of the best prepper books about surviving in emergency situations with little to no access to modern life facilities.

Some of the pieces of advice in When all hell breaks loose might seem a bit extreme and not intuitively taken into consideration when prepping for, let’s say, a hurricane or earthquake.

But that is exactly what makes it valuable for any prepper: it makes sure you do not miss scenarios.

It also dedicates a good number of pages to keeping mental space in times of disaster, which is key to efficiently applying any survival skill you have ever learned and practiced.

Where we place When all hell breaks loose: Prepping survival books

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8. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why

Laurence Gonzales (2004)

This one is a powerful combination between telling a story and revealing scientific facts about different areas of life in which survival is key.

Although it is not focused on providing actual survival tips and tricks, what you will find in it is more of a theory around why 2 different people might have better or less chances to get out from the exact same threatening or challenging situation.

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why tells stories about what makes some people overcome hardships while others either give up or become overcome by the circumstances.

Where we place Deep Survival: Books about survival

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9. Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival

Dave Canterbury (2014)

Probably one of the most popular bushcraft books around prepping and surviving, Bushcraft 101 is a complete guide for all outdoors aficionados.

The author shares advice that starts with preparing first aid kits or travel bags to advice about surviving in different weather conditions, taking advantage of nearby resources and learning to work with the landscape wherever you may find yourself.

We found the book to be easy to read and full of complete guidance that is applicable for beginners and pros, with focus on wilderness survival.

Where we place Bushcraft 101: Best survival books

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10. Survival Medicine & First Aid: The Leading Prepper's Guide to Survive Medical Emergencies in Tough Survival Situations

Beau Griffin (2016)

A survival book focused on the topic of medical skills required in emergency situations.

The guide is quite complex, as it covers both prepping for and surviving accidents. These techniques can be used both on yourself and on the people you are with, if any.

Survival Medicine & First Aid teaches you the most basic elements you should add to an emergency first aid kit and not only.

Although we recommend that all survivalists undergo a first aid formation, this book is a good starting point for getting the basics of giving first aid.

Where we place Survival Medicine & First Aid: Medical Skills for Survival

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Best Fiction Survival Books

1. Hatchet

Gary Paulsen (1986)

This is probably one of the most notorious books in the fiction survival literature, Hatchet being the first novel from a series of five.

Hatchet is the story of how a teenager gets out alive from a plane crash in a remote area where he learns how to survive in wilderness using the only tool he has, a hatchet.

Young Brian goes through practically all kinds of threats you might encounter in wilderness: beasts, tornadoes, lack of food and drinkable water and the necessity to be self-reliant.

His story and adventures are captured further in The River, Brian’s Winter, Brian’s Return and Brian’s Hunt. We urge any survivalist to go through the complete Brian’s Saga not only for the good read, but also for the valuable lessons you can drag from the books.

Where we place Hatchet: Best Wilderness Survival Books

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2. Alabama Moon

Watt Key (2007)

Have you ever dreamed about living outside society’s rules, governments laws or modern human’s pains and dramas?

If you are the type of person who goes into long adventures outside the city and into the wild, you probably have.

Alabama Moon tells the story of one young boy doing just that, but in reverse: he starts his life living happily in a forest, with only his father as company and ends up facing  and learning all of society’s conundrums and joys.

The two-parts book is exquisite for the way it illustrates the living in the wilderness of nature, followed by the madness of a challenging society.

Where we place Alabama Moon: How to stay alive in the woods and society

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3. Earth Abides

George R. Steward (1949)

If you are into shtf books, post-apocalyptic stories, zombie stories, sci-fi stories or all possible sci-fi horror scenarios out there, this book is for you.

Set in a future time, on a planet ravished by a deadly virus spread across the Globe, we find ourselves in the company of a survivor, seemingly immune to the virus.

Earth Abides tells two survival stories in parallel: the story that goes inside the mind of the character and the one that happens in the outside world, where everything has changed and continues to change as the plot advances.

Where we place Earth Abides:  Best post apocalyptic books

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Survivor with gas mask and gun in a post apocalyptic environment

4. The Stand

Stephen King (1978)

Since we are talking by a world devastated by deadly viruses, we could not have skipped this gem of a book written by the father of dark and scary literature.

It is worth mentioning that Earth Abides was an inspiration for King’s The Stand. The intrigue is similar, a deadly virus is released into the world because of a glitch in the system, the Defense Department’s system. 

However, the way the story progresses is a bit darker than the one that inspired it, as it touches the delicate topics of humanity’s need to believe in a something higher.

Although dark and twisted, the book is full of suspense and possible skills that would be useful in an eventual post-apocalyptic world.

Where we place The Stand: Dark post-apocalyptic stories

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5. The Wolf Road

Beth Lewis (2016)

Lewis’ debut novel is sprinkled with moments that are authentic, partly because the author herself has lived quite an adventurous life, partly because of the way the inside and outside worlds of the main character are thoughtfully intertwined.

The story in The Wolf Road is about a girl taken under the care and shelter of a man who chose to live his life in the middle of wilderness.

Although not her father, this fatherly figure taught the girl everything there is to know about survival in a forest, but a twist of events makes this nature’s daughter face the deeper truth of her childhood survival story.

After everything she knows seems to shatter and turn to pieces, the girl is forced to venture into a scary adventure inside a new-found civilization, without education and much awareness of the rules that guide this world.

The reader follows the character’s struggle to adapt to a landscape completely different than the one she grew up in, with skills that no longer seem to make much sense.

Where we place The Wolf Road: Fiction on How to stay alive in the woods

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6. Roadside Picnic

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (1972)

A good sci-fi story is one that makes you wonder what you would do if you would actually live in that story.

This book is about an alien visit that lives traces of the event in different places on Earth, but it is not the classical alien plot we are used to: the aliens land, sprinkle all sorts of traces behind, but no one sees them as they don’t seem to want anything from human race or our planet.

The survival story is behind is more about facing the unknown and how that unknown is killing some, while making others rich.

Roadside Picnic is a book about the lengths some people would go exploring the alien “artifacts” and gathering the skills to survive in the ecosystems affected by alien visits.

Where we place Roadside Picnic: Alien Invasion Survival Books

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7. Narrow Escape: Find me in Alaska

Jayenna Wild (2017)

A beautiful and picturesque story about prepping for and surviving the rough turns of nature.

Narrow Escape: Find me in Alaska is a testimony of the fact that no matter how well prepared you think you are, how much you have trained or how confident you find yourself in front of familiar territories, nature has a way of proving that it stands higher than human ego does.

A couple on the verge of marriage goes into an adventure that changes the way they see themselves and the world, teaching them to rethink everything they knew about prepping and surviving, learning to accept their mistakes and forcing them to learn new ways of facing adversity in wilderness.

Where we place Narrow Escape: Preppers and Survival Fiction

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8. We were the lucky ones

Georgia Hunter (2017)

You will find many books out there written by people who survived the terrors and misfortunes of World War II. Some of them are scary, others just make you question the meaning of all the small things that seem worthy of your efforts.

But We were the lucky ones, although not written by a survivor of the dark times of World War II, is a cruel and authentic illustration of what living those days looked like for the less lucky ones.

The title is optimistic, but the plot is heartbreaking. You will witness the different ways in which the members of a Jewish family experience these tragic times, hanging only on the hope they will one day be reunited, going back to a normal life.

From crossing wild forests to avoid authorities, to running away to a different continent or fighting a war that doesn’t seem fair, each member of this family tells a different World War II survival story.

The survival piece is strong in more than one way, especially since it is based on the true story of the author’s own grandparents.

Where we place We were the lucky ones: War survival books

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9. The giver of Stars

Jojo Moyes (2019)

When classical, normal life seems too boring, you go on a thrilling adventure the Kentucky mountains, delivering books to people living in these remote areas.

This is what The giver of Stars is about on the surface, but you are up for a surprise as you read through and discover how five women manage to survive and discover the occasionally harsh landscape of these mountains.

The characters go through difficult survival situations, fighting for their dream to escape the conventional role of housewives in the US Depression era.

Where we place The Giver of Stars: Books about surviving in the mountains

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10. Patriots

James Wesley Rawles (1998)

We end our list of fiction survival books with this one for two good reasons: it is written by a former army man and well-known personality in the field, so preppers and adventurers will find relevant and valuable survival tips and tricks for day to day escapades.

The second reason is that even if sprinkled with survival skills, it also stands for a great fiction story to enjoy on a sunny day on your porch.

Patriots is about a group of people navigating a world left without the benefits of laws, modern technology and complex infrastructure.

They are forced to use new ways of finding food, communicate and commute, while building trust in each other in face of adversities.

Where we place Patriots: Fiction Survival Books with True Survival Tips

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Best Survival Books Conclusions

Our list of survival books is not only about actual surviving skills, but also about other aspects of overcoming emergency and difficult situations, such as mental strength, emotional maturity and ingenuity.

If you read any or all these books, let us know what you think of them or use the comments section below to complete our list with your own favorite survival stories.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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