If you’re reading this, you probably already know the importance of studying books about emergency preparedness and survival, so I won’t bore you with a long intro about why you should read. Instead, I’ll just briefly explain how I came up with this list.
Over the past 8 years or so, I’ve read and enjoyed about 1/3 of these books. The ones I haven’t read were either recommended by experts I trust or have at least 4.5 stars on Amazon with at least 20 reviews (as of this writing), so you can rest assured that these are all high-quality books.
For your convenience, I divided this list into the following 9 categories. You can click on one to jump to its section.
- Bugging Out & Gear
- Bushcraft / Wilderness Survival
- First Aid / Medicinal Herbs
- Food Storage / Survival Cooking
- General Survival / Preparedness
- Homesteading / Gardening
- Urban Survival
- Wild Edibles
Without further ado, here is my list of the 100 best survival books of all time.
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Bugging Out & Gear
Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat by M.D. Creekmore
Every prepper would love to have a survival retreat far away from the city, but buying and maintaining such a place is too expensive for most people. In this book, M.D. Creekmore explains how to find cheap land and a used trailer, how to set up an alternative power source, how to deal with water and waste, and more. The author has actually done these things himself so you can be sure this book is full of great advice.
Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying Put is not an Option by Fernando Ferfal Aguirre
The author of this book has lived through hyperinflation and economic collapse in Venezuela, so he knows what he’s talking about. He explains what to put in a bug out bag, how to leave quickly, where to go after disaster strikes, how to stay safe once you get there, and much more.
Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit by Creek Stewart
If you want to build the ultimate bug out bag–the kind of bug out bag that has everything you might need for any scenario and will keep you alive for a very long time–this is the book for you. It includes photos, supply lists, and tells you where to get everything you need.
Realistic Bug Out Bag by Max Cooper
A lot of bug out bag books and articles are unrealistic. They have a seemingly endless list of items to pack, causing your bag to weigh more than most people can handle, especially if they’re trekking through the woods. So how do you decide what to bring? This book has the answer. It explains how to pack a bag that’s light enough to carry but still has everything you’ll need.
100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Surviving in the Wild and Being Prepared for Any Disaster by Clint Emerson
The author is a retired Navy SEAL who describes 100 essential skills that will keep you alive no matter where you or how little gear you have. He includes detailed instructions and helpful illustrations throughout the book.
Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
This book is the follow-up to Bushcraft 101 (see the next book on the list) and is meant for people who already know the basics of wilderness survival. He covers more advanced skills like tracking animals, making medicines from plants, and navigating without a map or compass.
Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury
This book is based on the 5 Cs of Survivability: cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages. It tells you what items you can use for these functions and how to use them to craft everything you need from your surroundings. Dave has a deep love of nature and it shows. If bushcraft is your thing, this book is a must have.
Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski
This book covers all the essential skills: chopping wood, building a shelter, starting a fire, keeping warm, cooking outdoors, wilderness first aid, finding food and water, and so forth. What sets this book apart from other bushcraft books are all the detailed diagrams and color photos. They make it so much easier to grasp the concepts.
Bushcraft: The Ultimate Guide to Survival in the Wilderness by Richard Graves
All the primitive living skills are covered in this book: building huts, making ropes, tying knots, setting traps, starting fires, and more. It includes hundreds of black-and-white photos and illustrations that will teach you how to make use of the materials in any area, whether deep in the forest or out in the desert.
Camping & Wilderness Survival by Paul Tawrell
This book truly lives up to its subtitle, “The Ultimate Outdoors Book.” At over 1000 pages, every topic having to do with camping and wilderness survival is covered in great detail. It won’t just teach you how to have a fun weekend camping in the woods; it will teach you how to survive when lost in the harshest of climates.
Complete Survival Shelters Handbook by Anthonio Akkermans
It’s not enough to know how to build one type of survival shelter. What if the materials for the one shelter you can build aren’t available? This book will teach you how to build debris huts, rock shelters, tarp shelters, lean-tos, snow caves, and more.
Complete Wilderness Training Manual by Hugh McManners
Hugh McManners spent nearly two decades in the military as a combat-survival instructor. His book includes full color illustrations to teach you everything you need to know about surviving in the wilderness: building a shelter, finding food, purifying water, cooking meals, and more.
Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears
Known for many acclaimed series including Tracks and Extreme Survival, Ray Mears is one of the most knowledgeable woodsmen in the world. This portable book is the next best thing to having Ray with you in the woods. It includes full-color pictures and covers all the basics of bushcraft.
Hawke’s Green Beret Survival Manual by Mykel Hawke
This book was written by a U.S. Special Forces Captain, survival expert, and star of the show, “Man, Woman, Wild.” It’s a good-sized book, and unlike many other survival books, it’s really fun to read. Mykel Hawke’s writing style is clear, interesting, and easy to learn from. If you want to learn about wilderness survival but don’t want to feel like you’re reading a textbook, check this one out.
How To Stay Alive In The Woods by Bradford Angier
This book is a classic, and it lives up to its title. Any reasonably intelligent person could keep himself alive in the woods if he had this book. It covers four essential areas: Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation and Safety. Learn how to catch game, build a fire, keep yourself warm, find your way, stay safe, signal for help, treat wounds, and much more.
Hunting & Gathering Survival Manual by Tim MacWelch
This one is really great for newbies. It lists all 221 survival skills in the index, and they all include photos and diagrams to make the concept clear. The book is larger than most, about 7 x 9 inches, so you won’t be squinting at anything.
Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen
Another classic. It was first published in 1966 and has continued to be a favorite among survivalists ever since. The knowledge inside can teach you how to go from lost in the woods with absolutely nothing to thriving with food, water, shelter, fire, clothing, and more.
Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills – by John McPherson
This book isn’t just about surviving, it’s about living. The techniques in this book are the same ones used by primitive cultures around the world. Make basic tools, clothes, shelters, containers, and everything else you could possibly need.
Roughing It Easy by Dian Thomas
This book has been a favorite among Boy and Girl Scouts for decades. It’s full of great recipe ideas for people going camping or for people who have lost power. In addition to recipes, there are tips on how to use a Dutch oven, how to make your own ovens, outdoor activity ideas, and much more.
Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties by D. C. Beard
Originally published in 1914, this book was written by one of the founders of Boy Scouts of America. It explains how to build everyting from bark teepees to log cabins. It also includes over 300 illustrations to help you grasp the concepts. The wisdom in this book will never go out of date.
Survival Handbook by Colin Towell
This is a great book for anyone who likes to spend a lot of time outdoors. It teaches you how to survive in any climate, what gear to bring with you, how to navigate, how to set up camp, how to treat injuries, how to find water, and how to forage for food. With all the charts, quotes, and pictures, this is a fun book to flip through.
Survival Wisdom & Know How by The Editors of Stackpole Books
The ultimate outdoor survival guide. It covers everything you need to know to survive in the wilderness including navigation, fishing, cooking, canoeing, tying knots, building shelters, hunting animals, finding edibles, reading the weather, and more. Every chapter is full of illustrations and photos.
Wilderness Survival by Gregory J. Davenport
This book was written by a former USAF Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Specialist. It teaches five basic elements of survival: health, travel, signaling, personal protection, and finding food and water. The instructions are detailed and well-written, and there is even a section on survival skills for children.
Wilderness Survival Handbook by Michael Pewtherer
Whether you’re temporarily stranded in the wilderness or attempting to live there for the long haul, this is the book for you. The author covers shelter, water, fire, navigation, medical emergencies, food, fishing, trapping, hunting, and even things like making cordage and containers from scratch.
Wildwood Wisdom by Ellsworth Jaeger
This guide is one of the most popular survival books ever written. Published in 1945, not only does it teach basic survival skills, it is an account of life in the 1800s. You’ll learn how to make clothing from pelts and hides, how to build teepees and other shelters from leaves and branches, and many other things that used to be common knowledge before the Industrial Revolution.
First Aid / Medicinal Herbs
Bushcraft First Aid by Dave Canterbury
Bushcraft expert Dave Canterbury collaborated with Ph.D. Jason Hunt to create the ultimate first aid guide for people in the wilderness. They cover treatment of bleeding, burns, bug bites, broken bones, stroke, heart attack, head injuries, the flu, heatstroke, shock, poisoning, and even lightning strikes. This is definitely the most completely bushcraft first aid book on the market.
Living Ready Pocket Manual by James Hubbard
An excellent introduction to first aid topics for both urban and wilderness survivalists. It provides basic, step-by-step instructions for dealing with all the most common maladies including exposure, skin wounds, poisoning, bone and joint injuries, and much more.
Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants by Steven Foster
The authors of this book have a combined experience of over a century when it comes to medicinal herbs. They go over the traits, uses, and warnings for over 500 plants and even include 700 full-color photographs to help you identify them. This is a wonderful book to have on hand when you go camping or hiking.
Prepper’s Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis
Whether you’re worried about the side effects of artifical medications or worried about a world where medications are no longer available, this is the book for you. It explains how to treat common maladies using teas, salves, ointments, poultices, essential oils, and nutritional syrups. You’ll be amazed how many health issues can be treated with nature’s medicine.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs by Rosemary Gladstar
If you’re interested in medicinal herbs, this is the perfect place to start. Although the book only covers 33 herbs, it walks you through the process of growing, harvesting, preparing, and using the herbs in teas, oils, salves, tinctures, and more. This is the highest rated book on medicinal herbs for a reason.
Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook by Department of Defense
This comprehensive medical reference was designed for Special Operations Forces (SOF) medics. At 722 pages, it’s probably the most detailed medical guide (that a layperson can understand) on the market. If you’re preparing for the end of the world as we know it, this is a must-have for your library.
Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph Alton
When people ask what is a good first aid book for preppers, I usually refer them to this one, not just because of its wealth of information, but because of how well-written it is. Author Joseph Alton, a board-certified Obstetrician and Pelvic Surgeon, blogs at DoomAndBloom.net and has gotten very good at explaining complex topics in a way that is very easy to understand.
Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson
You probably take your dentist for granted, but if the day comes when you have a bad toothache and all the dentist offices are closed, you’ll realize how important they are. This book was designed for community health workers in poor countries and walks you through most dental procedures including how to fill cavities without a dental drill.
Where There Is No Doctor by David Werner
It’s been said that this is the most widely-used health care guide in the world. It was written for health practitioners in third world countries where access to modern medical equipment is limited at best. All the most common medical problems are covered, and the information is very straightfoward and easy to understand.
Wilderness Medicine by William W. Forgey M.D.
This book teaches you how to be your own first responder when stranded in the wilderness. Learn how treat victims of any common sickness or injury. Before you treat someone, you have to know what’s wrong, so this book devotes a whole chapter to assessing the victim. It’s an excellent guide for people with little knowledge of first aid. I linked to the latest edition which doesn’t have many reviews yet, but here you can read reviews for the previous edition.
Food Storage / Survival Cooking
Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide by Lauren Wilson
The author is a professional chef who designed 80 recipes you can make from wild edibles. But this book is much more than a cookbook; it’s a full-fledged survival guide. And with the focus on zombies, it’s both hilarious and useful. You can read my full review here.
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judy Kingry
If you like canning jams, jellies, salsa, pickles, relish, and other delicious foods and condiments, but are tired of the same old recipes, this book is for you. It has over 400 recipes that will make eating your canned food storage something to be excited about.
Big Book of Preserving the Harvest: 150 Recipes by Carol W. Constenbader
This book is for gardeners who have more produce than they can eat. It is full of charts that tell you when to harvest your vegetables, which preservation method to use, how long it will take, and more. It also has dozens of delicious recipes.
Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
For most people, food storage means buying lots of freeze-dried food, but if you really want to enjoy your meals during a crisis, you should store what you normally eat. This book will teach you how to store almost anything. Not only does it cover all the major food storage methods, it teaches you how to find good deals, how to organize your food, and how to create sustainable food sources.
Prepper’s Cookbook by Tess Pennington
There are endless books and articles about food storage, but not nearly as many on how to cook that food. This book includes over 300 delicious recipes that use items commonly found in prepper food caches, from beefy enchiladas to vanilla cream soda. And in case you are new to food storage, it goes over the basics of that as well.
The Pantry Primer by Daisy Luther
This book walks you through the process of going from nothing to a year’s supply of food with a week-by-week plan that includes shopping lists and menu ideas. You’ll learn what to store, how to store it, where to store it, why you should store it, and more. It even includes info on food storage for people with dietary restrictions.
General Survival / Preparedness
98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin
The author was the host of Dual Survival and is currently the director of the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Prescott, Arizona. His strategy for surviving in the wilderness is centered around keeping his body’s core temperature at 98.6 degrees. All of his lessons go back to that central goal.
Contact! A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival by Max Velocity
If you want to prepare for the collapse of civilization as we know it, this is the book for you. It teaches you how to prepare for and survive the violence and general lawlessness that would occur if the police and government stopped functioning. The author learned much about this topic while working as a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dare to Prepare by Holly Drennon Deyo
At 632 pages (which are 8 by 11 inches), this is one of the most detailed survival guides ever written. In fact, it’s about the size of a telephone book! The authors, Holly and Stan Deyo, are prepared for anything, and this book is a blueprint to how they organize their home and emergency supplies. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Doctor Prepper’s Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens
The perfect book for new preppers. If you’re just starting out, there’s enough information in here to keep you busy for the next year. You’ll learn how to gather all the supplies you need without breaking the bank, how to build an in-home storage system, and how to make use of everything when a disaster strikes. Nearly a million copies have been sold.
Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family by Arthur T. Bradley
While many survival books focus on the sensational stuff–nuclear holocausts or zombies apocalypses–this book focuses on what is most likely to happen: natural disasters. While the information in this book can be applied to any disaster scenario, if you’re concerned about things like earthquakes and hurricanes, this book will walk you through the process of getting fully prepared.
Hawke’s Special Forces Survival Handbook – by Mykel Hawke
If you’re torn between your preference for light reading and your desire to learn survival skills, this is the book for you. Mykel Hawke is an excellent writer who knows how to share his wisdom in a way that is easy to understand. This book covers all the basics of survival and is great both newbies.
How to Survive Anything, Anywhere by Chris McNab
This guide will prepare you for almost any disaster scenario imaginable. It covers wilderness survival–building shelter, finding water, hunting food–but it also covers urban survival topics such as home security, self defense, and how to survive a terrorist attack. Even experienced preppers are bound to pick up some new tips from this book.
How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by James Wesley Rawles
The author of this book is the founder of what is probably the most famous survival blog ever, SurvivalBlog.com. In this book, he teaches you exactly what the title says, covering how to get into a survival mindset, how to prioritize your list of supplies, how to set up a survival retreat, how to gather and prepare food and water, and much more.
Just In Case by Kathy Harrison
This book ought to be handed to kids when they graduate high school. Although it’s fairly basic, it covers things everyone should know: how to prepare for house fires, power outages, natural disasters, and other unexpected emergencies that people face every day. This might make a good gift for someone in your life who isn’t prepared for disaster.
National Geographic Complete Survival Manual by Michael Sweeney
This is a beautiful survival manual. It has 200 full-color maps and photographs, and the instructions are all easy to follow thanks to the bulleted lists and custom drawn illustrations. With input from four experts from National Geographic, this book teaches you what to do in almost every wilderness survival scenario you can imagine.
Prepare for Anything by Tim MacWelch
Another beautiful survival guide, this one is filled with full-color photos, charts, and illustrations. It teaches over 300 essential skills with step by step instructions. If you’re a prepper who likes checklists and DIY projects, this book is a must have. There’s enough info in here to help you prepare for… well, anything!
Prepper’s Blueprint by Tess Pennington
I frequently recommend this book to brand new preppers. It’s 55 chapters, so if you read and follow the instructions in one chapter per week, you can go from not prepared at all to prepared for any major disaster in just over a year. The author (also blogger over at ReadyNutrition.com) teaches you step by step what to do and why, and includes checklists so you can make sure you have everything you need.
Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by Jim Cobb
Jim Cobb is the owner and head trainer at DisasterPrepConsultants.com and has guest blogged for countless survival sites including Urban Survival Site. This book covers the basics of preparedness but keeps them interesting by sprinkling in the experiences of him and others. If you’re looking for a good read that won’t take a year to finish, check it out.
Prepper’s Instruction Manual by Dr. Arthur T Bradley
Just like The Prepper’s Blueprint, this is an excellent step-by-step guide to emergency preparedness. If you want to be prepared but you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, simply read this book, follow the instructions, and you’ll be prepared for everything from financial collapse to nuclear holocaust before you know it.
Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide by Jim Cobb
Another great book by Jim Cobb. While Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness (see above) is great for preparing for relatively short disasters, this is focused on long-term disasters like famines, pandemics, economic depressions, other disasters that could take years to resolve. During such times, you’ll need to be able to adapt to very difficult circumstances, and this book teaches you how.
Prepper’s Pocket Guide by Bernie Carr
I love the concept of this book. When I first started prepping, I often felt frozen, not sure what to do next. This book gives you a list of 101 easy things you can do to make yourself more prepared for disaster. The author is the owner and main blogger at ApartmentPrepper.com, and she knows all about how to prep when you don’t have a lot of space or money.
SAS Survival Handbook by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
This book is considered a classic. It’s 672 pages and probably covers more topics than any other on this list (even how to build an igloo). The only downside is that it covers so many topics that it doesn’t cover any of them in great detail. Still, this is one of the most popular survival books of all time for a reason.
SEAL Survival Guide by Cade Courtley
The great thing about a book written by a former Navy SEAL is you know it’s going to be full of solid information and not just secondhand ideas. Cade Courtley teaches how to suvive things like carjackings, auto accidents, airplane crashes, sinking ships, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, behing held hostage, and many serious topics other survival guides don’t even touch.
Show Me How to Survive by Joseph Pred
Although this book wasn’t specifically written for kids, it would make a great gift for any adolescent as it’s full of beautiful illustrations. In fact, the book is like one gigantic infographic, covering all sorts of topics including animal attacks, medical emergencies, stormy weather, and more.
Special Forces Survival Guide by Chris McNab
Learn vital survival skills practiced by special forces such as building a shelter, finding water, hunting for food, making tools and weapons, finding your way without a compass, and dealing with medical emergencies. This isn’t the kind of book you read from start to finish, but it makes a fantastic reference for campers, hikers, and survivalists.
Start Prepping!: Get Prepared For Life by Tim Young
Another excellent book for beginners. This book walks you through ten steps to preparedness: water, shelter, food, energy, first aid, security, money, travel, communication, and survival skills. It’s easy to read, well-organized, and very practical as it covers 27 disasters you’re most likely to face and avoids the talk of doomsday or the apocalypse.
Stay Alive!: Survival Skills You Need by John D. McCann
Although the title of this book mentions skills, it focuses more on survival gear than skills. Not that that’s a bad thing. You need to have good quality gear in the field, and this book is full of great recommendations. The survival skills it does cover are invaluable, and it also includes over 300 full-color photographs.
Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford
This was written by Lisa of TheSurvivalMom.com. Where as most survival books are written for a general audience, this book is geared toward the average young family. Many people don’t worry about preparedness until they have children and realize how important it is to be able to take care of them no matter what happens. Lisa gently but firmly guides you through the process of preparing for disaster.
Survival: Prepper’s Survival Guide by Jack Campbell
If you’re looking for a quick read, you might want to check this out. It briefly covers foraging, hunting, fishing, canning, communication, emergency supplies, disaster tips, and how to handle specific disasters such as earthquakes and pandemics. Like I said, it’s not very long, but the information is solid, and it could be a good book to read in order to get an overview of emergency survival before moving on to more advanced books.
In case you don’t know, Les Stroud is the creator and star of the hit show, Survivorman. Because he has so much experience surviving in the wilderness, he’s able to tell you which skills are worth learning and which aren’t, making this book incredibly valuable. If you like his show, you’ll absolutely love this book.
Survivor Kid by Denise Long
Although several of the books on this list are good for kids, here is one that was specificially written for them (ages 9 and up). In plain language, it teaches all the basics of building shelter, starting a fire, finding food, purifying water, how to navigate, and other crucial wilderness skills. It also includes 10 fun projects that will help cement these skills in the reader’s mind.
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes by Amanda Ripley
This isn’t a survival guide. Rather, it’s a fascinating look at how the human brain copes with disaster. The author is an award-winning journalist who examines some of history’s biggest disasters and consults scientists who study people’s reactions to such disasters. This is a very interesting book for anyone who cares about emergency preparedness.
You really can’t go wrong with this book, as it was written for United States Air Force survival training courses. It covers food, water, shelter, first aid, equipment, navigation, and even psychology. Since it’s written as a textbook rather than an entertaining guide, it can be a bit dry, but it makes a great reference.
Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide by Frank Miniter
Although this book is a great read that you can learn a lot from, keep in mind that it was written for entertainment purposes. Not that the information isn’t good, but there’s also a lot of info that’s just for fun. I recommend this as a gift for almost any guy, especially ones who are interested in prepping and survival.
Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson
Another gorgeous book that would be great for the coffee table. This manual covers over 300 skills in urban and wilderness survival, and it includes full-color picures and illustrations on almost every page. The only downside is that it often doesn’t go into enough detail on the topic at hand, but it’s still entertaining and a good starting place for many skills.
When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin
The author of this book is Cody Lundin, a survival instructor at the Aboriginal Living Skills School and star of the Discovery Channel show, Dual Survival. This book is designed to prepare you for virtually any type of disaster. Of course, that is true of many books, but this one is particularly fun to read thanks to Cody’s writing style.
When The Grid Goes Down by Tony Nester
What would happen to you if the power went out and never came back on? Experts have predicted that after a couple years without power, nearly 90% of U.S. citizens would perish. This book tells you how to be one of the 10%. The entire focus is on how to live without power and how to defend yourself from those who didn’t prepare.
When Things Go Boom by Brian Howard
When author Brian Howard says this book has no fluff, he isn’t kidding. It’s only 142 pages, but crammed with practical information on how to prepare for the end of the world as we know it. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t have a lot of time to read and likes books that get to the point, this is the book for you.
Homesteading / Gardening
Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills by Abigail R. Gehring
This is the ultimate coffee table book for homesteaders and survivalists. With over 2,000 color photos and 200 illustrations, it explains everything you would need to know to live on the frontier in the days before modern technology. This book is a must have.
Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
At nearly 1000 pages, this book really is an encyclopedia. If you told me you were going to move off the grid forever, I would insist you take this book with you. It teaches everything there is to know about living a self-sufficient lifestyle, from finding the perfect piece of land to setting up a homestead to properly maintaining it for years to come.
Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon
During the Great Depression, the U.S. government encouraged its citizens to grow “victory gardens” to help them get through tough times. Today, with the middle class shrinking year after year, more and more people are growing food in order to reduce their grocery bill. This book is for those people. Learn which foods are worth growing, how to grow them well, and how to make the best use of your space.
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham
If you have at leasts 1/4 acre of land and want to start a mini farm that could potentially grow $10,000 worth of food every year, this is your book. It lays out a detailed plan for a farm with all kinds of fruits, veggies, and even chickens. This best-selling book is popular with homesteaders all over the country.
New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour
This has been called the quintessential book on homesteading. Not only does it cover basics such as gardening and food storage, it also teaches you things like how to milk a cow, how to plough a field, and even how to harness solar energy. It’s also filled full-color illustsrations.
Storey’s Basic Country Skills by John and Martha Storey
The authors of this book live on an actual farm, so they know what they’re talking about. This book covers: your home in the country (heat, plumbing, electricity, etc.), your garden (fruits, veggies, berries, etc.), cooking (with all kinds of recipes), and structures (such as barns and stables). It’s an incredibly helpful book with lists, pictures, and illustrations.
The Foxfire Book by Eliot Wigginton
If all of civilization were wiped out and all the technology completely destroyed, The Foxfire Books could be used to rebuild society. They teach everythign there is to know about day-to-day life in the 1800’s. The one linked to here is actually just the first book in the series, but you can see the entire series right here.
Build the Perfect Survival Kit by John D. McCann
If you want to build a complete survival kit from scratch, this book will tell you how. I highly recommend this for beginners who are overwhelmed by all the choices when it comes to survival gear. John covers all the basics and tells you exactly what to get and why.
Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass by Harold Gatty
Most people don’t know there’s more to finding your way in the wilderness than just watching the movement of the sun. A lot more, in fact. Enough to fill 288 pages! This book teaches you how to navigate by examining the wind, trees, smells, sounds, and even anthills.
Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearny
The strained relationship between the U.S. and countries like Russia and North Korea has many worried about nuclear war. Many people think it’s impossible to survive a nuclear war, but it’s very possible if you know how to prepare and what to do if it happens. This classic guide to nuclear war survival was first published in 1986, but it was updated in 2012 to take the latest threats and technologies into account.
Paracord Project Inspirations by J.D. Lenzen
Paracord is one of the most useful survival tools ever invented. There are literally dozens of things you can do with it. If you like paracord, you’ll love this book as it teaches all kinds of knots and projects with step-by-step instructions that include full-color labeled photos for each step.
Prepper’s Water Survival Guide by Daisy Luther
Of all the things you need to survive a disaster, water is arguably the most important. You can’t live more than a few days without water, so you need to know how to store it, how to find it, and how to purify it. Although the information in here is pretty basic, it’s a great read for anyone new to water storage and purification.
Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life by Jason Hanson
This one was written by a former CIA officer and security specialist, so it gets into topics like how to avoid scams, how to escape handcuffs, how to survive carjackings, how to tell when someone is lying, how to disappear from the grid, and so forth. It’s not a survival guide, but it is a great read.
Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
You’re gonna want to keep your tongue in your cheek while reading this one, but that doesn’t mean the information is no good. In fact, if a zombie outbreak actually happened, this book would be very useful. If you know someone who likes zombie shows or movies but isn’t a prepper, this book might be the perfect way to get them interested in emergency preparedness.
Modern Survival Manual by Fernando Ferfal Aguirre
This book was written by someone who was living in Argentina when its economy collapsed and hyperinflation made everyone’s money worthless. He has seen firsthand what that does to society, so his advice is very practical, and he even debunks many common fantasies about life after the SHTF. If an econoic collapse is your primary concern, this is a must read.
Surviving an Urban Disaster by Richard Duarte
If you know someone who you wish would prepare for an urban disaster but isn’t interested or doesn’t know where to start, give them this book. It’s only 100 pages, but it covers all of the essentials and is filled with lists, bullet points, and full-color pictures, making the conceps easy to grasp for newbies. One of the best intro to survival books out there.
Surviving Doomsday by Richard Duarte
Author Richard Duarte’s home was completely destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and he and his family hid from looters in a small closet. After that, he became obsessed with urban survival and wrote the ultimate guide to surviving an urban disaster. This book is the result. You can read my full review here.
Urban Emergency Survival Plan by Jim Cobb
Another great intro to urban survival book. Jim goes over the various threats to urban preppers, what to expect from the government, how to make an emergency plan, what you need to stockpile, and how to defend your home from looters. There are lots of cool ideas in here, like how to set up a hobo alarm system or how to use juice pouches for food storage.
Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents by James G. Mushen
When I think about an urban disaster, the first people who come to mind are my two children. Do I have everything I need to keep them safe? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself a similar question about your own children, or other loved ones, or maybe your pets. If so, this book was written for you. At nearly 500 pages, it covers almost every survival scenario you can imagine and tells you exactly what to do.
Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas
This book focuses on four types of greens: foundation, tart, pungent, and bitter. They’re all plants you might find in your backyard, and although the book doesn’t cover that many wild edibles, it goes into great detail about the nutrients, how to find them, how to grow them, how to cook with them, and more.
Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide by Thomas Elias
This book features 200 wild edibles and has 400 full color photographs to help you identify them. You’ll learn about each plant’s habitat and properties along with how to harvest and prepare them to eat. The author was considerate enough to also include information about poisonous lookalike plants so you don’t make a dangerous mistake.
Extreme Food: What To Eat When Your Life Depends On It by Bear Grylls
Bear Grylls was a soldier in the British Special Forces and star of the show Man vs. Wild. In that show, he ate all kinds of strange foods to keep himself nourished. In this book, not only does he tell you how to find wild edibles, he teaches you how to track and capture game, how to find edible insects, reptiles, and amphibians, and even how to fish without fishing equipment.
Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson
With more than 370 wild edibles covered in this book, it’s one of the most complete guides on the market. It also has 78 photos, 400 drawings, and information on 37 dangerous lookalikes. This has been one of the most popular guides to edible plants for 4 decades and will no doubt continue to be very popular for years to come.
Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer
Although this book only covers 32 wild edibles, they are 32 of the most common edibles in North America and it goes into great detail about each of them. There’s information on identifying, harvesting, and preparing them for meals. The author includes plenty of full-color photographs and writes from personal experience with the plants.
Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer
This was written by the same author who wrote The Forager’s Harvest (see the previous entry), and could be thought of as a companion to that book as there is no overlap between the two books. As with Nature’s Garden, there are lots of full-color photographs. There’s also a good amount of attention given to the dangers of eating the wrong plants and how to avoid the fate of people who accidentally poisoned themselves.
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So there you have it, the 100 best survival books ever! I realize there are probably many other books that deserve to be on this list that I simply overlooked. But I plan on regularly updating this post, so if you know of a book I should add, please leave a comment below and tell me about it. Thanks!