The Survival Library

Written by John L. Davis IV

Best Survival Books

Knowledge is power, especially in a survival situation. The more knowledge you have, from the multiple ways to make fire, to shelter-building, to water acquisition and sustenance, the better off you and your group will be.

Without those most basic abilities, survival just becomes a waiting game. Waiting to die or waiting for someone to come along and save you. To acquire that kind of knowledge you have to practice, read, practice, maybe watch some videos, practice, work with an experienced survival expert, practice, and it goes on and on. Without utilizing the knowledge you’ve gain you won’t have a solid understanding of its implementation when the shit hits the fan.

But that kind of thing is usually reserved for short-term survival situations. Survival of a few days to a few weeks. Beyond that, survival becomes a long-term situation that requires either an extended skill-set or a totally different one than has been practiced up to that point.

I know that with time and life constraints, I’m unable to learn every single thing there is to know about long-term survival. I don’t know how to build a log cabin, though I’ve read about it, seen a few videos, it’s not something I’ve ever done, so my knowledge is rudimentary to say the least.

how to survive

I know a little about keeping food preserved, or about large water systems, but not enough to count on to keep myself, my family or my group alive, at least not reliably so.

That’s where the survival library comes in.

Having access to the knowledge you may need, especially over an extended period of time, is extremely important.

Consider the skills you have, or that you have access to within your group, when beginning to build your library, but because you have a doctor or nurse in the group doesn’t mean your shelf couldn’t use some basic medical texts, especially those related to emergency or field medicine.

best survival books

Imagine that the grid has gone down, food is scarce, and bands of people have begun raiding their fellow man for the few remaining scraps of food, killing any who get in their way. To escape this, you and your group have decided to move far into the country.

You’ve built a solid compound, food is growing and being harvested, though there really is just enough to feed your small bunch of rugged survivors.

Suddenly, out of the woods nearest your camp, a band of raiders appears. In the ensuing firefight the only physician in your group is killed, a bullet to the head while attempting to help one of your fellow survivors who’d taken a hit to the leg.

You finally kill those attempting to take what you have, and your group now has a severely wounded man and one dead doctor.

postapocalyptic blog

Using medical texts in your readiness library, you save the man’s life, but one of the storehouses was destroyed, burned completely and you’ve lost several weeks’ worth of food.

To quickly replenish your food supplies you and your group are forced to use hunter-gatherer techniques, but only one of your people is proficient in the identification of wild edibles, and you need a lot, fast.

Using books from the survival library, your able to educate most of your group on what they need to gather, proper identification, and what they should be looking for by season and geographic location.

Your little colony is tucked away in the woods, far from the violence plaguing even rural areas, making both cities and small towns virtually uninhabitable. You’ve fended off raiders, restocked your food supplies and reassured your group that they’re safe. But it feels like empty words, and as a leader, you know it’s up to you to ensure both security and morale.


Your life as a salesman for a copier company has ill-prepared you for this kind of life, but you and your people are determined to survive. After consulting several of the books in the small prepper library, you’re able to put together an early warning system, as well as several traps to hinder further efforts by those with ill-will on their minds. Also, you’ve tasked your party with the construction of palisade wall.

Long-term survival largely depends on the morale of both the individual and the group as a whole. When the will to live, the mental fortitude to keep moving forward begins to suffer, everyone is at risk.

You’ve sent your own people out to find anything the group can use, with instructions to avoid civilization as much as possible, limiting contact with others. On their scavenging forays, they’ve found a television and video player. This would be a wonderful way to entertain everyone, keeping spirits up, except for the fact that you have no electricity.

Back to the books! There’s a narrow, fast moving stream nearby, and the books have shown you how to build a water wheel that can be used to generate electricity when hooked up to a generator or alternator. Hunting down scores of old cars batteries and wiring them together properly, using the waterwheel and generator, you’re soon able to provide movie nights for the camp.

best postapocalyptic vehicles
Photo Cred: Chris Brooks

Morale increases, production increases, fights among your own people begin to decrease. People have hope again. Even if it’s small and fragile, they have hope.

Having all the knowledge you might ever need already in your head is ideal, but realistically, if not impossible, it’s highly unlikely. That would require more hours of study than most of us have in a day.

Offset that shortfall with a small library of books geared toward both long and short-term survival and encompassing many disciplines and areas of expertise. Carpentry, engineering, basic electricity, food preservation, alternative sources of power, combat and perimeter defense. Be creative and have fun with it as well. Hunt down the entire Foxfire series and include them both for their entertainment value as well as for the backwoods living skills they provide. Books on blacksmithing and knifemaking, the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving, Carla Emery’s amazing The Encyclopedia of Country Living and even check out the Dark Age Defense Reviews. There are so many options, limited only by what you choose to add to the shelf.

Take into consideration your skillset, and if you have a group, think about what they already bring to the collective abilities of the group and how you can reinforce or back up that knowledge with books.

If you have a bug-out location already prepared, consider keeping your library at that location. If not, be aware of whatever situation comes. If it appears to be something that may last months or more, then think about transporting your box full of books to your final destination.

The saying is “Knowledge is Power” but in a survival situation, knowledge is life – how much you have or have access to and the ability of you and your group to put it to use can likely be the determining factor on thriving in a world gone mad.

Have you already begun your library? Do you have a favorite book or two on your shelf? If so, share them with us, you might have thought of a book that others have yet to consider.

post-apocalyptic author john l. davis iv

About The Author

John L. Davis IV has been writing for a long time and has published multiple books such as the zombie apocalypse series, American Revenant. He also writes in the horror and science fiction genres. Read more of his work on Amazon! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *