8 votes

Winter Reading: A List of Survival Fiction

Thought I'd start/compile a list
of some favorited/recommended Survival Fiction.

Please feel free to add to the list
and happy reading by the fire.

A Canticle for Leibowitz
After London (Or) Wild England
A Gift Upon the Shore
Alas, Babylon
All Fools’ Day
American Apocalypse: The Collapse Begins
Atlas Shrugged
Brushfire Plague
But Not for Long
Children of the Dust
Damnation Alley
Dark Advent
Dark Tower Series
Death of Grass
Deathlands – series by James Axler
Death Wind
Deep Winter
Down to A Sunless Sea
Earth Abides
EarthBlood (3 book series)
Farnham’s Freehold
Final Blackout
Fire and ice-author Ray Kytle
Future Eden
Grants Pass Anthology
Harvest of Stars
Hatchet (and the rest of the Brian books)
Hiero’s Journey
Holding Their Own
Holding Their Own II
Horseclans Series
I Am Legend
Ice Quake
Into the Forest
Invasion America
King Rat
Last Light
Last of the Breed
Left Behind
Life as We Knew It
Light’s Out
Long Voyage Back
Lucifer’s Hammer
Memoirs of a Survivor
My Side of the Mountain
Nature’s End
No Blade of Grass
Oil Dusk
On the Beach
One Second After
Only Lovers Left Alive
Outlander series
Out of the Ashes (Ashes Series #1)
Parable of the Sower
Path to Savagery
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse
Patriots, by James W. Rawles
Plague Year
Pulling Through
Safe Haven
Sixth Column
Solar Flare
Some Will Not Die
Stand on Zanzibar
Summer of the Apocalypse
Swan Song
The Aftermath
The Ashes
The Castle Keeps
The Day of the Triffids
The Ends of the Circle
The Far North
The Folk of the Fringe
The Forge of God
The Guardians (series to 20/23)
The Hunger Games
The Last Canadian
The Last Centurion
The Last Ship
The Long Loud Silence
The Passage
The Postman
The Rift
The Road
The Sheep Look Up
The Stand
The Unit
The Walk
The World Ends in Hickory Hollow
To Build a fire
Tooth and Nail
Tunnel in the Sky
Unintended Consequences by John Ross
Vandenberg,: A novel
Warday and Nature’s End
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
Watership Down (I know it's rabbits survival :) )
What So Proudly We Hailed
Without Warning
Wolf and Iron
World Made by Hand
World War Z
Z for Zachariah

The above makes it a clean list.

The below is the scruffy version. :)

A Canticle for Leibowitz – following a cloister of monks in their Utah abbey over six or seven hundred years, it tackles the sociological and religious implications of nuclear annihilation
After London Or, Wild England – after some sudden and unspecified catastrophe has depopulated England, the countryside reverts to nature, and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life (free download here)
A Gift Upon the Shore – set in the near future, traces the first generations to survive nuclear war and ensuing plagues.
Alas, Babylon – classic apocalyptic novel.
American Apocalypse: The Collapse Begins – set in America at the beginning of a socioeconomic collapse.
Atlas Shrugged – the story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world – and did.
But Not for Long – three housemates find themselves in the midst of an eerily plausible energy crisis.
Brushfire Plague – When a virulent plague erupts across the globe, Cooper Adams faces a daily battle for survival as society unravels at a dizzying pace.
Cell – a pulse sent through cell phones turns people using them into zombie-like killing machines.
Children of the Dust – grade 6-9 reading, nuclear war scenario in which a new generation is born, “homo superior, the children of the dust.”
Dark Tower Series – the quest for the Dark Tower takes readers on a wild ride through parallel worlds and across time.
Death of Grass – society descends into barbarism as a virus wipes out grass and crops.
Deep Winter – a normal American life turns into a survival situation as one family struggles to adapt
Down to A Sunless Sea – the U.S. collapses economically from a lack of oil.
Earth Abides – a disease of destructive force has spread across the globe killing all but one man, who makes an astonishing discovery.
Farnham’s Freehold – a man builds a shelter under his house and finds a strange world after the bomb explodes.
Final Blackout – set in a ravaged world a charismatic leader rises in England.
Footfall – aliens are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender.
Hiero’s Journey – 5,000 years after The Death, an evil “Brotherhood of the Unclean” is waging a war against the few human survivors.
Holding Their Own – 2015 in post-apocalypse Texas, a couple bugs out.
Holding Their Own II – the story continues.
I Am Legend – a plague has destroyed the world and the few survivors must fight the blood hungry creatures of the night
Ice Quake – when the world climate changes overnight and civil order collapses, the survivors at a remote Antarctic icecap know they won’t get rescued.
Into the Forest – two sisters must learn to live in the forest when electricity goes out, their parents die and civilization grinds to a halt.
King Rat – an American corporal survives the brutality of prison camp life in Japanese-occupied, World War II Malaya through insight into human frailties.
Last Light – oil supplies have been severed and things unravel at a horrifying pace.
Last of the Breed – set in Siberia, a down American pilot must rely on ancestral skills to survive the deadly cold and elude his Soviet pursuers.
Left Behind – a novel of Earth’s Last Days, first of a series
Life as We Knew It – grade 6-8 reading level, a sophomore girl experiences life in Pennsylvania after a meteor hits
Light’s Out – follows the story of a man after the lights go out over most of the world as he tries to unit his family and friends if they are to survive reality of everyday life after civil order is stripped away.
Lucifer’s Hammer – a comet hit earth, causing earthquakes and tsunamis. For those that survived, it’s the dawn of a struggle for survival.
Malevil – survivors escape the big event in an old French castle, but struggle to survive as society collapses
Memoirs of a Survivor – in a destroyed, lawless city, a woman is given a twelve-year girl and told she must raise her
Nature’s End – 21st-century Earth with a devastated environment and overpopulation. The comfortable elite coexist with the pitiful rest, “the victim generation.”
No Blade of Grass – a massive crop disease wreaks havoc and society breaks down.
On the Beach – a bestseller for decades, it’s an unforgettable vision of a post-apocalyptic world.
One – survivor Richard Jane crosses a burned and battered country in search of his son.
One Second After – an EMP disables almost every electrical device in the U.S. and the world, societal breakdown ensues.
Parable of the Sower – global warming, massive unemployment and gang warfare combine to break down society, set in southern California
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse – America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse as the characters use survival techniques to endure
Plague Year – set in post-apocalyptic California above the 10,000′ high-water mark, a group struggles to survive.
Pulling Through – a story of survival after nuclear war
Solar Flare – a major solar flare hits and changes life dramatically for an electronic-dependent society
Some Will Not Die – a plague wipes out 90% of Earth’s population and those left struggle to survive
Summer of the Apocalypse – a virus destroys the world’s population as a 15-year-old travels across Colorado to find his father
Survivors – a virus wipes out 95% of the population and those left must revert to primitive skills to survive
Swan Song – a NYC bag lady and a boy that survived in a now destroyed compound travel together
The Aftermath – an asteroid destroys most life; a cruise ship of people and a village in South Africa struggle to survive
The Ashes – in a search for his family in post-apocalyptic America, a man meets rebels and joins a revolution
The Far North – a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world is sold into slavery and escapes
The Folk of the Fringe – an ecological consciousness has been born in post-WW III America as Mormons set to rebuild society
The Forge of God – two types of aliens invade the Earth, the first profess to be altruistic, but the second warn humanity that the first will destroy the world
The Hunger Games – grade 7+, the U.S. has collapsed and divided; each year each district sends to young people by lottery to “The Hunger Games”
The Last Centurion – a mini-ice age and plague have set as an American Army office struggles to rebuild the world
The Last Ship – nuclear war has struck as a destroyer short on food and fuel searches for uncontaminated mainland
The Passage – a virus leads vampiric revenants to wipe out civilization except survivors on a FEMA-established island
The Postman – the lead characters survived the Doomwar and finds work crossing the post-apocalypse United States
The Rift – an earthquake hits the southeastern U.S. as 9 people try to survive
The Road – post-apocalyptic blight of gray skies that drizzle ash, the story of a man and his son.
The Stand – a virus is accidentally released and wipes out most of humanity and sets the stage for a battle between good and evil
The Walk – a TV network executive in LA after the big earthquake hits, he thinks he’s prepared, but he’s not
The World Ends in Hickory Hollow – bombs fell and civilization ended as the people of Hickory Hollow, Texas are faced with renegade thieves and murderers
Tomorrow! – an apocalyptic technology is superimposed on the future and exposes America’s dangerous vulnerability to panic
Tooth and Nail – a rabies-based plague infects so many they begin to run amok, spreading slaughter and disease
Tsunami – a battleground in the wake of a monstrous tidal wave
Tunnel in the Sky – a final exam on an advanced survival class goes wrong and the students are stranded somewhere in the universe, at the other end of a tunnel in the sky.
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse – 22 apocalyptic tales all depicting unsettling societal, physical and psychological adaptations their authors postulate as necessary for survival after the end of the world.
Watership Down – a story about TEOTWAWKI for rabbits, added it because it’s an great book (read my review)
What So Proudly We Hailed – 80% of the U.S. is without power for 3-4 months as the result of a nuclear strike
Without Warning – as coalition forces begin their assault on Iraq, a massive energy wave hits North America and is dubbed “the Disappearance.”
Wolf and Iron – the U.S. is devastated by financial collapse, a man travels 2,000 miles to his brother’s Montana ranch
World Made by Hand – oil wells run dry and the economy collapses, society must be rebuilt out of squabbling factions and cult-like communities.
World War Z – an oral history of the zombie war.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon
The Day of the Triffids
The Last Canadian by William C. Heine
The Unit by Terry Dehart
Oil Dusk by John M. Cape and Laura Buckner
Safe Haven by Ken Barnes
Grants Pass Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Pillar
Invasion America by Alan D. Wing
My Side of the Mountain (got me into survival)
Hatchet (and the rest of the Brian books)
No Blade of grass By John Wyndham. All of his books are worth reading.
To Build a fire
Horseclans” Series by Robert Adams
One Second After

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
by Suzanne Collins

Patriots, by James W. Rawles, Economic collapse scenario. Lots of useful information on tactics, food storage, fuel storage, retreat security, survival medicine, etcetera. I’d recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about survivalism for the first time, as well as for long-term survivors. It’s full of great information, and is an eye-opener. I may not say that the survivors made the best choices possible in the story, but I learned from it.

Footfall, by Jerry Pournelle. Alien’s similar to elephants invade the earth. A good deal of how to survive in urban areas without the infrastructure we would normally have.

Lucifer’s Hammer, by Pournelle. A comet strikes the earth, many survival skills and scenes. Also deals with cannibalism.

Tunnel in the Sky, by Heinlein. Survival in an unexpected, long term situation.

Sixth Column, by Heinlein. Survival after enemy invasion of the US.

Farnham’s Freehold, by Heinlein. One mans preparation and success in surviving nuclear war.

Pulling Through, by Dean Ing. Post nuclear war scenario, Mr. Ing manages to discuss a wide variety of pertinent survival skills.

The Stand, by Stephen King. All reports suggest the book is better than the miniseries on TV was, I didn’t watch the series. Starts out with a plague killing most people on earth, gets very supernatural.

“Unintended Consequences” by John Ross. The first two-thirds of “Unintended Consequences” comprise a fictionalized chronology of various characters on three continents experiencing the effects of being armed – and being disarmed – from 1906 to the present. In the final third of the novel, set after Waco and Ruby Ridge, America’s gun-grabbers finally go too far.

Gun owners find themselves pushed to the point where they realize it’s either give up all their weapons or fight back. Individually, without getting together to form any giant conspiracy, they start killing their oppressors. A few at first… then by the hundreds.

Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank. The first (?) survivalist book. Nuclear war survival in rural Florida.

No Blade of Grass, by John Christopher? A plague wipes out all food grains over most of the earth. People fleeing London for Wales, also forming local alliances and groups.

The Sheep Look Up, by John Brunner. Survival in an ecologically damaged America.

Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner. Life in an oppressive police state, within an ecologically damaged world.

Malevil, by Robert Merle. Post nuclear war survival in rural France. Interesting social dramas, not too good for survival skills.

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Useful for understanding the people responsible for the problems.

Wolf And Iron, by Gordon R. Dickson. Post economic collapse. Lone wanderer scavenges and learns his way across several states. Finally sets up as blacksmith and farmer rancher.

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller. A fascinating book about long-term post apocalypse story, about the value of books and knowledge.

The Postman, by David Brin. A great book about a traveler in the medium – long post nuclear war environment, the establishment of local and regional governments, and the value of a traveling postman to carry news from one region to another.

Earth Abides by George R Steward. Pandemic survivors find each other and build communities initially based on scavenging. Inertia causes little of pre-disaster technology and culture to be passed on, causing great anguish to main character.

Survivors by Terry Nation. Pneumonic plague strain spread by air travel kills off most of the population. Set in Great Britain, a survivor group failing under pressure from bad weather and hostile neighbors migrates to the south of France. Strangely enough Brits will use guns if they can get them.

All Fools’ Day by Edmund Cooper. A new type of radiation (yuk yuk) causes most of mankind to commit suicide. The immune are ‘creative artists of all kinds, lunatics, political and religious fanatics, prostitutes and pathological animal lovers.’ Set in Great Britain.

Harvest of Stars, by Paul Anderson: America where political correctness has become a religion and taken over. One must think ahead and be on ones toes at all times in dealing with a police state; acting experience is a plus!

Vandenberg,: A novel, by Oliver Lange. Life in a United States occupied by Soviet(or whatever) troops. Frightening.

Warday and Nature’s End, by Whitley Straub

The Ends of the Circle, by Paul O. Williams

Some Will Not Die, by Algis Budrys. Post pandemic in New York City Son of initial main char forms the “Reunification Army” to create the “Second Republic.” Guns, guns, and more guns and living on 20 year old canned goods. Still not a bad story.
Only Lovers Left Alive by Dave Wallis. Set in Britain, virtually everyone over 19 commits suicide over a 2 year period. A street gang rises to the conquest of London metro area but finds it tough going in the country when the canned good run out.

“Out of the Ashes (Ashes Series #1)” series by William Johnstone. The first is excellent on establishing attitude and the others each have a few tidbits in them. His Tri-states concept is developing almost a cult-like following in some areas. Most of the later volumes are just pay copy (Is there any other reason to write?) so you have to wade through a lot of story line to pick out the good parts. He writes interesting copy so it isn’t a chore.

The Guardians ="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=ccsb-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0515094846" alt="" style="border: medium none ! important; margin: 0px ! important;" border="0" width="1" height="1" /> – series by Richard Austin (pretty darned good until you get to around # 20 or #23, then they were done by ghost writers and the characters just got too weird).

Deathlands – series by James Axler (survival value very little, but I think they’re darned good reading, especially the first 10 – 15 books)

Death Wind by William C. Heine. The plot is that a pandemic suddenly sweeps North America, killing within minutes anyone exposed to an infected person, even being downwind is sufficient. The story follows a Canadian family who retreat to the far North to avoid the plague. There are several elements that bear directly on survival. First, there is a sudden onset of the emergency with no prior warning.

The immediate response reaction is instructive. Second there are the North country survival techniques. Third there are psychological factors of being a survivor in a situation where most others die. And there is more, dealing with post-disaster situations, though I won’t go into that because it would spoil the book for you. It’s a page turner, though of course not a survival handbook.

Path to Savagery by Robert Edmund Alter. The world after a minor nuclear war. The polar ice caps have melted, flooding the coast lines. North America is suffering from a drought and millions of people are dead. The hero is a “loner” who avoids interacting with the tribes that most of the survivors have joined. He has a Thompson sub-machine gun and the right attitude.

The Castle Keeps by Andrew J Offutt. American life has gradually gone to hell in a hand basket, especially in the cities. Story of a family that moved to a farm determined to do what it takes to survive and live well. My only complaint with this book is that the protagonist uses a Colt .45 SAA instead of a M1911. Other than this, the scenes involving firearms are very well done.

The Long Loud Silence by Wilson Tucker. Bio war wipes out USA east of Mississippi. The story of an “immune” (all such are careers). Cannibalism is adopted by some survivors.

The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham. A meteor shower blinds most of the inhabitants on earth. A group of people who still have sight fight against flesh eating plants while the try to survive.

“Z for Zachariah” fictional account of a young woman surviving the aftermath of a nuclear war on her parents farm. Very weak on science. She lives in a protected valley, and everything outside the valley is dead. Then one day a man shows up who invented a radiation proof suit with a pushcart (since cars are radioactive). She hides in the woods, unsure of what to do. Finally she shows herself, but not before he drinks from a radioactive pond. He gets sick, she helps him, he eventually tries to rape her, and she hides again.

It had some good points, such as hiding her garden, getting fuel from pumps w/o electricity, and what to do with her dog, since it could be used by the man to find her. (reviewer) read it in Jr. High School in the school library, so its at least 13 old, and intended for younger readers.

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. The basis for the Omega Man movie, a plague kills almost everyone.

EarthBlood (3 book series) and The Deathlands books by James Axler. The EarthBlood books are about an earth where some sort of biological agent has destroyed most of the plant life throwing the world into chaos. The DeathLand books take place 100 or so years after a nuclear holocaust.

Fire and ice-author Ray Kytle c 1975 D McKay & Co. It is the story of the effects of a Middle East War/Oil Crisis on a (liberal, although not for long) University professor and his family and friends. The oil fields are sabotaged/destroyed and Western Civilization gradually, then with increasing speed, grinds to a halt. Then, it becomes a story of survival, as the characters must contend not only with food shortages but looters, gangs and even the military. Then, the weather begins to change, affected by
the burning oil fields.

Future Eden by J.M. Morgan- people in the biosphere project survive a plague like the one in the stand and 20 years later have found a way to go back out side.

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny. A man has to make a cross country run in a post apocalyptic America

Long Voyage Back by Luke Rehinhart- the story of a family who survive a nuclear holocaust by sailing along the cost of North and South America

Dark Advent by Brian Hodge- another story about a illness that wipes out much of the world population.

Swan Song by Robert McCammeron- A post nuclear war story.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I really enjoyed Z for

I really enjoyed Z for Zacariah when I first read it in middle school

Southern Agrarian

Great list

Thanks for the work!

Don't you just hate it

when you spend time compiling educational information in a nice little package, only to see it slip down the active forum topics with very little feedback?

Bump! :-)

metalhed19's picture

Bump for quality post....

Bump for quality post....

*Wisconsin Constitution* Article I, Section 25 "The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security,defense,hunting,recreation or any other law-abiding purpose"

Thank you

I loved My Side of the Mountain.

Hatchet was very good as well if I remember correctly.

Thanks for all the time

you put into compiling that list. It's a 'bookmark' post for sure!

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
James Madison



Good call including Last of the Breed

Just about anything by Louis L'Amour will not only
enhance your survival prospects but provide a good
reality check on you why and how of living in general...

(Currently reading Jubal Sackett)

Great list of books...

Last of the Breed is my favorite Louis L'Amour novel. Thanks for the reminder.

L. L'Amour

Yeah... whodda thunk. :)

I second The Hunger Games books!


Definitely read the books, don't just see the movie...you don't get the message in the movie.


“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till." -J.R.R. Tolkien

Goes for The Postman, too..

Decent book, lame movie.