The Must-Have Survival Library


Unless you have an eidetic memory or have been a practicing survivalist for 150 years, there’s no way that you can possibly learn and remember every single skill that you’ll either need or want when SHTF. You won’t have access to the internet so you won’t be able to Google for info. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Buy the books. Read them and keep them.

Here is a list of books that we feel that everybody needs in order to build the must-have survival library.

First Aid and Medical

{adinserter emp}This is perhaps one of the most difficult areas to completely educate yourself in simply because there are so many variables.

You need to know basic first aid for standard injuries such as breaks and cuts, but what if somebody is suffering from a heart attack, an allergic reaction, or one of the thousands of other medical conditions that could occur?

You need to have a good manual to reference. Try this one:

  • Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to Emergency Medical Procedures and First aid, 5e by Paul S. Auerbach, MD, MS, FACEP, FAWM. This book was named a top-10 medical title by the Wall Street Journal. More importantly, it was written by a man widely recognized as a leading authority in wilderness medicine. It addresses injuries, illnesses, infectious diseases, how to make medical use of materials that you may have on hand and common drugs, dosages and interactions.

Edible and Medicinal Plants

  • The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer. Great because it has beautiful pictures that you can use for comparison purposes. It also tells you how to find edible plants and how to prepare them.

Homesteading and Surviving without Modern Conveniences

Library Small_Back to BasicsLearning these skills before a disaster would be wonderful, but do you really have time to learn everything you need to know about soap making, cabin building, water purifying, goat milking, canning, tanning and kayaking before SHTF?

If not, you may want to grab a book or 3 on what to do once you can’t go to Google or Wal-Mart for help.

Here’s our favorite:

  • Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills by Readers Digest. This book is in its 3rd edition, which came out in 2008. It covers a ton of information including how to build housing, how to create energy from wood, water and wind, how to can and dry food, and how to grow food and how to complete a wide variety of necessary survival tasks the old-fashioned way. It’s fun to read and would be an excellent asset in a post-SHTF situation.

General Survival

If you have to bug out, you’re probably going to face situations that you’ve never encountered before. You may have to travel difficult terrain and you may have to face wildlife or deal with injuries nasty weather.

Even if your bug-out is ideal, you’ll still need to know how to build fires and shelters, find water, and survive your environment. Here are some books to help you along the way.

  • The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure by Colin Towell.  Colin Towell was a Combat Survival Instructor and has spent more than 30 years teaching land, desert, sea, cold-weather and jungle survival skills to military personnel in the UK and USA. He was the Royal Navy’s Chief Survival Instructor as well as Chief Instructor at the US Navy SERE School in Maine. In short, he knows what he’s talking about and breaks down survival into several different sections that address preparing to bug out, navigating, camping, making shelter, finding water and food, attracting rescuers, assessing your situation and first aid. It even includes a guide to poisonous and edible plants and animals. It’s pretty much the cat’s meow when it comes to a book that you need to have in your bug-out bag.
  • US Army Survival Manual. If anybody knows how to survive, it’s the US military. Since this handbook was written for soldiers, it’s packed full of useful information about everything from survival tactics to identifying poisonous and edible plants and snakes. It also addresses survival medicine and first aid. A good book to have.


Other Books of Interest

These aren’t necessarily books that we think you should have in your cache to help you survive, but they’re each interesting in their own way. Read them just because.

  • One Second After by William Forstchen. It’s fiction but it accurately outlines what could happen in the case of an EMP or a Solar Storm. It really gives you a lot to think about.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy. If you like post-apocalyptic stories, you’ll like this one. It’s dark but intensely interesting. It’s the story of survival for a man and his sickly young son in an environment in which everything has turned deadly.
  • Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by James Wesley. The story of a group of Midwestern friends trying to make it to safety after mass socioeconomic collapse. These are just a few of our favorites but we feel that they’re the core basics. We also have books on surgery, medicinal herbs, water filtration; the list goes on, but now you know a few of our favorites. Tell us about yours in the comments section below.


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • You mare missing two of the best books out there. One is the best books I have ever read “Nine Meals To Anarchy” by Farrell Kingsley. And the other is “The Ultimate Preppers Resource Guide” by Sean Odom.

  • For those of us old enough to remember before electricity came to be in all homes maybe us old farts would be of great asset to many preppers. I remember before disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, spinning rods, unusual uses for the sears catalogue, and how to start a fire under my grandmothers wash tub…so don’t overlook a very valuable resource just because they don’t walk fast enough or can’t climb a tree anymore. They know stuff.