Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by…Amazon.com of all things They can still deliver stuff by Christmas, so if you haven’t gotten Dry Fire Training Cards, 30-10 Pistol, Concealed Carry Masters Course, Urban Survival Cards, or “Election”–the thriller/novel, head on over to Amazon now and get ‘em.
Winter is a great time to catch up on reading, and what better way to do that than with a survival-related novel that both entertains and reminds us of why we’re preppers in the first place. A well-written novel can open the door to situations we may not have thought of, and when an author takes the time to portray realistic solutions, it can educate and inspire.
The top 20 books listed below are not in any particular order. I’ve placed an asterisk next to reader’s recommendations from an earlier September 2014 post, The Farmer’s Almanac Predicts A Brutal Winter: Weather It With These Top 20 Movies. If your favorite book didn’t make it on the list, I’ll be happy to remedy that by including it to the list and will post the results sometime next week.
1. * One Second After, 2009, written by William Forster is one of my personal favorites because it closely portrays what life would be like if the nation was suddenly plunged into grid-down. Forster engages the reader with the plight of the protagonist and his family as he joins community leaders of Black Mountain, North Carolina to control lawlessness, which is sometimes met with deadly force. Medical supplies, water allocation, transportation and sanitation are some of the first causalities of grid-down and it serves as a reminder why survival goes hand in hand with preparedness. .
2. Lucifer’s Hammer, 1977, written by Larry Nivea and Jerry Pourable is based upon the miscalculation and the ensuing cataclysmic events caused by an incoming comet that slams into earth. Those whom survive the devastation of tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, famine and plague must then battle opportunists and cannibals as a new ice age approaches.
3. Alas Babylon, 1959, written by Pat Frank (pen name Harry Hart Frank), continues to make it to the top 20 list of survival-related novels over 60 years after its publication. Nuclear war between the United States and Russia causes communications to fail, banks to close, and convicts now roam the streets. Randy, the protagonist. helps his Florida neighbors organize for safe shelter, food and water and helps his neighborhood defend against looters. A year later, the townspeople are given a choice whether to remain in what is now considered a contaminated area, or to relocate, and the decision isn’t as easy as one would expect.
4. Hatchet, 1987, written by Gary Paulsen, is a riveting story about a 13-year old boys struggling to survive with only a hatchet after the plane transporting him to his father in the oil fields of northern Canada crashes. Alone, Brian learns to build a fire, forage for wild edible food such as berries and fruit, and capture rabbits, birds, turtle eggs, and to fish for survival. But the wilderness of Canada brings danger of bear, moose and wolves and Brian teaches himself how to fashion a bow and arrows with his trusted hatchet as he continues his adventure of lone-wolf survival that often brings bittersweet memories of home.
5. * The Hot Zone, 1994, written by Richard Preston, is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that is not based upon fiction, but the real terror of Ebola and Marburg. This time instead of striking West Africa, the virus is transported from deep in the central African rain forest to the suburbs of Washington D.C. and a secrete military SWAT team and scientists must stop the outbreak, or humanity will suffer the consequences.
6. *The Demon In The Freezer, 2003, written by Richard Preston is a true story that reads like a thriller. By the 1970’s Smallpox was eradicated, except for the frozen samples of death locked away at the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta and the Maximum Containment Laboratory in Siberia. Some of the Russian stockpile has mysteriously gone missing and Preston raises the possibility that Russia and Iraq are working with the smallpox virus to be used as a biological weapon.
7. *Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, 2013, written by David Quammen is a true accounting of the real dangers of animal disease that can infect humans that carries the potential to become pandemics. Quammen artfully mixes science with the retelling of dangerous field adventures that the reader will be compelled by as they are made aware of the lives that hang in the balance between incurable disease, pandemic, and the need for nations to prepare.
8. Blindness, 1999, written by Jose Saramago and Giovanni Pontiero in not for the feint of heart as the reader is plunged into an epidemic of blindness that confines those afflicted and those close to them to a vacant mental hospital A man subsequently afflicted is not blinded, but sees everything through a fog of white as he witnesses inhuman conditions of dwindling food supplies, lack of medical attention and the inability to bury the dead while a criminal element pilfers food and ravages women. The wife of an eye doctor fakes blindness to accompany her husband and does what she can to protect the man and a small band of those who have been blinded. But as the unsanitary surrounds mount with overfilled toilets and decay, she leads the group to the city and the unspeakable hardship that awaits them.
9. World Made By Hand, 2009, written by James Howard Kunstler brings the reader to Union Grove, New York and the devastating effects of extreme oil shortages and climate change. The townspeople must learn to band together to grow their own food, do without antibiotics, and must travel at their peril as transportation screeches to a halt and roadways become deathtraps. Outside communication is nonexistent, leaving survivors to guess at what’s left of the country , but past the abandoned homes and corruption lies a glimmer of hope that once polluted waterways will provide fish and horses will plow the fields , and barter will provide survival on a simpler level without electricity to power refrigerators or power tools or any of the conveniences the world once took for granted.
10. 77 Days In September (The Kyle Tait Series), 2014, written by Ray Gorham portrays, the devastating affects of an EMP attack by terrorists that unplugs the nation from everything they know. Kyle Tait barely escapes with his life when the plane he boards to return to his family in Montana crashes, and he must make the perilous 2,000 mile journey hurt and alone, unsure of the fate of his family. In Montana, Kyle’s family struggles against the violence that threatens the country.
11. 299 Days Series, 2012, written by Glen Tate, is a series of books that chronicles the life of protagonist Grant Matsen, who suddenly wakes up to the fact that society is on the verge of collapse. A lawyer, a husband and father, he decides to start over, only this time with self-sufficiency in mind and begins his journey in the first book of the series struggling between his comfortable world and one that offers assurances that his family will survive. The reader will walk away with a better appreciation of what it takes to survive when things are turned upside down, but there is a cost to the reader involved–similar to the Left Behind series, each of Tate’s paperbacks leaves the reader hanging for the next in his series–a total of 10, each costing around $13.00 per paperback, so don’t get started unless you plan to make an investment! Non-the-less, the series is well-written and keeps the reader engaged throughout each step of Matsen’s journey of survival.
12. The Road, 2007, written by Cormac McCathy is set in a post-apocalyptic nightmare of starvation now that all wildlife has perished and bands of cannibals are on the hunt for their next meal. . . Something has decimated mankind–most likely nuclear war, but that is left to the interpretation of the reader– and a man and his young son travel to the coast for what they hope is a chance for continued survival. They scavenge for food and dodge murderers and the dregs of what’s left of society, but along the way, they are rewarded with small slivers of hope when they find a cache of food, and later meet up with a family who show compassion and kindness.
13, A Canticle for Leibowitz, 2006, written by Walter M. Miller, Jr., brings the reader to a Roman Catholic monastery after nuclear war forces civilization to rebuild. The monks begin to chronicle scientific knowledge that will be withheld until humankind is ready for this lost information; the same technology that lead to nuclear war. Isaac Leibowitz, a Jewish engineer working for the military, leads the effort to safe-keep books before the Simplification severs every-day man from knowledge of communication, science, and technical advances.
14. Earth Abides, 1949, written by George R. Stewart chronicles the life of the protagonist, Isherwood, who during a camping trip is bitten by a rattlesnake, barely survives, and upon returning home to Los Angeles, finds that humanity has been decimated by disease. Isherwood (Ish), strangely immune to the disease, goes in search of survivors, of which there are few. Those who do survive must learn to cope without modern conveniences as Ish tries to make sense of the plague that has decimated the earth. As he ages, Ish ruminates whether intelligence and innovation is more important than the ability to adapt.
15. The Stand, 1990, written by Stephen King. A deadly strain of influenza is unleashed when a man escapes a biological testing facility and the resulting pandemic kills 99.4 percent of humanity within a few short weeks. Violence cannot be stopped with martial law and grief stricken survivors seek help and solace. Two leaders come forward. One is Mother Abagail who invites survivors to build a community in Boulder, Colorado. The other is Randall Flag, someone who relishes in darkness. As the fractions battle one-another, good against evil, a baby is born alive and well, offering the hope of future generations in the aftermath of humanities near extinction.
16. Patriots, 2009, written by Jim Rawles, is reality check for readers who may never have contemplated a full-blown economic collapse, and it stands as a reminder for those who have. A small group of friends must travel to the safety of a North Idaho ranch, but on the way lies the danger of ambush and lawlessness, and the reader soon learns the importance of preparedness, tactical training, and situational awareness. Once the group reaches the ranch, safety is short lived when they are forced to defend their supplies against marauders and roving gangs. In between conflicts, bartering, which now is the only form of commerce, allows people to trade for necessary goods. After an initial period of controlling refugees and protecting people from unspeakable crimes, which takes the lives of several in the group, they join efforts with others to restore Constitutional law.
17. No Blade Of Grass, 1980, written by John Christopher. A mutant virus wipes out the food chain, yet leaves humans and animals alive. A band of survivors must now make their way to safety to a small farm, far away from Britain’s urban centers. What civilization must do for survival becomes a question the reader must ask of themselves. . . what boundaries are acceptable to cross when the world is falling apart, and what aren’t.
18. Lights Out, 2010, written by David Crawford, draws the reader into the lives of ordinary people who must find a way to survive after an EMP topples the country into the dark ages. Crawford’s writing ability makes the reader care what happens to the protagonist Mark Turner (aka Karate Man) and others who have banned together to form a community to survive a world gone mad. The action throughout the book as Mark and his group defend themselves and their neighbors against lawlessness keeps the reader on edge, and the values the groups holds tight to has the reader rooting for their survival every step of the way.
19. The Last Centurion, 2009, written by John Ringo, brings the reader to two back-to-back disasters, a mini ice age and a plague that protagonist and Army officer Bandit Six must fight against if there is any hope of saving his homeland. The book is written as a blog or diary reads and holds to a conservative political mind-set.
20. Deep Winter, 2014, written by Thomas Sherry, Chronicles the survival of one family who survives one disaster after another. Although the situation may not be plausible in the real world, Sherry does a good job of walking/teaching the reader through the fundamentals of how to survive a disaster, which has made Deep Winter popular with anyone interested in survival techniques.
(Ox’s note: On a somewhat different note, if you’re a Heinlein (Starship Troopers) fan, you should check out Jeff’ Siebrecht’s “Warp Lane” series. I’m not generally a sci-fi reader, but I’m hooked on this: Warp Lane)
What are your favorite survival-related novels? Please share with your comments below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva