I started at 13 years old reading apocalypse novels and books on survival preppers and books mostly of the nuclear type. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank was maybe my first. From the age of 3, I started reading every horse book that had been printed. Bi-monthly trips to the library kept me satiated.
After my father built our house, we moved from the cypress-built bungalow into the log cabin. We then rented out the cypress bungalow. We had renters that were into survival prep and apocalypse books. They got me into post-apocalyptic science fiction.
Here are Amazon links to the books I read. These are books from the 1950s to 1960s, listed by my favorites. I’ll post links to more recent books in upcoming survival posts.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning I will get a small commission for qualifying purchases at no extra cost to the buyer.
I’m in the process of reading apocalypse books that are of the serial variety. I joined Kindle Unlimited and am reading several series books, mostly by Kyla Stone. I seem to like to read books that are in a series. I’m obviously a science-fiction nerd, so I will post links to my fav sci-fi books in a separate post in this genre. (I loved Heinlein!)
Read more at Resources for Survival Preppers
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
“An extraordinary real picture of human beings numbed by catastrophe but still driven by the unconquerable determination of living creatures to keep on being alive.” —The New Yorker
The classic apocalyptic novel by Pat Frank, first published in 1959 at the height of the Cold War, with an introduction by award-winning science fiction writer and scientist David Brin.
“Alas, Babylon.” Those fateful words heralded the end. When the unthinkable nightmare of nuclear holocaust ravaged the United States, it was instant death for tens of millions of people; for survivors, it was a nightmare of hunger, sickness, and brutality. Overnight, a thousand years of civilization were stripped away.
But for one small Florida town, miraculously spared against all the odds, the struggle was only just beginning, as the isolated survivors—men and women of all ages and races—found the courage to come together and confront the harrowing darkness.
Tomorrow by Philip Wylie
by Philip Wylie
This book may change your life. It may save it. It is one of the most important—and most shocking—books ever written.
Tomorrow! is a story of average, nice Americans living in the neighboring cities of Green Prairie and River City in Middle America. It is—until the sudden blitz—the story of the girl next door and her boyfriend; of the accountant who saw what was coming, and the rich old lady who didn’t; of engaging young kids, babies, “hoods,” a bank official who “borrowed” from a customer’s account.
Then, at the height of the Christmas shopping season, Condition Red is sounded, and this down-to-earth story of America’s Main Street becomes a shattering, vivid experience of the nightmare that human beings have cooked up for themselves.
Tomorrow! can be read as a novel of pure suspense—if you dare. It is a thriller in which the apocalyptic technology of today is superimposed on the future. But the novel is also designed to show Philip Wylie’s conclusions about America’s dangerous vulnerability to dread, hysteria, and panic, as well as his recommendations about what must be done.
This book really got me into survival prepping and being prepared in general. I read it as a teenager. Read Triumph, by Wylie next!
Triumph by Philip Wylie
by Philip Wylie
This is a follow-up book of Philip Wylie's book, Tomorrow.
In the world’s upper hemisphere, only one small group has survived World War III: fourteen people, sheltered deep within a limestone mountain in Connecticut and with enough supplies and equipment to maintain their subsistence for upwards of two years.
The group includes a forward-thinking millionaire and his family, a levelheaded Jewish scientist, a playboy, an aging African American servant and his daughter, a gigolo and the glamorous woman who has been his mistress, a beautiful Chinese girl, a young meter reader, two children, and a Japanese engineer.
Fully aware of the outcome of the war that had raged briefly above them, the survivors seethe with hatred, fall into depression over their losses, rise to moments of superhuman bravery, and lapse into behavior that reflects their human weaknesses.
Philip Wylie mercilessly predicts the inevitable end of a world that continues to function as selfishly and as barbarously as our own.
Another fav book of mine. I also read this as a teen, about 60 years ago. Nothing has changed, people!
Sound familiar? I loved this book.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute
Re-released June 2019. Book by nevil shute
"On the Beach" is a post-apocalyptic novel by Nevil Shute and first published in 1957. The story is set in the aftermath of a devastating global nuclear war that has wiped out most of the human population. The novel takes place primarily in Australia, as it is one of the few habitable places left on Earth.
As the radiation levels increase and the survivors face the reality of their situation, they grapple with their emotions and try to find meaning and purpose in their remaining time. Some people turn to religion, while others indulge in escapism or try to maintain a semblance of normalcy. The characters also face difficult decisions, such as whether to end their lives before the radiation sickness takes hold.
Throughout the novel, Shute explores themes of despair, hope, and the fragility of human existence. He raises questions about the morality of war and the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons. "On the Beach" serves as a poignant reminder of the potential horrors of nuclear war and the importance of striving for peace.
The novel was well-received upon its release and has been adapted into a film twice, in 1959 and 2000. It remains a significant work of post-apocalyptic literature, offering a sobering and thought-provoking exploration of the human spirit in the face of impending doom.
The most important novel of the Atomic Age.” — Washington Post.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
A Nebula Award–nominee from the Hugo Award–winning author of The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch explores the desolation of the minds, souls, and hearts of colonists on Mars in “a psychedelic odyssey of hallucinations-within-hallucinations from which no reader emerges unscathed” (Boston Globe).
On Mars, the harsh climate could make any colonist turn to drugs to escape a dead-end existence, especially when the drug is Can-D, which translates its users into the idyllic world of a Barbie-esque character named Perky Pat.
When the mysterious Palmer Eldritch arrives with a new drug called Chew-Z, he offers a more addictive experience, one that might bring the user closer to God. But in a world where everyone is tripping, no promises can be taken at face value.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of Philip K. Dick’s enduring classics, at once a deep character study, a dark mystery, and a tightrope walk along the edge of reality and illusion.
No Blade of Grass by John Christopher
This is a novel of tomorrow -- a most original, exciting, and menacing one. It uses no props, such as space or time travel, or super-gadgets or men, to achieve its chilling effects.
It is about ordinary, likable people in a familiar setting who have to put aside all their civilized values and think of self-survival only.
So the reader will find people in this book who are treacherous, who plunder, who murder, just as he himself might be compelled to do in the same circumstances.
The story opens leisurely with loving detail about England's green and pleasant land. The reader has ample time to know and like the characters and the author holds back most skillfully his knowledge of the horrors to come.
The reader is asked, as it were, to come for a gay sleigh ride with the characters, and at first the slope is gentle and inviting. But almost immediately, to right and left, the look of the land is changing, and all of a sudden he will find himself, breathless with excitement, racing down a dangerous hill at top speed, facing disaster at every turn or curve.
Not only will the landscape but the characters with whom he rides reshape themselves under his eyes, and there is no knowing, until the final moment, whether the end will be a total wreck or a safe slowing-down in a land where the grass once more grows green.
Quite intentionally, this jacket description has made no attempt to give you any idea of the plot. That is because the page-to-page pull of this absorbing novel is one of its chief virtues, and it would be unfair, both to you and the author, to destroy any of it.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
by George R. Stewart, re-published Oct. 2020
First published in 1949, award-winning Earth Abides is one of the most influential science-fiction novels of the twentieth century. In the 21st century, it remains a fresh, provocative story of apocalyptic pandemic, societal collapse, and rebirth.
The cabin had always been a special retreat for Isherwood Williams, a haven from the demands of society. But one day while hiking, Ish was bitten by a rattlesnake, and the solitude he had so desired took on dire new significance.
He was sick for days―and often delirious―waking up to find two strangers peering in at him from the cabin door. Yet oddly, instead of offering help, the two ran off as if terrified. Not long after, the coughing began. Ish suffered chills and fever, and a measles-like rash on his skin. He was one of the few people in the world to live through that peculiar malady, but he didn't know it then.
Ish headed home when he finally felt himself again―and noticed the strangeness almost immediately. No cars passed him on the road; the gas station not far from his cabin looked abandoned; and he was shocked to see the body of a man on the roadside near a small town.
Without a radio or phone, Ish had no idea of humanity’s abrupt demise. He had escaped death, yet could not escape the catastrophe―and with an eerie detachment he found himself curious as to how long it would be before all traces of civilization faded from Earth.
This book was first published the year I was born. I read it almost 14 years later. It is STILL a viable read!
First published in 1949, George R. Stewart’s award-winning Earth Abides is one of the most influential science-fiction novels of the twentieth century. It remains a fresh, provocative story of apocalyptic pandemic, societal collapse, and rebirth.
I’m the daughter of 2 original survivalists who moved from the north to sunny Florida. My mother, along with her parents, bought 30 mostly uncleared acres in 1938. The first home was made of pecky-cypress and built by a house-raising. My mother raised 10,000 chickens.
My divorced mother met and married my father in 1948. From pine trees on our property, he hand-built a log cabin. He also built a tarpaper-lined 65’x45′ pool with duck pond overflow. We had an artesian well for our water and powering our hand-built waterwheel for the pool. He built a substantial cantilevered roof workshop with a car pit in the massive cement floor.
Since my early teens, I have read a ton of books about survival, prepping, the bomb, an apocalypse, homestead living, and SHTF situations. As an adult, I continue to read sci-fi, survival prepping, and science. I practice a prepper lifestyle albeit a bit modified, read a lot, buy a lot, pack/store a lot of anything survival related.
Read my About Me post for more details on our self-sufficient living. I lived there until I went to college in 1968.
My SurvivalPrepperSupply.com blog strives to educate individuals on coping with natural and human-caused disasters using article posts about preparing for emergencies.