Survival Bookshelf Essentials Must-Have Reads for Preppers, a bookshelf full of books

Survival Bookshelf Essentials: Must-Have Reads for Preppers

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In a world where unpredictability has become the norm, being prepared for any situation is not just a luxury but a necessity.

Preppers, individuals who actively plan for emergencies and disasters, understand the value of knowledge as a powerful tool for survival. As a prepper, your bookshelf can be a treasure trove of essential information.

In this article, we will explore the must-have reads for preppers, ensuring you are well-equipped to face any challenge that comes your way.

Key Takeaways:

  • Preparedness is essential in an unpredictable world, and preppers understand the value of knowledge as a powerful survival tool.
  • Building a survival library is a crucial step for preppers, encompassing a wide range of topics beyond just stockpiling supplies.
  • The prepper’s mindset emphasizes knowledge, skills, and adaptability.
  • Key categories for a survival library include bushcraft and wilderness survival, emergency first aid, food preservation and foraging, self-defense and firearms, survival psychology, communication and security, and homesteading and sustainable living.
  • Additional topics to enhance preparedness include water purification and storage, renewable energy and off-grid living, and navigation and map reading.
  • Constantly updating knowledge and skills through reading, practice, and networking is essential for preppers.
  • Access to clean water, sustainable energy, and navigation skills are critical aspects of survival.
  • A well-organized survival library equips preppers with the resources needed to face any challenge that may arise in times of crisis.

The Prepper’s Mindset

Before we dive into the list of essential books, it’s crucial to understand the prepper’s mindset.

Preparedness goes beyond stockpiling supplies; it’s about knowledge, skills, and adaptability.

As you build your survival library, remember that the most powerful weapon you can possess is a well-informed mind.

Building Your Survival Library

Now, let’s explore the key categories of books that should grace your survival bookshelf.

1. Bushcraft and Wilderness Survival

When venturing into the wild, having the right skills can be a matter of life and death.

Look for books that teach you how to build shelters, forage for food, purify water, and navigate without GPS.

  • The SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman: This comprehensive guide covers a wide range of survival skills, from shelter building to edible plant identification. It’s a must-have for any prepper’s library.
  • Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury: This book provides practical advice on surviving in the wilderness, including fire-making, shelter construction, and finding food and water sources.
  • Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide by Thomas Elias and Peter Dykeman: Understanding which plants are safe to eat is critical. This guide helps you identify edible plants and avoid potentially harmful ones.
  • The Ultimate Wilderness Survival Manual by Outdoor Life: This book covers everything from building emergency shelters to purifying water, making it a comprehensive resource for wilderness survival.

2. Emergency First Aid

Medical emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere.

Books on emergency first aid will equip you with the knowledge to administer immediate care in critical situations.

  • The American Red Cross First Aid and CPR Manual: This manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to handle various medical emergencies, including CPR and wound care.
  • Where There Is No Doctor by David Werner: A valuable resource for remote situations, this book covers essential medical knowledge when professional help is not available. It includes guidance on diagnosing and treating common illnesses and injuries.
  • Advanced First Aid, CPR, and AED by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: This book offers advanced first aid techniques and information on using automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for cardiac emergencies.

3. Food Preservation and Foraging

Learning to store and preserve food is essential for long-term survival.

Books on canning, drying, and foraging will be invaluable when resources become scarce.

  • The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine: This book offers comprehensive guidance on canning and preserving food to sustain you during tough times. It includes recipes for jams, jellies, pickles, and more.
  • The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer: Enhance your foraging skills with this guide, which includes detailed information on wild edibles and their culinary uses. It also provides tips on sustainable harvesting.
  • Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel: Learn how to create a root cellar for long-term storage of fruits and vegetables, extending your food supply without the need for electricity.
  • The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals by Tess Pennington: This cookbook focuses on using your emergency food supply to create nutritious and tasty meals. It includes creative recipes for a variety of canned and stored foods.

4. Self-Defense and Firearms

Understanding self-defense techniques and firearm safety is vital for protecting yourself and your loved ones in a crisis.

Look for books that cover the basics of marksmanship and home defense.

  • The Concealed Handgun Manual by Chris Bird: This book focuses on concealed carry and personal defense, providing valuable insights into responsible gun ownership. It also covers legal considerations and situational awareness.
  • The Ultimate Sniper: An Advanced Training Manual for Military and Police Snipers by John Plaster: If you are considering long-range precision shooting, this book offers in-depth knowledge on sniping techniques and equipment. It includes ballistics and optics information.
  • The Complete Guide to Personal and Home Safety: What You Need to Know by Dave Young: This comprehensive guide covers personal safety strategies, home security, and situational awareness, making it valuable for both beginners and experienced preppers. It includes information on self-defense tools and techniques.

5. Survival Psychology

Mental resilience is just as important as physical preparedness.

Books on survival psychology can help you stay calm and focused during high-stress situations.

  • “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” by Laurence Gonzales: This book delves into the psychology of survival, exploring the traits that make some individuals more resilient than others in extreme situations. It also provides insights into decision-making under pressure and managing fear.
  • The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood: Gain insights into the mental strategies that survivors employ in life-threatening situations. It explores the psychology of resilience and the science behind surviving adversity. Learn how to develop a survivor’s mindset.
  • On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace by Dave Grossman: While focused on combat, this book offers valuable insights into human responses to stress and how to manage fear and anxiety effectively. It discusses the physiological aspects of the fight-or-flight response.

6. Communication and Security

In a post-disaster world, communication and security are paramount.

Learn how to set up communication networks and secure your property with expert guidance.

  • “The Prepper’s Communication Handbook” by Jim Cobb: This book covers communication strategies and technologies for preppers, including ham radio operation and encryption methods. It also discusses establishing communication plans with family and like-minded groups.
  • The Home Security Handbook: Expert Advice for Keeping Safe at Home (And Away) by Philip Schmidt: This guide provides practical advice on securing your home against intruders and maintaining a safe environment. It covers topics like home alarm systems, locks, and surveillance. Learn how to assess vulnerabilities in your home and make it more secure.
  • Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson: While focused on ethical hacking, this book can help you understand the vulnerabilities of communication and security systems, allowing you to better protect your data and privacy. Gain insights into potential cyber threats and how to defend against them.

7. Homesteading and Sustainable Living

For those planning for long-term survival, books on homesteading and sustainable living are a must.

These resources will teach you how to grow your own food and live off the grid.

  • “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery: A comprehensive guide to self-sufficiency, covering everything from gardening and animal husbandry to food preservation and energy alternatives. It provides practical tips for sustainable living, such as raising chickens and preserving fruits and vegetables.
  • The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need on Just a Quarter Acre! by Carleen Madigan: If you have limited space, this book offers practical tips on maximizing your homestead’s productivity. It includes information on small-scale gardening, livestock, and food preservation.
  • Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham: This book provides strategies for maximizing food production on a small piece of land. It covers techniques like composting, crop rotation, and raising chickens. Learn how to efficiently use limited space for sustainable farming.

Additional Topics for a Well-Stocked Survival Library

Now, let’s explore additional topics that can further enhance your preparedness and survival skills.

1. Water Purification and Storage

Access to clean water is paramount in any survival situation.

Books on water purification and storage methods are essential.

  • “Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers” by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski: This book offers insights into water quality, treatment, and purification, which can be applied to ensure safe drinking water.
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1 by Brad Lancaster: Learn how to collect and store rainwater for domestic use, especially in arid regions. This book covers rainwater harvesting systems and design.
  • Emergency Water Storage and Filtration by Damian Brindle: Gain practical knowledge on how to store and filter water during emergencies. It discusses various water storage containers and filtration methods.

2. Renewable Energy and Off-Grid Living

Being self-reliant also means having a sustainable source of energy.

Books on renewable energy and off-grid living are valuable additions to your survival library.

  • “Solar Electricity Handbook: A Simple, Practical Guide to Solar Energy” by Michael Boxwell: Understand the basics of solar power and how to harness the sun’s energy for electricity. It covers solar panel installation and maintenance.
  • “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wind Power for Your Home” by Ian Woofenden: Explore the possibilities of wind energy for generating power in off-grid settings. Learn about wind turbine systems and installation.
  • “DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home” by Eric Smith: Discover DIY solar projects and applications for your home, from solar water heaters to solar ovens.

3. Navigation and Map Reading

Knowing how to navigate in various terrains is a fundamental survival skill. Books on navigation and map reading are crucial for staying on course.

  • “Be Expert with Map and Compass” by Bjorn Kjellstrom: This classic guide teaches you how to use map and compass for precise navigation, making it an invaluable resource for wilderness travel.
  • “Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS” by Bob Burns and Mike Burns: Learn modern navigation techniques, including the use of GPS devices and altimeters, alongside traditional map and compass skills.
  • “Survival Navigation: How to Exit the Wilderness Without Gadgets or a GPS” by Christopher Nyerges: Master the art of navigating in the wild without relying on electronic devices. This book focuses on natural navigation cues.


As a prepper, your quest for preparedness should extend beyond just stockpiling supplies.

Building a comprehensive survival library is a critical step towards being self-reliant in times of crisis.

Remember to constantly update your knowledge and skills by reading, practicing, and networking with like-minded individuals.


Where can I find these books?

You can find these books at your local bookstore, online retailers, or even in digital formats for your e-reader.

What’s the best way to organize my survival library?

Consider categorizing your books by topic and placing them in waterproof containers or on sturdy shelves to protect them from the elements. Create a catalog or index for easy reference.

How often should I update my survival library?

It’s a good practice to review and update your library annually to stay current with the latest survival techniques and information. Replace outdated books with newer editions or additional titles.

Are there any online resources for preppers?

Yes, there are numerous websites, forums, and social media groups dedicated to preppers where you can find additional information, share experiences, and connect with fellow preppers. Be discerning about the sources you trust and verify information whenever possible.

Do I need to read all these books at once?

No, you can start by prioritizing the topics that interest you the most and gradually build your knowledge over time. Create a reading plan or schedule to systematically cover essential topics. Consider joining or forming a prepper group to share and discuss books and skills with others who have similar interests.

Evelyn - atlantic survival gear
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Evelyn Claire, a young and adventurous spirit fueled by her unwavering passion for the outdoors and survival. From an early age, she was captivated by nature's beauty, and her thirst for exploration knows no bounds.

Evelyn's love for the wilderness extends beyond admiration. She has dedicated herself to mastering survival skills, from building shelters to foraging for food. Fearless and determined, she embarks on thrilling expeditions, conquering rugged terrains and embracing the challenges that come her way.

As an advocate for environmental stewardship, Evelyn strives to protect and preserve the landscapes she cherishes. Through her inspiring journeys and responsible outdoor practices, she encourages others to connect with nature and discover their own inner strength.

Evelyn Claire stands as a beacon of inspiration for young women seeking adventure and a deeper connection with the natural world. Join her on an unforgettable journey of discovery, self-reliance, and the boundless beauty that awaits in the great outdoors.

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