Books Every Prepper Should Own

Any good prepper knows that knowledge and skills beat gear any day of the week. It doesn’t matter what you have if you don’t know how to use it. Having a prepper library (and actually reading the books in it) is an essential part of being a prepper.

A good prepper or survival library should address the following areas:

  • General preparedness
  • Defense and Security
  • Medicine and First Aid
  • Survival and Bushcraft
  • Homesteading and Gardening

Here are my top picks for the best prepper and survival books. I own and have read almost all of them. Those I haven’t read yet have a good enough reputation that I can recommend them without hesitation.

*IMPORTANT: Go ahead and assume that any link in this article is an affiliate link. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you buy anything on that website.

Best Books for General Preparedness

Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide: Second Edition by Jim Cobb

Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide book by Jim Cobb

The Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide is one of the quintessential prepper texts and Jim released its second edition in 2023. It covers many of the same topics as How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It but is much easier to digest.

While Mr. Rawles’ book is very detailed, it can get a little technical at times, which could confuse new preppers or those not familiar with certain topics. Jim’s writing style is less formal and easier to follow. I recommend having both in your library.

*Disclaimer: Jim Cobb emailed me after seeing some of my YouTube videos and offered me a free copy of the new Second Edition. I already owned the first edition, which is one of my favorite prepping books. I jumped at the opportunity to have a signed copy of the new one, especially considering Jim is one of my favorite prepping and survival authors.

You can find the Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide Second Edition by clicking here.

31 Days to Survival by M.D. Creekmore

If you’re a new prepper, 31 Days to Survival by M.D. Creekmore should be one of the first books that you pick up. It provides a step-by-step blueprint for going from being completely unprepared to having a solid preparedness plan in one month.

This book is excellent for new preppers because it explains each step without being too overwhelming. It covers every important aspect of preparedness including, food, defense, and many others. If you follow the 31 steps you will be in a much better position to handle an emergency.

You can find 31 Days to Survival by clicking here.

The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by Jim Cobb

The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by Jim Cobb is a good resource for new and experienced preppers. It covers various preparedness topics including survival mindset, foraging, and preparing with children, pets, and the elderly. Like all of Jim’s books, it’s an easy read and packed with vital information.

You can find The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by clicking here.

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by James Wesley, Rawles

How to Survive The End of the World as We Know It book by James Wesley Rawles

James Wesley, Rawles is one of the foremost experts in the preparedness and survival community. He is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and the owner of SurvivalBlog.com. His book, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It is considered by many to be the textbook for how to survive an earth-changing disaster.

It contains over 300 pages of information that comprehensively covers every aspect of long-term survival in a TEOTWAWKI situation. It provides guidance for setting up a survival retreat, food storage, communications, and much more. The book even includes a section that tells you how to protect yourself and your loved ones from a flu pandemic. It is an essential book for any prepper’s library.

You can find How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It by clicking here.

Tools for Survival by James Wesley, Rawles

Tools for Survival book by James Wesley Rawles

Tools for Survival is another excellent book written by Mr. Rawles. Like How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, this book focuses on sustaining yourself in a long-term survival situation. However, it focuses more on the equipment you will need to be completely self-sufficient.

When I say that it explains everything you need to be completely self-sufficient, I’m not exaggerating. It details numerous common and obscure tools you will need to provide for your needs in several areas. These include common prepping items like firearms for defense and gardening equipment. However, it also covers tools you will need to harvest and process lumber and even sewing equipment for making your own clothes.

You can find Tools for Survival by clicking here.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Although it isn’t what you would typically think of as a book for preppers, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie could be an invaluable resource for preppers who need to negotiate and barter.

It’s considered a classic in the business world and has helped people in various industries be successful in negotiations and sales. Making deals with other people can help you on the job today and could keep your family safe and fed during a crisis.

You can find How to Win Friends and Influence People by clicking here.

Prepper’s Survival Hacks by Jim Cobb

Devising creative solutions to problems is a vital survival skill, and Prepper’s Survival Hacks by Jim Cobb does a great job demonstrating this. It is a short, fun read that is filled with 50 projects that you can complete to make you and your family more prepared. Some of my favorites are a layered water filter, a bucket clothes washer, and a cold frame for growing plants.

This book also provides value beyond the projects that it contains. First, it gets you thinking creatively about using everyday items beyond their intended purpose. This fosters resourcefulness. Second, it provides a way for parents to get their kids involved in prepping by doing the activities with them. Some are quick “arts and crafts” while others are good afternoon projects.

You can find Prepper’s Survival Hacks by clicking here.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit by Creek Stewart

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag by Creek Stewart

Having a well-thought-out bug out bag ready to go will allow you to act quickly to get yourself and your loved ones out of an emergency before it is too late. Creek Stewart’s Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag is the most well-respected book on the subject.

The book thoroughly explains what you need to put in your bug out bag and includes pictures of many of the items. What is nice about this book is that it also explains how to use most of the items in your bag. After all, gear is useless if you don’t know how to use it.

You can find Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag by clicking here.

Best Prepper Books for Defense

Prepper’s Home Defense by Jim Cobb

Prepper's Home Defense book by Jim Cobb

Prepper’s Home Defense is another excellent book by Jim Cobb. It explains how to set up a security plan for you and your family if there’s a breakdown of law and order. It covers numerous aspects of defense including basic security concepts, hardening structures, weapons, and even how to execute excursions away from your retreat.

As with other books that he has written, Jim Cobb does an excellent job providing valuable information in an easy-to-digest format. Even though the subject matter is serious, he remains down to earth and even includes some humor.

You can find Prepper’s Home Defense by clicking here.

100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson

100 Deadly Skills book by Clint Emerson

Clint Emerson is a former Navy SEAL and is now using the skills he learned for his new roles as a crisis management professional and bestselling author. His book 100 Deadly Skills gives everyday people a look into the world of special operations and espionage.

As the title suggests, it covers 100 skills for self-defense, evasion, making improvised weapons, and more. Each skill includes illustrations for instruction and demonstration. Normal folks are unlikely to need some skills, such as how to steal a plane, but others, like how to escape a kidnapping, could save your life. Probably the biggest value of this book is that it opens your mind to tactics that may be used against you and how to defend against them.

You can find 100 Deadly Skills by clicking here.

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

The Gift of Fear is a comprehensive look at human survival instincts and the methods stalkers and other criminals use to prey on their victims. One of the biggest lessons that the book teaches is to trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy, there’s probably a good reason.

The Gift of Fear is a valuable source of information on how our relatively safe modern way of life has caused people to bury their basic survival instincts and ways to overcome this. It also explains ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of violent crime by including real-life examples of victims’ stories along with breakdowns of what led up to them.

You can find The Gift of Fear by clicking here.

Principles of Personal Defense by Col. Jeff Cooper

Colonel Jeff Cooper was a United States Marine who served in both World War II and the Korean War. After this, he became famous as both a firearms instructor and author. His most well-known training facility, Gunsite Academy, is still operating today. He is considered by many to be the father of modern defensive handgun techniques.

Principles of Personal Defense is Jeff Cooper’s personal defense philosophy for protecting yourself and others from threats. The book covers seven elements of defense: alertness, decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, coolness, ruthlessness, and surprise. Aggressiveness and ruthlessness may sound a little extreme, however, in the context of the book, they make a lot of sense. It establishes a mindset for defending yourself against someone who wants to do extreme harm to you or someone else.

Principles of Personal Defense is a relatively short read; my copy is only 79 pages. The text on the page is fairly large, so you may be able to read through the entire book in one evening. Because of this, it’s an excellent book to read and reread every so often as a refresher.

You can find Principles of Personal Defense by clicking here.

The Secure Home by Joel Skousen

The Secure Home by Joel Skousen

If you’re a prepper who wants to build your own home, this book is an absolute must-have. It has over 600 pages with information you’d need to build a secure and self-sufficient home where you could ride out pretty much anything.

You can find The Secure Home by clicking here.

Other Recommended Security and Defense Books

Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life by Jason Hanson

Best Prepper Books for Medicine and First Aid

The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph and Amy Alton

The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joseph and Amy Alton

Dr. Joseph Alton and his wife Amy Alton (who is a registered nurse) are well-known in the preparedness community for educating regular people about emergency medicine. Their most well-known work, The Survival Medicine Handbook, is one of the most popular emergency medicine manuals.

Many emergency medical guides focus primarily on first aid. First aid involves treating relatively minor injuries or treating somebody just enough to prevent them from dying before they can get real medical help. The Survival Medicine Handbook, on the other hand, is intended to be used when help isn’t on the way.

It covers numerous topics including diabetes, bites, seizures, and amputations. The book isn’t meant to be used in everyday circumstances where you can get medical help, but it could save your life or someone else’s if medical assistance is nowhere to be found.

You can find The Survival Medicine Handbook by clicking here.

Other Medicine and First Aid Books

Where There Is No Doctor by Werner, Thuman, and Maxwell

Where There Is No Dentist by Murray Dickson

Best Prepper Books for Survival and Bushcraft

SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman

SAS Survival Handbook by John Lofty Wiseman

If you type “best survival manual” into Google, the first title that pops up is almost always the SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman. Mr. Wiseman spent 26 years working in Britain’s Special Air Services. This gave him first-hand knowledge of how to survive in the worst situations in any environment on Earth.

The SAS Survival Handbook is nearly 700 pages long and explains how to survive in various environments, including survival at sea. The book also features drawings and diagrams for creating shelters, traps, and other tools that you can use to help you survive. One of my favorite parts of the book is the color drawings of various plants and snakes which are much better than those found in other survival manuals.

You can find the SAS Survival Handbook by clicking here.

Other Survival and Bushcraft Books

100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition by Clint Emerson

Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury

U.S. Army Survival Guide (FM 21-76)

Best Prepper Books for Homesteads and Gardening

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

Encyclopedia of Country Living book by Carla Emery

If you are interested in homesteading or setting up a retreat, The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery is one of the first books you should pick up. This is not, however, light reading. As the name suggests, it’s a literal encyclopedia with over 900 pages.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living contains all the information you would expect regarding land selection, raising small animals, growing a garden, building a barn, and logging. However, it also includes other things like recipes and even explains how to deliver a baby.

You can find the Encyclopedia of Country Living by clicking here.

The Foxfire Book Series by Eliot Wigginton and His Students

The Foxfire book series by Eliot Wigginton

The Foxfire book series is one of the most complete records of life before modern conveniences. It started as a class project but eventually grew into what I consider to be the complete anthology of Appalachian knowledge. It covers topics such as log cabin building, gardening, blacksmithing, hide tanning, and many more. If you want a useful set of references to use during a long-term disaster, this is what I recommend.

You can find the entire Foxfire Book series by clicking here.

Other Recommended Homestead and Gardening Books

Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

Secret Garden of Survival by Rick Austin

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