Any good prepper knows that knowledge and skills beat gear any day of the week. It doesn’t matter what you have it 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 (including food and water procurement and storage)
- Surviving in a TEOTWAWKI scenario
- Medicine and First Aid
- Outdoor Survival and Bushcraft
Here are my top picks for the best prepper and survival books. I own and have actually read almost all of them. Those that I haven’t read yet have a good enough reputation in the prepper community that I can recommend them without hesitation.
Best Prepper Books for General Preparedness
31 Days to Survival by M.D. Creekmore
If you are 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’s time.
This book is an excellent read for new preppers because it does a good job explaining each step without being too overwhelming. It covers pretty much 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.
The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness by Jim Cobb
Jim Cobb is one of my favorite survival writers. He has written several books about preparedness and is the owner of SurvivalWeekly.com. He takes a very common-sense approach to preparedness and even manages to put a little humor in his writing, which is always appreciated.
The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness is a very good guide for new and experienced preppers. It does a good job covering a wide variety of preparedness topics including survival mind-set, foraging, and preparing with children, pets, and the elderly.
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 is considered a classic in the business world and has helped people in various industries be successful in negotiations and sales. Being able to work with and make deals with other people can help you on the job today and could keep your family safe and fed during a crisis.
Prepper’s Survival Hacks by Jim Cobb
Being able to devise 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 favorite projects are a layered water filter, a bucket clothes washer, and a cold frame for growing plants.
This book provides value beyond the projects that it contains. First, it gets you thinking creatively on how you can use everyday items beyond their intended purpose. This fosters resourcefulness. Second, it provides a way for parents who are preppers to get their kids involved in prepping by doing the hacks with them. Some are quick “arts and crafts” while others are good afternoon projects.
Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit by Creek Stewart
Having a well thought out bug out bag ready to go will allow you to act quickly to get yourself and 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 does a thorough job explaining what you need to put in your bug out bag and includes pictures of many of the items. What is nice about this book though 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.
Best Prepper Books for TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It)
How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It 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 cover 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 you and your loved ones from a flu pandemic. It is an essential book for any prepper’s library.
Tools for Survival 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 being able to sustain yourself in a long-term survival situation. However, it focuses more on the equipment that you will need to 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 that you will need to provide for your needs in several different areas. These include common prepping items like firearms for defense and gardening equipment. However, it also includes information on tools that you will need to harvest and process lumber and even sewing equipment for making your own clothes.
This book would make excellent reading if you have extended family you are prepping with or are part of a survival group. Each person or family could be in charge of obtaining the gear from one or more categories. This would allow the group to be as well-prepared as possible but save any one individual from having to buy everything. For example, if your group has a doctor, they could be in charge of medical supplies, a handyman would be responsible for tools, and so on. That being said, having some redundancy and overlap would be a good idea in case something happens to a group member. Also, all members should have basic self-sufficiency regarding food, water, and defense.
Best Prepper Books for Defense
Prepper’s Home Defense 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 in the event that there is a breakdown of law and order. It covers numerous aspects of defense including basic security concepts, how to harden 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 very serious, he still manages to remain down to earth and even includes some humor.
100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson
Clint Emerson is a former Navy SEAL and is now uses 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 explains 100 skills for self-defense (and offense), evasion, making improvised weapons, and more. Each skill includes illustrations for instruction and demonstration. We are unlikely to ever 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 the book is that it opens your mind to the deadly tactics that may be used against you and how to defend against them.
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 about something, there is probably a very 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 base 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.
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 in operation 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 how to protect 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, it makes a lot of sense. It is establishing a mindset for how to defend 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 79 pages cover to cover. The text on the page is fairly large, so you may be able to read through the entire book in one evening. (I think that’s what I did.) Because of this, it is an excellent book to read and reread every so often as a refresher.
Best Prepper Book for Medicine and First Aid
The Survival Medicine Handbook: Emergency Preparedness for Any Disaster 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 a wide range of 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.
Best Prepper Book for Survival and Bushcraft
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 basically any environment on Earth.
The SAS Survival Handbook is nearly 700 pages long. It 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.
Best Prepper Book for Homesteads and Retreats
The Encyclopedia of Country Living 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 that you should pick up. This is not, however, light reading that you will do on your couch during commercial breaks of your favorite tv shows. It is literally an encyclopedia with over 900 pages of information.
The Encyclopedia contains all of the information you would expect regarding land selection, raising small animals, growing a garden, building a barn, and logging. However, it also includes various recipes and even explains how to deliver a baby.