Amazon is great, as everyone has an almost limitless number of books they can now buy with the click of the button. I remember when you actually had to go to a city or large town to go to a bookshop or a library.
The problem is Amazon doesn’t seem to have quality control as a major part of their business model, and basically anyone can sell any book they want on Amazon.
So, it can be difficult to find the best and most useful survival books to add to your personal library. Especially when most people shop from the first page of results.
With this in mind, I thought it was a good idea to put together a list of what I think are the best survival books which you should have in your collection.
You can learn a lot from things like blog articles, YouTube, TV, and Film. But nothing beats the depth of knowledge you can get from a book, that is wrote by a survival expert.
The problem is to be a well-rounded and skilled survivalist yourself; you are going to need a huge range of skills.
Therefore, what you will consider to be the best survival books will depend on what type of survival you have an interest in.
I usually classify survival books into 4 categories:
These books will help you become self-sufficient in daily life and will help you develop a subsistence agriculture model based around seasonal foods and livestock.
They will also include how you make your own furniture, homes, and clothing.
This allows you to be less reliant on money, and mainstream supply chains. As well as help protect you from emergencies like natural disasters and pandemics.
Or some might call it surviving your own incompetent government aka urban survival. This is less about wanting to be off in the woods or raising your own cow.
It is about when society breaks down and s#@t hits the fan.
It is a preppers delight, where the prepared can sit back in the knowledge that they have protected themselves and their family. So, things like food storage, bunkers, first aid, and communication methods.
Wilderness survival books are perhaps what most people expect from the best survival books, where they are about the fun, learning, and spending extended periods time in the outdoors.
Just search bushcraft into YouTube and you will get my drift. But don’t think I am undermining wilderness living by saying it is fun, there are very important skills to be learned here.
Whether you are just out for a night’s wild camp, spending a weekend in your woodland basecamp, or if you are in longer term survival situations… to become a true survival expert you will need to know what wild plants you can eat for nutrition, and which ones you can use as medicine.
Some wild mushrooms are delicious and nutritious, some wild mushrooms will kill you quickly and painfully. It’s best to know which is which!
These are all in my collection of survival books, and I rate them all highly. However, people are all at different levels and have different skill sets.
So, there is no perfect survival book for everyone in my opinion, as different people will take different things from different books.
With this in mind, I will give you a list of what I think are the best survival books to own, but I will list them alphabetically rather than trying to give them some sort of ranking.
This book is great for people who are interested in quitting the rat race and looking for a more traditional life, which is more closely intwined with nature. It allows you to try to live like your ancestors did.
This book is about trying to be able to live without the support of others. It teaches you beginner level skills like dying wool and fermenting vegetables, to more advanced skills like how to construct your own log cabin from scratch.
Anyone who is interested in living in the wilderness for short, medium, or long-term, then you will need the skills detailed in this book. He considers the five c’s of survival to be cutting, combustion, containers, cording, and covering.
And he gives a whole host of ways these 5 C’s can be used together to build, gather, and cook whatever you need. So, that you can stay in the great outdoors for as long as you want.
This takes some really interesting survival stories and uses them as a basis to teach you how to stay safe in the wild.
It reads like an adventure story but stops you at certain points and says if you did this instead you could have avoided the accident you are about to have.
It really helps you plan trips properly and teaches you how to make clear and intelligent decisions under stressful conditions.
This is a simple textbook with line drawings of the plants, which may seem primitive in today’s book world but trust me this is as thorough an edibles book as you are likely to find.
Especially if you live in Northern America. The simple drawings and detailed but concise descriptions are perfect, and it also tells you how to prepare the wild plants and if they are suitable for salads, teas, or cooking.
If something isn’t in this book, then you probably shouldn’t eat it.
Not only does this book allow you to distinguish what foods are safe to forage and gather but how to prepare and cook them for eating, it also takes you through how to catch and eat animals and fish.
Eating wild edibles with keep you from starvation in the short-term but you cannot survive for too long on any adventure, trip, or emergency if you do not have access to meat and fish.
This book is an excellent survival guide for tracking, trapping, fishing, and preparing your prey.
This is a homesteader and wilderness book that doesn’t just allow you to live long-term like your ancestors, it allows you to live like your ancient ancestors.
It takes you through many primitive skills that you could use to really live back-to-basics in the woods or mountains, with such skills as using bow and arrows, bow drills, stone tools, and shelter building.
For those who think tents and sleeping bags a lame ha-ha.
This is a tremendous wilderness first-aid handbook.
It's full of really useful information to help you deal with a wide range of medical scenarios and emergency situations, which you may encounter if you spend extended time out in the wild.
Things like how to deal with muscle tears, support breaks and fractures, dental problems, cold exposure, and poisonings.
This is an awesome book designed you prep you for long-term survival. If the government dissolves, the power-grid crumbles, or a virus wipes out a large chunk of the world’s population.
Then this book will help you prepare for it. It walks you through how to build shelters, store food, and protect your family for as long as it takes.
But obviously there are things in here that are useful for short and medium term off-grid living and/or emergencies.
A great book for anyone interested in wilderness and urban survival. On one hand it is a traditional wilderness guide, showing you how to make fires and shelters making it a handy book for wild campers, bushcrafters, hikers, or any outdoor enthusiasts really.
But then it also covers more advanced and urban situations, things like developing your hand-to-hand combat skills. Plus, there is some excellent map and navigation information in here.
This is basically a greatest hit of the best survival books from the publisher Stackpole Books. It is a big book, so you should consider it as more of a keep at home survival encyclopaedia.
Where you plan a trip or skill you want to master, and read up about it in this book, and then go off into the wild and practise what you have read at home. It is not a book that you sit next to the fire and read cover for cover.
Rather, it is a book where you say tomorrow, I am camping next to a river so I need to know how to catch and gut a fish.
For those interested in modern day urban survival. This is an interesting book, where the author and co-authors go over more than 400 reports on officer-involved shooting incidents.
They then take their findings and recommend how people can prepare, plan, avoid, and react to similar circumstances. The streets are far wilder than the forests nowadays, that’s for sure.
This is locked and targeted at those with an interest in hunting. This book covers a huge range of primitive techniques to catch your own animals and how to eat them.
It covers a huge range of animals from a tiny moose, to an angry bear, and everything in between.
There are some excellent tips in here, like how you can make scent lures to attract certain animals into the firing line or a trap.
It also gives details on how to use the whole animal with techniques on tanning and using hides for warmth.
Aimed at the disaster survival crowd, but it is really just an invaluable book for preppers and survivalists. If you are wondering why and how you need a bug out bag, then this a great book to take you through that.
It also encompasses more severe emergency situations, like how to deal with a dead body which is something you hope you never have to deal with obviously.
As the title suggests this is based around the fundamental idea that to survive, you must maintain your core body temperature.
If you don’t then you are dead. It is almost an anti-survival book, because it wants you to avoid situations where you have to make last-dich survival decisions.
It is about basic principles that will keep you safe and secure, it is a nice book for people who are thinking about going on their first overnight wild camp or thru-hike.
Probably not the best for people looking for bushcraft or ancestral living tips.
I think any self-respecting survival book collection will have to have at least one book from an Ex-SAS or Navy SEAL in it. It is basically the law!
And this is a great allrounder covering basic bushcraft and survival techniques like building a shelter and starting a fire in various climates and terrains.
But it also adds that little bit of military expertise as it covers things like home invasion, hostage situations, and terrorist attacks.
Is it possible that the world is going to be overrun by zombies, or maybe plants will turn evil and start trying to kill us, or them pesky aliens will attack earth on a national holiday no less…. the bas@%$ds!
Yes, these are possible… but highly unlikely.
So, try to avoid books that are trying to hook you with a click bait title.
Instead, find the best survival books from respected survival experts. Read the books, practice what is in them, and become an experienced survival expert yourself.
It is important to remember that the books are great for gaining knowledge, but you do have to practise what they preach.
You do not want to be in an emergency situation, and open your book, to find that you can’t actually do what it says you need to do.
“Practice make perfect”, is a valid saying for any budding prepper or survivalist.
At the end of the day the best survival book or books is the one/s that give you the knowledge that helps you survive a survival situation. It is as simple as that.
Even if it means, you do actually survive that zombie apocalypse everyone is talking about.