The Simple Prepper

Build Your Prepper Library Now The 13 Best Prepper Books

A fellow Prepper recently asked me if there was one single survival book he should buy. He was looking for a book that encompassed everything from water filtration to electricity production and everything in between. I thought for a moment before giving my response.

Survival Sanctuary by Mark Johnson is a definitive guide to emergency survival. It comes with 25 DIY projects beginners can do with scavenged parts you are likely to find after a SHTF scenario

A personal library of Prepper resources is one of the most underrated components of any emergency kit. Having a library allows you the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll be able to find answers to questions as they arise once the power goes out, even if the Internet is down, and makes you more adaptable in an emergency situation.

Which is why I gave him a list of 13 books I keep close by. These books span various survival topics including medicine, first aid, and food procurement. For those of you looking for a good survival book like my buddy Sam; here is my list of absolute best survival books.

13 Best Survival Books To Get Your Prepper Library Started

While some of these books are intended to cover survival in an emergency broadly, others dive deep into specific topics – like emergency medicine or foraging – to serve as specific references when important questions arise during an emergency.

Plus, you don’t have to wait until the power goes out to read these books – many of them can help inform your survival preparations, including what supplies to keep in your home in addition to your new library.

The Survival Medicine Handbook By Joseph Alton and Amy Alton


In contrast to the other medical handbooks on our library list, this reference is written specifically for Preppers and describes how you can deal with medical emergencies when there is no hospital system and no professional help coming. The book details medical supplies you’ll want to include in your emergency kit and covers what to do for everything from lice to radiation sickness to massive traumatic injuries. A must have for Preppers!

The Pill Book 15th Edition by Harold Silverman

Amazon ASIN #B00BG78XZU

You may know what the pills in your house are and even have the prescription information for them, but what about unidentified pills you find in the aftermath of a disaster? This handy reference helps you identify pills and provides essential information about what they are typically prescribed for and the typical dosage, as well as information about potential side effects and interactions with other drugs. Critical for anyone with prescriptions.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

Amazon ASIN #1632172895

One of the most useful references for any Prepper, this book covers everything you need to know about living off the grid – from how to generate electricity and produce clean water to how to raise livestock and keep bees for honey. If you are living out of your house for weeks or months without power, there is no better guide to how to make the best of an off-grid lifestyle.

Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson Kearny

Amazon ASIN #1634502973

This book focuses on a specific and extreme type of catastrophe – nuclear detonation – but it is particularly useful because it addresses a wide range of post-blackout issues in the process. Notably, the context of nuclear war in this book also prompts discussion of how your situation may be changed by things such as unbreathable air due to radioactive fallout or non-functional electronics due to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

SAS Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman

Amazon ASIN #0062378074

This tried and true text is essentially the standard manual for Preppers. Complete with information about preparing and finding food, securing your family or camp, and making decisions about when to bug out and where to, it is a great resource both before and during an emergency.

Medical Toxicology of Natural Substances by Donald Barceloux

A dense reference intended primarily for physicians and toxicologists, this textbook is nonetheless a useful reference in the event you have to deal with an accidental poisoning in the absence of a poison control hotline to call. This is especially important if you are foraging for wild plants to use as food and medicine, since the book provides information about the relative toxicity of many plants and insects.

The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer

Amazon ASIN #0976626616

If you live near the woods or want to plan ahead for bugging out, this book is an indispensable guide to the 41 most common edible plants in North America. The book not only helps you identify the plants to collect them, but also provides detailed information about how to prepare them as food and their potential additional uses as medicine.

The Official U.S. Army Survival Guide

Amazon ASIN #1547209461

This comprehensive manual is targeted primarily at survival in a wilderness situation rather than in your home after a blackout, but the information provided can be extremely useful in developing a bug out bag and informing your movements if you need to bug out.

The ARRL Operating Manual for Radio Amateurs by ARRL

Amazon ASIN #1625951205

Using a ham radio is one of the most reliable ways to make contact with the outside world in the aftermath of a widespread disaster thanks to its minimal battery requirements and massive transmitting reach. While this reference will only help you if you have a radio on hand, it can make a world of difference when you’re trying to operate that radio under pressure or fix any broken parts.

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy by Robert Porter

Intended for medical students and practicing physicians, this comprehensive guide to diagnosing and treating diseases is a catch-all reference for dealing with illness in the absence of a working medical system. The manual uses a symptom-driven approach to help you narrow down the list of possible ailments and then provides useful advice on courses of treatment.

Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury

Amazon ASIN #1440579776

Like the U.S. Army Survival Guide, this reference is focused primarily on wilderness survival and the skills and supplies needed to procure and cook food, establish shelter, and navigate your way through unfamiliar terrain.

Edible Wild Plants by Thomas Elias

Amazon ASIN #1402767153

If you plan on procuring a significant portion of your food from foraging wild plants after the supermarket shuts down, this book is an excellent reference. The book includes nearly 400 color photos to help you identify more than 200 edible plant species and is organized by season so you know what plants to be looking for.

2021 Rand McNally Road Atlas

Does your bug out plan rely on Google Maps to provide directions? What about if you need to make a detour for safety reasons? Having an updated road atlas is essential to being able to evaluate your options and surroundings when making the decision to bug out and when on the road during an emergency.

Why Keep A Prepper Library?

When a disaster strikes and you can’t remember the details of important questions – like how much bleach to add to a gallon of water to purify it or how to preserve and can vegetables to stretch your food supplies for as long as possible – how are you going to answer them? Especially if this is your first experience with a severe blackout, so that you haven’t had a chance to practice these life-saving tricks, it can be hard to remember everything you need to know to get through a survival situation.

Having a library of resources can provide a feeling of security in the moments after your home goes dark, or during a global pandemic, knowing that you will be able to navigate the situation with written help from Prepper experts, as well as give you an extra layer of adaptability in an emergency by offering multiple solutions to problems that are likely to arise.

Make Your Survival Library Physical

While these days a “library” may mean a list of books on your e-reader or a set of PDFs on your computer, when it comes to a Prepper library it is best to have a physical shelf of books. The reason is that when an emergency strikes, you don’t want to find yourself without your library – and there are a number of scenarios in which an electronic library can be lost.

In the simplest cases, you won’t have access to any resources that you have not downloaded without the Internet or your computer or e-reader batteries can die relatively quickly. More difficult to prevent, power surges can fry your computer or, in the event of an attack, an electromagnetic pulse can render all of your electronics completely useless.

On the contrary, physical books are much more certain to be there when you need them in an emergency – the only extra thing you need is a flashlight if you plan to read after the sun goes down. Even if you have to bug out and leave most of your library behind, you can still throw a few of your most helpful books into your bug out bag.

If you already have electronic resources that you’d like to make part of your library, there is an option for you – print them out! Although this may not be an option for e-books, there are numerous online resources provided for free by fellow Preppers that you can download and print to add to your library.

Honorable Mention

Amazon ASIN #1493046942

Amazon ASIN #1645173771