survival novels

Survival Novels | Survival Fiction Best Reads

So, do you enjoy reading a great survival novel? I have always enjoyed these fiction books. However for it to be a good read, it needs to have a combination of ingredients to make it enjoyable.

Personally, I like survival fiction books that have at least a hint of “it could happen”. Makes it more believable. And the story can even become educational for one’s own preparedness.

Many of you enjoy reading about what people might do as a result of the (disaster) scenario within the novel. What drives people to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds… It may provide some motivation or inspiration to get better prepared.

Survival has been the subject of stories for thousands of years where people are forced to pit their strength, skill and brains against the forces of nature, evil, and each other. Where ever there is life, there is the need for survival.

This list of survival fiction novels originates from a reader poll conducted here during 2014. They stand the test of time.

Survival Novels | Survival Fiction You Like The Most

Disclosure: The list of survival novels include affiliate links to amzn, for which I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

One Second After


One man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in 1-second, after an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) sends America back to the Dark Ages.
-William R. Forstchen



America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse—the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point.
-James Wesley Rawles

Going Home (The Survivalist Series)


The country’s power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored.

Lights Out


The veneer of civilization is stripped away after the lights go out over most of the free world while one man must unite his family, friends, and neighbors if any of them are to survive.
-David Crawford

Lucifer’s Hammer


A gargantuan comet slams into earth causing the destruction of civilization and a new struggle for survival more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known.
-Larry Niven

EMP – Equipping Modern Patriots


A harrowing story of survival following the destruction of the electric grid and nearly every electronic device in the country.
-Jonathan Hollerman

Alas, Babylon


A nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, civilization is stripped away, but for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning.
-Pat Frank



Only a handful of individuals are equipped to survive after the America we are accustomed to is no more – stock market plummet, hyperinflation, rioting, looting…
-James Wesley Rawles

Earth Abides


A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race.
-George R. Stewart

299 Days (Series)


What begins as a return to roots, self-sufficiency and independence, becomes a full blown move to prepare for what may come. From a self-perceived “sheeple” to a full-blown “prepper.”
-Glen Tate

Enemies Foreign and Domestic

His books are a very popular read in the survival novel genre. Enemies Foreign and Domestic (1), Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista (2), and Foreign Enemies And Traitors (3).
-Matt Bracken



Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano.  It erupts, plunging Alex’s hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to search for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.
-Mike Mullin



The incredibly realistic story of one family’s struggle to survive the destruction of New York in a massive terror attack.
-Mathew Mather

The Stand


When a man escapes from a biological testing facility, he sets in motion a deadly domino effect, spreading a mutated strain of the flu that will wipe out 99 percent of humanity within a few weeks.
-Stephen King

This list of incredible reads among the survival fiction novels genre are among the best.

There are LOTS more too. People have their own tastes for what is a good novel. But given that the list of survival novels above is years old already, they stand the test of time.

However, here we are years later. Any new survival fiction to add?

[ Read: 10 Survival Preparedness Reference Books ]


  1. I’ve read three on that list. Patriots was a hard start for me…first several chapters read more like a manual than a novel…but, after that, I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed One Second After…one of my favorites. I’m about half way thru Lights Out, and I’m liking it as well. The one thing I like about Lights Out, is the fact that things take more than 24 hours to really start falling apart. Many other novels I’ve read in this genre seem to have wide spread violence, and shootouts around every corner, within mere hours of the event. Lights Out is a refreshing change from that.

    I’d also recommend Through Many Fires by Kyle Pratt.

  2. Definitely concur with Ancona – the list is great. Survivors has been on my to-read list for quite some time, and just heard of Equipping Modern Patriots patriots so that will be read as well.

    All those novels offer various POVs into what a certain post-event scenario could look like. Its definitely great food for thought, and provides good information to have in one’s library.

    Two books we recently got and love are Brushfire Plague [Volume 1] and its definitely worth reading:

    Brushfire Plague (Volume 1)

    There is also The Survivalist [Frontier Justice].

    Hopefully people interested in this subject choose a few of those books to read/learn since they are bastions of data that should be known to all.

  3. Alas, Babylon. A bit dated, but a good read on a rainy day. Set the standard for all survival novels to come.

    1. Earth Abides, is in this category. Survivors over three generations in the SF Bay area after an unidentified pandemic.

  4. I’m shocked that Holding their Own & Apocalypse Law didn’t make the list. If you like this genre, you won’t be disappointed. Zy, you should enjoy Equipping Modern Patriots. I for one will need to go back and finish Patriots. 1/2 way through and Rawles just lost me. Lights out is possibly my favorite. Started reading the second book of Brushfire plague and then saw 2 years ago, that the CDC actually wrote that this scenario could actually happen!

    1. Papa “J”, Those books were indeed captured within the poll results, however they didn’t make the top 10 with regards to number of recommendations from the poll. I too enjoyed ‘Lights out’ as you mentioned – also really enjoyed ‘One Second After’.

  5. Excellent list. I have read most of the titles listed. My favorite is “Lucifer’s Hammer”. Shows how important electricity is to this world and the chaos that results when it is lost.

  6. Gone to Ground by Cheryl Taylor. Read that one twice. Before Obola was brought here. On purpose. This is the plan for you. How they use FEMA camps.

  7. Forestar
    Most days i feel like we are living in one of his books, the world is mental

  8. I got a great series for you that is a little different. Clan of the Cave Bear is about survival during cave man days. Written by archeologists. Includes medicine from plants, hunting/trapping, and many other things. If you are really into survivalist mode this is more realistic of skills needed to live. There is nothing better than going a little old school. Ok, be warned they threw in a little romance to widen the audience. I love it for the survival stuff.

  9. BillieB
    I loved that series of books by Jean Auel. It is worth reading, will see if I can locate the hard bound books again to restore my collection.

  10. Eight of the books/series in my audio file.
    I have the physical book Patriots
    Attempting to DL that EMP book as I write this… 1.5gb, huge file.

  11. Not a big list, atm listening to Lucifer’s Hammer.

    Only ones I don’t have are Enemies Foreign and Domestic and CyberStorm.
    Will dl cyberstorm book 1 later.

    Oh Sh!t – Book 1 – The Awakening, that one looks interesting.
    World made by hand, to me that is horribly slow and couldn’t hold my interest,

  12. My first by Steven Konkoly was The Jarkata Pandemic. All of his books are eye opening and really get you thinking, but his Alex Fletcher series bring several SHTF possibilities into a thought provoking “what would I do” way.

  13. Love Lucifers Hammer of my favorites as well as The Stand. I love this genre and have read a lot of these.

    I have to put in a plug for Bobby Akart as an author of Post Apocalyptic fiction..his writing style is very good and his plots interesting. He’s pretty prolific also and has a lot of different books/series. My favorite is Geostorm…but so far, they’ve all been very good.

  14. Alas, Babylon introduced me to the genre back in high school. A few years later I read Malevil by Robert Merle. Re-read both every couple of years. Yes on One Second After. I give this one to folks I’m urging to be prepared. Also like Survivalist by Circumstance by Cheryl Colley, who sadly passed away before she finished the series.

  15. Hatchet. Its a youth book about a kid who survives a small plane crash when the pilot has a fatal heart attack. Get for getting your kids thinking about survival from a political free scenario.

    1. Bill
      I read this after my kids did. It was assigned reading at their school. Made for a good read and I believe there was a follow up book where he got fed up with civilization and went back to the bush. Was a learning read for the kids!

      1. There follow up book I know about is an alternative ending that replaces the last chapter of the first book and basically extends to survival story.

        1. Bill. There are 4 books about the boy in Hatchet. I’m not sure of the order, but they are Hatchet (of course), The River, Brian’s Winter, and Brian’s Return. All by Gary Paulson. I liked them all.

  16. Station 11. A pandemic destroys civilization. It’a a great YA novel.

  17. wasn’t there a survival book from the 1970’s titled the turner diaries? i think that was the name of the book.

    1. Turner diaries was very racist. A few good scenarios but other than that, pure garbage. Regret reading it really… the few good parts you’ll find in numerous other reads. I didn’t even pass my copy on to someone else, it went into the burn barrel. Have read 99% of all those mentioned. Kuntdler’s follow up series are not as good as the initial ‘made by hand’. Highly recommend Steven Konkolay series, they’re very good. Rawles is excellent as is, Babylon, Hammer, and Matt Bracken’s stuff is top notch too. I have probably a hundred plus volumes of this genre, maybe I’ll send another list tonight when I get home from work…

        1. Ok… I tried to post a small list of books but it exceeded 2000 characters. I’ll try to condense it and post it later…

      1. Yeah, I read the Turner Diaries and it is crap and a racist waist of time. Skip it.

  18. The Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins is one of my favorites,
    also Patriots by James Wesley Rawles.

  19. I’ve read a lot of those from the list… 299 Days is about my favorite from above. I’ve read that series a couple of times now. I find that I get more details when I re-read a story. I get anxious to see what happens next and start reading the story faster and that makes me miss some of the finer details.

    For me, it all started when I read Swiss Family Robinson, I loved that story! I’ve been trying to crack another book for a while and couldn’t find the motivation so I started up Swiss Family Robinson again. I really couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read that book. Also another one from my childhood… My Side of the Mountain. I really connected with Sam in the story and always wondered “What if?”

    1. CA_X_2B, I like the 299 series also. It’s set not too far from where I am. Met “Glen Tate” a few years ago, along with “Shelby Gallagher”. Nice folks. Very much into prepping. I Miss America.

  20. The Stand was one of the first apocalyptic novels I read. Even though it’s really long, I still re-read it from time to time. One Second After and Lights Out are both excellent for getting a person thinking about how a community could try to make it in this day and age after an EMP – both are on my shelf.

    I like the Getting Home series, but I think there are some very unrealistic parts in the series that make it hard for me to relate to. Same with Patriots… I think the financial crisis that starts the book rolling is VERY realistic and in some ways feels like some of what we are going through right this very minute. But, I have trouble relating to some of the content. I personally don’t have a group and stash at a remote ranch ready to roll, and I think most people don’t. But good pointers for some specific processes in the book.

    I also own “Black Autumn” by Jeff Kirkham & Jason Ross. Another EMP story, but some interesting wrinkles and details made it a worthwhile read.

  21. If you are looking for something a little different but still good info for tough times, “The Biscuit Tin Letters: Wartime Correspondence 1941 – 1945” might be nice. I enjoyed reading this book of letters (actual letters)They tell about having just moved to a different weather area and struggling with gardening, war, and people.
    It made me think I may have to learn some of these lessons myself with our changing weather.

  22. Great list, have read most of them. One that was left off the list, though, is a SHTF book from 1951 called “Day of the Triffids” – technology is dated but not the human condition, same as it ever was.

  23. I have read the World Made By Hand series twice. Kunstler is one of the few authors who recognizes the importance of foraging native plants… and he names them… in season. He addresses mental health, herbal medicine, 3 or 4 different social and leadership organizations. Thought provoking.

    1. Mrs Alaska,
      Have been looking at those books, thinking i will get them, always looking for good reading

  24. Just a thought for those who have family or friends who can’t see the need to get onboard with preparing. The appropriate dystopian survival story may be an entry point if they like to read. Find a storyline that will resonate with them. For example, while Patriots starts with an economy destroying hyper-inflation, it doesn’t get much into that part of the story. If you aren’t versed in why that would have happened and its effects, you may not be able to get past that part of the story. So if your target audience is concerned about pandemics, EMP, war with China or Russia, or government overreach, find a good read starting with that premise and a favorable casting of the prepared to share and hopefully start them off to getting prepared.

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