No matter how long we’ve been prepping, we can’t know it all. Sure, common sense and a logical mind will go a long way toward filling in the gaps but having reference materials is always going to be welcome.
When it comes to putting together a survival library, there are many categories to be filled. What follows are suggestions based on my own reading and research. They are books I have found helpful, interesting, or otherwise worthy of recommendation. In some cases, I know the author personally. Their inclusion on this list is not an indication of favoritism nor nepotism. They are here because they earned it. This is not intended to be an end all, be all list of every single reference work worthy of purchase. However, this topic comes up with some regularity in the various FB groups, with people seeking recommendations for books to research. This is kind of a short-n-dirty list of the books I feel preppers and survivalists should consider not just owning but reading.
Homesteading Skills: Animal husbandry, gardening/farming, butchering, things along those lines. Suggestions include:
Food Storage and Preservation: This could probably fall under Homesteading Skills but it is important enough to warrant its own category. Canning, dehydrating, and other methods of preservation as well as putting together and maintaining an effective food storage plan.
Firearms Maintenance: Complete manuals for every firearm you own, including detailed instructions on disassembling and cleaning. Just because you know how to do it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in your family or group does.
Wild Edibles and Medicinals: Ideally, these references will have color photographs for ease of identification as well as common uses and preparation instructions for each plant discussed. Recommendations include:
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Eastern and Central United States by Steven Foster and James A. Duke. Note, there is also an edition for the Western United States.
Medical: From basic first aid to complex injuries and illnesses. Hospitals and doctors may be turn out to be luxuries of days gone by. Don’t forget information on herbal remedies and other homeopathic approaches. I highly recommend the following:
Building Trades and Repair References: Basic information on carpentry, plumbing, and electrical systems. There is no way to tell right now what will happen down the road and what utilities may still be running for some time. Either way, you can’t count on your local handyman to be available to take care of repairs when they arise. Home Depot has put out some very good books on these subjects, as has Black and Decker.
Wilderness Survival Skills: Many wilderness skills will have use around the homestead. Having reference materials to use for brushing up your skills will be welcome. There are many quality books on this subject, including manuals issued by the Boy Scouts. Other recommendations include:
Homeschooling: I can’t stress this one enough. If you have children as part of your group, they’ll need to be educated. Reading, writing, math, science, history, as well as ethics and morals should all be considered basic courses in a homeschooling curriculum post-collapse. Look for books and reference materials to span all age and grade levels.
Miscellaneous: These don’t fit nicely into a single category but are very much worth the investment to purchase as well as the time spent studying them.
Fiction and Entertainment: Even if you personally don’t enjoy recreational reading, there may very well be others in your group who will appreciate you thinking ahead and stocking up on books to pass the time. Novels, both the classics as well as contemporary, and short story anthologies will be welcome. Also in this category would be books on creating your own games, crafts, and other fun stuff to do.
So, where to look for books for your home library? Naturally you can order almost anything you can imagine from online retailers like Amazon but even their discounted prices can put a fairly large ding in your wallet. Check out your local library as most of them do book sales periodically through the year. Rummage sales and thrift stores are also great places to stock up on books very inexpensively.
Many if not most preppers have also amassed tons of documents they’ve downloaded from the Internet. PDFs, emails, all sorts of great stuff. Keep in mind that you may not be able to access all that information if the power goes out and/or your computer gets fried. Take the time now to print that stuff out and organize it in binders.
Honorable mentions: These two books aren’t out just yet but I’m confident they will both be valuable additions to the survival library.