13 Must-Have Books for Your Survival Preparedness Library

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We all know that knowledge is power; but when it really comes down to an emergency, the right kind of knowledge could be the difference between life and death. We take a look at some of the best survival books for your library or Kindle. The books in this collection were chosen because they truly make life easier. Why make stupid mistakes when you can learn from the mistakes from others?

The books on this list serve as a cornerstone of good survival habits and practices. Any competent survivalist will understand the information conveyed in these materials.

Expert Tip: Make sure to put together a Survival Library. A library will provide all the knowledge in an SHTF scenario.

The Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living

Also known as the Naked Wilderness Survival Guide, this book’s slightly longer title tells you every you need to know about it: Surviving with nothing but your bare hands and what you find in the woods. John and Geri McPherson are well-known in survivalist circles, and have been instructing people in the art of wilderness survival for decades.

Fire Skills: Methods for Starting Fires Without Matches

A collaborative project by David and Victoria Aman, this book teaches you more about how to make fire in the field – fire is one of the most primitive human skills, and in a situation where you’re fighting for survival, knowing how to make, use, and control fire will be one of your most critical skills.

A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs

This one’s part of the Peterson Field Guide series; check out the rest if you want to broaden your nature library. This one applies to western medicinal plants and herbs: What you’ll encounter in the wild and what to do with it. Knowledge of plants, it goes without saying, is essential if you don’t want to die from eating or applying the wrong thing.

The Complete Book of Knots

By Geoffrey Budworth, this book really is the complete book of knots. Knot-making can get you out of a lot of tight situations: You might need to tie together a knot to keep your gear or shelter in one place, and that’s just two examples. Knots are useful. Learn how.

First-Aid WikiBooks

WikiBooks is a great resource for information, and this one is specifically geared towards basic First-Aid. You won’t find much of survival info in here, but at the end of reading this one you should know what to do in a medical emergency at the very least, which makes it worth a look.

Related: 3 Types of Books you Should Read and Why

The American Red Cross First-Aid and Safety Handbook

First-Aid is vital, so here’s another take on the First-Aid straight from the American Red Cross. You know the information you’re getting in here is accurate, so make sure you’ve got this one standing on your bookshelf, or hanging around on your Kindle device.

US Air Force Survival Handbook

Also known as The Portable and Essential Guide to Staying Alive, the US Air Force Survival Handbook is surprisingly available for order off of Amazon. Get your copy and learn how to stay alive from the experts.

The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook

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By Anthonio Akkermans, The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook contains guides on how to build shelters for almost any environment and climate using materials you’ll find around you in such a situation.  According to the book’s description, you can expect to find out more about everything from a Yurt to a Debris Hut and Scandinavian Lavvu. In any survival situation, crafting adequate shelter is crucial. Having multiple ways to construct shelter is A worthy inclusion to anyone’s library!

The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering and Cooking in the Wild

Food: Even outside of a survival situation, you’re screwed without it. Here’s the field guide to trapping, gathering and cooking in the wild. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t take this one on the road if you’re just planning a camping trip at a nearby game reserve; that being said, it’s essential info for the serious survivalist.

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America

This one is also part of the Peterson Field Guide series – see, we told you to go look! This one is geared towards Eastern and Central North America. Even if travelling there isn’t in your plans, familiarize yourself with the area’s plants and their uses. As we all know, survival situations rarely stick to a plan.

Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere – Alive

Written by the guy behind the TV show Survivalman, this book comes highly recommended by many survival experts. The book promises a no-BS look at survival, and that’s pretty much exactly what you get. It covers everything from shelters to survival kits as well as “why the notion of hunting and tracking large game is largely a pipe dream” in a wilderness situation.

The Ultimate Survival Manual: 333 Skills That Will Get You Out Alive

The Ultimate Survival Manual is certainly comprehensive; the book offers a run-down of skills that you absolutely cannot afford to be without.

The US Army Survival Manual

Know the ins and outs of survival like a real soldier: It could be the difference between life and death.  This one goes well with the US Air Force Manual (recommended further up), and it teaches you not only what to do in a survival situation, but how to prepare yourself for anything you might encounter mentally. Things like first-aid and health are also covered at length.

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

Dave Canterbury is well-known in survival circles, and there are a couple books that add to the Bushcraft series: This is only one of them, and focuses purely on the art of survival in the wilderness. Also take a look at Advanced Bush Craft once you’ve read your way through the rest.



John J. Woods
Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

2 thoughts on “13 Must-Have Books for Your Survival Preparedness Library”

  1. Alex Coyne thanks
    I have my own library and note book of information as in, how to make chemicals alternative building repair etc. one point I would like to make is inkjet printers do not make indelible copies and will in time fade to nothing one of the only option is to use a laserjet as the media is heat bonded to the paper and going even farther to laminate certain portions as the information is so important that it's loss is epic It takes many hours to track down information and history tells us that the formula for mortar and concrete were lost. common items can be made but without the formula and procedures times temperatures visual cues and hints you may as well not have known there was a chemical that could help you.

    Plant recognition is most important and there are natural mimics and animals can eat many things we cannot or would be advised to be cautious of. A picture is with a thousand words or could prevent a long painful death.

    There are many techniques that are hidden for good reason but setting a broken bone realigning a pulled socket or joint how to tape or bandage a specific injury as I had to learn is no longer taught, when was the last time anyone has seen a nurse lace and tie a bandage ?
    today it is wrap and tape and the use of elastic or velcro braces before velcro we had simple but effective ways of applying pressure and drawing flesh together without cutting off circulation. consider it origami using strips of material or what we used to call a bandage. Pressure properly administered also helps with pain management as do slings braces and crutches for mobility and limiting use of an injured area.

    Consider ammonia in use as a smelling salt unless you knew about this how it works why etc you loose a tool that may could benefit in a situation.

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  2. You should check out the Tom Brown series of native American-based survival books; Top Notch IMHO! Also, books on basics sciences are quite handy, especially one on basic machines such as levers, winches, etc. I agree that the Ultimate guide to Wilderness Living is great for beginners thru pros! GLAHP!

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