With no shortage of post-apocalyptic movies, television shows and novels, you've likely given some thought to potentially stocking up on supplies in preparation for the worst. After all, whether it's in our lifetime or many lifetimes from now, modern civilization will at some point collapse. When it does, you'll need to be prepared beyond a simple survival kit (or even a $24,000 survival kit). These five books, collectively costing around $60, will go a long way to not only teaching you skills to rebuild our ruined world, but also the means to survive it.
The problem with modern society, particularly in the developed world, is that so many of our needs are so efficiency manufactured that we've grown completely dependent on someone else figuring it all out. Author Lewis Dartnell pulls the curtain back on everything from the basics of making paper and soap to the more complicated issues of running your car without using fossil fuels. While not a survival manual, "The Knowledge" provides a primer for rebooting civilization quickly without wasting hundreds of years trying to figure it all out again. This book provides the platform from which to build the rest of your post-apocalyptic knowledge. Read it and then zero in on the details.
Back in 1981, Reader's Digest released its "Back to Basics" tome, a how-to bible of sorts for anyone interested in self-sufficient country living. Now in its third edition, the volume is still a must-have, with detailed instructions for building a log cabin, maximizing the food output for several different sizes of land, making your own beer (very important after the apocalypse), capturing and raising honeybees, securing energy from wind and solar, and other projects that will ease your transition into a dystopian society. After reading this, you'll never take the wonders of the modern-day supermarket for granted again.
If you find yourself stuck in some collapsing city or suburbia nightmare, you're still going to need to eat. Thankfully, Ellen Zachos has compiled a handy list of more than 65 "edible weeds, flowers, mushrooms, and ornamental plants typically found in urban or suburban neighborhoods." Got a lawn that's not sprayed with chemicals every spring? There's likely several varieties of nutritious plants (chickweed, dandelions, sheep sorrel) growing that you could eat. See a meadow nearby? Look for wild garlic, milkweed and nut trees. Thankfully, you'll have lots of accompanying high-quality of photographs so you don't screw up and choose something poisonous that cuts short your post-apocalyptic adventure.
For most of us, having land readily available immediately upon the world's end is likely not an option. To escape whatever is after you and your family (airborne virus, zombies, environmental disaster, etc.) a full-on retreat into the relative safety of the wilderness may be your only option. To cope with that harsh transition while you work on shoring up a future homestead, you're going to need Gregory Davenport's excellent backwoods living guide. In it you'll learn everything from finding safe food and water to procuring proper clothing, long-lasting shelter, and fire. Don't have a gun? No worries, as Davenport also details how to catch food without weapons.
In the aftermath of society's collapse, the world is likely to be a more dangerous place than ever before. In order to protect the skills and assets you've worked hard to secure and build, you will most certainly need some kind of defense plan. Jim Cobb's "Prepper's Home Defense" offers a great primer on not only fortifying your homebase, but also the weapons (both firearms and homemade), perimeter traps, defense strategies, and intelligence gathering needed to secure it.
Have some other suggestions for good books to have handy for the end of society? Recommend them in the comments below.
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