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8 Best Survival & Prepping Books [2023]

We help you expand your prepping and survival knowledge with a list of our go-to survival books for both hard copy and e-book readers.

    Do you like books? Do you like books that can keep you alive?

    I might be a little biased, being a prepper and someone who is studying to be a librarian, but to me — survival books are the best.

    Best Survival Books Group Shot
    Just a few picks from my library

    Like seriously, I have been given so many as gifts just because my family and friends know that it’s a thing for me.

    My survival books even have their own shelf, which my collection is rapidly outgrowing.

    The Mummy not an explorer
    I might not be any of these things, but I am a librarian, and I will out survive you!

    Anyways, the point is…I’ve seen a lot of survival books in my day, and some are definitely better than others. So which ones deserve a spot on your shelf?

    I’m so glad you asked…

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Editor's Pick

      Just in Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens

      The unique illustrations make the information easy to absorb and remember. This book covers just about everything.

    2. Best for Visual Learners

      Camping & Wilderness Survival

      Short, organized sections and good illustrations make this book a great pick for visual learners.

    3. Best Beginner Medical Survival Book

      The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster

      Easy to understand language makes this book accessible to all readers, regardless of their medical knowledge.

    4. Best Emergency Care Book

      Wilderness First Aid: Emergency Care in Remote Locations

      Graphic, but detailed pictures and decision-making flowcharts put this emergency care on a level above the rest.

    5. Best Game Field Dressing Guide

      Pocket Guide to Field Dressing Game

      This guide is spiral-bound, tabbed, and laminated, which means you this guide while you dressing game without fear of damaging it.

    6. Best Survival Cookbook

      The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook

      This cookbook not only goes over survival recipes, but covers organization and storage of survival food as well.

    Table of Contents


    The Endless Debate: Ebook or Paper?

    In the lit world, there are few debates that rage on as viciously and inflammatory as the Kindle versus hardcopy war.

    Best Survival Books Collection
    So many options…which to choose?

    Lines are drawn, families shattered, friendships cut and cleared all over a difference of opinion — and you inferior audiobook people, don’t even. We don’t want you here.

    (I kid! I’m a book addict. I’ll take my fix in any form. I’m sorry, please come back.)

    Sigh, the struggle is real.

    Whichever side you fall on this battle, it’s worth setting aside your opinions for a moment and reviewing the pros and cons of each option when it comes to your survival library.

    You can go back to your trenches in a minute, but hear me out, okay?

    I'm listening
    Thanks — I appreciate it!

    Hardcopy Books

    The obvious, glaring cons to actual book-books is that they take up a ton of space in your bunker. They are heavy, so you won’t be throwing them in your bug-out bag.

    Unless you’re old school and know how to use a table of contents and an index, they’re hard to search.

    Best Survival Books Collection
    Best Survival Books Collection

    But, if you have a light source, you have access to the knowledge therein. Your books will never run out of battery. They’ll never have a corrupted memory card that nukes your collection.

    Really, if you keep them dry and away from pests, pets, and small children, they’ll outlive you.

    There’s something to be said for that.


    Nooks, Kindles, and other eBook readers are gaining a lot of popularity, even with self-professed Luddites like my parents.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

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    They can be incredibly lightweight and thin, which makes them perfect for stashing in a bug-out bag. Honestly, you could even keep your eLibrary on your phone in the form of PDFs or an app.

    And, while some readers offer weeks of battery, even the ones with the most longevity will still need charging at some point.

    Sure, you could overcome this with solar or manual chargers, but it’s more you need to pack.

    Kindle and Ammo
    My Kindle is a faithful friend…if not a power-free one.

    But, at the end of the day, the option is yours.

    Which Survival Books Do I Need? How Many? Where Do I Start?!

    Whoa there — I hear you. There are like, a bazillion choices of survival books out there.

    Unless you have all the time in the world to read, you’re gonna want to make sure that you are getting the ones that will distill the information you need down to something you can get through quickly.

    Merlin books
    Me, packing my bug-out bag.

    You’ll probably want to assemble a curated collection of books that fit your needs.

    If you never, ever, ever have set foot outside your city, a wilderness survival guide might be less helpful to you than a book focused on prepping at home. 

    Obviously, any skills are better than none. But you’ll get more benefits from books designed for you.

    I don't get it
    Don’t let this be you.

    Anyways, without further ado, let’s chat about books!

    Best Survival Books

    Okay, so this was a really, really hard list to narrow down. Mostly because, like, da-yum, the Pew Pew Team has a lot of these. But here are a few of the must-have survival books that we think are a great way to start your survival library!

    Unless otherwise noted, these books are available both in paper form and on Kindle.

    tangled rapunzel books
    Hopefully, you’ll feel this delighted about my picks!

    Basic Home Preparedness

    Wondering where to start in the prepping world?

    There’s a lot to digest, and if you’re new to this world, you’ll want to focus on getting your basic skills down at home.

    All-Purpose Survival Book
    Prepping starts at home!

    1. Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens

    Kathy Harrison’s Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient when the Unexpected Happens is my go-to handbook for keeping my home ready for a disaster.

    Just In Case Kathy Harrison
    Just In Case by Kathy Harrison

    I love the quirky illustrations that help make the information easy to absorb.

    And this book focuses on a very practical approach to surviving unexpected disasters — not just the catastrophic natural kind, either. 

    Just In Case Interior
    Just In Case interior

    Harrison also writes about acquiring supplies and rotating them to keep a fresh, long-term stash on hand.

    The book also covers how to can, garden, eliminate debt and establish a cash supply, build a solar oven, pack first-aid kits, and so much more.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    With this book, you’ll be ready for whatever life throws at you — whether it’s an evacuation, loss of utilities due to a natural disaster, or even just a loss of income.

    All-in-One Survival Books

    If you’re already a bit of a prepper, but want to grow your skills further, you definitely need at least one of these phenomenal books that cover about anything you could want to know about survival.

    All-Purpose Survival Book
    All-Purpose survival books are worth their weight in gold!

    2. U.S. Airforce Survival Handbook

    The U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook: The Portable and Essential Guide to Staying Alive is a pretty great place to start your survival collection.

    U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook: The Portable and Essential Guide to Staying Alive
    U.S. Air Force Survival Handbook: The Portable and Essential Guide to Staying Alive

    After all, who knows how to survive some really wild situations better than the people who train service members to survive them?

    I doubt baddies will shoot your plane down behind enemy lines (that’s your business, though. I don’t know you).

    However, you might experience one of the hundreds of other situations this book can prepare you for, such as injuries away from trained medical care, becoming lost in the wilderness, and getting found again — or evading people searching for you, which I guess is handy for some ultimate hide-and-seek with mobsters who have a hit on you? 

    Again, your business. I ain’t prying.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    It’s worth noting that this book is intended for military personnel, so civilians might find it a little dry or inaccessible, especially since you might not have the same equipment.

    Also, it’s a bit dated in terms of the most recent survival tools and tech, but honestly, survival skills are still pretty timeless. So, we think you’ll get lots of use from this guide.

    3. SAS Survival Handbook

    Another Pew Pew Team fave (and current resident of my Amazon cart) is the SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere by John “Lofty” Wiseman.

    SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere
    SAS Survival Handbook, Third Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Anywhere

    The latest update of this book even includes a critical section on urban survival, and truly — if it can happen to you, this book will probably prepare you for it. It really does live up to its title.

    Wiseman is a former survival instructor for the British Special Air Service (think SEALs, but possibly more badass), and he’s probably forgotten more about survival than I’ll ever learn.

    John Lofty Wiseman
    John “Lofty” Wiseman

    Some have noted that there is definitely a British slant on much of the content and that some of it is a little bit outdated.

    That might put you off of this pick, and that’s fine — there are still others to choose from.

    You might enjoy this book as a supplement to some of the others on this list!

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    4. Camping & Wilderness Survival: The Ultimate Outdoors Book

    My first survival book, and longtime resident of my bathroom reading stash, Camping & Wilderness Survival, 2nd: The Ultimate Outdoors Book by Paul Tawrell is another one of those huge survival books.

    It might seem a little intimidating with so many topics printed on the cover.

    Camping & Survival Paul Tawrell
    Camping & Survival by Paul Tawrell

    Unlike some other guides, however, I’ve found this book to be organized into short, easy-to-read sections. This helps keep you from wading in over your head trying to learn something basic.

    It’s also why it makes a great bathroom book. 😉

    I actually own the first edition, which does have a whopping 55 chapters, but I recommend getting the second edition for yourself.

    First, because up-to-date info is always better. Second, the newer edition includes a section on pet first-aid. And third, it’s trimmed down to a much more manageable 31 chapters.

    Camping & Survival Interior
    Camping & Survival interior

    As for all those chapters, none are terribly long, and the table of contents helps act as an index, with many subtopics listed.

    It also is packed full of illustrations and pictures, so you visual learners have something to look at. 

    Best for Visual Learners
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

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    Unfortunately, there isn’t an eBook version of this guide, so you’ll have to go old-fashioned.

    Most of these books do also delve into first-aid, but if you want a more detailed resource, you’ll want to take a look at these next few books, too!

    Survival Medicine

    While I love prepping in general, I’m really interested in first-aid and survival medicine. Let’s chalk it up to too many years of my grandmother telling me to become a nurse and marry a doctor.

    Medical Survival Books
    Medical Survival Books

    It is really important to me to have a well-packed emergency first-aid kit, but it’s even more important to me to know how to use it, and these are the books that taught me how.

    5. The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide

    Hands down, one of my favorite medical guides for civilians is The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster by Joseph Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP.

    The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide Alton
    The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide by the Altons

    Everything is explained in crystal-clear language that even the most beginner medic can learn from.

    It’s liberally sprinkled with illustrations and charts and addresses both short and long-term care.

    Should a disaster arise, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your community’s medic.

    The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide Interior
    The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide interior

    A downside to this book is that it tries to pack a ton of knowledge into a manageable book, so corners do get cut.

    If you want step-by-step guides to tackle every possible medical treatment, you will need to graduate from this to more in-depth texts — like med school textbooks.

    Best Beginner Medical Survival Book
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    6. Wilderness First Aid Guide

    Another great pick is the Wilderness First Aid Field Guide, which is published by the Wilderness Medical Society and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

    Wilderness First Aid AAOS
    Wilderness First Aid by The AAOS

    This book is a little more wilderness-minded than the Alton’s book above, but still is a critical resource, even if you’re stuck at home.

    It focuses on coaching users through emergencies, using decision-making flowcharts and highlight boxes to guide them as they provide appropriate medical care to their patients.

    Wilderness First Aid Interior
    Wilderness First Aid Interior

    Personally, I have learned so much from this book — but also have been freaked out by some of the really informative but graphic pictures of wounds in there.

    The pictures are super useful, but…trigger warning.

    Best Emergency Care Book
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Anyways, knowing how to treat medical emergencies and survive isn’t going to help you much if you starve or dehydrate yourself into human jerky, so let’s talk about our last few books, all of which address sustenance.

    Hunting and Food

    There are as many ways to approach food in a survival situation as there are survival situations, that is to say — there are a lot.

    Maybe you’re a regular hunter, a canned goods hoarder, or you’ve never so much as seen an empty shelf in the grocery store. 

    Survival Cookbook
    Survival Cookbooks — prepping how-to, recipes, and more!

    No matter where you are, these books will help get you up to speed.

    7. Pocket Guide to Field Dressing Game

    Personally, I’m not a hunter. Could I? Yeah, if I was hungry enough. 

    Elk Hunting Spotting Scope
    Trying to find Avocado Toast in the wild.

    But I don’t know a damned thing about handling a kill once it’s stopped twitching, so I enlisted the help of our Director of Content and former Boy Scout Extraordinaire, David, on this one.

    His pick for you is The Ron Cordes Pocket Guide to Field Dressing Game.

    It’s tabbed and spiral-bound, so it’s a breeze to use while dressing game, and it’s laminated. You can just rinse that sucker right off with the rest of your tools.

    Best Game Field Dressing Guide
    at Cabela's

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    This guide addresses bigger game only, but the good news is that you can pretty much translate all these techniques to smaller game, so if you’re setting snares, you’re not out of luck.

    8. The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook

    If you are like me, though, and have a hoard of canned Spam because you cannot hunt, The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook by M.D. Creekmore is more our speed. 

    The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook
    The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook by M.D. Creekmore

    In this guide, you’ll find information on purchasing, organizing, and storing enough food that you can handle any emergency that has you sheltering in place.

    The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook Interior
    The Prepared Prepper’s Cookbook Interior

    What’s more important is that it takes those long-term foods you’ve stashed away and turns them into easy…well, I can’t say delicious, but decent meals with a ton of included recipes.

    It takes a lot of the work out of the equation, which is so worth it. 

    Best Survival Cookbook
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    And that’s coming from me, the chick who wrote her own cookbook.

    Final Thoughts

    Are there other books out there that could benefit you? Of course! I didn’t even recommend all the books I have sitting on my shelf, just the ones I thought were the best.

    Prepping 101 with Allison
    Getting spun up on all the prepping.

    I feel that any of these books are a good foundation for building your prepper library and readying yourself and your family to thrive when chaos strikes.

    Of course, none of these books will do you any good if you don’t actually read them. So, don’t forget to break out your bookmarks and get to it.

    The More You Know
    Knowledge weighs nothing!

    What books would you like to see on this list? Leave us a comment below. While you’re at it, why not follow me over to Prepping 101, where I give you a run-down on everything you need to consider to shelter in place.

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    2 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Colleen G

      I love this article. It is very entertaining and helpful great for newbies and beginners.

      June 20, 2021 2:13 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Les Stroud's "Survive" is an excellent choice as well.

      April 3, 2021 6:50 am
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