18 Intriguing Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Survival

Whether plague, nuclear destruction, acts of nature, or absence of technology, who doesn’t enjoy a good post-apocalyptic survival novel?  There’s nothing like reading about the last people on Earth to keep me up at night – or away from my tasks during the day.

A good “end of the world” book has all the elements:  The realization that most people are gone, roaming the Earth in search of food, shelter, and decent people, and hiding from roaming marauders, freaky species, and acts of nature gone amok. Sometimes it’s not the end of the world and a dystopian society emerges. Other times, though, it’s all about staying alive against all odds.

Today I thought I’d share some favorite post-apocalyptic survival novels. Now, before you peg me with “But what about (insert your favorite title here)…”  know that I know this an incomplete list. There are hundreds of excellent gloom and doom books out there and I know I probably missed some good ones.

So do me a favor – if you see anything I left out share your own suggestions in the comments or on your favorite social networks. Because if there’s anything I enjoy better than a good sci-fi, it’s a good book discussion.

I give you, in no paticular order:

18 Intriguing Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Survival

1. The Stand

by Stephen King


A classic tale of good vs. evil, The Stand follows plague survivors as they find a place to gather and grapple with the fact that there are people on the other side of the mountains who want to do them harm.


2. The Children of Men

by P.D. James


The apocalypse, in this case, isn’t about bombs or viruses, but the inability to breed. In P.D. James’ dystopian novel, the human race is dying out. Infertility, suicide, and despair are the norm.

3. The Road

by Cormac McCarthy


In The Road, a dying man and his son walk through a ravaged lanscape in order to find a place where the “good guys” (people who don’t eat people) live.  The Road is one of those depressing novels (turned into a depressing movie) that people don’t always want to read again – but are glad to have read the first time.


by Hugh Howey


Wool is the name of the first part of this series about life in a silo after nuclear devastation, but do yourself a favor and read all the books in the series.


5. The Walking Dead

by Robert Kirkman


The graphic novel that started it all, The Walking Dead tells the story of a group of survivors during the zombie apocalypse. Not that you even needed me to tell you that.

6. A Canticle for Leibowitz

by Walter M. Miller


Walter M. Mller’s award winning post-apocalyptic novel in which an old shopping list becomes a beacon of home.

7. The Last Man

by Mary Shelley


First published in 1826, The Last Man tells of a world ravaged by plague – written long before books of a world ravaged by plague existed. What makes it most interesting is how the author saw the future in the 1800’s, devoid of the technology that we take for granted.

8. I Am Legend

by Richard Matheson


Robert Neville is the last man on Earth. Well, unless you count all the vampires.

9. CyberStorm

by Matthew Mather


CyberStorm follows a family in New York City as they attempt to survive a series of catastrophic events with no modern communicaton.

10. The Day of the Triffads

by John Wyndham


John Wyndham‘s classic novel about a society that is now (literally) blind and dealing with poisonous plants, is well worth reading. Though it was written in 1951 it still holds up today. A must-read for all fans of post-apocalyptic fiction.

11. The Drive In

by Joe R. Lansdale


What happens when a group of friends visit the local drive in, only to emerge to find out the world as they know it has changed? The Drive-In is exactly what you’d expect from Joe Lansdale.

12. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

by Max Brooks


If you don’t think you need to read World War Z because you saw the movie, let me put that to rest right now. They are not the same at all. One of my favorite zombie novels, World War Z is told via anecdotes of the many survivors of the zombie apocalypse. One of this writer’s favorite zombie/post-apocalyptic survival novels.

13. Alas, Babylon

by Pat Frank


In Pat Frank‘s classic novel, a small town in Florida comes together in the wake of nuclear annihilation.

14. The Drowned World

by J.G. Ballard


Even in 1962 global warming was an issue. In The Drowned World the ice caps have melted and the world is a swamp. J.G. Ballard‘s novel discusses the long-term implications of global warming and is well worth the read.


15. One Second After

by William R. Forstchen


In One Second After, an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all the satellites rendering technology useless. In a small town in North Carolina, the people band together to survive in a world with no electricity, no Internet, no computers, and no technology.

16, Swan Song

by Robert R. McCammon


A young psychic struggles to survive – and perhaps save mankind –  during the nuclear holocaust.

17. On the Beach

by Nevil Shute


The aftermath after an all-out nuclear war. A group of Austrailians come to grips with all that has happen as they resign to their fate.

18. The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood



Margaret Atwood‘s stunning novel about life after nuclear devastation, and the role of fertile women who are assigned to produce offspring for infertile, prominent members of society.

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  1. I love this genre. Have you ever read The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin? I just finished them last month and they were light and silly at times but the general storyline was really interesting.

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