When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader. I read a novel a day and if I couldn’t find something new to read, I would read a book over again. The variety of genres and subjects I read were all over the place and I have gone through phases of reading only mystery or only non-fiction.
While I have recently been on a fantasy/fiction kick (Game of Thrones, anyone?), I have also been reading books that deal with some country or world-changing scenario and follow people as they try to survive. I call them “disaster books” for lack of a better term. I suppose they could be called apocalyptic books, or SHTF books, or survivor books. “Dystopian” is the most recent popular term for them. Whatever you call them, these books have a value that many people do not recognize.
With all of the kinds of stories and different perspectives I have read about in my life, I have a great imagination and can put myself into pretty much any role and understand why the character would think, or feel, or act in certain ways. Even the ‘bad guys.’ The entertainment value and escapism is wonderful, of course, but the fact that it enriched my way of thinking and increased my ability to see both sides of the story is far more important. It has allowed me to adapt to odd situations more easily and handle emergencies with calm focus (I tend to ‘freak out’ after it is all over, haha!) and that is vitally important in disaster situations.
Disaster Novels (Dystopian Literature)
With the overall shift of our lifestyle, enter my interest in disaster stories. Stories depicting an EMP taking out the electrical grid in our country or a meteor hitting the planet and sending tidal waves across the oceans, helps the reader visualize and consider things what they would do and need to counter such an event.
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By reading books that present these scenarios in a non-threatening way (it’s just a story, right?), readers can safely get caught up in the emotions and truly contemplate how they would feel, react, and respond. It is easy to judge characters’ decisions while you are safe and secure in your home reading. If you apply what they are going through to your own situation and how it would truly affect you, the realizations may be huge (as in you are NOT prepared at all) or they may simply reaffirm that you have been on the right track for years.
For me, reading these types of books has opened my eyes to areas in which I need to improve or things that I have overkilled. They give great conversation material with your spouse or group on how you would collectively respond. They can expose areas you all need to address to be better equipped to overcome a disaster.
The largest and most valuable side to reading this particular genre of book, though, is the mental aspect of. Reading these books help to expose your mind to these unlikely (but possible) scenarios. If you take it a step further and form a plan in your mind or go all out to improve your chances, you are ahead of the game so far that you have lapped the people on the couch twice already.
One of the biggest skills we can learn as preppers or self-sufficient people is how to react when sudden and unexpected events occur. We have to mentally train our minds to react instead of freeze up. It is my strong belief that reading some of these types of books and really letting yourself get caught up in them will help on that path.
There are dozens of books like this on Kindle and Nook that are usually $3 or less – many are free. Some aren’t the best story or written very well, so choose at your own risk. Reader reviews and rankings can be helpful, if you read them. When a book doesn’t have many reviews, a single person who rates it as one star because they hated the hero(ine)’s name (or five stars because they loved the cover) can seriously skew the results, so it’s worth taking the extra minute. Also, an outstanding book may have only a few reviews if it is new or poorly marketed.
Here are some of the books I have read recently that are not only well done, they can really make you think:
- One Second After, by William R. Forstchen
- Last Woman, by Jaqueline Druga
- Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Other books that are recommended:
- Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
- Collapse by Richard Stephenson
- Land: A Stranded Novel by Theresa Shaver (review here)
- Lights Out by David Crawford
- The End by G. Michael Hopf
- The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly (reviewed here)
Printable: 32 Survival Books for Your Collection
What disaster books do you recommend?
LeAnn in Alaska
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