Top Seven Must Have Preparedness Books

By Arthur Bradley “Author of Process of Elimination

DISASTERIf you’re like I was, you’re looking through the various disaster preparedness books wondering which one is best. I have worked my way through 7 of the most popular books and offer a shared review of all of them here. I hope this comparison helps you make a decision.

Book 1: Crisis Preparedness by Jack A. Spigarelli

Like many of the disaster preparedness books, this one begins by answering the question, “Why bother being prepared?” It also outlines a framework for being prepared that includes accumulating supplies, getting mentally and physically prepared, and having your finances in order. One thing I particularly liked was the emphasis on the importance of knowledge.

It wasn’t just about what items you need, but also what skills and knowledge you should develop. But this book is mostly about food preparation for a major disaster, with emphasis on having a year’s food storage, milling your own grain, growing sprouts, home canning, dehydrating, freeze-drying, etc.

There are detailed tables showing the calories of various foods including their protein, fat, and carbs. The final third of the book offers advice on other topics, including weapons, hand tools, clothing, energy, medical, sanitation, transportation, communications, and home preparation. The book concludes with a list of recommended books and a brief listing of companies that sell disaster preparation items. Overall, this is a very good preparedness book. I probably should have given it 5 stars, but I thought it went a bit overboard on the food plan. That said, it is the most comprehensive of the preparedness books.

Book 2: Preparedness Now! By Aton Edwards

This is another thorough disaster preparedness book, one that focuses more on emergency situations (fire, chemical attack, etc.). It is organized into brief chapters (some only a few pages) on a variety of important topics, including: water, food, shelter, sanitation, communication, transportation, and protection.

It is also filled with many packing lists detailing what you should get in preparation. It introduces the e-kit (a very lightweight kit to keep with you) and grab-n-go bag with more extensive items. Final chapters of the book discuss various possible disasters, including earthquakes, tsunami, infectious diseases, chemical and bio warfare, crime, fire, and extreme weather. Some of the commentary is a bit questionable, but the technical content is good. Note the deficiency with this book is that it does not offer any detail on food storage.

Book 3: Disaster Preparedness for Dummies

First of all, this isn’t a book. It’s a DVD video. I wasn’t paying attention when I bought it, and was a bit surprised when it arrived. I generally like the Dummies series. They are well researched and serve as a good summary. This DVD offers a lengthy video discussing many disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, etc.), briefly outlining how you might prepare for them.

It also has an overview of how you should react in case of a terrorist attack (nuclear, chemical, and biological). But the advice is all very general, and is more like what you’d expect to hear from your local weather station. For example, the video repeatedly advises you to “stay calm” and “evaucate in an orderly fashion.” The videos are high quality, but don’t expect detailed outdoor survival tips or food storage suggestions. Everything presented is relevant and useful, but it feels more like a FEMA public service announcement.

Book 4: Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton

This book is broken into six main sections. The first section offers decent but very incomplete summaries on preparing for short-term emergencies. The second section discusses how to store and purify water. The third part talks about the logistics of setting up a food-storage program, and has some suggestions on how to store food.

The fourth section details what types of foods you should store. The fifth section has blank inventory planning pages. And finally the last section has some recipes. About half of the 285 page book is either blank planning pages or simple recipes. The first half of the book is pretty good stuff, but I found this book to be incomplete. It does however offer some good advice on food storage.

Book 5: Organize for Disaster by Judith Kolberg

This book goes an entirely different direction than the other preparedness books. Emphasis is on understanding the federal resources (i.e. FEMA, Red Cross, etc.) available, creating a personal intelligence network, organizing essential documents, maintaining insurance coverage, listing a home inventory, preparing your house for disaster, basic first aid, and having a good family communication plan.

There is also a good list of necessary items to have on hand that would suit many common disaster. I recommend this book for its common-sense look at disaster preparedness. However, it is not the only book you would need, because it doesn’t detail food storage, water purification, heating, etc.. That said, it covers some topics that the other books overlook.

Book 6: Making the Best of Basics, Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens

This book is almost completely about in-home food storage and preparation. There is little discussion outside that (except for basic water issues). Many chapters discuss food in significant detail, to include things like grains, recipes, preparing sourdough breads/biscuits, dairy products, honey, sprouting, drying of fruits/vegetables. At the end of this book is a huge compendium of preparedness resources, telling where things can be purchased in every US state.

Book 7: No Such Thing as Doomsday, by Philip L. Hoag, revised in 2001

This book offers well-researched insights into disaster preparedness. Topics include water, food, heating/cooking, light, power, communications, medical, sanitation, and security. Those subjects are well done. However, much of the book reads like a bit of doomsday prediction, with many pages devoted to scaring the heck out of the reader… focusing on missile attacks, chemical dangers, nuclear war, radiation, decontamination, communist threat, etc.

For me personally, I would have like to see more pages devoted to likely threats (e.g. hurricanes, floods, earthquake, blackout, fire, etc.). Also note that Amazon may not carry the latest version (updated in 2001), so you may want to buy directly from the author.

Overall, if you can only purchase three books, I would recommend Book 5, Book 6, and either Book 1, 2 or 7. With those three, you should have a balanced look at common sense organizing, food storage, and emergency items to have on hand. If you can buy only one book, I recommend Book 1.


  1. Texanadian says:

    I am currently reading the The Knowledge Book: How to rebuild the world from scratch.
    It goes into a variety of subjects, Food, water, shelter but focuses on replacing a lot of the things we need to make life liveable. The detail on some things isn’t great but what I am finding is that it is making me think about things that I need to learn more detail on.

  2. Texanadian says:
  3. All good books. Right now, I’m concentrating on instructional books that cover material in areas I’m weak in. For this reason alone (books) I’m not looking forward to our next move. Along with food and ammo the stuff weighs alot!

    Someone suggested their post-SHTF vocation would be an information center. Bring your writing materials and look though the books. I think that books will be a valuable resource in recovery. So many skills lost. So much knowledge lost. It’s in almost every fiction book of life after SHTF. I’m like something to pass on. Books is one way I can help the future.

    • Kinda like a librarian/guru/go-to person all rolled up in one. You’re right, many folks today don’t know how to work a screwdriver much less plant a seed.

  4. Here’s one I like, “Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them” by Rolfe Cobleigh from 1912. You can get it in PDF (to print out), peruse it online or get it in ereader formats all for free. Got a lot of useful stuff from a time when there few conveniences and you had to make your own.

    You can also view the 1910 version here chapter by chapter to see if you think it will be useful to you.

  5. Son of Liberty says:

    It’s certainly not in the top ten, or the top twenty for that matter, but I like the book “DISCOVERY TO CATASTROPHE” by Wood. It’s a fiction along the lines of the ‘Left Behind’ series, but noting Christians need to prepare, what to prepare for, and the last 2/3 of the book shows how to do it.


    Son of Liberty

  6. For me, and everyone has a favorite, is the LDS Manual which you can download for free.

  7. axelsteve says:

    Good ol Boy scout handbook. Pre rainbow version no need for merit badges for interior tent decorating and flower araingments. The Bible also, good prepping tips for now and later.

  8. Oldalaskan says:

    There is an auction going on right now of Prepper and survivalist books at

  9. Encourager says:

    I have a few old books that are stuffed full of helpful advice and how-to-do.
    The first one – “Country Comforts – The New Homesteader’s Handbook” by Christian Bruyere, pub. 1976; it has plans for greenhouses, animal shelters & feeders, working with stone and blacksmiths how-to.

    The second has been mentioned on this site many times before – “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

    The third – “Country Wisdom & Know-How” by the Editors of Storey Books, pub.?? I think the 1970’s. If you want to do it, its in there.

    We also have numerous small books on tool making, wood working, construction projects, all from my dh’s grandfathers on both sides, who were both wood workers and handymen from Poland and Germany, respectfully. Priceless.

    I am just starting to read “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by the Altons. It is the expanded 2nd edition.

    • Encourager says:

      Shoot, how could I have forgotten this one?!

      “Farmer’s & Housekeeper’s Cyclopaedia 1888, A Complete Reference Library” originally published in 1888 with updates for ‘modern’ times by Stephen Lewandowski.

      Need to know how to keep grapes in winter? How to make a muzzle for a horse that bites? How to renew an old orchard? How to thatch a roof? How to gloss linen?

      Its all in there! But…I would take some of the medical instructions not to seriously…

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