Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

What survival/prepper books would you have in your SHTF library?

If you were sticking it out alone after SHTF or trying to help rebuild a small society, what would be in your SHTF library? Will the books you have currently be all that useful? https://graywolfsurvival.com/?p=2641

So what books or pdf’s would you have in your SHTF library?

Imagine being on a deserted island or after the world has gone crazy and you’re living a comfortable life, lost out in the woods in a cabin/homestead you’ve built – or you’re in a small town and are trying to help rebuild a small society. You have a small shelf in the corner with a couple dozen books. What books would you want on that shelf?

This is gonna be a list of books you should consider keeping as reference in case of long-term emergency or a survival situation. This is going to be a living document so you may want to come back to it on occasion to see any changes. As I come up with better books, I’ll replace or add to the ones listed.

This list is specifically what you’d want to have in your kindle to grab when you need to look up how to do something. I use a kindle paperwhite without the ads (I heard the rotating ads deplete your battery quicker) because the battery lasts for four months and it doesn’t take up too much room in my bugout bag. It’s also backlit. I have a backup of all my pdf’s on a USB drive as well as in my iPhone and iPad.

There are many other books that you might want to read before that happens, such as fiction or basic knowledge-building books, but that’s a little different. I have a bunch of them on my Prepper Bookstore page if you want a lot of choices.

I’m not gonna write a whole new article for this though. Too much stuff to do. That beer’s not gonna drink itself. Besides, I have to read these books sometime too.

My preferred method of storing books is pdf because frankly, if you had to leave your home in an emergency, you won’t be carrying your paper books because they’re just too heavy and bulky. Same thing for getting caught in the middle of nowhere while camping or traveling. Your books are gonna be sitting on your bookshelf at home. As I’ve said many times, the best equipment in the world doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have it when you need it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of books at home. I also read them. I also know that if there’s an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) event like the Solar Storm of 1859 (also called the Carrington Event), or an attack from a crazy country exploding a high-altitude nuke, my electronics may not work.

As I’ve also said before, you can’t plan solely on worst-case scenarios at the expense of more likely events. You’re probably gonna be wrong.

Same reason I don’t have a 1959 4×4 as a vehicle. I understand that if an EMP/CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) hits, an older non-electronic vehicle is more likely to survive but they’re not as reliable and don’t work as well. Doesn’t do much good to have a truck that’ll start but the tranny goes out and you can’t find parts anywhere to fix it.

I’m not gonna go into all the threats about EMP here, that’ll come in a future post or ten. Just realize that it’s a very grave threat, but it’s not the only threat.

So, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, books. Most websites I’ve found out there either have just a few useful books listed for download or hundreds and hundreds. It may be useful to have an entire survival library at your fingertips but I started digging through lists like this and actually opening up and reading the books (as I’m wont to do on occasion) and I found that 90% of the books for download out there are just crap. Not worth the time to download and store it. Just like our government Intel agencies, too much information is sometimes as bad as not enough. You’ll look past the ones that’ll actually help you and go with one of the 20 crap ones for your solution because you just don’t have the time or resources to read everything.

Because of this, I figured I’d narrow down this list quite a bit and only choose a few of the best for each subject. Also, because some of you want to have an actual book to read (or burn if it comes down to it), I’m also listing some paperback books with the same, or similar information. There are a LOT of good books out there, especially if you expand to books that aren’t readily available for download but I’m trying to come up with the best information with the least amount of total pages.

There are a LOT of different ways to organize books like this so I’m just gonna pick a way and go with it. Just realize that a lot of these books are gonna overlap in what information they give you.

Enough BS’ing. Here are the books.

What are the best general survival books and pdf’s?

This is the set of books that cover a lot of categories of how to survive, mainly in a survival or SHTF scenario. Think more like a survival encyclopedia.

Survival Psychology by John Leach. This book is the one book that I would have (and most likely anyone would have) to understand how the brain works during a survival situation. It not only explains what happens due to starving, dehydration, combat, and other stresses, it gives you information that you can use to help people who’ve gone through those things. A SHTF scenario is a very stressful one and if you don’t help people cope with those stresses, they become ineffective. This is definitely one of the books you need to have in your library.



Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living: Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods
Ultimate-Guide-to-Wilderness-Living – PDF download




SAS Survival Guide 2E (Collins Gem): For any climate, for any situation


LDS Preparedness Manual – Paperback
The LDS Preparedness Manual – PDF


U.S. Marine Corps Summer Survival Course, Training and Skills – Paperback
USMC Summer Survival Course Handbook-_6_february-2005 – PDF download


These are the best homesteading and farming references I’ve found so far…

Some general survival books could also fit in this category and vice versa. This group is more about long-term survival in a bugout location or new place that you’re planning on being for a long time. It could also be used as a bug in plan after society collapses or during a long-term Katrina-like emergency.

1881_Household_Cyclopedia – PDF Download

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself


Unit Field Sanitation Team (FM 4-25.12) – Paperback
FM 4-25.12 (FM 21-10-1) UNIT FIELD SANITATION TEAM – PDF Download


The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency – Paperback
The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency – John Seymour – PDF Download


The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living – Paperback


Foxfire 2: Ghost Stories, Spring Wild Plant Foods, Spinning and Weaving, Midwifing, Burial Customs, Corn Shuckin’s, Wagon Making and More Affairs of Plain Living – Paperback


Foxfire 3: Animal Care, Banjos and Dulcimers, Hide Tanning, Summer and Fall Wild Plant Foods, Butter Churns, Ginseng, and Still More Affairs of Plain Living – Paperback


Foxfire 4: Fiddle Making, Springhouses, Horse Trading, Sassafras Tea, Berry Buckets, Gardening and Further Affairs of Plain… – Paperback


Foxfire 5: Ironmaking, Blacksmithing, Flintrock Rifles, Bear Hunting, and Other Affairs of Plain Living


Foxfire 6 – Shoemaking; Gourd Banjos and Songbows; One Hundred Toys And Games; Wooden Locks; A Water Powered Sawmill etc.


The Handbook for Practical Farmers (1920) – Paperback
The_Handbook_For_Practical_Farmers_1920 – PDF Download

Smart Soapmaking: The Simple Guide to Making Traditional Handmade Soap Quickly, Safely, and Reliably, or How to Make Luxurious Handcrafted Soaps for Family, Friends, and Yourself – Paperback
Making_Soap – PDF Download (different than paperback)


Practical Farming and Gardening [ 1902 ] – Paperback
Practical Farming and Gardening (1902) – PDF Download


Rural_Tanning_Techniques_No-68_1974 – PDF Download


Water_-_Water_Treatment – PDF Download


… and the best SHTF medical reference books

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way



The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook: Keep your Loved Ones Healthy in Every Disaster, from Wildfires to a Complete Societal Collapse



Where There Is No Doctor



Where There Is No Dentist



Where Women Have No Doctor: A Health Guide for Women


Food, Storage and Preparation books…

This one could fit in either homesteading or survival, depending on what subject it is but there are a lot of books that deal specifically with food only so I thought I’d make it its own subject. I know farming is actually food procurement but work with me people.

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Canning_and_preserving_1912 – PDF Download


Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving (2009 Revision) – Paperback
Complete Guide To Home Canning– PDF Download


A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game – Paperback
Preservation_of_Fish_and_Meat_2004 – PDF Download (different than paperback)


Camp Life in the Woods, 2nd: and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making (Camp Life in the Woods & the Tricks of Trapping & Trap Making) – Paperback
Tricks of Trapping – PDF Download

The best tactical and self-defense books and downloads…

This one should be pretty self-explanatory. If you’re the guy assigned as the force protection guru of your group, this would be what you’d want to have.

How to make Black Powder – PDF Download


Physical Security: The Official U.S. Army Field Manual ATTP 3-39.32 (FM 3-19.30), August 2010 revision – Paperback
Physical Security – FM 3-19.30 – PDF Download


Mechanical and Electrical references

This is how to build or how to fix just about anything.

Carpentry (FM 5-426)
US Army FM 5-426 Carpentry – PDF Download


PLUMBING, PIPE FITTING, AND SEWERAGE TM 3-34.70 (FM 3-34.47131) MCRP 3-17.7E [Loose Leaf Edition. 2012] – Paperback
TM 3-34.70 (FM 3-34.471) PLUMBING, PIPE FITTING, AND SEWERAGE – PDF Download


Theater of Operations Electrical Systems (FM 5-424) – Paperback
Theater of Operations Electrical Systems – PDF Download

The best book(s) on communication

Unless you’re planning on living by yourself, you’re gonna have to communicate with someone else. If you’re smart (and not a complete asshole), you’ll have a lot of people with which to communicate.

Ham Radio For Dummies

How are you gonna power your equipment if SHTF?

If you want to use machines, you’ll need something to run them. You also need to cook and heat your house.

Biodiesel Basics and Beyond: A Comprehensive Guide to Production and Use for the Home and Farm


Originally posted on Graywolf Survival

About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Great batch of pdfs to store away or print.

  2. But having a 1966 mustang with no electronics can be just pretty damn cool, and your final backup for Carrington Armageddon!

  3. Jackie Bautista says

    First, I want to say thanks for creating such an informative website. I’ve always been against “prepping” but NOW, I understand the value in prepping & protecting my loved ones. I currently rent a condo and space is very limited. My home won’t be finished until spring 2014. Do you think it’s wise to start prepping now even though I don’t have adequate storage? reason being …. I’d hate to invest time and money into prepping without a safe place only to have others come and take it away. I’d imagine a home is safer than an apartment.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    – Jackie Bautista

  4. graywolfsurvival says

    Prepping just means getting ready in case something bad happens. Research is the first step in prepping. If you don’t have a lot of room, I wouldn’t start stocking up on things. Most people stock up on the wrong things or too many things anyway. I’d just focus on having a bag ready to go if something happens in your area or just your home. Could be a fire, flood – whatever. Think of some major things that could disrupt your life and come up with a plan on what you’re gonna do, where you’re gonna go, how you’re gonna get there, and what you need to bring.

    • Jackie Bautista says

      Thanks for your prompt reply. I like the idea of having a bag ready in case the SHTF, having a plan of action. Meanwhile, I will continue to do research and educate myself. Have a wonderful day! – Jackie Bautista

  5. Ephraim Lowe says

    Thanks a lot for this information.

  6. Christopher de Vidal says

    FYI a Kindle is a bad choice for preppers because most of its storage is on the Amazon servers. When the Internet is offline, then what? Better choice: Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch, which has a micro SD slot (32GB a crack). What, you already have a large Amazon library? Two choices: 1. “Root” the Nook and install the Amazon Kindle reader. 2. Remove the DRM from your Kindle books. I’ve done both, and both are challenging even for me even though I’ve been working in the IT field for 15 years. Better to buy no-DRM books to begin with, or ask a geek friend for help.

    • Steven Feil says

      iPad is where I put my reading PDF’s.

    • Desert Oracle says

      I use my Kindles and a USB cable to upload pdf files using Calibre free library software. You can also email it to your kindle’s email address. I always download all of my kindle purchases to my PC just in case I can’t depend on the Amazon server.

  7. Christopher de Vidal says

    Also FYI I asked the Foxfire publishers if the free PDFs floating around the internet (such as this one) were shared with permission, she said not they were not.

    • Johnctee says

      FYI 99.99% of the things downloaded for free on the internet are without permission. So this comes as a giant surprise to you? You’ve never downloaded one song or anything else off the internet?

  8. Mark Payton says

    I see the link for the Practical Farming and Gardening pdf is down. You can download that book in multiple forms, including pdf here: http://archive.org/details/cu31924031487188

  9. Michael W. Hylton says

    Thanks for all the PDF’s! I will use them one day, for sure!

  10. Allen Stoner says

    If you plan to keep the PDF files, you may want to print a copy of them out to access if there is no electricity for your computer. Definitely keep the PDF around so you can print the file again when the paper fades.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      That’s definitely important for a few critical pages but the nice thing is that pdf’s can hold 10’s of thousands of pages. No way you can print all that out, let alone carry it anywhere. Both versions have their uses, in addition to being backups for each other.

      • Allen Stoner says

        Yeah, I realized what I was suggesting after I downloaded them. There’s A LOT of information (and pages) there. In the electronic format it’s also nice because you can search them a lot easier than paging through 10k pages.

  11. Robert Carter says

    I’m also a military veteran who has deployed all over the world, experiencing different cultures, climates, and combat situations. Gray wolf, thank you for your service. I also have another book for your collection. It is one of my favorites and I carried it for years. It is called Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, written in 1983 using the American Indian way of survival. Awesome book full of handdrawn pictures that display the true spirit and our passage on this earth. Great read. full of important information.

  12. Siobhan_McCallen says

    IF you can find one, the 1967 edition of the Boy Scout Fieldbook. Before that, they spent way too much time on silly pseudo-Native American nonsense. After that, they’re more about image and appearance than skills. The CURRENT Fieldbook reads like a bad teen magazine. The 1967 edition is chock-full of useful things, from how to make a bedroll out of a blanket and a ground cloth, to how to make cordage from tree bark to lash a frog-gigging tip to a fishing spear, to how to build different sorts of fires for different purposes, to how to make a shelter regardless of the season.

    I found a copy on Amazon, used, for about $15.00. It’s part of my “make yourself indispensible” library, along with my collected issues of The HAMMER, my copy of “The Complete Bladesmith”, and a Mother Earth News book on homemade power. I also have books on how to navigate without maps or a compass, basic woodcraft, how to sail a boat, and since I use a cane, how to FIGHT with one.

    I’m also an Extra-Class Ham Radio operator, and have built my own radios.

    • graywolfsurvival says

      A lot of the older books are much better than the newer ones. People stopped going out and actually doing this stuff in the past few generations.

  13. Two books I did not see mentioned but certainly believe are invaluable in my opinion are “When all hell breaks loose” and “98.6 degrees: the art of keeping your ass alive” both by Cody Lundin.

    I own and have read both. Great info in both. If I have to bug out, both books are going with me. Worth their weight in my pack I think.

    98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive
    When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

  14. John Whitfield says

    Thanks for the list. I’m a bibliophile and will probably add a couple of these to my library. One addition I’d make to the list is to get the entire contents of Wikipedia stored on local media. It’s a good source of general knowledge and having an offline copy would mean that you could get to it even if the web and power grid went out.

    If you’re concerned about an EMP, the logical thing to do would be to create a stash of basic electronics in a Faraday cage. A reader and a laptop would be the logical basic choices. Any CDs would be unaffected, but anything on a thumb drive would probably be fried.

  15. John Lampard says

    Thank you. I you saved me at least a week worth of time reading irrelevant books.

  16. chris white says

    Thank you so much for all the great info Im going to run out of printer paper lmao.
    Such good info to build my libary I am going off grid you even have the foxfire books they are greaat source of info. I have a question is the books 1&2 The Lost Ways II Doomsday Prepper Survive The End Days worth looking at looks like a scam and do you have a pdf if they are worth reading.
    Thank you for your great site and your service to your country . Horah
    God bless
    Chris (wildman) white

  17. Thank you for your service and for being a part of providing the freedom our Consitution guarantees. God bless you and yours.

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