Books I’d Save From the Apocalypse

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End of the world checklist:

  • Tinned food
  • Water
  • Medical supplies
  • Cornflakes
  • Peanut butter (crunchy)
  • LOST complete series boxset (and DVD player)
  • BOOKS

Cheery subject, I know. If you want something more optimistic for a Saturday Easter morning, think of this post as Books That Should be in Print Forever instead.

There are a lot of books I’ve read more than once. But if I only had a box or suitcase that I could fill with books to take into some underground bunker or up into space in a ship to escape the destruction of Earth (or, if you’re still wanting something more optimistic, a box or suitcase I could fill with books to make sure there was always a copy that survived) then the following books would go in there.

This list could be full of profound books with hidden meanings or moral messages that would teach the survivors of the apocalypse lessons for the future. A couple of the books might carry messages and morals. But most of them are on this list because they mean something to me, because they’ve had an impact on my life, because they remind me of some important time or a family member. And some of them I’d take because waiting out the apocalypse in an underground bunker would probably be boring and I’d want something action-packed and entertaining to read.

In no particular order…

1 – The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 

It might be a cliche now to include these books on the list, but they’d go in the box anyway. Not just because they’re great books, or because they inspired millions of people to read, but because I grew up with them and would not be a writer without them. I grew up with Potter. They were fuel for my imagination, keeping it stoked while I was writing my own stories. They were an escape too. Rowling built a world that felt real. There’s some pretty good messages running through the seven books too. Good triumphs over evil, hope can be found even in the darkest of times, family is important, friends are important… Potter is a full-package, and they deserve to survive the apocalypse.

2 – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton 

It’s different from Potter, but this goes into the apocalypse suitcase for many of the same reasons. I grew up with this book, and the movie. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the original film (it’s somewhere north of sixty). I watched it every weekend for years with my grandad when I was younger. I still watch it once or twice every year. It reminds me of my grandad, my best mate, and another source of inspiration for my writing. After we’d finish watching the movie, we’d make up our own sequels, taking it in turns to fill in parts of the story. As for the book itself, it’s a hugely entertaining, cautionary tale. Don’t f**k with nature.

3 – 11/22/63 and Under the Dome by Stephen King

I came to King pretty late, in my late teens. I almost passed over his books, dismissing them as just horror stories (even though I’m a big fan of horror movies). But then I read 11/22/63 and King proved he was more than just a horror writer. He writes characters like no one else, characters that step out of the pages and clap you on the shoulder, who you know after a few chapters. His skill is crazy. I’d take these two of King’s books in particular because they taught me a lot about writing, and they’re hugely entertaining, and they carry some pretty important messages too.

4 – Watership Down by Richard Adams

Another book I grew up with. This is more than just a story about rabbits. It reminds me of primary school and a time when everything seemed huge and possible, before shit gets real and there is more to deal with than swapping jam sandwiches for ham ones at lunch time with your friends, playing Harry Potter in the school yard with sticks for wands. Watership Down is also well written, full of morals and life lessons and rightly deemed a classic of children’s literature.

5 –  His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Controversial religious aspects aside, his Dark Materials is a complex, gripping trilogy that was like Potter in that it inspired a whole generation of readers (and still inspires). It’s funny, touching, real (for a fantasy novel with talking polar bears) and has many other messages other than the obvious religious ones. Let’s hope The Book of Dust will live up to the dizzying heights of the original series.

6- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The obvious moral messages this series carries would offer some valuable lessons for a post-apocalyptic Earth, but The Hunger Games is just another series that inspired a generation. It helps that it’s massively entertaining too.

7- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Come on, man, it’s Game of Thrones. Blood, battles, betrayal and dragons. Enough said. It goes in the apocalypse suitcase.

8 – The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix

Sabriel, Lirael, Abhrosen, Clariel, Goldenhand. This series isn’t perfect, but it’s inspiring, gripping and well written. It also offers some solid life lessons and a continuing message of finding your true self and accepting it.

9 – The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

Like Potter, I grew up with this series. My parents bought me the first book for my birthday one year and I read them until my copies fell apart. Like Potter, they funny and entertaining, but they’re also strong on messages about family and friendship and they got me through some low times.

Joining this lot would be a load of other Stephen King books, the Gone series by Michael Grant, a few other Michael Crichton books and, if there was room in the suitcase/box, I’d begrudgingly throw in a couple of Dickens.


Would you pack any of these books for the apocalypse, or do you have your own list? Drop your own suggestions in a comment below, it’ll be interesting to see if any books are suggested more than once or if anyone has something completely different… 

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About Sam Whitehouse

Sam spends most of his time in a different world to other people. If it isn’t one he’s created himself, it’s one he’s reading about. In the rare moments when this isn’t the case, Sam can either be found addicted to a sci-fi or crime show, re-watching Marvel movies, finishing up an assignment for his final year of studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, or trying to get the dozens of ideas for stories in his head under some kind of control. Sam has lived in the same small village in Yorkshire, surrounded by countryside on all sides ever since he could remember. His childhood saw him get into plenty of scrapes climbing trees and crossing rivers and generally believing he was Indiana Jones. Sam gives credit to his Grandad for him wanting to be a writer, and his bedtime stories for keeping Sam’s imagination stoked. But credit must also go to Steven Spielberg, J K Rowling and Stephen King, who have provided plenty of inspiration over the years, too. Sam writes what he reads, and that is pretty much anything—save romance. Fantasy, thrillers, or crime: once an idea takes root, he can’t stop until the world, characters, and plot are on paper. A huge Marvel fan, Sam one day hopes to pen a screenplay for one of their movies, or direct one, or do anything at all related to one. Until then, he’ll stick to his own fantasy worlds and wait for Marvel’s phone call.

Posted on 04/15/2017, in books, reading, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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