Best Prepping Books

A recent Facebook post asked about best prepping books, so here are my lists of the most important books I have owned and read. Almost all of these books can be found on Amazon.

We will start with books for sailing, since that is my priority on this website, but will also cover rural prepping at the bottom.

Mechanical & Maintenance Books

  • The International Marine Sailboat Library
    • Sailboat Refinishing by Don Casey
    • Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey
    • 100 Fast & Easy Boat Improvements by Don Casey
    • Sailboat Hull & Deck Repair by Don Casey
    • Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey
    • The Sailor's Assistant by John Vigor
    • Troubleshooting Marine Diesels by Peter Compton
    • Canvaswork & Sail Repair by Don Casey
  • Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats by Henry Mustin
  • International Marine Captain's Quick Guides
  • Diesel Engine Care and Repair by Nigel Calder
  • 12 Volt Doctors Practical Handbook by Beyn
  • The Insider's Guide to Boat Cleaning and Detailing (Professional Secrets to Make Your Sailboat or Powerboat Shine) by Natalie Sears

Living Aboard / Cruising Books

  • Sailing the Farm: Independence on Thirty Feet (A Survival Guide to Homesteading the Ocean) by Ken Neumeyer
  • Sea-Steading by Jerome FitzGerald
  • The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing by Scott Bannerman & Wendy Bannerot
  • North American Saltwater Fishing by Al Ristori
  • Reef Creature Identification by Paul Humann
  • World Cruising Handbook by Jimmy Cornell
  • World Cruising Essentials (The Boats, Gear, and Practises the Work Best at Sea) by Jimmy Cornell
  • Why Didn't I Think Of That (1198 tips from 222 sailors on 120 boats from 9 countries) by John & Susan Roberts
  • Offshore Sailing (200 Essential Passagemaking Tips) by Bill Seifert
  • Dressing Ship (How to furnish, refurbish and accessorize your boat) by Janet Groene
  • The Passage Maker's Manual by Bill Finnis
  • The Charter Game (how to make money sailing your own boat) by Ross Norgrove
  • The New! Get Rid of Boat Odors (a boat owners guide to marine sanitation systems and other sources of aggrvation and odor) by Peggie Hall
  • The Intricate Art of Living Afloat by Clare Allcard
  • South to the Caribbean by Bill Robinson
  • Pirates Aboard! (40 cases of piracy today and what bluewater cruisers can do about it) by Klaus Hympendahl
  • The Cruising Life by Jim Trefethen
  • Adrift (76 days lost at sea) by Steven Callahan

Sailing How-To's Books

  • The Complete Sailing Manual by Steve Sleight
  • At The Mercy Of The Sea (the true story of three sailors in a Caribbean hurricane) by John Kretschmer
  • The Klutz Book of Knots (how to tie the world's 25 most useful hitches, ties, wraps, and knots) by John Cassidy
  • The Complete Sailor (learning the art of sailing) by David Seidman
  • International Marine Captain's Quick Guides
  • Anchoring by Peter Nielsen
  • Knots, Splices and Line Handling by Charlie Wing
  • Sail Trim and Rig Tuning by Bill Gladstone
  • Rules of the Road and Running Light Patterns by Charlie Wing
  • Using VHF & SSB Radio by Bob Sweet
  • Using GPS by Bob Sweet
  • Heavy Weather Sailing by John Rousmaniere
  • Onboard Weather Forecasting by Bob Sweet
  • Boat Handling Under Power by Bob Sweet
  • Emergency First Aid on Board by Richard Clinchy
  • Emergencies On Board by John Rousmaniere
  • Understanding Sea Anchors & Drogues by Earl Hinz
  • Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship 64th Edition by Elbert Maloney

Navigation Books

  • How to Read a Nautical Chart (a complete guide to understanding and using electronics and paper charts) 2nd edition by Nigel Calder
  • Emergency Navigation (Find Your Position and Shape Your Course at Sea Even if Your Instruments Fail) by David Burch
  • Celestial Navigation books
    • Commonsense Celestial Navigation by Hewitt Schlereth
    • Celestial Navigation in a Nutshell by Hewitt Schlereth
    • Celestial navigation set by Dominque F. Prinet
      • Celestial Navigation using the Sight Reduction Tables Pub. No. 249
      • Celestial Navigation Exercises for Class and Home Study
  • International Marine Captain's Quick Guides
  • World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell

Cooking Books

  • The Lionfish Cookbook (The Caribbean's New Delicacy) by Tricia Ferguson & Lad Akins
  • The One Pan Galley Gourment (simple cooking on boats) by Don Jacobson & John Roberts
  • The Prepper's Cookbook (300 recipes to turn emergency food into nutricious, delicious, life-saving meals) by Tess Pennington
  • Cast Iron Cooking (86 southern style recipes)
  • Cook and Sail: Adriatic and Mediterranean Way by Zlatko Gall
  • The boat cookbook - Real food for hungry sailors by F. Sims

Travel Books

  • Caribbean 2023 by Fodor's Travel
  • Travel Best Bets by Claire Newell
  • A Sail of Two Idiots by Renee Petrillo
  • An Embarrasment of Mangoes (a Caribbean interlude) by Ann Vanderhoof
  • Isles of the Caribees by Carleton Mitchell
  • Essential Sailing Destinations (the world's most spectacular cruising areas)

Rural Prepping

I had these books when I lived on my farm in Northern Ontario. If you are living rurally then these will help you get started towards self-sufficiency and preparing for emergencies.

  • Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cattle by Gail Damerow
    (NB: does not cover pigs. You'll need to find an additional book if you're getting pigs)
  • The Septic System Owner's Manual by Lloyd Kahn , Blair Allen, et al.
  • Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management by Maurice G. Kains and J. E. Oldfield
  • Haying Independence: The Ultimate Guide to Small-Farm Hay Production with Your Compact Tractor by Marti Livengood Goodwin
  • Maximizing Your Mini Farm: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham

Final Thoughts

You will see that there are no wilderness survival manuals or such in my lists. This is because the ability to live off the land is highly specialized, and extremely difficult.

If you took 100 adults in good physical fitness, gave them these sorts of books and dropped them in a wilderness with basic tools, half of them would be dead in a month. After a year you'd be lucky if even a single one survived. The romantic idea of living off the land is just not realistic.

One might argue that the settlers of North America came and conquered the continent with no previous experience, but you'd be mistaken. First, a great many settlers died while attempting this. Second, they didn't have no experience. Most of the settlers were farmers and already living off the land back in Europe. They had already built their own homes and raised crops back home, so this was not a new thing for them. It was simply a new location.

I am not saying it can't be done. There are many stories of individuals who have successfully lived off the land. Watch the Dick Proenneke movies for one successful person. But also read or watch Into The Wild about Christopher McCandless who didn't make it even a single year.

If you insist that living off the land is your goal, then hire a proper survival instructor.

But the purpose of this website is to help you to thrive after disasters or societal collapse. Nobody thrives in a cabin in the woods. They may survive, but it's a long way from thriving. The ones who will thrive the most are those who are already living their chosen lifestyle when (if) society collapses. Those individuals will be little affected by events around them.