Apocalyptic Homework: Reading List

Books. (Credit: Quinn Ranger)

As much as we try to predict what will trigger the apocalypse it is impossible to know for sure. This is where we need to take a page from dystopic literature. Therefore, in preparation for the impending apocalypse I have complied three readings that are essential should you wish to survive. These readings will prepare you for three very different apocalyptic scenarios.

Up first is Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”. This book is the account of a father and son, trying to make their way to the coast. America is burning, and they are armed with nothing but a pistol. They must proceed with caution: marauding bands of thieves haunt the roads, and cannibalism has become a standard practice as food supplies have dwindled. Still they carry on.

With little punctuation and no chapters, this book is a quick read. If you aren’t interested in reading, then it may be best to watch the movie. Don’t wait for the apocalypse, prepare yourself now.

The second reading takes us back to 1949. “Earth Abides”, by George R. Stewart tells the story of Isherwood “Ish” Williams. Ish is one of the survivors of a terrible plague that swept the globe. Finding himself all alone he searches across the United States for answers to the plague, along the way he comes across pockets of survivors. Upon returning to the west coast he meets a woman, Em. They decide to face the world together, and do what they can to begin anew. This novel is a must read, one that I struggled to put down.

The final novel takes us to New-England, somewhere in the near future. It is “The Handmaid’s Tale”, by Margaret Atwood. A totalitarian theocracy has overthrown the US government. Freedom is no more, and women who can bear children are highly valued. They become “handmaids” and their entire purpose is to breed. Those who cannot or do not become pregnant are sent away to work camps, or become sex workers. We are invited into the life of one handmaid, Offred. This story is also available as a podcast from Secrets, Crimes, & Audiotapes, and a TV adaptation will begin airing at the end of April.

Whether you wish to prepare yourself for the apocalypse, or are just a fan of dystopic fiction, you cannot go wrong with reading any, or all, of these books. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

Republished from The Swill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 27, March 28, 2017.