Cabinet of curiosities

post apocalyptic society

So, I’ve been reading The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch by Lewis Dartnell for bookclub. First thing to hit me was how badly prepared I am. Basically unless you’re an expert in either chemistry, engineering, or a stunningly skilled general handy-person you’re just a little buggered. The remit for any immediate survivor is you’ll have to learn more than you’ve ever learned before and on a daily basis. So after you’ve found a perfectly located farmstead on the outskirts of a major city, you’re in a race against time to scavenge whatever you can and learn how to farm, make soap, smelt metals, make basic drugs, develop electrical generating capability, work out how to navigate and tell the time without modern devices etc etc

So one important task you’ll need to set yourself is to collect various text books on all of these subjects, and absorb where possible any instructional dvds on various disciplines while the power lasts. After that comes my little project, the top ten general books to have in your library as hand-me-down knowledge for the coming generations. By definition it’s a limited and very personal collection, so please post your list in the comments.

This list assumes you’ve managed to secure a few text books (Including your copy of the Knowledge and a prepper book or two) on everything from medicine to car maintenance. My list is more about cultural enrichment, context, and overall understanding of the cosmos. Things which in their own right could potentially lead back to civilisation and possibly even a better and fairer place that we live now. It’s a nice thought experiment at least.

Note: I’ve tried to keep it small (I tried for 10).


Not necessarily my favorite books.



Book selection1

1. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

2. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

3. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft 

4. The Good Book by AC Grayling

Book selection 2

5. An Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen

6. Economics: A User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

7. Evolution by Carl Zimmer

8. The Penguin History of the World by JM Roberts

Book selection 3

9. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacquline Kelly

10. Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier

11. The Expanding Circle by Peter SInger

12. The Earth by Richard Fortey

Book selection 4

13. Stiff by Mary Roach

13. Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

14. A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons By Robert M. Sapolsky

15. Fooled by Randomness by Taleb

Book selection 5

16. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

17. Nineteen-Eighty Four by Orwell

19. The Colossal Book of Mathematics by Martin Gardner

20. Eating the Sun by Oliver Morton


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