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Post Apocalyptic Reader's Guide

Gr33n4blu3 "La leche se arde."
The list author says: "Whether you've just gotten into the genre or you've discovered that the Jesus-shaped buttery image on your toast is telling you that the end of days are near, here is a collection of required reading."
Earth Abides
Earth Abides
"Plague kills humanity.  This is the story of what happens after. Pros:  Stewart nails key details that are most often missed by other, lesser authors. Cons:  Very little Mad Max style action."
Alas, Babylon
Alas, Babylon
"Nukes kill humanity.  This story focuses on a small community in a quarantine zone. Pros:  The first book you should read in the genre. Cons:  1950's era cultural references."
Lucifer's Hammer
Lucifer's Hammer
"Comet kills humanity.  This story has two distinct parts - surviving the immediate impact and the beginning seeds of rebuilding society. Pros:  Large scale battles, cannibalism, and chemical warfare. Cons:  A long lead into the cataclysm."
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse
"Economics kill humanity.  The collapse is covered in detail, but not entirely plausible.  A word of warning: the author is a survivalist with strong views on morality. Pros:  LOTS of weapons and survival tips, strategies, and tactics. Cons:  LOTS of weapons and survival tips, strategies, and tactics."
I Am Legend
I Am Legend
"Vampire diseases kill humanity.  The last man on earth faces the possibility that he's no longer what is considered normal. Pros:  A good blend of action, vampire lore, and humanity. Cons:  Neville tends to whine a lot."
The Stand: Expanded Edition: For the First Time Complete and Uncut (Signet)
The Stand: Expanded Edition: For the First Time Complete and Uncut (Signet)
"Man-made plague kills humanity.  Many different view points of society collapsing and rebuilding.  Add in a dash of good versus evil. Pros:  The various ways people accidentally end up dead.  Cons:  It's long... REALLY long."
A Canticle for Leibowitz
A Canticle for Leibowitz
"War kills humanity.  Three different periods of time show that history basically repeats itself. Pros:  Awesome viewpoint of a society that forgot where it came from - a good follow up to Earth Abides. Cons:  There are some strange mutations late in the book that don't seem to fit the narrative."
Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
"Socialism kills humanity.  The western world declines exponentially as all incentive to innovate are removed by government policy. Pros:  Solid points about economic incentives. Cons:  Long to the point of absurdity.  At one point John Galt gives a 100 page speech."
On the Beach
On the Beach
"Nuclear war dust kills humanity.  The last remaining survivors know their doom is approaching.  This is how they deal with it. Pros:  A unique perspective.  Less of a focus on the raw mechanics of survival and more of how people actually feel about what ruin man has wrought. Cons:  No gigantic fire-breathing mutant ants running around."
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
"Nuclear war kills humanity.  Some really unique elements including a space station broadcasting news and music. Pros:  A focus on the newly created world with some Mad Max elements. Cons:  Some realism is sacrificed for plot points that paralleled the era in which it was written."
The Forge of God
The Forge of God
"Alien gravity bomb kills humanity.  Very interesting view on alien contact and the end of the world.  Pros:  Very well thought destruction and some awesome characters. Cons:  Goodbye Earth..."
The Road
The Road
"Unspecified presumably man made weapon kills humanity.  The earth is sterile and man and son struggle to survive. Pros:  All that matters to the man is his son.  Great book on father/child dynamics... given the environment. Cons:  The sterile planet with human survivors isn't plausible years after bomb dropped."
The Day of the Triffids (20th Century Rediscoveries)
The Day of the Triffids (20th Century Rediscoveries)
"Blindness and plants kills humanity.  The few nonblind citizens deal with the tremendous loss of society while watching the newly crippled die... and then the plants attack. Pros:  The writing is so well done that you're on the edge of your seat the entire time. Cons:  Hope constantly fades and comes back, a bit of a roller coaster."
Level 7 (Library of American Fiction)
Level 7 (Library of American Fiction)
"Dirty Nuclear war kills humanity.  The only survivors live in deep underground bunkers and consider what life has become. Pros: "Vault living" much akin to the video game Fallout.  Without the mutants. Cons: Lack of mutants.  While some may take this as a pro, there is very little personalization in this book - despite it being a journal."
The Last Ship
The Last Ship
"Nuclear war wipes out humanity.  One surviving Navy ship makes it to a habitable island and starts life, human life, over again. Pros:  Lots of detail.  The raw mechanics of survival are discussed as well as the propagation of the human race. Cons:  It's a long book about a boat..."
Swan Song
Swan Song
"Nukes kill humanity.  Survivors fight in a hopeless new reality. Pros:  Mutant two-headed Bobcats! Cons:  There's both mutants running around and an element of magic (the glass ring).  It's one or the other..."
Warday and the Journey Onwards
Warday and the Journey Onwards
"Nuclear war wipes out humanity.  Two writers decide to travel the country and review the damage and the survivors. Pros:  Very well written and lots of realism with regard to the rebuilding of society. Cons:  Aztlan (parts of Arizona and Texas) separates from the United States!  Even if there are no survivors, I want my USA whole and complete :-)"
Wastelands
Wastelands
"Short stories wipe out humanity.  There are 22 stories telling various post apocalyptic realities. Pros:  This anthology has it all - mutants, nukes, last man standing, and the loss of civilization. Cons:  Each story is relatively short, and there are several that almost beg for a full length telling (Dark, Dark were the Tunnels)."