Prepare for Armageddon – Booktopia presents the best guides to surviving the Apocalypse

by |December 19, 2012

Mortal souls, our time on earth is rapidly coming to a close. As most of you know, the Mayan Calendar predicts the world as we know it will come to an end on the 21st of December, 2012.  When trouble hits there’s no better place to turn than your very own port in the storm, the book.

Literature has always been obsessed with the apocalypse and the anarchy that follows. Some of the great works through history that were once considered fiction can now stand as incredibly helpful ‘how to’ manuals during these, our last days.


Cormac McCarthy’s most recent effort is a beautiful manual, one of the greatest of the last 25 years. Strangely enough it is the only post-apocalyptic survivor manual to have also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
WHO’S TO BLAME: Possibly global warming, war, the government.
CLIMATE: There will be fires on the horizon during The Rapture, but strangely enough there will also be a great deal of snow for much of the time after.
DO…. Try and get your father to do a medical degree before the apocalypse, this can be very handy.
DON’T…. Go into the basement of an abandoned home. Seriously, it’s not a good idea.

Click here to buy The Road from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Not strictly an apocalypse, but certainly a huge cataclysmic event, spawned the creation of George Orwell’s classic manual. One of the greatest manuals of all-time, it describes a world where privacy and free thought and speech are almost non-existent due to the totalitarian regime in place.
WHO’S TO BLAME: War, the government.
CLIMATE: Heavily industrialised, quite cold, neo-gothic.
DO…. Follow the crowd whenever you’re in a public place despite your hesitation, the after-world can be a tough place for an outsider.
DON’T…. Trust anybody, or make eye contact with co-workers, although for many people in the world today this shouldn’t be a huge departure from the current day to day.

Click here to buy 1984 from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


If you have seen the infomercial presented by William Smith than you may be a little surprised as the manual it is based on, published in 1954, does have some different points to raise. I can assure you that the written manual is incredible and much better than the infomercial. It’s a stunning self-help book filled with immense symbolism and brutal plot twists.
WHO’S TO BLAME: War, scientists.
CLIMATE: Perhaps only one human left in existence, the world in complete devastation, vampires now roam the planet.
DO…. Have garlic, mirrors and crucifixes at the ready.
DON’T…. Think that you’re safe in your house, or anywhere. They’re coming for you.

Click here to buy I Am Legend from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


John Wyndham put together a riveting manual published in 1951. Wyndham takes you through surviving a post-apocalyptic world where flora is your enemy. A classic manual taught in classrooms the world over, and a sure fire way to stop you looking at the night sky.
WHO’S TO BLAME: The Soviets. Botantists.
CLIMATE: Near complete devastation, large carnivorous plants roaming the planet, nearly all people in the world are blinded so interior decorating has become sub-standard at best.
DO… Try and find other pockets of survivors, although watch them carefully and don’t trust anyone with red hair.
DON’T… Ever, ever, ever, watch a meteor shower. Big trouble.

Click here to buy The Day of the Triffids from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


Son of you-know-who, Max Brooks builds on his best-selling The Zombie Survival Guide with the stunning manual World War Z. Through a series of stories pieced together, Brooks tells the story of a zombie apocalypse. Soon to be realised as an instructional video presented by Bradley Pitt.
WHO’S TO BLAME: Zombies.
CLIMATE: All corners of the globe are heavily war-torn, lots of rubble, things like that.
DO… Learn a trade or a really cool skill, they are valued in the future and you might become the President if you learn to unclog drains.
DON’T… Trust the pharmaceutical companies if they tell you they’ve found a cure. They haven’t.

Click here to buy World War Z from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

There are also a large amount of instructional videos available, some can be found below.

Click here for more detailsSHAUN OF THE DEAD

WHO’S TO BLAME: Zombies.
CLIMATE: Buildings are still largely intact, streets are not safe. John will do you a toasty out back of the Winchester, but survival is difficult if the building is surrounded.
DO… Find your loved ones and huddle together.
DON’T… Get too close to loved ones, because if they get bitten, oh boy….

Click here to buy Shaun Of The Dead from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Movie Hub

Click here for more detailsINDEPENDENCE DAY

CLIMATE: Major cities completely destroyed,  army bases under threat.
DO… Find military bunkers, put your faith in Randy Quaid.
DON’T… Hold up placards welcoming the aliens while standing on a tall skyscraper directly below an alien ship. Bad idea.

Click here to buy Independence Day from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Movie Hub

Click here for more detailsTHE TERMINATOR SERIES

WHO’S TO BLAME: Skynet, the machines.
CLIMATE: Complete devastation, army bases in deserts still remain.
DO… Pick the times to trust robots very carefully.
DON’T… Start building robots. It’s all downhill from there…

Click here to buy The Terminator from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Movie Hub

Click here for more detailsMAD MAX

WHO’S TO BLAME: Diminishing natural resources.
CLIMATE: Think Broken Hill in the summer of 1977-78. For some reason, it’s exactly like that.
DO… Avenge people, you seem to live longer.
DON’T… Worry if the paperwork is clean, it won’t be.

Click here to buy Mad Max from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Movie Hub

Click here for more details2012

WHO’S TO BLAME: That pesky sun, the earth’s core.
CLIMATE: A few earthquakes and then come December 21, everything goes to pot. Lots of cracks you don’t want to step on.
DO… Find a plane and discover secret government evacuation plans.
DON’T… Be a jerk, because you’ll never survive.

Click here to buy 2012 from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Movie Hub

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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  • JessB

    December 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Hilarious! Loved it, thanks for sharing. You’ve inspired me to read I Am Legend, so that instead of being terrified by the Will Smith “infomercial” I can be terrified by the book as well.

    • Andrew Cattanach

      December 24, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Hi Jess, thanks for reading! It appears there may have been more survivors from the apocalypse than initially thought, about 100% more. But hopefully I Am Legend does the trick, it’s a great book, a lot different to the William Smith graphic presentation.

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