So I’ve talked about this project in passing a few times, but I thought I’d go a little more in depth on what I’m doing with my Survival Library. (So when you see it mentioned, you’ll know what I mean. I’ll probably link back to this post in the future.) Today is going to be quite the departure from my usual fantasy, young adult, and minority-driven reading, so – hold on to your hats!
I’ve got some very low-grade general anxiety. Like most millennials, I suppose. I worry about the future. Between climate change, economic uncertainty, political stupidity, and my own chronic health issues (that necessitate a certain diet and medications) – the future is bleak.
My friends and I often spend time speculating what we’ll do if society collapses. We have some friends with a large house and a few acres, who is next door to 30-some vacant acres of farmland; we’ve mostly decided we’ll all be flocking to their house and setting up a co-op. So then we start cataloging all the skills of our friends. We have leatherworkers, potters, weavers – we know one person who knows how to take wool from “sheep to shirt” AND has a lot of canning and food preserving knowledge, so we’ll be nabbing him immediately! My husband can brew, distill, shoot, cook, bake, as well as just be an able-bodied person.
So what do I bring to the table? I’m a chronically ill introvert who reads a lot.
We’ve decided that’s my role. I’m the librarian and keeper of knowledge. Because if society collapses, we have to assume the internet does too. Books will be important.
To bring all these bits together, planning and collecting a “Survival Library” of books about useful skills keeps my general anxiety in check so I don’t wind up with three pallets of MREs in my basement. I’ve made some book lists, though I’m still adding to them, and I’ve decided buying one book a month for the survival library will build it up fairly quickly but also cheaply. I have the lists on both Goodreads and Riffle – but Riffle lets me add notes about the books right in the list, so that will probably be where I’ll have the most information about them. As I pick up books, I’ll write a few sentences about each book and why it’s on the list. (Riffle also currently has my Polyamory Book List, my Activism/Civil Rights list, and my LGBTQIA+ list) It’s a big project, but it’s a simple way to keep my mental health up, and it could someday be useful.
So when I say Survival Library, that’s what I mean! I have several categories.
- Homemaking involves things like making soap and candles and home goods, sewing, and pottery.
- Gardening is the obvious, plus some aquaponics.
- Construction includes building things from fences to sheds to houses to kilns.
- Utilities are books on clean water, electricity from sources like windmills and solar, heat, refrigeration, and plumbing.
- Cooking Skills and Recipes is what it says, plus canning, preserving, brewing, distilling, and foraging.
- Animal Husbandry is the obvious. Mostly normal farm animals, but also books on dogs and cats, since I’m sure there will be pets too. Also beekeeping.
- Medical Books are just that. If society collapses, we can’t just go see a doctor. We’ll need some medical knowledge, and we don’t actually have any doctors, veterinarians, or dentists in our immediate friend circle. That’s one big skill we’re lacking. It’s also not a very big list yet, because I don’t know what would be good books for it!
- General Books are books that cover such a wide range of topics they’re hard to otherwise categorize.
- Background skills are books on big topics. Biology. Geology. Meteorology. Geography. I have a lot of local interest books in this category as well. History of the area will help to know what to expect in the future.
I may create more categories in the future, or separate out lists into micro-categories if they get too big, but this is what I have so far. I only own about twenty of these books so far, and those are mostly in the gardening and cooking categories, which is why the lists are currently in just list mode, with no notes. Once I have enough knowledge about the individual books, I’ll go through and add notes about them. I’m sure I will be adding books, too!
This is basically a giant expansion of my Homesteading Book List. I’m not sure if I’ll incorporate these book lists into the blog itself eventually or if I’ll keep them externally hosted, but Riffle is definitely their main home for now.
Does anyone else discuss with their friends what they’ll do when society collapses, whether that be from climate change, politics, or zombies? (Hope it’s not the last one – I’m too slow!) Have any suggestions or feedback for my lists?
This is the coolest idea ever! I tend not to think too far ahead in the future, but forming a co op is a great idea, and a survival library is the best!
Yay! I’m always worried I’ll slip too far into Doomsday Pepper, heh.
I don’t think about it. I thought this was going to be a list of fictional books. If you needed to survive I don’t think you’d stop to read a book or hunt down some chickens or ducks. I think it’d be a lot of in the moment stuff and you’d have to just get by. It’d be handy to know some of these skills now, I’d love to know more about gardening and what wild plants you can eat. I don’t think it’s going to happen in my lifetime and I don’t worry about it unless I think about it. I’d rather live in the here and now spend too much time worrying about the future as it is.
For the initial survival I’m depending on my friends who have those skills. This is for the long-term survival situation.
What an amazing project – such fabulous research opportunities (I could get lost making the lists, let alone doing the reading) and hats off to you for your planning. I’m great at thinking up terrible situations, but rubbish at doing anything about them – given where we live (a major city) and our general lack of practical skills, I don’t fancy our chances for surviving social collapse to be honest.
I live just outside Baltimore, actually, but my friend circle is this amazing confluence of Renaissance Faire enthusiasts, former military, and geeks, with a wide range of useful skills. I do really enjoy the research and planning, though!
You are very thorough!
LOL, thanks! Now comes the task of actually getting my hands on all of these books and making sure they actually deserve their spots on these lists! I’ve vetted a good number of the gardening and cooking books, but the other topics are a little more outside my normal reading topics.
But you will get there.
I sure plan to! Thanks for the vote of confidence!