The Greatest American, Austrian "Post Apocalyptic" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Post Apocalyptic

Post Apocalyptic is a genre of literature that explores the aftermath of a catastrophic event that has destroyed civilization as we know it. These stories typically take place in a world where resources are scarce, society has collapsed, and survivors must navigate a dangerous and unpredictable landscape. Themes of survival, morality, and human nature are often explored in Post Apocalyptic books, as characters struggle to rebuild their lives and make sense of a world that has been forever changed.

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  1. 1. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    The novel follows the life of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who has become "unstuck in time," experiencing his life events out of order. This includes his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the Allies' firebombing, his post-war life as a successful optometrist, his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his eventual death. The book is a critique of war and a demonstration of the destructive nature of time, with a nonlinear narrative that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life.

    The 59th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

    Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the novel presents a future where Earth's life has been greatly damaged by a nuclear global war, leaving most species extinct. The remaining human population has been encouraged to emigrate to off-world colonies to preserve the human race. Those who remain on Earth are tasked with maintaining the ecological balance by owning and caring for animals, replacing extinct species with mechanical replicas when necessary. The story revolves around a bounty hunter, who is tasked with "retiring" rogue androids that pose a threat to humans, and his emotional and moral struggles as he goes about his work.

    The 295th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. The Stand by Stephen King

    This post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel presents a world devastated by a deadly plague, killing 99% of the population. The survivors, drawn together by dreams of a charismatic and benevolent figure, gather in Boulder, Colorado to form a new society. However, a malevolent figure also emerges, attracting a following of his own and setting the stage for a classic battle between good and evil. The story delves into themes of community, morality, and the capacity for both destruction and regeneration within humanity.

    The 308th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

    In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son journey through a desolate landscape, struggling to survive. They face numerous threats including starvation, extreme weather, and dangerous encounters with other survivors. The father, who is terminally ill, is driven by his love and concern for his son, and is determined to protect him at all costs. The story is a haunting exploration of the depths of human resilience, the power of love, and the instinct to survive against all odds.

    The 377th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

    This novel is a satirical commentary on modern man and his madness, exploring issues of science, technology, and religion. The story revolves around a narrator who becomes involved with the children of a deceased scientist, who had developed a substance capable of freezing water at room temperature. This substance, if misused, has the potential to end all life on earth. The novel is filled with strange and twisted characters, and culminates in a cataclysmic event, highlighting the dangers of uncontrolled technological advancement.

    The 550th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

    The novel is a post-apocalyptic horror story that centers around a solitary man who may be the last human alive on earth after a pandemic has turned the rest of humanity into vampire-like creatures. He spends his days fortifying his home, hunting for food, and killing these creatures while they sleep. At night, he is tormented by their attempts to break into his home and kill him. His isolation drives him to the brink of insanity, and the novel explores themes of loneliness, survival, and the human capacity for hope in the face of utter despair.

    The 598th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

    "A Canticle for Leibowitz" is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that explores the cyclical nature of history through the lens of a Catholic monastery in the American Southwest. After a devastating nuclear war, the monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz work to preserve the remnants of mankind's scientific knowledge until the world is again ready for it. Over the course of centuries, civilization rises and falls, wars are fought, and scientific advancements are rediscovered and then lost again. The novel is a poignant commentary on the potential for humanity to repeat its mistakes.

    The 726th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

    The novel follows the journey of a poet with amnesia, known only as the Kid, through a dystopian city named Bellona. The city has been isolated from the rest of the world following a catastrophic event of unknown origin. The Kid navigates through a society where time, identity, and reality are all fluid, engaging with various groups of outcasts and explorers. The narrative is marked by its experimental style, incorporating elements of science fiction, surrealism, and metafiction.

    The 815th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    Set in a dystopian future, the novel revolves around a teenager named Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic nation where the government, in order to maintain control, forces each of its twelve districts to send a boy and girl to participate in a televised annual event. This event, known as the Hunger Games, is a fight to the death. When Katniss's younger sister is selected to participate, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The book follows her struggle for survival in the cruel game, against the backdrop of a brewing rebellion against the oppressive regime.

    The 1026th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

    A woman searches for her kidnapped daughter in a world ravaged by a catastrophic climate change event known as the Fifth Season. Simultaneously, the narrative follows a young girl with destructive powers and a man struggling to control his own similar abilities. The story explores themes of oppression, survival, and the destructive power of nature, all set in a dystopian world where the earth is constantly in flux, and society is strictly divided and controlled.

    The 1121st Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

    "The Book of the New Sun" is a four-volume science fiction series set in a far future, post-apocalyptic Earth, known as Urth. The story follows a journeyman torturer named Severian who is exiled for showing mercy to one of his victims. As he navigates through a world filled with strange and mythical creatures, political intrigue, and ancient technology often perceived as magic, Severian discovers his destiny is far greater than he could have ever imagined. The narrative is dense and complex, filled with allegory and symbolism, making it a challenging yet rewarding read.

    The 1745th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Parable Of The Sower by Octavia E. Butler

    In a dystopian future where society has collapsed due to environmental and economic crises, a young woman named Lauren Olamina possesses a unique ability to feel the pain and pleasure of others. As she witnesses her community being torn apart by violence and religious fanaticism, Lauren embarks on a perilous journey to find a new safe haven and establish her own religion based on empathy and survival. Through her thought-provoking narrative, the book explores themes of resilience, spirituality, and the power of human connection in the face of adversity.

    The 1369th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Earth Abides by George Rippey Stewart

    "Earth Abides" is a post-apocalyptic novel that follows the story of a geography student who returns from a solo trip in the mountains to find that most of humanity has been wiped out by a deadly plague. As one of the few survivors, he navigates through the deserted world, eventually forming a small community with other survivors. The novel explores themes of survival, the fragility of civilization, and the importance of community in the face of adversity.

    The 1512th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

    Set in a far distant future where the sun is nearing the end of its life, this book features a collection of short stories that revolve around an array of characters, including magicians, rogues, and innocent bystanders. The stories are interlinked and set in a world where magic and technology coexist, and where the line between the two is often blurred. The tales are filled with complex characters, intricate plots, and a richly detailed world, all presented with a unique blend of dark humor and philosophical depth.

    The 1816th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. The Wall by Marlen Haushofer

    The book is a profound exploration of isolation and survival, following a woman who finds herself unexpectedly cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible, impenetrable wall. With the rest of humanity seemingly vanished, she must come to terms with her solitary existence in a remote forested area, accompanied only by a few animals. As she adapts to her new reality, tending to the land and the creatures that become her companions, the narrative delves into themes of self-reliance, the intrinsic connection between humans and nature, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable circumstances. Through her introspective journey, the protagonist examines the essence of her being and the meaning of life when stripped of society and its constructs.

    The 2417th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

    In the aftermath of a nuclear war that devastates the United States, a group of survivors, including a professional wrestler, a young girl with mystical powers, and a bag lady, embark on a journey across a ravaged America. They must navigate the horrors of a post-apocalyptic world and battle a malevolent force known as the Man with the Scarlet Eye, who seeks to claim the wasteland as his own. Throughout their journey, they discover the power of hope, community, and resilience in the face of unimaginable hardship.

    The 2447th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

    Set in a dystopian future America ravaged by climate change and societal collapse, the novel follows the journey of a young woman who, despite facing slavery, violence, and the rise of a dangerous religious zealot, strives to build a community based on her own new belief system, Earthseed. Her vision is to create a society that can adapt and thrive amidst chaos, with the ultimate goal of taking humanity to the stars. Throughout her struggle, she documents her experiences and philosophies in the hope that they will guide future generations towards a more hopeful, resilient future.

    The 2603rd Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany

    The novel is a unique blend of science fiction and mythology, set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by an alien race that has taken on the forms and behaviors of humanity based on our myths and legends. The protagonist, a being named Lobey, embarks on a hero's journey, reminiscent of Orpheus's quest, to find and resurrect his lost love, Friza. Along the way, he encounters various characters and challenges that draw parallels to figures from classical myths and contemporary culture. The narrative explores themes of identity, transformation, and the nature of humanity through the lens of an alien society striving to understand the remnants of human civilization.

    The 2772nd Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

    The Broken Earth Trilogy is a captivating science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world where a woman with the power to control seismic activity is on a quest to rescue her kidnapped daughter. This world, called the Stillness, regularly experiences catastrophic climate change events known as Seasons, which its inhabitants constantly prepare for. The series explores themes of oppression, survival, and the human capacity for adaptation, all while providing a thrilling and poignant narrative that keeps readers engaged from start to finish.

    The 3101st Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. In The Country Of Last Things by Paul Auster

    In this dystopian novel, the protagonist navigates a decaying, unnamed city where society has collapsed, and survival hinges on scavenging through the ruins. The narrative unfolds through a series of letters she writes, detailing her desperate search for her missing brother amidst the chaos. As she encounters other inhabitants struggling to maintain a semblance of life, the city's pervasive sense of despair and the constant fight for existence challenge her resolve. The story is a poignant exploration of hope, resilience, and the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.

    The 3900th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip José Farmer

    In this science fiction novel, every human who has ever lived is resurrected along the banks of an enigmatic river on an unknown planet. The protagonist, a 19th-century explorer, awakens in this afterlife and quickly discovers that he is not alone. Surrounded by historical figures and ordinary people from all eras and cultures, he must navigate a new existence where basic needs are met but the greater mysteries of this world—such as who is responsible for the resurrection and the purpose of this second life—remain unsolved. As he forms alliances and seeks answers, he also contends with the darker aspects of human nature that persist in this strange hereafter.

    The 3937th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

    "Left Behind" is a gripping story set in the aftermath of the Rapture, when millions of people around the world suddenly disappear, leaving behind everything but their clothes and personal belongings. The novel follows a group of survivors, including a commercial airline pilot, a journalist, and a college student, as they navigate the chaos and confusion of a world in crisis. As they search for answers and try to understand what has happened, they are drawn to the words of the Bible, which seem to predict the events unfolding around them. Together, they form the Tribulation Force, a group dedicated to fighting the forces of evil and spreading the word of God in a world on the brink of the Apocalypse.

    The 3996th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

    In "The Scarlet Plague", the world has been devastated by a deadly pandemic that has wiped out most of humanity, leaving only a few survivors. The story is set in 2073, sixty years after the plague, and is narrated by an old man who is one of the last people alive who remembers the pre-plague world. He attempts to impart his knowledge and memories to his grandsons, who have only known the primitive, post-apocalyptic world. The novel explores themes of civilization, knowledge, and the fragility of society.

    The 4528th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

    In the novel, a team of four women—an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist—embark on an expedition into Area X, a mysterious and remote region cut off from civilization. The area is known for its strange occurrences and the disappearance of previous expedition members. As the team delves deeper into the wild and enigmatic landscape, they encounter bizarre creatures, cryptic signs, and the remnants of a lost civilization. The biologist, serving as the narrator, documents their discoveries and her own personal transformations, driven by the unseen forces of Area X. The novel explores themes of nature, mutation, and the unknown, as the expedition's members confront the limits of knowledge and the consequences of seeking to uncover the inexplicable.

    The 5676th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. World War Z by Max Brooks

    The book is an apocalyptic horror novel presented as a collection of individual accounts in the aftermath of a global pandemic that leads to a catastrophic zombie outbreak. Through interviews with survivors from various countries and walks of life, the narrative unfolds the social, political, cultural, and environmental implications of the zombie crisis, known as World War Z. The personal stories explore the widespread panic, the collapse and resurgence of governments, military strategies employed to combat the undead, and the human resilience in the face of a decimated world. The novel serves as a critique of societal responses to disasters and a commentary on the human condition.

    The 5692nd Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download