Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Theme: Survival

Crabwalk - (ISBN: 9780151007646)

by Gunter Grass

A true survivor of a maritime disaster grows up to write the story of the torpedoing of a Nazi sub containing over 9000 soldiers and refugees. His mother was one of the few survivors, and he was born at the end of the attack, barely surviving himself. The title refers to the author’s research process of sifting through often almost inaccessible records and other survivor accounts to create a complete and complex picture of this worst of all naval attacks.

Lord of the Flies - (ISBN: 978-0399537424)

by William Goldman

In this classic novel, a group of shipwrecked boys eventually form two factions that battle each other for island supremacy. Roles erupt and reverse as the hunters become the hunted. What basic human qualities do their desperate circumstances reveal?

The Stand - (ISBN: 978-0307947307)

by Stephen King

Stephen King, the master of horror writing, creates a scenario that includes a mutating flu virus, the demise of most of the world population, and a final (?) showdown between the natural powers of the right and the malevolent. This newest version of a book originally published in 1978 has been liberally sprinkled with elements of pop culture including cartoon super heroes, politics, and the AIDS epidemic. Imagine what a third version would contain if it were published today!

The Year of the Flood - (ISBN: 978-0307455475)

by Margaret Atwood

What’s a “waterless” flood? How does it manage to wipe out most human life? Plagues, extinctions, and immense weather changes lessen the odds of any human survival in this riveting universe where criminals, dropouts, and fundamentalists battle for ground. What is the surprising but hopeful message communicated at the end of the book?

The Zombie Survival Guide - (ISBN: 978-1400049622)

by Max Brooks

In this great parody, you learn how to sense and destroy the “undead” that may be living among us. The humorous approach covers every zombie eventuality including details about zombie “bodies,” weapons, and escape routes. This book is so complete and well done that the negligent reader might forget that there is no such thing as zombies, or is there?

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place - (ISBN: 1451618506)

by Aron Ralston

Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls: True Stories of Castaways and Other Survivors - (ISBN: 978-0395911501)

by Edward Leslie

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale - (ISBN: 9780679406419)

by Art Spiegelman

Mister Pip - (ISBN: 9780385341066)

by Lloyd Jones

Activities for this Theme

Plan to improve your mental and physical survival skills for an emergency wilderness survival challenge.


If you have a survival story you would like to share, find out how to add it to the StoryCorps archive.


Interview a relative or other older acquaintance who might have survived a war or imprisonment experience. Find out what their survival tips are. Create a video of the interview. Share the video with other family members on YouTube.


Plan to improve your mental and physical survival skills for an emergency wilderness survival challenge.


Listen to some stories told by survivors and workers at the Hurricane Katrina site.


Listen to stories told by Holocaust survivors.