Booklist for Eternity


What books would you take with you if the world was about to end?

Strange question, right? But think about it for a second. For most writers and academics, the end-of-the-world-is-coming packing list would surely involve some pained (though probably quick, given the bigger picture,) thought over which works to take from the family or work library.

The question has been bugging me since I caught an airing of 2012 – which, beside an awesomely odd performance by Woody Harrelson, some great special effects and an extremely engaging Russian pilot named Sasha, is little more than so-so — on the television.

 It does have some great one-liners though. The best of them all?

“When they tell you not to panic, that’s when you run!”

Probably some of the wisest words ever spoken on film. #justsayin

But there’s a scene where the chosen few are preparing to board a vessel to safety from global destruction when Thandie Newton’s character observes Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character placing something is his bag and quips: 

 “No toothbrush – only books.”

So that started me thinking – if I knew the world as we know it was about to end, had time to pack, and was pretty confident of my survival chances, what books from my library would I take to share with survivors and the human race as it sought to rebuild?

(To keep it real, I’ve selected ONLY books that are currently in my library. Let’s be honest, if the world was ending I doubt I’d be planning a stop at Barnes & Noble for survival supplies.)

Of course at first I wanted to pick just my favorites. But then I stopped for a moment and really considered – if the world was about to end, what would I want the survivors to have as guides? What lessons would I want to leave behind? What would survivors need to build a better, less inhumane world?

And this is where I landed …..

  • The Stand (Stephen King)
  • The Plague (Albert Camus)
  • All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot)
  • Night (Elie Wiesel)
  • The Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
  • The Chrysalids (John Wyndham)
  • Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
  • Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
  • The Three Muskateers (Alexandre Dumas)
  • 1984 (George Orwell)
  • Sherlock Holmes Mysteries (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
  • Longitudes and Attitudes (Thomas Friedman)
  • Barron’s Regents Exams and Answers – Global History & Geography
  • Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai (Yamamoto Tsunetomo)

…and yes, I have eclectic tastes!

What would you take from your library? What would you want the brave new world to know about us?

3 thoughts on “Booklist for Eternity”

  1. OK. I’m not as altruistic as you. I would take the books I’ve loved and would enjoy reading again in apocalyptic days of darkness and ash.

    They are:

    Man’s Search for Meaning
    The Book Thief
    Jitterbug Perfume
    This Much I Know is True
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Memory of Running
    The Three Junes

    All those made me happy once and hopefully would again amidst the end days.

  2. Nice list. And good for you to only take what books you actually own. I’ll have to think about this for myself. And I too just watched 2012. Disappointing but I watched it all. I thought the same thing you did when I saw his bag of books.

  3. i can not make a list……..
    i tried…………………
    it would be too long…………
    so here it goes…………..
    the 2 books i would die without…
    empire of the sun
    the killing fields

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