Post-apocalyptic novels explore what the world is like after the smoke has cleared or the aliens have left, and now humanity is faced with what’s left. They can be thought-provoking, heartwarming, or bone-chilling – but they’re always interesting!
Keep scrolling for post-apocalyptic reads you can check out in-person or through cloudLibrary.
A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen
Set in San Francisco after a virus has wiped out most of the Earth, this story focuses more on the rebuilding that takes place after a disaster. It follows four survivors, each with their own unique problems and perspectives, who meet by circumstance. If some of the other books on this list sound a little too intense for you, this is more of a hopeful post-apocalypse!
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
Shortlisted for The National Book Award, this novel follows a group of teenagers on a family vacation to the shore. Climate change and a possible pandemic already have the world in dire straits, but the parents are determined to have a good time. When an apocalyptic event interrupts their idyllic summer, the children are left on their own to deal with the fallout.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
A family rents a rural house for vacation, hoping to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in an area with no internet or cell reception. But late one night, the homeowners knock on the door, claiming a blackout has swept New York City. But are they telling the truth? Find out in this mystery that was chosen for the Read with Jenna book club.
The New Wilderness by Diane Cook
In this book, most of the population lives in a vast, overpopulated city. As part of an experiment to see whether humans can co-exist with nature, one mother volunteers to move with her young daughter to one of the last areas of wilderness left. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this book deals with climate change, government control, and mother-daughter relationships.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
This short and sweet novella goes down like a warm cup of tea! Set in the far future after humanity has recovered from the effects of overpopulation, natural resource overuse, and AIs gone rogue, this is a hopeful story. A youth growing restless in their utopian society decides to travel into the wilderness and happens across the first robot who’s had contact with humans in centuries. The unlikely pair go on a journey of self-examination into the wilderness.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This modern literary classic follows a father and son while they journey through an America destroyed by a zombie apocalypse. Bleak and brutal and told in stark prose, this book is not for the faint of heart. Some consider it McCarthy’s masterpiece – read it and decide for yourself!
Severance by Ling Ma
Millennial Candace Chen is a bored worker drone in Manhattan. So bored she doesn’t notice when a plague first hits the city. This satirical coming-of-age story switches between Candace’s rise up the corporate ladder and her time traveling with a group of survivors. This novel tackles some big issues – race, gender and capitalism – and has a few surprises in store.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This novel is set during and after a flu-like pandemic that drastically reduces the human population. But despite the world-changing scale of these events, the novel’s focus is on its characters. We follow a group of traveling performers as they make sense of their new world in all its small, beautiful moments. It was recently adapted into a critically acclaimed show, so once you’re done reading the book, be sure to check it out!