Bunker Books: The Best Reads for the End of the World

By Shanti Maharaj

Just in case the world ends, Playboy.com picks the top 10 books you need to stockpile in your bunker. With just enough time to order!

According to the Mayan calendar, the world may end or experience a cataclysm on December 21st, 2012. We’re still buying Christmas presents and making New Year’s Eve plans, but we at Playboy.com feel it would be remiss of us not to help our readers prepare for every eventuality. In the event that the world actually ends, there won’t be much anyone can do, but certainly there are preparations to take for more survivable catastrophes.

Space in your bomb shelter will be at a premium and you’ll want to pack in as much canned food, bottled water and batteries as you can to keep you and any Bunnies you rescued alive as long as possible, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your intellectual needs. We’ve made a list of 10 books you should find a space for. Some might help keep you alive, others will keep your brain working and others still will help you while away the long, lonely nights. While many of these titles are available as e-books, we recommend the print edition—you may not be able to charge your e-readers once the electricity goes out.

SAS Survival Guide: For Any Climate, in Any Situation

John “Lofty” Wiseman

This is the book on our list that will give you the best advice for immediate survival in a crisis. Wiseman, a 26-year veteran of the British Special Forces, condenses advice on building fires and constructing shelters, hunting animals and finding edible plants, giving basic first aid and even managing fear.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It 

John Seymour 

So the worst of the danger is over, but society as we know it is gone and your food stores are getting low, and with the demise of Hostess you’ve had to scrap your contingency plan of scavenging for caches of notoriously long-lasting Twinkies, but with this book you can start setting up a self-sustaining homestead that will keep you fed for life. 

The Art of Fermentation 

Sandor Katz

You’re getting pretty good at this self-sufficiency thing and your farm is producing crops, meats and dairy, but with no electricity for refrigeration, how do you store it all? Fermentation is one of the oldest techniques for keeping food edible, and this guide from the master of fermentation will make sure all that bounty lasts you through the winter.

War and Peace 

Leo Tolstoy, trans. Pevear and Volokhonsky

You’re holed up in a bunker, and society as we know it is dying or dead. Now’s the time to finally read War and Peace! The Pevear and Volokhonsky translation includes many helpful notes, but if you’re really hardcore, buy it in the original and teach yourself Russian. It’s not like you don’t have the time.


James Joyce

One of the most significant modernist novels ever written, this is another one that you’ll finally be able to really sink your teeth into. (Don’t worry, we wouldn’t ask you to bang your head against Finnegans Wake for the rest of your life.) This edition features comprehensive notes; if you have extra room, grab a copy of Homer’s Odyssey, which Joyce based Ulysses on, so you can really get the full experience.

The New Bedside Playboy 

Hugh Hefner 

You may not have room for your entire collection of Playboys in your bunker. We’re disappointed, but we understand. Get the greatest bang for your buck with the best fiction, journalism, humor and cartoons of the last 50-plus years. Of course, the articles are only half of what makes Playboy great.

Playboy’s Greatest Covers 

Damon Brown

This is the other half. On those long cold subterranean nuclear winter nights, raise your body temperature by flipping through this lovingly curated collection of the greatest Playboy magazine covers.

Tropic of Cancer 

Henry Miller

When choosing sexy books for your bunker, it’s important to have something with reread value, both for its steaminess and its literary merit. Tropic of Cancer is both one of the best and one of the sexiest novels of the 20th century. 

Lady Chatterley’s Lover 

D. H. Lawrence

Another once-banned book that ends up near the top of any “Sexiest Books” list, we couldn’t leave this one out. Lady Chatterley has been heating up bedrooms since its publication in 1928.

Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure 

John Cleland 

An oldie but a goodie, this is perhaps the novel that started it all as far as sexy smut is concerned. First published in 1748 (and banned a year later), the ribald tale of a young girl’s sexual awakening is just as enjoyable as it was when it was written.


Playboy Social