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Staff Picks - Survival Stories (Fiction & Non-Fiction)

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The Unthinkable (155.935)
by Amanda Ridley
Offers a glimpse at disasters and their aftermath, describing the three stages of disaster response, how we react--or do not react--in moments of catastrophe, and how we can train ourselves and other victims to survive in the event of a disaster. 

The Road to Jonestown (289.9 JONES)
by Jeff Guinn
A portrait of the cult leader behind the Jonestown Massacre examines his personal life, from his extramarital affairs and drug use to his fraudulent faith healing practices & his decision to move his followers to Guyana, sharing new details about the events leading to the 1978 tragedy, with interviews with survivors.

Trapped Under the Sea (363.11962 S976)
by Neil Swidey
Documents the disastrous 1990s mission during which two members of a five-man diving team were killed while completing construction on a ten-mile tunnel at the end of Boston's Deer Island waste treatment plant.

Deep Down Dark (363.11962 T628)
by Hector Toball
Relates the experiences of the thirty-three men who endured entrapment beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days during the San José mine collapse outside of Copiapó, Chile, in August 2010.

Into the Abyss (363.124 S524)
by Carol Shaben
Four men, including the author's politician father, the pilot, a cop, and a handcuffed criminal, fight to stay alive in the Alberta wilderness after surviving a commuter plane crash that killed six others.

Facing the Wave (363.3494 E338)
by Gretel Ehrlich
Gretel Ehrlich felt compelled to return to the earthquake-and-tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast to bear witness, listen to survivors, and experience their terror and exhilaration in villages and towns where all shelter and hope seemed lost.

The Red Bandanna (363.37 CROWTHER)
by Tom Rinaldi
The inspirational story of the iconic September 11 hero traces his faith-based life outlook, his decision to walk away from more lucrative career interests to volunteer as a FDNY firefighter and the accounts of survivors who revealed how he sacrificed his life to save people trapped in the South Tower.

Great is the Truth (364.15309 K154)
by Amos Kamil
A shocking true account of the decades-long pattern of sexual abuse by teachers at one of America's most prestigious schools relates how the survivors emerged and petitioned for redress with the aid of celebrity lawyers to prevent it from recurring.

Finding Me (364.15409 K711)
by Michelle Knight
Describes the details of the abduction and decade-long captivity of one of the three survivors of notorious Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, and how she found the courage to endure unimaginable circumstances and never lose hope for the future.

Escape from Camp 14 (364.45092 S556)
by Blaine Harden
Presents a dramatic account by one of the few survivors born in North Korea's infamous political prison camps, describing the brutal conditions he was forced to endure as a child, his witnessing of his family's executions, and his final, harrowing escape.

Be a Hero! (613.69)
by John Geddes
Former Special Air Service terror expert John Geddes will explain how to cope with a life-threatening event. He shows you how to make clear decisions and beat the odds in an active shooter situation.

Deep Survival (613.69)
by Laurence Gonzales
An analysis of the science and psychology of wilderness survival examines case stories of people who have survived against the odds--or failed to survive despite comparatively better resources.

Wild by Nature (613.69 MARQUIS)
by Sarah Marquis
Using her wits and skills as a hunter to get by, the author describes her solo ten-thousand-mile trek across the Gobi Desert where she encountered mafiosos, drug dealers, thieves on horseback, temperature extremes, dehydration, and illness.

The Complete Survival Manual (613.69)
by Michael S. Sweeney
Provides survival information from the American Red Cross, U.S. Army, Boy Scouts of America, and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. Covers preparation, shelter, food, water, fire, navigation, signaling, hazards and first aid in various environments.

Wild: Stories of Survival from the World’s Most Dangerous Places (613.69)
A collection of survival stories from some of the most hostile places on earth.

I Can’t Get Over It (616.8521)
by Aphrodite Matsakis
Discusses the causes and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, tells how to identify situations that trigger attacks, and offers advice on recovering from rape, domestic violence, natural disasters, vehicular accidents, and combat experiences.

Alone (910.452 F249)
by Richard D. Logan
Co-authored by a survival expert, this book delves into the details of how a little girl survived the at-sea murder of her family; the pod of whales who guarded her; and the aftermath and the recapturing of life.

The Gathering Wind (910.91634 F85)
by Gregory A. Freeman
In October 2012, a replica of the famous HMS Bounty was on a collision course with a storm that would become the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic, a clash that would prove tragic, & 1 of the most unforgettable stories of Superstorm Sandy.

A Storm Too Soon (910.91634 T722)
by Mike Tougias
Presents the story of three men shipwrecked during a storm in the Gulf Stream and the four men on a Coast Guard helicopter who rescued them, as survivors and rescuers battle monster waves and perilous wind conditions.

Shadow of the Titanic (910.91634)
by Andrew Wilson
Offers insight into how the tragedy affected its survivors, drawing on research and interviews with family members to explore how some propelled themselves to fame while others were devastated by survivor guilt.

In the Heart of the Sea (910.9164)
by Nathaniel Philbrick
Recounts the story of the 1820 wreck of the whaleship Essex, which in its time was as mythic as the sinking of the Titanic and which inspired Melville's classic Moby Dick and recounts its doomed crew's ninety-day attempt to survive whale attacks and the elements on three tiny lifeboats.

Ten Degrees of Reckoning (910.91647)
by Hester Rumberg
Recounts the inspirational survival story of Judith Sleavin, who survived a sailboat accident that killed the rest of her family and rendered her paralyzed and subject to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas (910.91673 L675)
by Matt Lewis
A storm begins to brew. When the captain vanishes and they are forced to abandon ship, Lewis leads the escape onto three life rafts, where the battle for survival begins.

Alone in Antarctica (919.8904 A856)
by Felicity Aston
A physicist and meteorologist discusses her two-month journey across Antarctica on cross country skis, making her the 1st woman--and only the 3rd person in history--to ski across the entire continent alone.

Let Me Tell You a Story (940.5318 C167)
by Renata Calverley
In June of 1942 in Przemysl, Poland, 6-year-old Renatka, utterly alone after her mother and grandmother do not return from their shifts at the factory, is passed from place to place where stories become her salvation and she must rely on the kindness of strangers to escape the Nazis.

Clara’s War (940.5318 K894)
by Clara Kramer
An account based on the author's personal record of the months during which she hid from Nazis in an underground bunker with seventeen others discusses the characteristics of their unlikely protector and the house fire that threatened everyone's survival.

Grace in the Wilderness (940.5318 S571)
by Aranka Siegal
Liberated from a German concentration camp at the end of World War II but haunted by the memory of her ordeal, fifteen-year-old Piri starts a strange new life as a Jew in Sweden.

81 Days Below Zero (940.54497 C891)
by Brian Murphy
Documents the story of the only surviving crew member of a World War II B-24 crash on a remote mountain near the Arctic Circle, tracing how his determination and luck enabled him to endure twelve weeks in the Yukon's brutal landscape.

Left for Dead (940.54597)
by Peter Nelson
Recalls the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis at the end of World War II, the navy cover-up and unfair court martial of the ship's captain, and how a young boy helped the survivors set the record straight fifty-five years later.

Bataan: A Survivor’s Story (940.54725 B793)
by Gene Boyt
Boyt’s story details the infamous Bataan Death March and his subsequent 42 months in Japanese internment camps. In this fast-paced narrative, Boyt’s voice conveys the quiet courage of the generation of men who fought and won history’s greatest armed conflict.

Lost in Shangri-La (940.548)
by Mitchell Zuckoff
The exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S. military personnel into the jungle-clad land of New Guinea.

Three Minutes in Poland (947.79 K969)
by Glenn Kurtz
Traces the author's research to find the survivors of Nasielsk, Poland after finding a film made by his grandfather just before the town was destroyed by the Nazis.

The Translator (962.4043 H281)
by Daoud Hari
A young Zaghawa tribesman from the Darfur region of the Sudan describes his escape from the attack that destroyed his village, his struggle for survival, his role as a translator and the dangers he confronted, his ultimate capture, and his new life.

The Stranger in the Woods (974.122 KNIGHT)
by Michael Finkel
Documents the true story of a man who endured a hardscrabble, isolated existence in a tent in the Maine woods, never speaking with others and surviving by stealing supplies from nearby cabins, for 27 years, in a portrait that illuminates the survival means he developed & the reasons behind his solitary life.

Ordeal by Hunger (979.4)
by George R. Stewart
The story of the Donner Party, with a supplement and account by three survivors.

The Alaskan Retreater’s Notebook: One man’s Journey into the Alaskan Wilderness (979.805 ORDORICA)
In the fall of 1978 Ray Ordorica packed everything he thought he would need into his Toyota Land Cruiser and drove north to Alaska. He came to a land he had never seen, to find something he wasn't even sure existed: a wilderness cabin he could use for a year or more to live, think, relax, read, and write.

Frozen in Time (998.2 Z943)
by Mitchell Zuckoff
In Nov. 1942 a U.S. cargo plane crashed into the Greenland ice cap, the B-17 sent on the search-and-rescue mission got caught in a storm and also crashed, miraculously all nine men aboard survived. A second rescue operation was launched, but the plane, the Grumman Duck, flew into a storm and vanished. The survivors of the B-17 spent 148 days fighting to stay alive.

All titles found in the fiction section listed alphabetically by author unless otherwise indicated.

The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood
When a natural disaster predicted by God's Gardeners leader Adam One obliterates most human life, two survivors trapped inside establishments that metaphorically represent paradise and hell wonder if any of their loved ones have survived.

A Country Road, a Tree
by Jo Baker
Journeying from his home in neutral Ireland to conflict-ridden Paris when war breaks out in 1939, an unknown Samuel Beckett forges a deep bond with James Joyce and other luminaries while secretly working for the French Resistance and outmaneuvering the Gestapo.

by Pat Barker
Ambulance driver Elinor Brooke races through Blitz-torn London to save lives while reflecting on how the war has shattered the dreams and bonds of her generation. 

by Greg Bear
A starship hurtles through the emptiness of space, its destination unknown and its purpose a mystery. One man wakes up wet, naked, and freezing. The dark halls are full of monsters but trusting others he meets might be the greater danger.

Keep Calm (MYSTERY)
by Mike Binder
Present at a bombing that injures the prime minister of England, a former Michigan police detective, Adam Tatum, must survive long enough to work to uncover the culprits who seem determined to pin the attack squarely on his shoulders.

Armageddon’s Children (SCIENCE FICTION)
by Terry Brooks
In a futuristic world in which civilization is near total collapse, evil forces control the ruins of the former United States, killing and enslaving the survivors, until Logan Tom embarks on a mission to find a child who bears a powerful magic that could save the world.

Puppet Master
by Dale Brown
Louis Massina is revolutionizing the field of robotics. His technological wonders are capable of locating disaster survivors, preventing nuclear meltdowns, and replacing missing limbs. After one of Massina's creations makes a miraculous rescue, an FBI agent recruits him to pursue criminals running a massive financial scam.

The Painted Girls
by Cathy Marie Buchanan
In belle époque Paris, the Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts young Marie's ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.

After the Crash
by Michel Bussi
A night flight plummets into the Swiss Alps. The sole survivor is a three-month-old girl--thrown from the plane onto the snowy mountainside. But two infants were on board. Is the miracle baby Lyse-Rose or Emilie? Both families step forward to claim the child--one poor, one powerful, wealthy, and dangerous.

At the Edge of the Orchard
by Tracy Chevalier
James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838. As swamp fever gradually picks off their children and they wrestle daily with survival.

The Infernals
by John Connolly
Targeted by a demon for his role in foiling an invasion of Earth by the forces of evil, Samuel Johnson and his faithful dachshund are transported into a dark realm, where he struggles for survival with the aid of the loyal demon Nurd and a marooned band of little men.

by Justin Cronin
Survivors of a government-induced apocalypse endure their violent and disease-stricken world while protecting their loved ones; while a century into the future, members of a transformed society determinedly search for the original twelve virals.

Day After Night
by Anita Diamant
Four young women haunted by unspeakable memories and losses, afraid to begin to hope, find salvation in the bonds of friendship and shared experience even as they confront the challenge of re-creating themselves in a strange new country. Based on the true story of the October 1945 rescue of more than 200 Jewish prisoners from the Atlit internment camp outside Haifa.

After Disasters
by Viet Dinh
Recounts the experiences of four rescue workers who put their lives at risk to save others after a life-shattering earthquake in India.

The Wonder
by Emma Donoghue
Tourists flock to the cabin of 11-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who is said to be living without food, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl. As Anna's life ebbs away, Lib finds herself responsible for that child's very survival.

Life After
by Katie Ganshert
After she is the only one to survive a bomb that kills 22 people, Autumn Manning struggles with guilt as her path crosses that of Paul Elliott, who lost his wife in the bombing and is mourning with his children.

The Survivors Club
by Lisa Gardner
Struggling to cope with the violent brutality of a rapist's actions & its consequences, three women find themselves prime suspects when he is murdered on his way to trial.

The Confessions of Young Nero
by Margaret George
Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead. While Nero idealizes the principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome.

Last to Die (MYSTERY)
by Tess Gerritsen
Visiting 16-year-old "Rat" Perkins at isolated Evenson boarding school, Maura Isles is astonished to learn that all of his classmates are survivors of violence and are being instructed in scientific detective skills.

The Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
A group of English school boys are left stranded on an unpopulated island & must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own nature.        

by David Lynn Golemon
When an unidentified craft crashes, leaving two survivors--one, a being sent to assist humankind, and the other, whose goal is the total extinction of life on Earth--Major Jack Collins and the top-secret Event Group must stop the "Destroyer of Worlds."

Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley
The stories of ten wealthy victims of a boat sinking intertwine with those of a down-on-his-luck painter and a four-year-old boy, the tragedy's only survivors.

Breaking Point
by Dana Haynes
When mercenary uses banned technological weapons to crash a small airplane as a warning to potential whistleblowers, an ensuing cat-and-mouse chase ensnares three strategically important survivors in a complicated international web.

The Dog Stars
by Peter Heller
Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.

Silent Creed (MYSTERY)
by Alex Kava
Racing to North Carolina with his best search-and-rescue dog in the aftermath of a devastating mudslide, Ryder Creed is rescued from a second slide only to uncover evidence of a possible serial killer.

by Stephen King
After a virus kills most of the people in the world, a handful of survivors choose sides-- a world of good led by 108-year-old Mother Abigail-- or evil led by a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

The Moor’s Account
by Laila Lalami
Inspired by a true story, tells how Moroccan slave Estebanico barely survives his expedition to become the New World's first explorer of African descent, dealing with storms, disease, and hostile natives.

One of the Boys
by Daniel Magariel
Two young brothers band together to protect each other from the father they once trusted but is now physically and psychologically abusive in this story of survival.

The Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
Possessing encyclopedia-like intelligence, unusual zookeeper's son Pi Patel sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
In a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

Chasing the North Star
by Robert Morgan
Fleeing the South Carolina plantation where he has spent his entire life, eighteen-year-old slave Jonah Williams uses the stars to escape to the North and is pursued by both slave hunters and a free-spirited fellow slave who believes Jonah can help her secure her own freedom.

The Turnaround
by George Pelecanos
35 years after a devastating accident that irrevocably shapes the lives of six people, a pair of redemption-seeking survivors reaches out to 1 another in an effort compromised by a fellow survivor's release from prison.

The Lifeboat
by Charlotte Rogan
Forced into an overcrowded lifeboat after a mysterious explosion on their trans-Atlantic ocean liner, newly widowed Grace Winter battles the elements & her fellow survivors and remembers her husband, Henry, who set his own safety aside to ensure Grace's.

The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie
Gibreel Farishta, India's legendary movie star, & Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices, fall earthward from a bombed jet toward the sea, singing rival verses in an eternal wrestling match between good and evil.

The Song Remains the Same
by Allison Winn Scotch
Waking up in the hospital as one of two survivors of a horrifying plane crash, Nell struggles to recover from her ensuing amnesia with the help of family, friends, and memory-jogging music before realizing that the stories she is being told do not feel accurate.

Sophie’s Choice
by William Styron
As the fierce lovemaking & fights of Nathan, a paranoid Jewish intellectual, and Sophie, a Polish-Catholic concentration-camp survivor, intensify, Stingo, a writer who lives below them in a cheap rooming house, becomes more and more involved in their lives.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
Taken in by a wealthy family friend after surviving an accident that killed his mother, thirteen-year-old Theo Decker tries to adjust to life on Park Avenue.

End of the World Running Club (SCIENCE FICTION)
by Adrian J. Walker
Follows the experiences of a man stranded on the wrong side of the country who pushes his limits to traverse more than five hundred miles of devastated wasteland to return to his family.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Set in the period between the world wars, this novel tells of two sisters, their trials and their survival.

When the English Fall (SCIENCE FICTION)
by David Williams
A tale told through the diary of an Amish farmer recounts his struggles to protect his family & way of life when a catastrophic solar storm decimates modern civilization, causing "English" outsiders to violently target the Amish for their resources.