10 Books To Help Get You Through Your 'Walking Dead' Withdrawal

The Walking Dead Season 5 has come to an end. What are we to do, post-post-apocalypse? On one hand, I feel tremendous relief that my zombie-induced anxiety will calm down for a few months and I can spend my time thinking of new and exciting things to worry about for a while. On the other hand, I miss Rick and the gang like crazy when they’re not on my TV. I even miss my zombie-stress.

The Walking Dead is our favorite not only because the characters are so compelling (not you, Tara), but because it’s a show that doesn’t ever really end for the viewer. Sunday nights go late as we watch not only the show, but the show that unpacks the show, and then me and my husband spend an hour whisper-arguing in bed about both the show-show and the after-show. How does a moaning, groaning, shuffling zombie constantly sneak up on you? Why do they never travel on bicycles? Will Carl get some before Rick does?

But just in case you fear we’ll have nothing to talk about at dinner parties until season six starts next year, I’ve come up with a list of post-apocalyptic stories to get you through. They’ll help you keep your TWD withdrawal levels low, and your survival skills sharp. Sorry about the nightmares.

The Stand by Stephen King

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The only novel in this list to predate even the TWD comics, King’s post-plague world set the stage for the contemporary genre. Some will still argue that he did it best.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

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I think this book feels most The Walking Dead-ish, with the largest overlap of archetypal characters. Still, there’s enough new stuff here to forgive the derivation, and it has a good time playing with the reader’s emotions.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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If you ever wondered what would happen to the artist-types in the event of a planet-wide catastrophe, this book will offer some of those hypotheticals. Sure, they may not be able to get the power stations to work, but there will be no dearth of Shakespeare at the end of the world.

World War Z by Max Brooks

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The closest similarity between Max Brooks’s book and the movie of the same name is also the thing that propels this written history of a undead plague into the scariest of all the post-apocalyptic scenarios: fast zombies.

The Martian by Andy Weir

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Is there anything more post-apocalyptic than being the only human on an entire planet? Weir’s debut is like scary NASA fan-fiction, and makes me think I should learn how to filter the moisture in the air into potable drinking water. Just in case.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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This book is sparse — from the setting, to the dialogue, to the descriptions — but manages to evoke the scariest, most nightmare-inducing post-apocalyptic world you’ll ever read about. It’s The Walking Dead without the zombies.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

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Oryx and Crake , the first of Atwood’s MaddAddam dystopia trilogy, reads like that saying about falling in love — how does the earth become a desolate, capitalist, plague-stricken horror? Slowly, and then all at once.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

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A little bit of satire is good for the genre, because not every zombie book has to give us nightmares. And this book will do double-duty, satisfying your need for both a TWD and a Jane Austen fix.

Crisis Preparedness Handbook by Jack A. Spigarelli

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A very practical guide to surviving an apocalypse and its aftermath, this is definitely one for the breakout bag. Also, this book will explain what a breakout bag is, and why this book should be in it.

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss

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Yes, the author of The Game has moved on to more serious issues, and wants to help us live through anything that could permanently paralyze society. (And by society, he means, America.) This book is handy because Strauss knows it may not be zombies that do us in. Be prepared.

Images: Gene Page/AMC; Giphy