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A literary how-to guide to survival

The dos and don'ts of a post-apocalyptic life

December 20, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST

With the demise of the earth unfolding around you, uncertainties might arise about how to lead your new life. Not to worry. Vox compiled a survival guide from the collective guesswork of authors based on their fictitious novels about a post-apocalyptic world. We’re sure you will find it immensely helpful, assuming the apocalypse isn’t a zombie- induced one — these reads were written before zombies became cool again. Photos courtesy of

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

DO concoct travel games to distract yourself from the thought of your imminent demise. Avoid foul moods and depression with rousing games of “Spot the Un-looted Bunker.” You might gain back some hope for the future.

DON'T resort to cannibalism. Instead, learn to forage for food, and consider a few recipes that don’t require human flesh.

The Last Man by Mary Shelley

DO keep a sturdy boat on hand to hold at least four people. Fleeing the country is easier if you have a reliable mode of transportation, but be sure to inspect it thoroughly before setting sail. If the boat sinks and you’re the last human on Earth, please make a good go of it for the rest of us.

DON'T blame yourself for the all-consuming plague ravaging your country and killing your friends and family. Even if it’s your fault, it’s a little late for do-overs at this point.

The Stand by stephen King

DO pick your friends carefully. With 99 percent of the population now dead, it might seem choosy, but maintain your standards. For survival’s sake, beware of the maniacal man with superpowers and a twisted sense of humor. You’re better than that.

DON'T forget to get your flu shot. You never know just how handy it could be.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

DO pillage grocery stores, vending machines, homes, ballparks and Italian restaurants for nourishment. Only drink bottled liquids, which are vital when surviving unexpected natural disasters and living on a frozen tundra.

DON'T join a cult because they don’t have high success rates. Also, don’t befriend those who carry around giant hooks as weapons. Be honest. How far can that friendship really go?

Good omens: the Nice and accurate Prophecies of agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and terry Pratchett

DO learn to laugh at how awful your life really is. With the 11-year-old Antichrist living nearby and the end of times just around the corner, it couldn’t get much worse.

DON'T forget that nature can trump nurture. Sometimes children are destined to be evil regardless of how you raise them. Don’t blame yourself; you probably weren’t as terrible a parent as you thought.

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