The first would be Cosmos, by Carl Sagan. Written by a man with a passion for knowledge, his words impart some of that passion to the reader as he fills our minds with the wonder of what he has learned. Instead of sating my desire for knowledge about the cosmos, it made me hunger for more. I would give that gift to those who came after, so that they might continue to search for the truth and not be content to let others think for them.
The second would be Nation, by Terry Pratchett. For those not familiar, it is a work of fiction set in an alternate reality where a tsunami destroys ‘life as we know it’ for a small group of people scattered across several islands. Cut off from the rest of the world for a period of time, the survivors are drawn together and society begins to reform, led by a girl and a boy who can’t understand a word each other is saying. They make mistakes, they have misunderstandings, but the underlying theme is that they learn from each other and eventually come to see what really matters. It is a story of hope for humanity, of shedding prejudice and starting anew, and of our natural capacity for good. In the dark days after an apocalyptic event, people are going to need hope.
The last one would be Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, because above all else, those survivors are going to need to be able to laugh; at themselves, at those who went before and everything else under the sun. They’re also going to need an imagination and this is a perfect example of where imagination can take us.
So, what are the three books you would save from the apocalypse, if you could, and why?