Books for Fans of The Last of Us

Whether you found its story through the video game or got introduced via the television series, there’s no denying that The Last of Us is an epic post-apocalyptic drama with fungus taking the main stage. Cordyceps have mutated and can infect the brains of humans forcing them to become zombie-like hosts. It seems like there may be no cure in sight until we meet Joel and Ellie—a middle-aged man haunted by his past and an immune teenage girl. They find themselves forced to become a team while they journey across the United States with the hopes that Ellie could be the answer to a cure.

It’s been weeks since the jaw-dropping finale. If you’re missing the drama, that slight uptick in blood pressure and an elevated heart rate from all the chaos, I’ve got some book recommendations for you!

Many fans of The Last of Us (both the video game and the TV show) have often argued that elements of the storyline draw inspiration from The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This book takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States. A man and his son decide to travel down a road with no goal other than to survive. While there aren’t any deadly cordyceps in this book, the people in this story are more terrifying than any kind of monster. This book was adapted for the big screen in 2009. You can check out The Road movie too!

On the topic of roads, imagine waking up to your loved one sleepwalking. You can’t wake them up and they won’t speak. They begin walking in the direction of an unknown destination with a herd of other sleepwalkers from across the country. In Wanderers by Chuck Wendig, no one knows what’s happening to these mysterious sleepwalkers, but this seems to become a bigger problem when a violent militia plan to exterminate them. Those who are awake have no choice but to follow the herd of their loved ones to an unknown destination in hopes they can protect them from the dangers that are ahead.  

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. When a soldier rushes to the bedside of a dying old friend, things are not what they seem. Upon their arrival, they find a myriad of fungus growing all over the home, a creepy lake and zombie animal sightings accompanied by strange occurrences. To say there are many moving parts to this book would be an understatement. If you have a love for modernized gothic literature and fungus, this one is for you.

The idea of mind-controlling cordyceps can be anxiety inducing, so here’s a book to learn about how fascinating fungus is!  Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake talks about the science behind fungus and how they help us maintain so many types of ecosystems. Aside from eating types of fungus in cuisine, we can thank fungus for the finer things in life like beer and modern medicine. In this book, you’ll find that not all fungus is scary and that several kinds of fungus are foundational to parts of our everyday lives.

What will you be reading while you wait for the next season?