I love books. I can’t get enough of books. They inspire me to try new things and guide me as I try to acquire new (or improve old) skills. You can never go wrong giving a book. Here are a few of my favorites, the kind I think every home should have: lot of detail, just enough to give you an idea of what’s required and how to get started.
I’m not big on doomsday or fear-based preparedness. I think we simply need to be aware that there are potential crises we should be prepared for and plan accordingly. But there is a very real threat of regional or nation-wide disasters. Emmy-award winning journalist Ted Koppel has recently published a book that everyone should read. Lights Out is an eye-opening expose on how vulnerable our power grid is and what we need to do to prepare.
Last year I had some Amazon ebook credits and got 77 Days in September by Ray Gorham in ebook format for $1. It is a great fictionalized account of what might happen if our nation’s power grid were to go down. It gives some good insight into the emotional and social preparations we should be considering. For several days after reading this book, my mind was a-swirl with ideas of what our family should be doing to better prepare. The author has written a sequel to the book, The Daunting Days of Winter that is also a good read, especially if you want to know what happens next to the protagonist.
A Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide gets lots of good reviews and is filled with just about everything you need to know to be ready for just about any disaster. This is not a book for those expecting short power-outages or limited flooding, but disasters that can be life-threatening and long-term disruption for entire communities or regions.ted.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to read about Square Foot Gardening and All New Square Foot Gardening is the best place to start. Even if you don’t do SFG, there are so many good ideas in this book for making your gardeng space and energy more productive, you’ll be glad you have this book.
During one of my browsing sessions, Amazon suggested I get Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. So I took their advise and bought the book.
Best. Recommendation. Ever. This book is crammed with great information and lots of good ideas. Even if you don’t want to homestead or live completely self-sufficient, this book will still be lots of help even if you only implement a few of the ideas.
I’ve really enjoyed reading Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock. This book has inspired me to try winter gardening here and so far, it’s been kind of successful. ( Although they aren’t producing a lot, my plants are surviving.)s, so it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, just enough to give you an idea of what’s required and how to get started.
Grow Your Own Drugs got me thinking about growing herbs with the goal of having a well-stocked herbal medicine chest. The author is the star of a very popular how-to show in Great Britain. The book is colorful, well-illustrated and very informative. I’d say this is the first book to get started on growing medicinal herbs.
But once you get started in growing medicinal herbs, you’ll want to get Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide. It will take you to whole new level of using medicinal herbs. Filled with great, in-depth information.
While I grow medicinal herbs in my garden, my favorite thing is to create beauty products using herbs and other natural ingredients. Organic Body Care Recipes is my absolute favorite book on the topic. It has 175 recipes for everything you might want to make: lotion, balm, after-shave, hair conditioner and more. I’ve used it so much, I have sticky-notes throughout and lots of notes in the margins. so it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, just enough to give you an idea of what’s required and how to get started.
If you can only get one book on preserving food, Stocking Up is it. This book should be on the bookshelf of every person who wants to eat their garden produce year round. It’s been a dependable reference guide for me for over 20 years. It gives information on just about every kind of food preservation, for fruits, vegetables, grain and meat. Since it covers such a broad spectrum on the topic it doesn’t go into a whole lot of detail, just enough to get you started and let you know if this is something you can do. If you want more detailed information on a topic (such as root cellars) you’ll have to get a book that deals with just that one topic.
I thought I knew everything (or at least most everything) about canning. And then I got Canning for a New Generation. This book is inspiring! Filled with dozens of new recipes and new twists on old favorites, you’ll never be bored with canning again.
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning will make you look at food preservation in a whole new light. This book teaches the centuries-old traditional methods of food preservation such as curing or brining with salt, preserving in oil, drying, cold storage and lactic fermentation. Since coming across this book I have dramatically reduced the amount of food I can or freeze. I now use the techniques in this book for at least half of my garden produce.
Dehydrating is one of the methods recommended in the previous book (Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning..) and Mary Bell’s Comp Dehydrator Cookbook is the best all-around how-to book on the topic. The book is arranged alphabetically by food. It has lots of basic how-to as well as helpful hints and creative ways use dried food (including recipes.) If there’s only one book you get on dehydrating food, this should be it.
Let’s start with bread making. I think bread-making should be your Number One skill to know. (OK, maybe Number Two, after gardening.) Do you want to make the best bread? You really need The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens. This book goes into more detail than you thought possible about the science of bread making–what makes a loaf of bread tender and fluffy or dry and crumbly, how to have a crust that is crispy crust or soft and chewy. Honestly, after reading this book, there will be no more mystery about what makes a good loaf of bread.
There are so many skills that can make you self-reliant and Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance covers just about every one of them. Again, like the Stocking Up book, this cover a broad range of topics, so it doesn’t go into a lot of detail, just enough to give you an idea of what’s required and how to get started.
During the cold winter months, there’s not a whole awful lot we can do towards building our food storage. But reading books and gaining more knowledge is an excellent winter-time activity.
What books are on your shelf? What have you found particularly helpful?