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As we’ve waded into the world of homesteading, we’ve gotten a lot out of YouTube videos and blogs. But above all of those things the most important resources we’ve had?
A few weeks ago, I got an email from one of you in our Accidental Hippies community asking:
”Emily- do you have recommendations on reading material? There are so many books but none at the local book store and only 2 at the local library. So it is hard to gauge the good books.”
I started digging through our shelves to pull out the best books we’ve received over the years. Many were given to us as gifts. A few we acquired on our own. Some of them were not all they were cracked up to be and yet others have gotten worn down from years of use. Often, the worn-out books are the ones that we take out to the garden with us. Others bummed around in our truck going to and from the building site while we were building our cordwood home.
I gathered up all of our favorite books that we actually own and use and put them into this round-up post.
If you’re looking for some new reading material OR want to give some great books to friends and family this Christmas, you’ll want to check this out.
Many thanks to Larry B. for this post idea!
As an aside, you are certainly free to see some of these via Kindle, but I love real paper books to take out to the garden with me or to prop open while we’re working on a project.
Our All-Time Favorite Books for Homesteaders
This is a HUGE resource that covers so many beautiful aspects of country living in a practical and relatable way. This is the quintessential book for beginning homesteaders.
The Foxfire series is well-regarded in the homesteading community. Foxfire itself is a nationally-recognized heritage preservation organization whose mission is to “preserve the diverse traditions of Southern Appalachia and advance the understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage through public programs, publications, and learner-centered education.”
These two books are two HUGE compendiums of basically anything you’d want to know about rural living from composting and power generation to home repair. Both are especially helpful if you weren’t raised in that kind of setting since they provide a sort of quick-reference. The Storey’s book feels a bit more accessible and easy to read if you’re coming at this life as a total beginner, though both are excellent and cover a wide range of practical issues. You can apply most of the tips even if you AREN’T living a rural life yet.
This is a book my mother-in-law treasured for years as she raised her family. She searched for copies to gift each of us “daughters” when we got married as she felt strongly about us starting our families in a natural, back-to-our-roots sort of way. This book is full of practical and wholesome tips on nutrition, recipes, food preservation, homemaking, and more.
This is one of the first books we ever got on homesteading, way back when we were living in a little house in town, and I still reference it to this day. Though we live on 16 acres, we only have 1-2 acres that aren’t wooded. This little book gives practical advice on creating good homestead layouts, organization, gardening, harvesting, and more. It is easy to digest and reference. The other books in this collection are also well worth a look, though I confess we don’t own them.
- The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner
- The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Animals
- The Backyard Homestead Building Projects
- The Backyard Homestead Kitchen Know-How
This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite books on gardening for busy homesteaders. Amy uses permaculture principles to help busy people maximize the space they have to grow wholesome food in a way that blends with the landscape. This is a book I wish I’d had when we were living on a postage stamp in town, but I still find it super valuable for developing the acreage around our home. Her deep knowledge of individual plants, how they interact, and how they can work within a landscape is invaluable to anyone who wants to think outside of the gardening box.
We explored the possibility of timber framing our home for a while and used this book to begin our research. We ended up doing a more traditional post-and-beam frame without the classic joinery but this book is a wealth of knowledge and ideas nonetheless.
This is one of our favorite books for exploring the various natural building styles. The authors demonstrate cordwood, strawbale, cob, and modified stick framing all within one test building with beautiful results. This book is worth it for the gorgeous photos alone!
As cordwood builders, this is one of the best books in our arsenal. We often kept it on the building site and even lent it to our building inspector when we were in the process of getting our permit.
This book gives you a detailed, comprehensive look at what it takes to build with cordwood. It has loads of helpful diagrams, tables, and charts that give you practical advice you can use throughout your build.
If you’re going to build with cordwood, Richard Flatau and Rob Roy are the two leading experts on the subject with decades of professional experience. I highly recommend to anyone serious about it to dive into their full offerings here and here.
Last Christmas, my mother-in-law gifted me a new pressure canner and along with it gave me this book. As a rookie, I found it to be simple to understand, thorough, and it made the process seem much less intimidating. Ball is a trusted name in home canning and this book is a must-have if you’re a rookie canner or helping someone else get started.
Loads of information, particularly about gardening. We have a slightly older edition of this book, and a large portion of it is dedicated to detailing the different types of fruit, vegetables, herbs, grains, cover crops, and more that you may cultivate on your homestead. There’s also some nice info at the end about self-sufficient ways to heat your home, for example, using passive solar principles. This book was valuable for us in our “homestead dreamer” phase and now that we have real plants and fruit trees in the ground, I can tell that it will circle back to being a staple book for helping us care for them.
My own mom gifted me this book the Christmas before we moved into our cordwood house. At the time, I was just discovering permaculture practices and she’d stumbled upon this book for me. It has gorgeous photos and instructions for creating all manner of wonderful permaculture staples from food forests to herb spirals. We’re in a phase now where we’ve transitioned out of “construction” on our homestead and are working to cultivate the land around it, so this book is absolutely fantastic inspiration.