“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”—Desiderius Erasmus
Before diving into the details of our “homestead reference library,” it seems only fair to set some parameters. We don’t want to give the impression that we’ve exhaustively researched before choosing the best sources of homestead-related information. We have not, in most cases. Instead, we pick up the majority of our resources second hand; the useful ones become trusted resources through use, the others languish on the shelves, or eventually get traded for better materials.
This post, then, is our disclaimer, if you will, identifying the qualifiers that should be referred to before taking our advice on these resources. Please also see our Website’s standard disclaimer.
It’s important to remember how we came to live on the “homestead.” We did not decide one day that we wanted a semi-remote, off-the-grid lifestyle, study toward it, then make the move. We gravitated toward the lifestyle through Michelle’s and my natural inclinations and a basic skill set formed over our lives to that point. Our original plan called for living aboard a home built sailboat, and only changed to a land-based life when the opportunity presented itself. We did not, in other words, start from square one. The books in our resource library accumulated for various other reasons, such as general interest in the topic, than out of a need for on-hand information. Some we’ve acquired specifically for the latter reason; I’ll try to differentiate between the two.
Many of the titles we rely on most are specific to our bioregion. Obviously, these will have little value to you unless you live in it yourself. If this isn’t the case, you’d want to find similar titles for your own area. Because we live in Southeast Alaska, there’s a definite emphasis on northern living, boating, and saltwater subsistence foods. There’s far less emphasis on more familiar homesteading topics, like raising livestock.
Since most of the books we own are second hand, many titles, or at least the specific editions we own, are out of print, hard to find, or outdated. Ironically, some of these would not be as valuable to us in updated editions. I’ll expand on this theme in future posts.
I have been sent homestead-relevant books to review from time to time. It makes sense to include these in the homestead reference library, but I want to point out that the fact that I’ve reviewed them on the blog does not mean they have found a place on our shelves. Those that do so will be noted. (If you’re a publisher or promoter hoping to have us review your materials, you’ll find more information here.)
I have also had reader suggestions, asking me to evaluate titles they’re considering. I’m reluctant to do that. My point here is to share the books that we’ve found valuable enough to own ourselves. If time allows after that, we’ll see.
I said earlier that I would try to categorize the books in a general way. I believe I’ve hit on 3 basic ones:
Philosophy or outlook: This includes essential information or strategies, such as frugality and financial planning, but quickly turns toward the inspirational.
Gardening, hunting, fishing, foraging: All the different aspects of subsistence living.
Cooking: Meals, and food preservation, and any other aspects of dealing with the category above.
Mechanics: How to do the physical tasks of the homestead, like sharpen blades, generate electricity, care for livestock, repair tools, and the like.
Survival: We live far more luxuriously than we might eventually need to, should some sort of societal upheaval occur. We are not living in bough shelters or chasing game with atlatls, but we do happen to have resources on those subjects! We’re not apocalyptic thinkers, but it’s kind of a low priority hobby of mine, and I have a few good books to prove it.
So, keeping all of this in mind, I hope the posts on this topic will be useful to you.