I have been asked in the past how I changed my life so drastically. Turning from a life in the city to that of the country. It didn’t happen over night, and it took many years of learning. I began my journey with gaining knowledge through reading. I am sometimes asked, “What book should I buy first?” That is such a difficult question to answer – it depends on many factors and causes me to consider such situations as:
- How much knowledge do you have on the subjects of Prepping?
- What specific subjects are you interested in learning?
- How far along are your preparations?
Over the years I have collected many books on subject that are within the realm of Survival, Prepping and self-sufficiency. I thought I might take the time to list some of the books which I own, provide a review on the subject matter, and make some recommendations. I also thought I would provide useful links to the websites selling the books, both to assist you to locate them and to provide an affiliate link (if one exists).
The first book is The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency, which I hghly recommend, the second one is The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition… a book which is not as impressive.
The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency – John Seymour
What can I say about the book which helped me to find my current place in life, to show me that there was a better way to live? Maybe I should start from where I first saw this book.
It was around 2004. I had been interested and actively pursuing Survival related subjects. Back then, the only sources of information I could find were crazy online forums. I started to cast my net wider, looking into topics which could be of use if I ever needed to survive. Gardening was an obvious place to start… being able to produce my own food would help in most situations. So each week I would visit book shops and look through their gardening and DIY sections… looking for anything which would help. It was during this time that I came across John Seymour’s book.
The book was filled with so much information I remember feeling light with excitement. He covered basic topics such as planting seeds, preparing soil, and how to grow certain produce. He also demonstrated how to use land of certain sizes (1/2 acre, 1 acre, 2 acres, etc.) with some of the most impressive artist interpretations of what could be. I spent the next few weeks reading the book, then re-reading it. I was soaking in the knowledge and I shared much of it with Kitty, who was also inspired by the book.
This book showed us that there was a better way to live, and that could be within our reach. After researching our options we decided we needed to move to Tasmania to realise our dreams.
If you want to be inspired I would highly recommend this book. It isn’t perfect… sometimes he doesn’t go into great detail on a topic and you will need to research more, yet it is enough to help steer you in the right directions. One example that comes to mind is the section on composting toilets. Seymour shows enough that, if in a pickle, you could make a functional toilet… yet it would be recommended to do further study on the topic if you wanted to do a better job.
The book is a newly updated volume which I believe was based on his original book “Self-Sufficiency” from 1976. This new version is how a book should updated. All material is new and current with almost wasted space on things which do not work in our current time (Encyclopaedia of Country Living – take note!)
So, if you are starting out on the road to Prepping, self sufficiency and doing it all yourself, I would tell you to do yourself a favour and start with this book.
I am not really a fan of this book, which is something I am very straight forward about, and this makes my recommendation of this book unusual. I bought it fairly recently, after reading many Preppers who I admire made recommendations that this is the bible of Prepping. The book was originally written in the 1960s, and it shows. The book is half full of useful information on gardening and country living (which is why I recommend it), the other half (depending on which version you have) are lists of websites, postal mail addresses and phone numbers to contact if you want to know more about a topic. The first part of the book (which contains the contact information) feels like a relic from the past… it should be axed to make the tomb half the size. It also contains various updates on information that was contained in previous volumes (such as one section which prints a letter from a reader who corrected the author on a subject, then the author provides her response to the correction. It is similar to an online forum in some ways). This book even covers topics such as “Making Management”, where you are treated to such perceptive advice as, find something people will pay you for, start doing that for money. The section on “How to pinch a penny” advises, “Write what you need on a list, and then watch and wait. You probably don’t need it all anyway.” I am not even joking about how basic the advice can be in this book.
In case you haven’t picked it up yet, I have a bit of a hate/like relationship with this book. I feel cheated by having been talked into buying this book, which has had the positive outcome of prompting me to take more care when buying books that others have been recommended to me. Various preppers (such as Jack Spirko and Rawles) tout this book as the be all/end all of Self-sufficiency books. When I bought it I found it to be a waste of money… yet that was because I had so many other books which covered the same topics in a much better manner. I recommend this book if you are new to gardening, Survival, Prepping and self-sufficiency… If you are an experienced gardener or you already own books on the subjects, I would tell you to stay away from this relic.
If you would like to see more reviews, please check the Library page, or stay turned for more reviews in the future.