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 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.
Back to Basics is a Self Sufficiency book done right. While it is targeted at being about getting back to basics (which could be argued is partially the goal of being self-sufficient), it has such a wealth of information that it should give you a foundation to build upon. The book starts with finding the right piece of land on which to design your life style. It explains how to read a map and what to be conscious of when examining property. This is a great addition to those people who are new to the topic and I believe it is an important addition.
The land section is closely followed by the home section… and this is a basic, yet very welcome read. The instructions for building a log cabin and adobe house are provided in very simple instructions, so someone could (with some experience or tenacity) recreate the plans for shelter. I think that the knowledge developed from these pages alone make the book worth owning, with many useful diagrams and tips that make me feel that I could build my own cabin.
The sections on gardening are light on content, yet I believe this to be an attractive point about the book. It provides a very basic introduction to produce, yet trusts that there are other (better targeted) sources for that information. This is something that impressed me greatly… yes, gardening is a very important part of getting “back to basics”, yet without spending hundreds of pages on the topic, they could not really do it any justice. I respected the editors decision to provide the basics on the topic of gardening and trust the reader to find more in depth information elsewhere. The pages covering preserving your produce were a much better presented topic than the other book made by this company, Homesteading. The instructions here are very simple, yet they are able to be done without complicated equipment. They really took the “basic” part of the title to heart here and I really appreciate it.
Waste management and the collection of water are some of the most basic requirements of our life, and this book covers those topics. Instructions are provided on how to build a well with hand tools, and how to create your own long drop toilet. The sections in this book which cover powering a house are much more realistic and reliable, with many pages on hydro and wind power and a few pages on the topic of using solar. I was much more impressed with this information than was presented in the Homesteading book by the same author.
The topics of animal management, both the care and butchering, are included in brief yet useful sections. Bees, Fish (Aquaponics), Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Cows and Horse (obviously it doesn’t cover butchering these fine animals). The sections on Pig butchering were very useful to me the first time I slaughtered pigs on my old homestead. I had the pages open next to me as I worked and they were very helpful.
Some of the most interesting pages were the handy crafts sections. Over 100 pages cover the topics of fabrics (weaving, dying and other projects), leatherwork (with instructions on how to make moccasins), metal work, wood work and even basketry. While the information is not deep, it is sufficient to understand the concept and use the knowledge.
I feel that the book really excels at its subject matter… that it provides the basics on getting back to basics. With this book you could do much that is required on a small farm or homestead… you may not do them perfectly, yet you will have the knowledge to do them. With that knowledge you will gain experience to do better next time. This book is in my library due to both the useful knowledge it provides now, it also could be used in the future if it was really needed.
This book, as the title may suggest, is the comprehensive guide on raising poultry. This book has given be a great foundation on all things chicken. It covers everything from the egg phase all the way to the butchering, with helpful diagrams to show you the process. It also has extensive sections on medical needs and instructions on creation of chicken shelter.
It doesn’t just cover chickens, it also covers ducks, Geese, Turkey, and even Quail. This book is highly recommended.
Storeys are the go to guide for me when I need to know about animals. Their books are amazing resources to the prepper/homesteader, so much so that I still go back to check this book on rabbits despite my extensive knowledge on the subject. The author of this book has decades of experiences in raising rabbits and it shows. So much information is placed here that after reading (and understanding) the book you should be ready to start raising your own bunnies.
If you want to learn about raising rabbits and everything that entails (from birth to table if that is your intention), this book delivers everything you will need to know what to do.
This was the book I bought a couple of weeks before I became the owner of two pigs. It taught me everything I needed to know to look after my new piglets. Like other Storey books, it covers medical needs, housing, butchering and pretty much everything you need to know to raise pigs.
I came across this book purely by chance, scanning second hand books at a garage sale. Upon opening to a random page I was instantly captivated. This book is almost overflowing with the most marvelous ideas for making like easier. It appears to have been compiled from magazine articles written shortly after World War 2, as some pages contain ads which discuss Australia’s role in the war.
While the information can be sparce in sections, it is still able to provide a step to making the reader realise that inovation is within your grasp.
There is so much information in this book that it is almost overwhelming. I recommend this book to anyone interested in farming on the cheap.
Doomsday Preppers Complete Survival Manual: Expert Tips for Surviving Calamity, Catastrophe, and the End of the World
Kitty bought this book for me as a gift some time ago and I have carried it my backpack ever since. It is there for me when I need something to read and I have to wait somewhere, it gives me something to do if I am bored. I am not the greatest fan of Doomsday Preppers… I had a couple of laughs while watching it. I think the biggest effect the show has had was allowing me to talk to people about prepping… letting me come out of the closet as it were. Apart from that, the show has been a little bit of a thorn in the side of the Prepper movement, with it shining an unfavourable light on some of the fringe elements of the community (such as the story of Martin Winters).
Despite all this, the book does contain useful information which appears to be sound. It is intermixed between information on the stars of previous episodes and information on various catastrophes that “could” befall us.
This isn’t the greatest book on Survival, yet it is not the worst. A lot of the information appears very familiar to me, although I suspect that there is only a limited amount of ways to present the same basic diagrams of how to do certain survival tasks. It is a good introduction into wilderness survival in a user friendly format, yet it is not as in depth as most people would require.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I feel the author has come up with a great way of presenting Survival skills with telling the story of people after an EMP attack on the United States. Each chapter (which covers different topics, such as one on Water, one of Food, etc.) begins with a journal style entry about their life after a catastrophe. The entry covers the subject matter of that section, yet the story told is about how that subject effected them. An example is the chapter on Water… the fictional author writes about how they have had to find ways to gather and save water, and what the effect of this was on their little community.