Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top Ten Inspiring Books about Self Sufficiency

1. John Seymour's The New Complete Guide to Self-Sufficiency. The self-sufficiency bible, stuffed with practical advice and instructions you can use as well as inspiring images and texts that make me yearn for 5 acres of my own.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie. As a child I watched the TV show that was loosely based upon it, and even then I wanted to be Laura and have her life.

3. Linda Cockburn's Living The Good Life is the true account of an Australian family's year without spending - they gained their electricity from solar panels, their water from rainfall catchment (during a year of severe drought), and their food from the garden and a rather cranky goat. It's an easy and engaging read, and inspiring, too.

4. The Reader's Digest's Food From Your Garden. Now out of print, I've had this book for years. I used to make the recipes from it, but mostly I looked at the drawings of vegetable plots, chicken houses, beehives, and wish I could have all those things. And now I do.

5. Chas Griffin's Scenes From A Smallholding. This is Chas's account of his family's adventures buying a smallholding in Wales and trying to live off the land. Most chapters are laugh-out loud funny, and a few are laugh-till-you-cry funny. Buy it even if you have no interest in self-sufficiency at all. Just buy it because it's so good.

6. Louisa May Alcott's Little Women isn't about growing veg or milking cows, but it has always inspired me. Although she describes clearly the hardship her family experienced, she also tells of the closeness between her sisters and mother, their creative and enthusiastic solutions to their deprivation, and the great love that suffuses the book.

7. Jan McHarry's Reuse, Repair, Recycle always fills me with ideas about how to get the most of out my possessions. "Thrift" is often associated with deprivation, but in fact the opposite is true. If you are thrifty you can get twice as much stuff for half as much money. This book shows you how.

8. Johanna Spyri's Heidi is another childhood favourite that sowed a seed in me. I found the descriptions of Heidi's life in the mountains with Alm-Grandfather and Peter the goat-herd much more apealling than her time in a fine house in the city of Frankfurt. Did I love these children's books I've mentioned because even at that age I already yearned for a simple life? Or do I yearn for a simple life because I loved these books when I was young? Who knows.

9. Craft books. Any and all craft books. My mum had a few of these when I was young, and I used to love looking at them and wishing for the toys and clothes and other things in the photos. I never got the same feeling from mum's home shopping catalogues.

10. Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. No, just kidding.


Moonwaves said...

I re-read The Children of the New Forest recently and ended up asking myself the same question, wondering if this was one of those books which inspired me to want to do things for myself or if I'm that way because I read this book at an impressionable age.

I've only ever read an excerpt from Little House on the Prairie (in my Collins Modern Literature for Children collection - a huge book my dad gave me and I hated until about a year later I actually started reading it!) but would love to read the whole series. I loved the television series so much.

lilymarlene said...

Have you ever read "The Encyclopedia of Country Living: An Old Fashioned Recipe Book" (by Carla Emery). It is the best book for Self Sufficiency that I've got. I know it is American but it is SO inspiring.
I have had a copy for 25 years, but I believe the up-to-date one is even better.
It's not just recipes....it has everything from how to "bank" your house against the snow, to building a root cellar, to making butter, to curing skins....etc. I guarantee you wouldn't be disappointed if someone gave it to you, so put it on your wish list!!!!!
If you love Little House on the Prairie, this is the book that tells you how to live like that!

Lesley said...

I loved Heidi too. I later went to live and work in Switzerland, and when I later came home and bought a house with a balcony, my mother reminded me of my early reading!

old hack said...

got a new tune up

"just shoot me in the head"

can listen on my blog.


or on myspace.com/oldhack

Charlotte said...

Ok, I'm intrigued. How does The Essential X-Men help you on your way to self-sufficiency?

Melanie Rimmer said...

Maybe I should write an article called "Everything I know about Self-Sufficiency I learned from X-Men" http://bean-sprouts.blogspot.com/2007/09/everything-i-know-about.html

Gordon Mason said...

This is giving clues about my age but did you ever read the Whole Earth Catalog?

Recently described as the 1970 manuscript precursor of Google.

Nik said...

Oh yeah, I recall loving those books - in fact I'm making my way through the children's classics atm and loving it.

Eigon said...

Secret Island, by Enid Blyton, did it for me. The kids run away from a cruel aunt and hide on an island, where they build a house out of growing willow, among other things.

Anonymous said...

Andy and Dave Hamilton will have a book out in April (see ssish forums for details)

antipodesgirl said...

i was always amazed at the lifestyle described in the "Little House" books, how courageous these people were, and how resourceful! Making clothes by hand, baking bread, smoking and salting meats, storing food for the winter, making their own sugar from maple for heaven's sake! all these skills that are lost of most of us!!
I also like to look in "old" cookery books, usually post-war period, because often they have lots of thrifty advice on using the uglier veg or cuts of meat into tasty meals and how to substitute some goods for others when you don't have them, or how to use up leftovers. We could all take a leaf out of these kinds of books instead of chucking everything in the bin. I am becoming much more aware of how much I throw up and find it is often much more economical to buy certain things loose by weight because you have just the right amount even if by kilo you pay more:in fact in the long run it is much cheaper!! Buy less, use more!!

antipodesgirl said...

err of course my last comment should have talked about throwing things OUT , not UP lol

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