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Best Books On Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency

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You’ll find a million definitions for the term homestead. In modern context it means a way of living where you are reliant on your own means of production while still integrating with society.

It’s not a political movement, but rather a self-empowerment movement. And this post features all the best books on homesteading covering every topic you’ll need to build a sustainable life.

The Woodland Homestead

If you wanna dive head-first into self sufficiency then I recommend reading The Woodland Homestead.

This book covers the concepts behind homestead living along with more practical ideas of this lifestyle. You’ll learn about growing your own food, chopping your own wood, cooking your own meals and even building your own furniture.

The target reader is someone who wants the freedom and landscape of living in the woods. But it covers so much practical advice that even people in the suburbs or in the city can pick up valuable skills.

In this 240-page guide to rugged living you’ll learn about the tools you should learn to use, the livestock you might cultivate, and the habits of a successful woodland life.

It may be overboard for some people but these concepts are honest and will stand the test of time.


The Homesteading Handbook

For a simpler approach to homestead living I recommend The Homesteading Handbook. This book spans 270 pages and it’s written by Abigail Gehring, a multifaceted chef and homesteader.

In this book you’ll learn how to grow your own vegetables, raise your own animals, and learn more about self production by making your own soaps and paper. Topics range from complete intro guides all the way to more advanced projects with plenty of stuff inbetween.

And it really doesn’t matter how much space you have for homesteading because it’s more about the lifestyle than the volume. If you have a little space in a small urban dwelling then you can raise a few chickens and learn to grow a sizable veggie garden.

The writing style is very easy to read and Abigail covers absolutely everything from canning to crafting to home medicine and generating your own energy.

If there’s one homesteading survival guide you should trust it’s this one.


The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Learning to live off the land isn’t something everyone cares about. However it is a big part of homesteading and it’s a fundamental part of American history.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living offers a massive 900+ pages full of guides for raising every type of animal, sewing every type of seed, and maintaining a happy lifestyle from the land you’re given. This book takes the ideas of classic country living and flips them upside down to see how they can work in suburban and urban areas.

Author Carla Emery passed away in 2005 so this book is also a rarity amongst homesteaders and those who aspire towards the country life. Her writing rings just as true today as it did many years ago when it was first published.

Because of the length and detail this book may put off some readers who are new to homesteading. But if you’re willing to dive into a massive manual about living off the land then you’ll learn everything you need from this one source.


Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

If you’re working with a much smaller space then I recommend the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre.

In the title it pushes a ¼ acre space but you can follow these projects on even less land. This book is made for anyone who wants to have their own garden without a whole lot of space to do so. And this is the perfect book for folks with no prior experience.

You’ll start from the beginning learning about the different types of seeds, when to plant them, how to care for them, and how to harvest once they’re ripe. Other topics delve into soil quality and techniques for keeping rodents out of your garden.

With tons of photographs and diagrams this is really the best quality book on small farming for anyone regardless of location.

Whether you live in the city or have a quaint rural home surrounded by trees, these projects will help you develop a knack for home farming.


40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead

The best way to learn anything is through practice and repetition. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead takes homestead living in a practical direction with how-to projects from start to finish.

Over these 250 pages you’ll learn how to build garden structures, chicken coops, beehives, and even your own plumbing systems as needed. This is one of the most detailed books covering homestead living with a true appreciation for the land.

And best of all this is made as a beginner’s book so it’s perfect for someone who has never done any craftsmanship. Most projects are small and easy to accomplish so you’ll build a sense of confidence with every project you finish.

Each chapter has a series of different builds and projects you can follow for different types of raised beds, chicken coops, or hydroponic systems(among other things).

This may not be a complete guide to homesteading but it’s an excellent way for newcomers to get their hands dirty and learn the tools of the trade.


The Weekend Homesteader

The Weekend Homesteader offers a unique twist on homesteading books. Instead of breaking up projects by type or by difficulty they’re organized by different months of the year for seasonality.

Author Anna Hess frequently writes about her adventures in homesteading on various blogs and magazines. This book is her way of compiling 400+ pages worth of guides and how-tos to share with the world.

If you have no idea where to start with homesteading this book can hold your hand every step of the way. Pick up from whichever season you’re currently in and read through all those projects. Figure out which ones you might want to do and get to work!

Self-sufficiency is accomplished one task at a time so it’s not something you’ll gain in a month or even a year. But you have to start somewhere and this book is a fantastic starting point with a practical feeling to every project.


The Urban Homestead

One of the biggest problems with homesteading is learning how to do it while living in the city. In her book The Urban Homestead Kelly Coyne answers all your questions and helps you solve the problem of urban self-sufficiency.

Over the course of 360 pages you’ll learn about the homesteading lifestyle and how you should think about homesteading. You’ll learn to look at each problem and find creative solutions no matter how much space you have.

Unfortunately this book is not a rigid how-to book. It does have a lot of practical advice you can put into action, but most chapters cover ideas and how they apply to urban dwelling.

You can learn a lot about drip irrigation, urban foraging, and raising your own ducks, but these chapters aren’t the most detailed resources available.

I do think this book is worth a read for anyone interested in homesteading away from the countryside. Kelly shares a lot from her own personal experience along with tips she’s picked up from others in the homesteading community.

And if you live in a big city homesteading can be one of the best ways to save money while becoming more independent.


Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills

For years human beings needed to tend their own soil and build their own shelters. This all changed in the past century with a massive population boom and commoditized services.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills looks back to those traditional skills to see how they can positively affect modern society. You’ll learn about woodworking, raising animals, energy generation, and common crafts that every homesteader should learn.

You could probably spend your entire life trying to master the skills in this book. From metalworking to basketry to broom making and scrimshaw, you’ll find hundreds of cool skills you might pick up—and many you never thought existed!

This truly is the ultimate “back to basics” resource because you’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation for how humans lived a few hundred years ago.

If you’re looking to become completely self reliant then the skills taught in this book are imperative to your journey.


A Chicken in Every Yard

Raising backyard chickens seems to be one of the more mainstream homesteading experiences in recent years. These animals are pretty cheap to buy and care for, plus they deliver fresh food and eggs you can incubate to grow your flock.

A Chicken in Every Yard is an extremely detailed guide written by landscape designer Robert Litt. This book takes the view of raising urban chickens in a smaller backyard & the problems that arise during this process.

You will learn everything from picking the right breeds to building your own coop and feeding your chickens a healthy diet every day. It can be intimidating to jump into raising a new animal. But this book targets beginners so it’s the perfect resource for someone with no prior knowledge.

And while this is meant as an urban guide it still works wonderfully for suburban families.


How to Make Money Homesteading

If you have the space to grow food & tend animals then why not turn your land into a profitable business? How to Make Money Homesteading is the definitive guide to building a homestead lifestyle that produces enough abundance to sell for profit.

You’ll learn about the many possible streams of income you can earn and how to build a self-sufficient lifestyle that works for you. Author Tim Young left corporate America to approach homesteading as a full-time lifestyle. But he soon realized this was a profitable business and it lead to the creation of this book.

More people are learning to buy local and support local growers. This book teaches you how to capitalize on that market for anything from fruits & veggies to flowers and even animal products. Cheese, eggs, milk, and even meat are valuable resources that people might pay for.

This book is not a complete beginner’s guide to homesteading. It’s more like a business guide on how to tweak your homesteading lifestyle into an income stream.

This won’t be useful to everyone but it’s an excellent book with great advice from a guy who’s already living this lifestyle and loving every minute of it.


Modern Homesteading: Rediscovering the American Dream

Modern Homesteading: Rediscovering the American Dream offers a strange look into our current society and why homesteading is making such a resurgence.

This book will not teach you about homesteading from how-tos or projects. Instead it’s an inspiring read about one family’s journey to get back to basics and learn to sustain themselves in a culture that doesn’t seem to value this way of life.

It’s a fairly newer book and it’s only about 200 pages long so you can get through it quickly.

And by the end you’ll have a lot of questions about your own lifestyle, homesteading in general, and what self-sufficiency really means.

I recommend this book more as a philosophical resource. It’ll show you the details of homesteading and make you consider if the lifestyle is right for you.


Homestead Kitchen

Eve and Eivin Kilcher star on the hit TV reality show Alaska: The Last Frontier. On the show they shared their homestead lifestyle with the world to see.

And in Homestead Kitchen you’ll find even more advice from this land-loving family who wants to make the world a better place.

This is the Kilcher family’s debut book since the show aired and it’s a phenomenal read. It features 85 recipes covering hand-made meals from start to finish.

One big takeaway from this book is the gratification you’ll feel after you make the leap. Whether you’re rural or urban there’s always something you can do to become more self-sufficient. And this cookbook offers a great place to start regardless of your homesteading experience.

I absolutely recommend this book for experts and novices alike. These recipes will grow on you and this cookbook will be a true asset in your kitchen for years to come.


Country Wisdom & Know-How

This absolutely massive guide to self-sufficiency totals over 1,000 pages long and it’s easily the most detailed book in the list. Country Wisdom & Know-How offers well over 200 different topics brimming with info and quality content.

Inexperienced homesteaders may be put off by the length and depth of this guide. That’s to be expected. But I do think this can serve as a useful reference and compendium of knowledge for anyone regardless of skillset.

Each chapter covers a different topic like raising animals, growing vegetables, personal crafts, plumbing, fencing, foraging… you name a topic and it’s probably in this book. And while it’s not technically a “homestead” guide, it is most certainly a guide to living on your own and maintaining a self-sufficient lifestyle.


One Acre Homestead

One Acre Homestead considers the possibilities of self-sufficiency on one acre of land. To most people this seems like a lot, but this project shows that you don’t need a massive farm just to live well and produce your own nutrients.

Sara McDonald started her journey with little experience and over 5 years she learned a lot about homesteading. This book is her gift to others who may aspire towards a similar style of living.

This book splits up into three parts:

  1. Sara’s journey
  2. Planning her homestead
  3. Building financial independence

You can follow Sara’s journey through the years to learn about plotting gardens, raising livestock, foraging for foods, and learning to expand when you have the time.

This is not your typical book on homesteading. It’s a much more radical way to consider self-sufficiency. But Sara makes it all seem so easy and her tips are indispensable.

Out of all the books in this list I guarantee you can find something valuable. It is a huge list with a lot to browse through but there’s plenty here for newcomers and experienced homesteaders alike.

And if you have other suggestions for additional books for this list please send us a message and let us know.

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