Rara Librorum: Books For An Uncertain Future
It's been all over the news lately, that the Encyclopædia_Britannica, which first came out in 1768, has stopped print publication of their flagship series as of this month. The last encyclopedia set is the 2010 version (retails from $1,000 to $1,300 for the set).
While the World Book Encyclopedia is still publishing (the latest set is the 2012 edition), the news certainly made me think about what kind of books would make sense to be purchased and carefully preserved for the future, much as monks in Medieval times kept books and learning alive. (Except, of course, where they also would scrape up parchments of previous works in order to copy prayer books, which has caused some works to be lost forever.)
If we do want to preserve books and preserve knowledge through what may end up being a coming civilizational decline and a "dark age" on the scale of centuries similar to what author John Michael Greer mentions, then what are some books you would suggest. Perhaps these suggestions can be useful by those of us with more resources, to stock time capsules and personal libraries. Things like primers on scientific knowledge, practical manuals, stories, etc.
I'm thinking it would be nice to start with a nice encyclopedia set…
I am going to cross-post something else, since (although not books) these would probably be important to collect alongside books):
Math Skills Resource: Abacus, Napier’s Bones, The Slide Rule
Links and videos on using the abacus, Napier’s bones, and slide rule – including to virtual ones.
Yes! I love books (should’ve been a librarian or archivist!).
I have a set of regular encyclopedias and a smaller set on philosophers/philosophy.
A nice collection of literature (Austen, Dickens, name your favorites….)
History: all of my college texts (history was one of my majors), from the rise of Rome through Napoleon. My favorite, J.E. Neale’s Queen Elizabeth I
Some primary documents of American history: The Federalist Papers, The Declaration, The Articles, Constitution and Bill of Rights…
I have a huge collection of Theological books and dictionaries, and a few volumes of Biblical commentaries pieced together to make my own set. And – Josephus, the historian of the time….
And my practical manuals:
Storeys Basic Country Skills, Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living, Jim Gerrish – Management Intensive Grazing & Kick the Hay Habit, Joe Salatin – You Can Farm, Salad Bar Beef & Pastured Poultry, Carol Ekarius – Small Scale Livestock Farming, Ron Macher – Make Your Small Farm Profitable. – All of them very useful….
The Great Books of the Western World will cover many of the classics that it would be a good idea to keep and hope that someday you can get through. Includes the works of Plato and Aristotle, Hippocrates, Homer (Odyssey and Iliad,) Shakespeare (I think all of them,) Euclid, Archimedes, Galileo and Newton, and even the documents of American history that txgirl mentioned. You can find sets for between $100 and $300 in libraries.
Will admit, they don’t lend themselves to browsing your bookshelf and deciding to pick a book to read. In fact, I own many of the volumes separately as paperbacks or hardcovers, but for jumpstarting your personal “preserving knowledge” library, I can’t think of a better set.
Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary – google it to understand why
Pretty much anything by these authors: Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau
To help make sense of what is going on: 1984, The Fourth Turning, That Which is Seen and That Which is not Seen by Bastiat (also The Law) … I know I have more for this category, but they are in a room where someone is sleeping and my brain is fogging
For kids: Grimms Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, Dr. Suess and Winnie the Pooh books, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie and Little Britches series, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Folktales of any kind, a set of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Louisa May Alcott’s books, Sherlock Holmes, Heidi, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz (which I understand also fits in the above category if you read between the lines.) The list for kids could go on and on … browse library bookstores and pick up hard covers with lovely illustrations … you’ll never regret it.
For understanding how kids learn so you can homeschool them 😉 : Anything by John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Howard Gardner.
Just because: small volumes of poetry by anyone you can find, Les Miserables, Don Quixote, To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a set on mythology, Mister God This is Anna, Tao of Motherhood (good for young mothers especially)
To give hope: your book of faith, Man’s Search for Meaning, Alas Babylon, The Hiding Place, The Gift of the Magi
For health purposes: Where There is No Doctor and … No Dentist, a couple books on Herbal Remedies (I recommend Rosemary Gladstar but I know there are others,) The Joy of Cooking or another cookbook that actually explains cooking and gives substitutes, Nourishing Traditions to understand how we are supposed to eat, Fourfold Path to Healing
… like txgirl, should’ve been a librarian …
… since I’m referring to it, yet again, tonight … and I sincerely believe no household with small children should be without this book …
How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, by Robert Mendelsohn M.D. (a pediatrician)
who put another copy in her Amazon shopping cart since this is among the small list of books I want to make sure I pass a copy on to each of my kids
Sure appreciate the recommendations above! Here are a few more…
Continuum Concept by Jean Leidloff
Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pierce
How Children Learn by John Holt
Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
Nutrition and Phsyical Degeneration by Weston Price
Some more books I was thinking of:
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond
- The Horse, The Wheel, and Language, by David W. Anthony
- Where There Is No Doctor, by David Werner, et al.
- Where There Is No Dentist, by Murray Dickson
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR, by the American Psychiatric Association
- Steel Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist, by J. D. Verhoeven
- Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks, Art Ludwig
Anyone have recommendations for easy-to-understand, authoritative, home-practical books on farming, gardening, herbalism, animal husbandry, woodworking, construction, medical and science basics and protocols, physics and astronomy, etc.?
The Quarter Acre Farm, by Spring Warren.
I just finished reading this, and have to say it was practical. The author is not exactly a prepper, but she was trying to journey toward eating healthier food and does have an awareness of peak oil. Her one failing, in my opinion, is she is big on using a freezer instead of canning or dehydrating her produce, but she met her goal of getting 75 percent of her food from her suburban yard. Can most of us say the same of our agricultural efforts?
Each chapter has a corresponding recipe. Chapters concern things like why her tomatoes were failing (nematodes, lack of fruit, overwatering) and how she solved it (nematode-resistant varieties, certain kinds of tomatoes need pruning, and you avoid overwatering by letting them droop a bit first). There is a general tomato sauce recipe that follows that uses you oven, of all things, and have variations where you can use up other types of fruit and produce. A chapter on composting lauds rabbit pellets and the chapter on zucchini taught me that all parts of the plant are edible: leaves, flowers, and fruit. Fava bean and pea leaves are edible, too! The chapter on fruit tells of how tin foil pans hung on the trees scare away the birds, but only for two weeks so do it at the peak of your harvest. She even found snails decimating her garden and turned them into escargot! (Recipes included.)
The climate she grows it all in is that of California, so ideas about how to cure your own olives might not be helpful to folks in, say, Maine or, Holland or Wisconsin, but all the suggestions on other produce like zucchini will be widely applicable.
She actually has a real farmer critique her little suburban “farm” and his advice will help readers with their own little plots of earth.
Generally the 9th or 11th editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica are considered to be the best. I would recommend buying the 15th edition second hand as there are several each week on ebay that go for a fraction of the cost. Buy a few sets at a thrift shop. You can get near new quality sets for under $100. Often you can get all the suplementary books and childrens encyclopaedias as well.
Almost all books currently printed are made with a paper high in acid. Most modern books will eat themselves over time. With that in mind, the 9th and 11th editions will not be prone to the same issue.The issue is more pronounced in paper back books going yellow after about 10 years, and degrading in about 20 if kept in anything other than pristine conditions.
The only publisher I know who prints some books not with acid paper is red wheel press but they have a different range of books that don’t appeal to a broad audience. If you know anymore please tell me.
Whilst I admire the thought of leaving something for future generations to read I have doubts that our books today will last more than 100 years or so unless kept in low oxygen glass cabinets. I guess we could do what the old monastery culture did. Grow vegetables and copy books by hand.
Here is the wiki link, educate yourself, don’t take the word of a random person on the internet.
The Quarter Acre Farm, by Spring Warren.
Her one failing, in my opinion, is she is big on using a freezer instead of canning or dehydrating her produce, but she met her goal of getting 75 percent of her food from her suburban yard. Can most of us say the same of our agricultural efforts?
Dude, er…. I mean Dudette,
If using refrigeration instead of canning makes her a failure, then I’m a miserable failure , no, beyond miserable failure cuz I ain’t even got to the canning skills. Yet. And she’s getting 75% of her food from a Californian suburban yard? And that’s a failure??? Gawd, that makes me pathetic. I’ve got four California acres and I’m not to the 50% point. Yet. Man, reality checks suck. I wish I was as big a failure as Spring Warren.