Basic life skills - Recommended books?

24 posts / 0 new
Last post
propamanda's picture
propamanda
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 61
Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Hi Chris.

I noticed that in your list of recommended books there are none about do-it-yourself basic life skills.  I wanted to buy some books about things like planting food, canning, making beer or wine, and other such basic skills.  Could you suggest anything?  I'm looking for some kind of encyclopedia - style book with a lot of basic information about various things I can learn to do for myself.

 Thanks!

Amanda 

 

 

Ruhh's picture
Ruhh
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 259
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

We recently picked up The Urban Homestead and so far it looks really good. Not exactly an encyclopedia but definitely a good start. There are some good references in it pointing to other useful books/resources as well.

suesullivan's picture
suesullivan
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 305
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

I have a few books that I find tremendously useful. Carla Emory's the Encyclopedia of Country Living is amazing and a fabulous primer for homestead life. As we're still on a suburban quarter acre, I haven't begun to plumb the depths of that book. I am deeply exploring home production of food and now that we live in Colorado, I find Maine gardener Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest fabulous for showing me how I can grow and harvest food throughout the year in a cold climate. I also got a great deal of fascinating, paradigm-shifting information out of Gaia's Garden, by Toby Hemenway, which is the easiest to access book on home-scale permaculture I've run across.

I'd like to explore herbal medicine in greater detail -- I have a few books that detail the medicinal uses of plants but I'd love some guides that have detailed preparation and storage instructions.

 And I'm very interested to read what others suggest....

warmly,

Sue

Liam's picture
Liam
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 5 2008
Posts: 16
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

I would suggest any thing by Tom Brown Jr.

His books get a bit dogmatic, but as far as widely applicable skills, herbalism/nature awareness, and  paradigm shifts, he knows what he's talking about. 

Linda K's picture
Linda K
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 23 2008
Posts: 56
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Hi Amanda

I see Sue already mentioned "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery.

Of all my cookbooks the most worn is the 1960s edition of the "Joy of Cooking". Eight hundred and fifty pages with detailed information on all things food. Some hysterically old fashioned inclusions but if you're looking for a true encyclopedia it rarely fails. Here's an excerpt from the Index under "W": Winter Cress, Witloof Endive, Won Ton, Wood Pigeon, two inclusions for Woodchuck, Woodcock, Sweet Woodruff, Worcestershire Sauce, and Wrap Cookery. Just in case you need two recipes for Woodchuck along with your Winkle and Welsh Rarebit, or want to know how Weather will effect your cooking or candy making. I think this older edition is better than the current one.

I'm a big fan of used book stores - fun, cheep, and full of information on making from lots of different time periods. I've got a beautifully illustrated little book called "Encyclopedia of Needlework" by Therese De Dillmont. Publications on millinary and pattern making or tayloring are usually easy to find. "The Ashley Book of Knots" is IT on every practical or decorative knot. It's big so would be in the oversized section. Technical manuals on "lost" craftsman arts like Victorian metal work go right to our "building stuff" shelf.

Check this link for more ideas.
http://sharonastyk.com/store2/

 

 

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

A book I found interesting about a family going back to restart a farm left to them was "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Not exactly a how-to but lots of info about many variables involved as these academics and their two daughters moved to a small town and started a new life. She is a well-known writer and the book is well-written and engaging.

 

SG

magicelf's picture
magicelf
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 3
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

The most valuable book I have read or own is

The New complete book of Self-Sufficency- the classic guide for realists and dreamers

by John Seymour

It is beautifully illustrated, inspirational and very comprehensive

Arthur Vibert's picture
Arthur Vibert
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 16 2008
Posts: 116
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work by Mel Bartholomew

This is a great book for anyone who is not already a gardener, or who has tried and failed, either through incompetence or boredom. It's especially good for anyone with a limited space, but it works regardless of the amount of space you have - except for none, of course.

Arthur

tojala's picture
tojala
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 18 2008
Posts: 1
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

I recommend: "Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills."

Some might avoid it because it's from Reader's Digest, but it is compact and encyclopedic, covering everything from constructing shelter (log cabins included), wind and water turbines, growing and preserving food, making cheese and beer, cleaning game, etc. And it's non-dogmatic and full of very useful illustrations. 

 Again, it's from Reader's Digest, but it's good. Link below. 

http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Traditional-American-Skills/dp/0895779390

Ruhh's picture
Ruhh
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 259
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?
suesullivan wrote:

I'd like to explore herbal medicine in greater detail -- I have a few books that detail the medicinal uses of plants but I'd love some guides that have detailed preparation and storage instructions.

suesullivan;

My girlfriend has been taking a great corresondance course on Herbology by Rosemary Gladstar called The Science and Art of Herbology. I've been studying along somewhat as I've always had a big interest in wild edible foods and Native American medicine. I've even been guinea pig to some remedies that both my girlfriend and  I have harvested and prepared and must say that it is quite a rewarding practice.

To name a few, I've already diverted/cured a nasty poison ivy rash and my girlfriend has also prescribed a pregnancy tea that has so far only produced big healthy babies.

Getting to know nature and the plants that surround you by name and properties is both challenging and envigorating not to mention useful.

Have fun.

propamanda's picture
propamanda
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 61
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Hello everyone!

 Thank you very much for the input.  Some of the suggestions sound really good.  I'll definitely make a list of all the books you have recommended and go check them out.  I've been meaning to build a little how-to library for a while now and this is a great starting point.

 Amanda

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?
Arthur Vibert wrote:

Square Foot Gardening: A New Way to Garden in Less Space with Less Work by Mel Bartholomew

This is a great book for anyone who is not already a gardener, or who has tried and failed, either through incompetence or boredom. It's especially good for anyone with a limited space, but it works regardless of the amount of space you have - except for none, of course.

Arthur

I combined the square foot garden approach to organization and high soil quality with ideas from

The Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman to extend the harvest in cold months,

and I am still getting a few vegetables here in New England in December.  My kids love to pull carrots just before supper.

suesullivan's picture
suesullivan
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 305
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Ruuh,

Thanks so much for the pointer to Rosemary's site. I remember finding her a couple years back and seeing that she was on the east coast and a challenge to get to for me... A correpsondence course is perfect!

I think herbal medicine will become a highly valuable skill, and I'm going to check out several of these other books as well.

 Woodchuck recipes! DH's 98 year old grandma has pragmatic if not rhapsodic memories of dining on woodchuck as a young bride of a state fish and game ranger -- she said you'd have to cook it one day and eat it the next because the smell of cooking was so unpleasant it killed your appetite for the rest of the day. Interestingly, my 1983 edition of JOC has both recipes too! So I'm there, if things get desperate.... lol

 

warmly,

sue

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

For comic relief...White Trash Cookery by Ernest Matthew Mickler (pub. by ten speed press, 1986). I got it for a buck at our library sale. Not only does it have alligator, opposum, rabbit, squirrel, and turtle recipes, it has plaudits in the front from...J. William Fulbright, William Least Heat Moon, and Helen Hayes, among others. 

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, called it"a beautiful testament to a stubborn people of proud and poignant heritage." 

Easily the weirdest cookbook in my vast collection.

 

SG

KKPSTEIN's picture
KKPSTEIN
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 20 2008
Posts: 120
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?
Liam wrote:

I would suggest any thing by Tom Brown Jr.

His books get a bit dogmatic, but as far as widely applicable skills, herbalism/nature awareness, and  paradigm shifts, he knows what he's talking about. 

I agree, Tom Brown Jr. books are an excellent resource.  They lean more towards the extreme survival techniques.  The basics you learn from his books are really good fundamentals to know if faced with any kind of survival situation.

Does anyone remember that Canadian TV show called "Pioneer Quest"?  It aired about 4 years ago.  They had asked that some couples volunteer to spend a year in southern Manitoba with nothing but some meager supplies to set up a homestead.  They were only aloud to use tools and resources that would have been available in 1875.  I really enjoyed watching them build their homestead and work and live off the land with no modern conveniences.  I remember being really impressed by Tim’s skills in building things from scratch, etc.

There is another series that was broadcast on PBS that featured a man in his sixties or seventies who lived up north completely off the land.  It was a complete man against nature themed show.  He carved his own canoe, built his own house, tools, etc.  Everything was completely homemade and sustainable.  It was footage of him living and working for months off the land.  The show was entirely narrated by him in a very simple, down to earth way that would explain what he was doing, etc.  It was a mesmerizing program to watch.  It was filmed in the late seventies, I believe.  I can’t remember the name of it.  Does anyone remember that one?

 

DavidLachman's picture
DavidLachman
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 4 2008
Posts: 153
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Hi

The guy in those films was Dick Proenneke.  You can buy his DVDs for 20 bucks here:

http://www.dickproenneke.com/alone_in_the_wilderness.html

I saw them on PBS and was very impressed and inspired by how well he could live off the land (with some help!).

DavidLachman's picture
DavidLachman
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 4 2008
Posts: 153
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

A great source for books on how to do it yourself in gardening and animal raising and country living etc is Storey Publishing check out  the web site.  They have a reputation as a source for high quality books on these topics.

http://www.storey.com/

KKPSTEIN's picture
KKPSTEIN
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 20 2008
Posts: 120
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?
DavidLachman wrote:

Hi

The guy in those films was Dick Proenneke.  You can buy his DVDs for 20 bucks here:

http://www.dickproenneke.com/alone_in_the_wilderness.html

I saw them on PBS and was very impressed and inspired by how well he could live off the land (with some help!).

Thanks David!  I'll look into ordering a copy.  This was an awesome show.

 

Crystal's picture
Crystal
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 16 2008
Posts: 6
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

I really like Gaia's Garden. He takes a wholistic approach very different from Big Agribusiness and Monsanto.

gtazman's picture
gtazman
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 6 2008
Posts: 48
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

Another book I would recommend is "Self-reliance Recession-proof your pantry"  a book offered thru Backwoods Home Magazine.  Link: http://www.backwoodshome.com/store/files/srg04.html.

This self-reliance guide from Backwoods
Home Magazine is a must-have for everyone starting on the road to
self-reliance as well as those well along.

Included are:

Long-term food storage Can you survive out of your pantry for a whole year? Successful cold storage Canning basics Canning meat safely Canning meals in a jar Pickles and relishes Tomatoes Drying, Smoking, & Pickling Foods Alternative methods for food preservation Jerky Great home-cooked meals from your storage pantry

 

cedar's picture
cedar
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 7 2008
Posts: 96
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

The best food and agriculture related podcast I have found is Deconstructing Dinner. I have listened to every episode and highly recommend it.  http://www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/index.html

The best podcast for all things post-carbon is the Reality Report hosted by Jason Bradford. http://globalpublicmedia.com/ 

Check out Steve Solomon's site http://www.soilandhealth.org/ for a large collection of old time farming books.

For anyone that frequents Demonoid, a library of 1000+ self-sufficiency related books called The Appropriate Technology Library went up a little while ago. The books are a little dated, but given the nature of the problems we face, older books may be desirable. http://www.villageearth.org/web/pages/Appropriate_Technology/index.php

For light weight but thoroughly entertaining education on a simpler life, check out the entire River Cottage TV series. I've watched them all with great pleasure. You should be able to find many of them on popular trackers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Cottage

David Holmgren's book "Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability" is very good. As are any interviews of him that float around on the net.

 

 

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 963
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

As I posted elsewhere, SF writers have pondered innumerable future scenarios and have many good ideas. Read Lucifer's Hammer, Earh Abides, All Flesh is Grass,  lots of others.

 

SG

joemanc's picture
joemanc
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 16 2008
Posts: 834
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

This is an excellent thread. Thanks for all the book recommendations. Seems like so much of the focus has been on the financial crisis, it's as if we forgot we still are going to need to eat!

Quote:

I'd like to explore herbal medicine in greater detail -- I have a few
books that detail the medicinal uses of plants but I'd love some guides
that have detailed preparation and storage instructions.

Sue - I have something you may be interested in. It's called Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS. It's a mineral that kills toxins and poisons from your immune system, allowing it to function as it should. It was developed by Jim Humble. He originally discovered that it cured malaria. In fact, Jim himself contracted malaria and used MMS to cure himself. He has cured thousands of people, especially in Africa, from malaria. I have been taking his solution for the past 3+ months and have been perfectly healthy, whereas I would have had my normal winter cold by now. My friend who recommended it to me, contracted Lyme disease in the summer of 2007 and he used the mineral exclusively and it killed his Lyme disease. I know the solution can last for as many as 20 years, so if medical care becomes difficult to obtain in the future, MMS may be what you need if a lack of medical care arises.

You can learn more about MMS at www.miraclemineral.org

 

yoshhash's picture
yoshhash
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 271
Re: Basic life skills - Recommended books?

This may not qualify as "basic life skills", but it is a magnificent compilation of what to do when SHTF, what to expect when systems collapse, how people have coped, what things have gone wrone, in the context of trying to disseminate aid, food, water, aid, communication etc, and what to do to avoid these past mistakes.

The book is Worldchanging by Alex Steffen.  it is kind of a modern version of the Whole Earth Catalogue, a guide to where to find resources/forums/suppliers/people in various areas of specialty.  It is also an amazing compilation of case studies of how one person can make a world of a difference, right now. 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments