The Definitive Book Thread

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tx_floods's picture
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The Definitive Book Thread

I have an idea for a thread, and I want to see where it goes. As an avid reader, I keep a list of books on a specific page in my planner. That way, when I've got time to visit the library, I don't have to wonder what I want to read; I can go to my page, and see if the library has any of the entries. Various books enter on my radar screen for whatever reason; I think they sound good, and I write down the title and author. I think the forum would be a neat place to share books that we'd recommend to each other, as related to the CC, peak oil, the future, gardening, etc. I know that Chris has a "definitive reading list" (Of which I've been able to add to my list!) and many posters have noted various books throughout other posts; I just think it'd be a neat idea to lump them all into one thread. Plus, maybe we'll have lots of time in the future to read; What with no jobs and defending our homes, and all! Wink Here are two that I'd recommend:

1) "See You In A Hundred Years" By: Logan Ward. This is an autobiographical story about Logan, his wife, and his three-year old who made a concious decision to live a lifestlye comparable to the year 1900. If it wasn't invented until 1901, they didn't have it in their life. They did this for one year. The story tells of their trials and tribulations, and their adaptation to a foreign lifestyle. This was a good book, because it can give us some insight into changes we may need/want to make, and doesn't sugar-coat the problems they faced, and the stresses of the impact of their lifestyle on their marriage.

2) "Goodbye, My Subaru" By: Doug Fine. Another autobiographical tale about a single guy who decides to move to the mountains of New Mexico and live a carbon-neutral lifstyle. Similar to the above fish-out-of-water as above, but with different motivations for the change, and a different approach to the lifestyle. Again, this one can show us some of the challenges of adaptation that await us.

I hope you guys like this idea; If so, please share some reading with us; If not, no hard feelings, huh?

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Great thread!  A few of my favorites:

   1) "Living the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing.  Scott Nearing was a professor who lost his job because of his political views back in the early 20th century.  He and his wife gathered up their resources and moved to Vermont where they became arguably the first "back-to-the-landers", living on their maple syrup earnings.  They later moved to coastal Maine and they inspired hundreds of people to follow their lead.

   2) "The Plain Reader" edited by Scott Savage.   Published by the Center for Plain Living. A collection of essays from Plain Magazine and essays from the 2nd Luddite Congress.  Essays are  about self-sufficiency and the Quaker/Amish way.

   3) "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan.   A thoughtful and sometimes humourous exploration of modern eating habits.  Makes you either want to give up eating or start farming.


So many books, so little time....

 Cheers, Sue


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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Fantastic idea!  I'm going to look for your recommendations at my local new/used bookstore. I just took a look at Logan Ward's book online and the first few pages had me wanting more.

 Lately, I've been reading through "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew.  This has to be one of the most enthusiastic gardening books I've ever seen. 



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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Gaia's Garden , Toby Hemenway.  Permaculture primer,  good stuff with a lot on "food forest"  type fruit tree guilds.  I am working on those now, just put some fruit trees in.

The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg.  Peak oil.  The picture is becoming clearer.

Crossing The Rubicon, Michael Ruppert.  Just starting this one.  Ties 9-11 in to peak oil.  Some scary stuff in here, but seems to be well documented.  Any comments from those that have read this?

This thread is a good idea, I have a lot to learn.

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

everything on my bookshelves but iwill try to narrow it down

everything by and about meher baba.

everything by inayat khan

the poetry of hafiz 

the poetry of rumi, kabir and other sufi poets

i include all of the above because they have been my sustenance and joy in all kinds of situationsfor over 45 years. i need more than how to books and maybe others need spiritual inspiration which i define as different from religious  dogma or belief

obviously anything by edward abbey

currently i am reading a great deal of tom di lorenzo " hamiltons curse" and "how capitalism saved america" .next on my list is his book the real lincoln . he is  an austrian school economist and the dogma can get  alittle much and he tends to be  alittle narrow but it is a good take on the other side.

of course all of the books on chris' list foremost the creature david cay johnstons' free lunch and perfectly legal

and before i get typing cramps and bore you all to death naomi kleins' the shock doctrine

i will be noting many of the posts i am sure but i dont know about having the time..........have to cut wood, plant and harvest and all kinds of farm chores but i will do my best

thanks i hope this thread does not get lost in the shuffle make some posts every once in awhile so it stays current for folks tx

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread




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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Great idea for thread.

Mark, I couldn't get through "Crossing the Rubicon." The documentation was so convincing that I truly became depressed and concerned that everything at the government level is a horrendous lie and cynical manipulation to the point of mass murder of American citizens. I am usually a realist who wants to know all of the facts but that book is beyond mind-boggling. You wonder why people aren't grabbing the pitchforks and torches, if true. Let me know what you think.

Reinventing Collapse by Dmitri Orlov is fascinating and scary in its own way.



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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Great thread!
I'm really glad to see this... Here are my contributions:

"1984" by George Orwell
"The Road by Cormac McCarthy
"Lucifer's Hammer" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
"Starship Troopers" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein... or anything written by this Philosophical genius.
"6 ways in, 12 ways out" by USRSOG
"Mawson's Will" by Lennard Bickel
"The book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi
"The Hagakure" by Tsunetomo Yamamoto
"If you Survive" by George Wilson
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway
"A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway
"A Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

And with great reluctance... "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross.
The technoblabber and filler in this book is irritating, but the accurate representation of historical injustices in the USA is enough to make it a worthwhile read. From Jim Crow to Waco, it highlights our failure to push back when bullied.



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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

joe2baba, or anyone else

How do we order through this site ?  That is, the books that are not on Chris's Recommended reading list.  How does he get a cut for those and how do we get to the books on amazon through this site for those ?

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread


My recommendation would be to click on one of the books in the CM Essential Reading section which will take you to Amazon, and then hopefully, all shopping done in that session would benefit 

Thanks Tx for setting up the forum,

I started on this journey in 2003 when I was fortunate to have attended a lecture by Dr. James Martin who outlined the constellation of risks facing humanity in the 21st Century.  Dr. James Martin was optimistic that we have the opportunity of dealing with those issues and that our future will be determined by the choices that we, collectively, make now in these early years of the century.  He used the analogy of a lever which can allow a person to lift very heavy objects that would be impossible on their own.  Accordingly I set out to find holistic leverage factors that can address problems on a global scale.  Books have been a key way forward for me in this endeavor.

In the summer of 2008 I was fortunate to have found and this turned my life upside down because I had been unaware of the whole host of issues in the Economy and the implications on the other two Es.  Chris is one of those global leverage factors that I was looking for.

Since I am an accountant I've been heavily schooled in Economics and had spent a great deal of effort looking for solutions within this field.  Since I had missed all of the risks in the Economy I was pretty disoriented following the Crash Course.  Fortunately the books I found on Monetary Theory were helpful in setting me straight.  I believe now that the reason that I wasn't finding much help in Economics is because its design is to hide the debt based money system.  I now believe that our money system, and there are choices, is the most powerful force that drives our collective actions on a global scale.

It might seem for some that following the Crash Course that we have achieved understanding of all of the risks and opportunities that we face.  However I believe that we are each on an individual journey of discovery and that the Crash Course is one significant step down this road.  Fortunately there are many authors that are far down their own road of understanding and we can learn much from them in a very short period of time by reading what they have to say.

Each of us have hundreds of individual choices that we can make.  Since those choices are dependent on each person's unique situation it isn't possible for Chris to lay out a specific course of action that each of us should take.  The deeper your understanding (as you carry out Tier 1 then 2 then 3 actions per Chapter 20) the better those choices can be.  At this point in the journey my understanding is that the way forward is the following: find a way to live sustainably, build your local community, while actively promoting the Crash Course as broadly as you can.  Personally our family will begin sustainable farming, homeschooling our kids, and I will try to find ways to help bring others along this journey.

Here are the books that have been meaningful to me and I'll put these in categories:

Blend of Three Es to various extents

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten (visit and receive a copy of his latest book with a subscription to Yes! magazine)

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World by Paul Hawken (millions of people are working together and Paul set up to help people find each other)

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Jared intends for his book to be optimistic since we can learn from past civilizations and take positive actions on a global scale.)

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben (a favorite of mine)

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins (this book discusses the importance of natural capital and how we are consuming it rather than tapping into its massive potential)

The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World by Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson (this shows the journey we are on and why many of feel that something is wrong but we don't know why - a good foundation for The Great Turning above)

Illusion: A Psychodynamic Interpretation of Thinking and Belief by Michael Jacobs (search Amazon using the subtitle - this is a book on beliefs - the lense itself that we use to view the world - the book really doesn't comment on what you see - just how you see it - I'm constantly adjusting the lense I use to view the world)

Child Honoring: How to Turn this World Around by Raffi Cavoukian and Sharna Olfman (this book is a collection of wisdom from many different authors)

The Meaning of the 21st Century by James Martin (mentioned above)

Monetary Theory

The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About our Money System and How We Can Break Free by Ellen Hodgson Brown

The Lost Science of Money: The Mythology of Money, The Story of Power by Stephen Zarlenga (get your copy from - this book exposes the monetary system and goes a long way towards addressing the money system - I believe that the complete answer involves having interest accrue to local communities on complementary currencies, interest on state and national currencies accrue to that level of government, that gold and silver can serve as temporary stores of wealth, and that we are only in our infancy of money systems)

The Future of Money: Creating New Wealth, Work and a Wiser World by Bernard Lietaer (breaks my heart that this is nearly impossible to get but the author has useful information at )

Debt as Money by Paul Grignon (this is a video that can quickly bring people up to speed on the issue)

The Money Fix (see for a promising film)

No More Throw-Away People by Edward Cahn (I'm just starting this one but it looks very promising and likely a big part of the new monetary system that is required)

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Mohammed Yunus (I realized that income tax on labor and providing welfare just don't make sense but that social entrepreneurs are changing the world)

The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means by George Soros (I'm including this here because of the author's aspiration that reflexivity becomes a mainstream concept)

The Black Swan: The Impact of The Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (a great book for lots of reasons but I've included this in this section because it is a scathing assault on Traditional Economics)

The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics (I've included this book here because it is a scholarly work that establishes the flaws of Traditional Economics)

Sustainable Farming (partial list)

You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin (and anything else written by him - you don't need land to become a farmer and Joel thinks this might be a drawback since the money to be made is in the processing of the food)

Making Your Small Farm Profitable: Apply 25 Guiding Principles/Develop New Crops & New Markets/Maximize Net Profits Per Acre by Ron Macher and Howard Kerr

Small Scale Livestock Farming: A Grass-Based Approach for Health, Sustainability, and Profit by Carol Ekarius (and other great books by Storey Publishing)

Self Sufficiency 

The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour

How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons (a good answer for everyone with a small space - including those in developing countries)

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables by Mike Bubel and Nancy Bubel

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez (I haven't read the new book but the first version was full of great insights to optimize your life)

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink (a good way to eat less, or eat more, as necessary)

Prepare for peak energy:

The Renewable Energy Handbook: A Guide to Rural Energy Independence, Off-Grid and Sustainable Living by William H. Kemp - (this book is a resource for existing homes as well as new builds)

Homeschooling (partial list)

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto (I'd recommend this short book to everyone regardless of whether you have kids or not)

The Unschooling Unmanual by Nanda Van Gestrel, Jan Hunt, Daniel Quinn, and Rue Kream (a good introduction to child directed learning)

There's a whole new world arising if we know where to look.




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Re: The Definitive Book Thread


The Lucifer Principle  by Howard Bloom.  Interesting sociological take. 

Collapse by Jared Diamond.  History of the collapse of societies.



Still working on "Rubicon".  It is chilling to see how the same group of people revolve around in the circles of power.  Depressing, but I am determined to finish...even if it takes a while.

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Keep a stiff drink in hand.



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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

WOW! You have provided me with a list of books that will take me years to read! Or, a couple of months, anyway. Reading your posts made me think of a couple more that are good reads:

1) Reading Aaron's thread above, made me switch gears a little and thought of: "Robinson Crusoe" By: Daniel Defoe (?) I read the complete, unabridged a few years ago. Despite going through dire circumstances in the shipwreck, and being alone, Crusoe did not revert to humanity's basest instinct and turn animal; He continued to grow as a person, and thrive, developing farms, plants, garden, even building community, as it were.

2) Joe2baba listed some really challenging stuff. I've seen some of the poets he listed quoted in various books, and found them generally inaccessible. For me? Give me a little Shel Silverstein - Did you know he wrote some bawdy, grown-up poetry, as well as poetry for kids? May make for some fun reading, after you're caught up with the work in your garden.

Also, try this on for size: Next time you are in your local library, scan the shelves at 330, using your friend, the Dewey Decimal system. That's the place where financial themes show up. Scan titles, and read jackets, and pick a few that interest you. I would be hesitant to recommend specific financial titles, because there are so many levels of financial knowledge on this site. For me, give me the "For Dummies" series, but others may need some heavier stiff. I can say this, though: When I did this excercise for the first time, and started reading other non-CM-affiliated books, my eyes sprang open, and I finally realized, "This is not a test." Other books really helped me to open up my brain to other possibilities than, "Everything's OK"

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

 Finished up the Monkey Wrench Gang (thanks joe2baba) and am now working through John Michael Greer's "The Long Descent."  I'm liking that he's putting the coming changes into deep historical perspective, and beyond illustrating how/why things're going down, he's all about "so here what we ought to be doing."  I'm all about the action.  [smile]

Viva -- Sager

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Here's another one I thought that I found really inspiring:

Vegetable, Animal, Miracle by: Barbara Kingsolver

A true story about a family who leaves their home in Tuscon, AZ to a family farm in the mountains in the east. (Alleghenies? Smokies? I forget.) They decided to live completely off the land, including gardening, animals. They lived off the local economy; Farmer's Markets, friends, etc. They learned to make cheese, a favorite chapter of mine.

Really a good book for us urban dwellers.

PS - Someone's else's post, in another thread, made me think of another good book recommendation. When I can re-remember those, I'll post them, as well.

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread


Very useful site. For all of you with piles of books lying around that you have already read and dont plan on reading again or have no intention of ever reading this site is perfect. For the price of postage send out your books in exchange for credits for every credit get a book in return. Especially helpful if your like me and dont got the extra cash to be buying brand new books.

Im not sure but I think you can also get credits for people who join the site so if you do end up registering I would appreciate if you let them know I told you about it. My name on there is MDR as well. thanks and I hope this helps someone

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Random recommendations from my bookcase: 

Tom Brown's Survival Guides - Tom Brown Jr.  An awesome wilderness survival book.  What is this doing in my bookcase?  I should at least keep it in my car! 

Slapstick - Kurt Vonnegut – A hilarious, imaginative, farcical epic. Is the joke on us?

Friend of My Youth - Alice Munro - Collection of short stories - Alice has been described as the Canadian Chekhov

The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets - Peter Schiff - How to Keep Your Portfolio Up When the Market is Down






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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

The Transition Town Handbook by Rob Hopkins

Goodbye America by Michael Rowbotham

Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

A Green History of the World by Clive Ponting

The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock

Powerdown by Richard Heiberg

Peak Everything by Richard HeinbergEarth User's Guide to Permaculture by Rosemary Morrow

Ill Fares the Land by Susan George

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

I'm going to stick a couple up too...

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M Pirsig

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand (Agree with her philosophy or not, looking at today's context, it's very powerful and provoking)

Obviously Heinlein (great and deep thinker)

Anything Kurt Vonnegut

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and it's All Small Stuff - Richard Carlson

Raising Less Corn and More Hell - George B Pyle

I Second "Go Rin No Sho" (a Book of Five Rings) by Musashi (originally suggested by Aaron, and also suggest "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu


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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

Hi  book people,

Books are my passion, along with food and cooking so permit me to toss in a few as well. I'll try to keep it within reasonable limts.I have to add another Heinlein--first one I read (or around the time I read Starship Troopers?? Anyway, I was much younger then than now...) Tunnel in the Sky. Appropriate commentary on what could be/is happening, I think, from a young person's perspective. Heinlein was my first guide to sci-fi as cultural analysis.

Gordon Dickson's Wolf and Iron is excellent (could happen anytime now), and scared the pee-tar-whattie out of me, as my grandfather used to say. Dickson's series that included The Final Encyclopedia also highly intriguing for predictive sci-fi, as well as his Dorsai series -- he paints pictures of interesting military/psychosocial tactics, strategy and analysis.

Food Production/Gardening/Farming/Food Prep

Steve Solomon's Gardening When it Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times. Different perspective on intensive versus extensive production. I tend toward sheet mulching and raised beds myself. He speaks with some authority on why that might not be the best approach for true subsistence food production and makes a good case. Having at one time carved a large garden out of a conventional corn field with a deep clay plowpan, I can see where he is coming from.

We all have our favorite permaculture I like is The Basics of Permaculture Design by Ross Mars. Not sure why I like it so's just a nice short tidy approach, not as poetic as Hemenway's Gaia's Garden (already mentioned by MarkM and another favorite.)

Sandor Katz Wild Fermentation. (Someone on another thread asked about homemade sourdough??)

If you REALLY want to compile a library for a community of like-minded individuals in a small location, you might want to add several more expensive resource books.  Edible Forest Gardening by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier is one such resource. Two-volume set. An in-depth compendium that is without parallel for a temperate climate. (I checked and it's currently on sale on Amazon. I have no financial interest in selling this book set! But I have taken a training course with Dave, for full disclosure. It took him and Eric at least seven years to incubate and give birth to those books.)

David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability is another favorite. I have Mollison's books and they are good....very good. But David's book captures the essence, I think, for anyone who can't or isn't interested in going through a PC design course.

Sally Fallon Nourishing Traditions - she has worked with the Weston Price Foundation and the book has not only recipes and prep instructions for artisanal foods, but some great sidebars on many, many topics dealing with our food and farming system.

Joel Salatin has been mentioned. If you really want to get riled about food and farming, read his latest (and greatest, I think) Everything I Want to Do is Illegal. Go, Joel!

Medical/Herbal preparations:

James Duke The Green Pharmacy (I bought it used.)

James Green The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook: A Home Manual

Anything by Deb Soule or Susun Weed if you are interested in herbal medicine use or production, especially for women.


If you struggle with the down-home, economic zeitgeist blues, like I do, a few of these books in easy reach make bedtime reading that helps me rest more than reading the heavy, "o-my-goodness-it's going down" stuff, which I have been immersed in since the age of maybe 11?? when I realized it could indeed go down and there were bubbles in the water around the boat.

Jon Kabat-Zinn Wherever You Go, There You Are. Meditation for everyday life. One of the best I have picked up and I have a bunch.

Eva Wong Lieh-Tzu A Taoist Guide to Practical Living (No, not Lao Tzu...this is another one and different approach. OK I tend toward parables and stories to ponder.)

Osho Zen: The Path of Parable

And yes, joe2baba, the poetry of rumi and others, just glows with light.

I might add Mary Oliver's poetry and anything written by Wendell Berry.

And finally a book that doesn't fit neatly in any one category but approaches the "end of the world as we know it" with a bit of light-hearted practicality, Albert Bates: The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times. A bit to the left and way under, but I thought it was fun to read and yes, there are recipes on just about every page for simple, mostly vegetarian/vegan food. But I can't hold that against an author who skip-hops from saving water in an emergency to preserving eggs with water glass (liquid silica) to designing an intentional community to a recipe for grilled flatbread, almost in one breath, with energency childbirth and making bombay chutney thrown in for good measure. Get it via Interlibrary loan. Maybe pass it along to a friend who isn't really convinced that "the end of the world as we know it" will make a whole lotta difference in the way we all live. The foreword is by Richard Heisenberg, if that lends it a bit of weight.

Happy reading! I look forward to going back to James705ca's list and choosing a few I don't have and digging in. After the garden and the bread and the yogurt-making....chop wood, carry water.

juli b







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How to Cure Cancer, Diabetes,

The Book: The Beautiful Truth - or how to CURE (not treat) just about everything is on:

And the about the Cancer "cover up" book

Here's to good health!




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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

"The China Study" by T Colin Campbell   Chronicles and interprets the most exhaustive nutritional study ever done. My wife and I became vegan after reading it.  Viva vegetables!

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If you could only have ONE book going into the future...

If you could have only ONE (secular) reference book to take with you into the future, what book would it be, and why?

Okay, okay, if that sounds like a totally impossible proposition, try this:  If you could choose THREE reference books to take with you, what would they be, and why?

I'm thinking it might be a comprehensive self-sufficiency book, or a book (or trio of books) that encompasses the skills and information you think will be most critical to survival, success, and/or true prosperity over the next 20+ years.

If THAT sounds impossible, think of it this way:  If you had to leave your home with nothing but a backpack, which one book would you want to have in it?  If you had a fireproof safe that could hold only one book, which book would you feel was most important to protect from fire?

(I'd like to limit answers only to secular books.  For the purposes of this query, I'm going to consider religious reference books to be sacred objects, packed and/or protected primarily for their religious merit and only secondarily for potential reference value.)

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Re: The Definitive Book Thread

I like this thread - I'm desperately trying to educate myself on peak oil and climate change at the moment so loads here I will be following up on. Also some great practical reads.

Surprised no one has mentioned Walden; or, Life in the Woods, by Henry David Thoreau yet - or did I miss it, or do you all just take it for granted that everyone must have read it?

Another classic to get you motivated (and remind us that there was no halcyon age during industrialisation) is The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 


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