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15 Best Homesteading Books for Beginners in 2021

Are you new to homesteading? Or do you have some experience in homesteading but haven’t been an active homesteader in a while? 

Maybe you’re thinking about ways to live more self-sufficiently?

If so, the homesteading lifestyle is a convenient way of living because it prompts families both young and old to become more self-reliant

But – finding reliable information about homesteading isn’t as easy as everyone says!

You search all over the internet for worthy information on homesteading, but merely bookmarking a page on the topic isn’t enough – and knowing how to start homesteading from scratch is tough.

That’s why we wrote this article! – We at Outdoor Happens have got your back!

We’re about to rank our top 15 homesteading books so you can develop (or rekindle) your homesteading interest.

Ready? Let’s begin!

The 15 Best Homesteading Books of 2021 – Summary

RatingBook TitleAuthorPages
# 1The Encyclopedia of Country LivingCarla Emery928 pages
# 2The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live ItJohn Seymour408 pages
# 3Barnyard in Your BackyardGail Damerow416 pages
# 4Simple & Natural SoapmakingJan Berry192 pages
# 5No Dig Organic Home & GardenC. Dowding, S. Hafferty234 pages
# 6The Forager’s HarvestSamuel Thayer368 pages
# 7The Lost Art of Self-Reliant LivingKris Bordessa320 pages
# 8The Homestead Canning CookbookGeorgia Varozza208 pages
# 9The Backyard HomesteadCarleen Madigan368 pages
# 10Rebuilding the FoodshedPhilip Ackerman-Leist360 pages
# 11The Weekend HomesteaderAnna Hess433 pages
# 12Restoration AgricultureMark Shepard344 pages
# 13The Homestead CompanionJennifer Poindexter367 pages
# 14Seed to Seed – Seed Saving and Growing TechniquesSuzanne Ashworth288 pages
# 15DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient HomeownerBetsy Matheson160 pages

What is Homesteading?

A wondrous, dream-like homestead in the Alps

You may have heard of phrases like living off the grid and becoming self-reliant, and like those phrases homesteading could mean many things to different people. 

One clear definition of homesteading is that you can live self-sufficiently and sustainably. In most cases, homesteading involves a family living together in a home or on a property. This family will plant a large vegetable garden and raise animals to produce homestead meat and provide food for their meals. 

Another definition of homesteading can refer to The Homestead Act of 1862. The Homestead Act of 1862 granted public land in the western part of the United States to any citizen willing to settle on and farm the public land for a minimum of five years. Canada passed a similar law in 1872, which was called the Dominion Laws Act

Now that you know more about homesteading – let’s jump into our favorite homesteading books!

# 1 – The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It Yourself
$32.50 $21.42
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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11/29/2022 07:31 pm GMT

This book is one of our favorites by Carla Emery, who knows a thing or two about homesteading!

Carla spent more than 30 years on an Idaho farm as a homesteading wife, mother of 7 children, home-school teacher, gardener, writer, and country-living instructor. 

Many aspects of basic farm life fill the (tremendously) detailed 928 pages. You’ll find gardening tips, how to prepare food, and how to buy land. 

Each category breaks down in the form of an encyclopedia book, so you will be able to keep tabs on valuable information when you need it. 

If you want to know more about keeping bees, raising rabbits, and taking care of cows, then this is the book to get!

# 2 – The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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11/30/2022 04:51 am GMT

Want a British perspective? This book falls along the same lines as The Encyclopedia of Country Living, teaching you the basics of how to develop homesteading skills

John Seymour boasts a reputation as a renowned expert on self-sufficiency. Studying at an agricultural college and working on English farms, John spent a decade in Africa managing a sheep and cattle farm while also serving as a veterinary department livestock officer. 

In 408 pages, you will discover the primary details on topics like growing conditions for plants, how to use a wood-burning stove, and how to build a cheap chicken coop

The encyclopedia of country living is another excellent homesteading encyclopedia book that gets our top recommendation!

# 3 – Barnyard in Your Backyard

Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner's Guide to Raising Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, and Cattle
$24.95 $2.83
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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11/30/2022 06:07 am GMT

Chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, sheep, and cattle are all covered in this fantastic book about raising farm animals. 

When starting as a farmer or homesteader, you may experience some of the following questions.

  • Can a cow and a sheep share the same pasture?
  • Is there a market for cow manure?
  • How do you milk a goat – the right way?
  • What time should you collect your eggs?
  • What types of food do rabbits eat?

Gail Damerow, the author of this book, provides you with reliable answers to such questions within 416 pages. 

Along with her husband, Gail operates a family farm in Tennessee and keeps poultry and goats.

If you want to take proper care of farm animals, Barnyard in Your Backyard will give you clear and straightforward instructions.

# 4 – Simple & Natural Soapmaking

Simple & Natural Soapmaking: Create 100% Pure and Beautiful Soaps with The Nerdy Farm Wife’s Easy Recipes and Techniques
$22.99 $15.59
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11/29/2022 09:55 pm GMT

Simple and Natural Soapmaking contains 192 pages of helpful information for your soapmaking journey!

Here’s why I’m a fan – especially for new homesteaders.

Making soap is a skill that very few have been able to master, but if you have a passion for making things that will support your homesteading lifestyle, you should consider learning to make soap! 

Author Jan Berry is an herbalist and offers comprehensive information that soapmaking enthusiasts need to make wonderful botanical soaps. 

Detailed tutorials and step-by-step photographs shine in this book, which will help beginners to understand the soapmaking process. 

The book features more than 50 different soaps, and fun ideas are sprinkled throughout as you learn about the all-natural soap creation process and ingredients. 

# 5 – No Dig Organic Home & Garden

No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest
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11/29/2022 11:15 am GMT

Authors Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty offer a thorough explanation of how to set up a no-dig garden. 

No-dig gardens involve compost and enriched soil production, sowing and growing annual and perennial vegetables, and year-round harvesting and food preparation. 

Also included in this book are tips on how to make natural cosmetics, cleaning products, and garden preparations. 

In 2017, the No Dig Organic Home & Garden book won the Garden Media Guild (UK) Practical Book of the Year Award, so there is a recognizable lasting value when you read this book. 

You will also get delicious recipes made from vegetables that you may find tremendously appetizing. How does a chocolate vegan-rhubarb cake sound? 

Sounds good to me!

# 6 – The Forager’s Harvest

Top Pick
The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
$22.95 $13.39

A guide to 32 of the best and most common edible wild plants in North America, with detailed information on how to identify them, where they are found, how and when they are harvested, which parts are used, how they are prepared, as well as their culinary use, ecology, conservation, and cultural history.

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11/30/2022 03:18 am GMT

Want to know which wild plants are edible? If you explore through the North American wilderness, there are at least 32 common edible wild plants that you can collect. 

The Forager’s Harvest book gives you the heads up on identifying these plants, where you can find them, best harvesting practices, what their culinary use is, and their cultural history. 

Author Samuel Thayer gained international recognition for his expertise in edible wild plants. Within the Forager’s harvest, Samual gives you tips on storing these plants. 

Want to know more about freezing, canning, and drying edible wild plants? This book covers it all in spades! 

# 7 – Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living

Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living
$35.00 $17.89
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11/30/2022 05:01 am GMT

Growing your food and raising farm animals are parts of homesteading, but there is more to the lifestyle than that!

Regardless of where you live, whether city, suburb, or way out in the middle of nowhere, here’s a book that helps you achieve a self-reliant way of living. 

Kris Bordessa offers advice that is tried and true. (I think that Ralph Waldo Emerson would approve!)

You can expect to read about delicious recipes, natural remedies, DIY crafts, and step-by-step directions for outdoor projects. These projects include foraging for wild edible plants, beekeeping, and cast iron cooking. 

A 2nd generation 4-H member, Bordessa provides a rich homesteading book of 320 pages. 

Hey, National Geographic published this book, so it must be good!

# 8 – The Homestead Canning Cookbook

I think that food storage is one of the most vital things homesteaders need to learn.

You have probably searched online for various tips on canning food, but you’re still not sure how to do it. 

No worries!

The Homestead Canning Cookbook will show you how safe, easy, and rewarding the canning process can be. Georgia Varozza is a certified master food preserver and cooking enthusiast, and she will teach you the basics of canning. 

Fruit, vegetables, meat, sauces, and soups are just some of what is covered in this cookbook as you will discover how to efficiently can specific meals. 

If you want to stockpile your family’s favorite foods whenever there is a shortage at the grocery store, The Homestead Canning Cookbook can give you a clear idea of what to do.

No more second-guessing or worrying about spoiled food – here’s an easy and fun way to do canning correctly.

# 9 – The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!
$18.99 $16.29

Want to homestead, but you don't have much real estate? Here is our favorite book from Carleen Madigan! It shows how to produce all the fresh fruits and veggies you need on just a quarter acre. You also get tutorials on pickling, canning, drying, raising eggs, chickens, and other animals.

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11/30/2022 07:11 am GMT

Do you own just under an acre of land? Maybe you’re concerned about not producing enough food? 

If so, then here’s a text worthy of any self-reliant homesteader.

The Backyard Homestead has an abundance of information on how to grow and preserve various grains and vegetables! 

The Backyard Homestead also contains heaps of advice on how to raise animals for meat, eggs, and dairy. 

You’ll also discover canning, drying, and pickling techniques in this book. Whatever your ambitions reside in, either modest preservation or high-scale self-sufficiency, you will learn a wide range of skills within 368 pages. 

Author Carleen Madigan was previously a managing editor of Horticulture Magazine and lived on an organic farm outside Boston. 

The Backyard Homestead book is a great beginner’s manual of sorts, and it’s an excellent read for all homesteaders!

# 10 – Rebuilding the Foodshed

Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems (Community Resilience Guides)
$24.95 $16.47
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11/30/2022 12:00 am GMT

Creating food systems that are secure, sustainable, and primarily local sounds like an unpleasant chore at first, but soon comes the realization that local food is one of the best resources to have for your homesteading lifestyle. 

Philip Ackerman-Leist addresses the rebuilding of regional food systems that can replace the harmful aspects of industrial agriculture. Food systems can also help reasonably meet food demands and become self-reliant enough to get through rough times.

Inefficient transportation, high energy demands, and excessive food waste often plague food systems, but Philip presents unique models for growing food and then processing and distributing that food. 

The quirky and humorous tone that this Vermont farmer uses in this book is worth noting. 

(Aren’t all homesteaders quirky and humorous? I think so!)

# 11 – The Weekend Homesteader

The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency
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11/29/2022 11:16 pm GMT

Here’s a book stuffed with cool homesteading projects.

Right away, you will notice the monthly format that this book uses, so depending on which month of the year you are going through, there is something in store for you. 

If you have limited time in a week and want to work on short homesteading projects, this book would suit you. 

Taking care of chickens, growing the best species of berries, and how to plant in a no-till garden are all covered in this book. 

The basics of seasonal cooking and eating break down to a fine (but understandable) science. You’ll also read about canning, freezing, and drying in full detail.

Anna Hess provides an impressive 12-month blueprint of becoming more self-sufficient – overall, an exceptional resource for DIY homesteaders.

# 12 – Restoration Agriculture

Restoration Agriculture
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11/29/2022 04:40 pm GMT

Not familiar with holistic approaches to farming and gardening? (For the longest time, I wasn’t either!) 

Restoration Agriculture, written by Mark Shepard, talks about permaculture and shows how overly relying on annual crops throughout history has resulted in societal collapse. 

Gardening and eating on a seasonal basis as the weather changes is an essential component of this book. You’ll find specific benefits to natural, perennial ecosystems that many people are unaware of – this homesteading gold is worth knowing!

Along with creating functional agricultural systems, this book will show what you can do differently in your backyard, farm, or ranch. 

You will get a feel for the passion that Mark has for farming and gardening! His instructional words (and charisma) will jump off the pages as you read.

# 13 – The Homestead Companion

The Homestead Companion: A Practical Guide to Building a Happy Homesteading Life, One Skill and Life Lesson at a Time
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11/30/2022 06:01 am GMT

Want to live the dream of being an efficient homesteader despite your current living condition? 

Jennifer Poindexter wrote The Homestead Companion, which teaches you the basic homesteading skills of growing and preserving your food, raising farm animals, and saving money while doing it.

The title of Chapter 4 flat out reads How to Homestead Even When You’re Broke, so Jennifer can relate to those who have worked within tight budgets.

Reading The Homestead Companion will give you a test as to whether or not you are ready to take on the homesteading lifestyle. 

The Homestead Companion also prepares you for potential pitfalls should you plan on launching your homesteading dream. Immense value is in this book!

# 14 – Seed to Seed – Seed Saving and Growing Techniques

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
$24.95 $23.14
  • Techniques for growing, harvesting, drying and storing the seeds of 160 vegetables.
  • Detailed information on each including pollination methods, isolation distance and proper...
  • Organized by family, genus and species.
  • Includes handy index of common names, plus information on heirloom varieties and seed...
  • Ashworth 8-1/2" x 11" 228 pages
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11/30/2022 06:57 am GMT

Prepare to have your mind blown when you dig into this book! When you obtain seeds, you want to make sure they grow correctly and flourish in your garden patch. 

When you save seeds, you save money from year to year. The extensive research done by author Suzanne Ashworth and editor Kent Whealy is golden. 

Essential vegetable and fruit families categorize under their scientific Latin names in the Seed to Seed book. So that means, for example, Allium fistulosum of the Amaryllidaceae family refers to the Japanese Bunching Onion. 

Or do you like the Cynara scolymus of the Compositae family, better known as the artichoke? (Being an avid language learner, I respect the use of Latin. Mirabile!) 

# 15 – DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner

DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle
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11/29/2022 09:36 pm GMT

Launching, working on, and finishing DIY projects make up a vital part of the homesteading lifestyle. Projects keep you motivated to do things that interest you while adding something valuable to your home. 

Within 160 pages, you get great explanations as to why some inventions are needed for a greenhouse, how you can make new chicken coops and pigeon lofts, and raised flower beds. 

The tips provided in this book are straightforward and practical, so you can easily follow along and enjoy taking on projects that interest you. 

Author Betsy Matheson makes it a point that by learning how to do these projects, you become more self-sufficient and less reliant on city systems for basic needs. 

The More Homesteading Books, the Better!

Making the switch to the homesteading lifestyle may not be the easiest choice to make, but after you commit to it, the realization of how easy homesteading can be will set in! 

How you go about homesteading is up to you with no strings attached. Yes, homesteading requires plenty of work, but the process can be both fun and rewarding when you look back at everything you accomplish. 

With the help of homesteading books like the ones listed above, you can get a better idea of what to do on your land and plan before you execute your ideas. 

What are you waiting for – a personal invite? Go out there and homestead like no tomorrow!


  • Steven Vitte

    Steven is a passionate gardener who loves to dig holes and take care of plants. If you need advice on how to shape your garden and what to add to it, give this guy a call. When he's not preoccupied with feeding a group of barn cats in his backyard, he can be seen planting flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables. Whether it's mowing lawns, trimming pesky weeds, or tilling garden patches, this guy can tell you the ins and outs of yard work at home.

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