Whether you are new to homesteading or just want to refresh on the basics, it’s always best to have a reliable homesteading book in your library.
The homesteading lifestyle prompts families, both young and old, to become more self-reliant, which has a lot of benefits. But – finding reliable information about homesteading isn’t as easy as everyone says!
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!
In this article, we’ll share our favorite and most often referred-to homesteading books. These books are all beginner-friendly, but they’ll also stay helpful as you progress on your homesteading journey. That way, with any of these books in your library, you can develop (or rekindle) your homesteading interest and keep growing.
Ready? Let’s begin!
- The 18 Best Homesteading Books of 2023 – Summary
- What Is Homesteading?
- The 18 Best Homesteading Books For Beginners
- 1. The Encyclopedia of Country Living
- 2. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
- 3. Barnyard in Your Backyard
- 4. Simple & Natural Soapmaking
- 5. No Dig Organic Home & Garden
- 6. The Forager’s Harvest
- 7. Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living
- 8. The Homestead Canning Cookbook
- 9. The Backyard Homestead
- 10. Rebuilding the Foodshed
- 11. The Weekend Homesteader
- 12. Restoration Agriculture
- 13. The Homestead Companion
- 14. Seed to Seed – Seed Saving and Growing Techniques
- 15. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner
- 16. Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century
- 17. Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills
- 18. The New Self-Sufficient Gardener
- The More Homesteading Books, the Better!
The 18 Best Homesteading Books of 2023 – Summary
What Is Homesteading?
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 the goal to live self-sufficiently and sustainably. In most cases, homesteading involves a person or family living together in a home or on a property. These homesteaders will plant a large garden and raise animals to produce 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.
Back in the 1800s, people had to rely on their knowledge and word of mouth to develop land and survive. They needed to learn how to raise animals, grow food, forage, make tools, build, and repair their homes. Modern homesteaders, luckily, have the internet and books at their disposal to help them learn these skills.
The 18 Best Homesteading Books For Beginners
So, are you ready to explore some awesome homesteading books that will inspire you to try some new techniques?
Then, let’s take a look at our most beloved homesteading books. As we go, we’ll also talk about why we think they’re worth a spot on your bookshelf.
1. The Encyclopedia of Country Living
This book is one of our unanimous favorites.
This excellent homesteading encyclopedia is 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, organic 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, for example.
It’s truly a comprehensive guide, as each category breaks down in the form of an encyclopedia book. That way, you will be able to keep tabs on valuable information when you need it.
If you only want to get one homesteading book, this one is a safe bet. It’s incredibly thorough and full of ideas to help you find new ways to homestead or improve the skills you already know.
2. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
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 is 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. All the while, he also served as a veterinary department livestock officer.
In the 408 pages of this book, you’ll get an intro to topics like growing conditions for plants, how to use a wood-burning stove, and how to build a cheap backyard chicken coop.
The Self-Sufficient Life and How To Live It is one of the best homesteading reference books that gets our top recommendation!
3. Barnyard in Your Backyard
This is one of the best books on homesteading if you want to raise farm animals, whether you choose chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, sheep, or cattle.
Gail Damerow, the author of this book, provides you with reliable answers to some common questions like:
- 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?
However, it’s also a great book for beginner homesteaders interested in getting their very first animal. Each chapter covers a different animal, listing out the pros and cons of raising it, the care requirements it will need, the products it can offer, and the best practices for feeding.
It’s the perfect starter guide for a soon-to-be livestock operation since it’s very honest about what to expect in the coming years after bringing in a new animal to your homestead.
So, 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 and Natural Soapmaking contains 192 pages of helpful information for your soapmaking journey! Here’s why I’m a fan – especially for new homesteaders.
Author Jan Berry is an herbalist and offers a comprehensive guide to making wonderful botanical soaps from the things you already have on your homestead.
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 a self-sufficient lifestyle, you should consider learning to make soap!
Detailed tutorials and step-by-step photos shine in this book, which will help beginners to understand the soapmaking process. Plus, it has several charts, covering things like oil conversions and natural pigments, that any soapmaker will find useful as a reference.
Overall, the book features more than 50 different all-natural soaps. Plus, fun ideas are sprinkled throughout as you learn about the soap creation process and ingredients.
5. No Dig Organic Home & Garden
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 in this book on homesteading.
Authors Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty offer a thorough explanation of how to set up a no-dig vegetablegarden in this book.
Now, if you haven’t heard of no-dig gardening, get ready for a big game changer. No-dig gardens involve compost and enriched soil production, sowing and growing annual and perennial vegetables, and year-round harvesting and food preparation.
Growing a no-dig garden, then, not only allows you to tuck the shovel away in your shed. It also enriches your soil and uses a more organic approach to sowing.
Also included in this book are tips on how to make natural cosmetics, cleaning products, and garden preparations. You will also get delicious recipes made from vegetables that you may find tremendously appetizing. How does a vegan chocolate rhubarb cake sound?
Sounds good to me!
6. The Forager’s Harvest
Want to know which wild plants are edible? If you explore your own backyard, there are likely at least 32 common healing plants and edible plants that you can collect!
This is the ultimate foraging book, and you’ll find it in the library of almost every foraging fanatic. Accordingly, it’s a very useful volume to have on hand when you’re living off the land.
The Forager’s Harvest book gives you a heads-up on identifying many wild edible plants. However, it also covers where you can find them, best harvesting practices, what their culinary use is, how to make natural remedies with them, and their cultural history.
Also, you’ll find some awesome recipes and preservation instructions in this book. Want to know more about freezing, canning, and drying edible wild plants? This book covers it all in spades!
Read More: The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies – My Honest Review
7. Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living
Regardless of where you live, whether it’s a city, suburb, or spot way out in the middle of nowhere, here’s a book that helps you achieve a self-reliant way of living.
Growing your food and raising farm animals are parts of homesteading, but there is more to the homesteading lifestyle than that! It’s also about living more sustainably, which is where this book becomes incredibly useful.
Attainable Sustainable, published by National Geographic, includes tons of recipes, natural remedies, DIY crafts, and step-by-step directions for outdoor projects. These projects include foraging for wild edible plants, beekeeping, candlemaking, and cast iron cooking.
This guide is a truly revolutionary homesteading resource for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint and make use of nature instead of pre-packaged products. So, using this book’s tips and tutorials will save you money, help the environment, and give you the skills you need to make some incredible things! It’s a win-win-win!
8. The Homestead Canning Cookbook
I think that food storage is one of the most vital things homesteaders need to learn.
Canning and food preservation is a tricky subject. When I started learning food preservation and food storage, I was always nervous that I had done something wrong and was going to accidentally poison my family.
For that reason, having one ultimate guide to canning is really helpful. Everyone has their own way of doing things, which is why using the internet isn’t always that useful when learning to can.
Having a complete guide can give you a stable framework to build off of. That way, you can learn the basics without coming across any conflicting information.
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. In this book, she will teach you how to process and store fruit, vegetables, meat, sauces, soups, and more.
If you want to stockpile your family’s favorite foods whenever there is a shortage at the grocery store, this essential homesteading resource 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
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, even if you don’t have much space! The Backyard Homestead also contains heaps of practical advice on how to raise animals for meat, eggs, and dairy.
This book also includes basic step-by-step instructions for canning, drying, and pickling.
Author Carleen Madigan was previously a managing editor of Horticulture Magazine and lived on an organic farm outside Boston. Her advice is super helpful and easy to follow, which makes this guide even better!
10. Rebuilding the Foodshed
Creating secure food systems that are sustainable and local sounds like an unpleasant chore at first. Still, local food is one of the best resources to have for your homesteading lifestyle.
In this book, Philip Ackerman-Leist addresses the rebuilding of regional food systems that can replace the harmful aspects of industrial agriculture. Secure food systems can also help you meet your food demands and allow you to become self-reliant enough to get through rough times.
Inefficient transportation, high energy needs, and excessive food waste often plague food systems. However, Philip presents unique models for growing food and then processing and distributing it.
The quirky and humorous tone that this Vermont farmer uses in this book is worth noting. It really makes this subject a lot of fun to read about, which is great news since the info is so useful.
11. The Weekend Homesteader
The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess is an impressive twelve-month guide for becoming more self-sufficient. Overall, it’s an exceptional resource for self-reliant homesteaders.
This book is stuffed with cool homestead projects. Right away, you will notice the monthly format that this book uses. So, if you have limited time in a week and want to work on short homesteading projects, this might be the best book for you.
Instructions and tips for taking care of backyard chickens, growing the best species of berries, and planting in a no-till vegetable garden are all covered in this book.
The author also breaks down the basics of seasonal cooking and eating very well, helping you plan your meals around what’s growing outside and what you have preserved. You’ll also read about the basics of canning, freezing, and drying in full detail.
12. Restoration Agriculture
Not familiar with holistic approaches to farming and organic 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 are the essential components 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 to make it more sustainable.
It’s full of helpful tips for planning your garden using companion planting and guilds, which, ultimately, will make your garden much more fruitful. Plus, you won’t have to do as much work, either.
In addition, the author is very passionate about farming and organic gardening! His instructional words (and charisma) will jump off the pages as you read, which makes this book a real page-turner.
13. The Homestead Companion
Want to live the dream of being an efficient homesteader despite your current living condition? This might be the best book on homesteading for you!
Jennifer Poindexter wrote The Homestead Companion to teach people on tight budgets basic homesteading skills. The title of Chapter 4 flat out reads How to Homestead Even When You’re Broke, so Jennifer can relate to those who have questioned whether they can afford homesteading or not.
This book is perfect for people who want to start homesteading in an urban or suburban setting. It even has tips for homesteading in an apartment, breaking the boundaries that a lot of people feel around the ‘homesteading lifestyle.’
Ultimately, reading The Homestead Companion will give you a test as to whether or not you are ready to take on the homesteading lifestyle. However, even if you aren’t ready to implement everything the book teaches you (such as buying land and raising goats, cattle, and chickens) it’s full of helpful tips to help you make little changes to your lifestyle – for the better!
The Homestead Companion also prepares beginner homesteaders for potential pitfalls and issues with farm finances, should you plan on launching your homesteading dream. Immense value is in this book!
14. Seed to Seed – Seed Saving and Growing Techniques
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced homesteader, prepare to have your mind blown when you dig into this book!
The extensive research done by author Suzanne Ashworth and editor Kent Whealy for this book is golden. In this volume, you’ll find instructions for harvesting and saving seeds from over 160 different vegetables. However, it doesn’t stop there!
This is also a guide on pollinating and seed-starting techniques that the author has custom-tailored to each specific veggie!
So, whether you want to keep your heirloom seeds in the family, increase pollination rates, or just save seeds from grocery store produce, this book is just what you have been looking for!
15. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner
Launching, working on, and finishing DIY projects are a vital part of the homesteading lifestyle. If you give it a try, you’ll see why.
You can save tons of money and reuse the materials you already have when you do it yourself. Plus, you can fully customize your projects for the ultimate convenience!
In this book, you’ll find great ideas for creating a perfectly structured greenhouse, making new chicken coops and pigeon lofts, and building raised garden beds.
The tips 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. What’s not to love?
16. Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century
I love this homesteading book. It’s a bit like The Encyclopedia of Country Living, but it’s a bit more catered toward people living in urban and suburban settings. For that reason, this book is super inclusive, which is all good in my book!
This book is a comprehensive guide, covering almost anything you’d want to know about homesteading. While it offers information on farm infrastructure and renewable energy, it also includes instructions for pickling, canning, creating green cleaning solutions, keeping animals for meat and other products, foraging, and so, so, much more.
The authors are a father and son, Dick and James Strawbridge, who have learned all of these techniques while living in various places, from urban settings to countryside retreats.
Their knowledge is particularly useful for its versatility. There’s no gatekeeping here. They make it plain that you can be a homesteader and live more sustainably no matter where you are.
17. Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills
This is my absolute favorite homesteading book. While it is a little bit outdated and the illustrations are very 70s, the nature of the information inside is timeless. This book really covers everything you’ll ever need to know to get started with homesteading – from spinning yarn to planning vegetable garden layouts to canning to shoemaking to crafting with gourds.
This guide, meant for the absolute beginner, even walks you through how to select a piece of land to homestead on. Then, it goes through the basics of farm planning, raising livestock, crafting with natural resources, providing alternative energy to your homestead, and so much more.
The only negative about this book is that it’s not an in-depth guide to anything. Instead, it gives you an introduction to hundreds of different homesteading skills.
However, I’ve found that this book has given me the basic skills and inspiration to find other resources including books and websites to continue building my knowledge in the skills I like the most.
18. The New Self-Sufficient Gardener
If you want an ultimate twelve-month guide to food production in the garden, this is the one for you.
When you open up this book, the first things you’ll notice are the incredible illustrations. The art in this book is simply exquisite. However, it’s also super helpful for planning a homestead that doesn’t interrupt your land’s natural ecosystem.
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener does not shy away from the details, but it presents these details in an interesting and engaging way. The illustrations really draw your eyes in and help to explain things that can sometimes be difficult to understand. That makes it great for first-time gardeners and experienced homesteaders alike.
In addition, the book covers very specific information on tons of different crops and veggies, building raised garden beds, crop rotation, companion planting, and organic fertilizing.
This book isn’t just for beginners, which is what makes it such an essential homesteading book, in my opinion. It gives you room to grow and offers tons of useful info, including plans for greenhouse-like bed covers, ideas for expanding your organic garden, and ways to use your crops.
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, it requires plenty of work, but the homesteading journey 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!
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