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9 Best Self Sufficient Living Books for Homesteaders and Pioneers

In the Oxford dictionary, the definition of the word “self sufficient” is simple. If you are self-sufficient, then you need no outside help in satisfying your own needs, especially when it comes to producing your own food.

If you are getting started in homesteading, you can go check out our post on the top 15 homesteading books.

However, you’ll probably want to know more about how to become more self-sufficient. So, what about the best self sufficient living books? Well, you have come to the right place!

Best Self Sufficient Living Books

1. The Encyclopedia of Country Living

This book cannot be recommended enough for those eager to start homesteading!

If you want to know the key details of basic farm life then you will get 928 pages of information. If you intend to raise farm animals like goats, for example, then there is a section in this book dedicated to that topic.

Carla Emery does a fantastic job putting out all the details you will need to get a better understanding of how to raise farm animals, how to preserve food, and how to deal with trees, vines, bushes, and brambles.

If you are looking for a book loaded with explanations on how to perform self-sufficient homesteading tasks, then this is your book. 

2. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It

The British version of The Encyclopedia of Country Living takes you through careful explanations of how to develop the most basic homesteading skills.

Being a pioneer of the “Back to Basics” movement, John Seymour will walk you through the philosophy of self-sufficiency and how it can change lives and create functional communities.

One example of how to become more self-sufficient, according to Seymour, is how you go about making a chicken coop. Branches, poultry wire, and empty feed bags are basically all you need to make the coop.

The details provided in this book are enough to empower the reader to take on homesteading tasks that previously may have been viewed as impossible. 

3. Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living

Whether you live in a city, suburban or rural location, this book will help you figure out how to find the homesteading pace that is right for you.

Being named the Best How-to Book of 2020 by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, you will receive an abundance of tips on how to do outdoor projects such as cast iron cooking, beekeeping, and foraging for wild berries.

You will also get great recipes for meals involving a smoky hot sauce and crusty sourdough baguette bread.

Love DIY projects?

Kris Bordessa has got you covered with crafts like dipping candles and dyeing fabrics. This book wonderfully hits the target as to why you should be more self-sufficient. 

4. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner

The homesteading lifestyle would be more boring if you didn’t have any DIY projects to do!

Thankfully, this book will keep you motivated to take on such projects. Especially if you have limited DIY skills, this book will help you manage each project by breaking them down into a parts list and a set of instructions for construction.

It’s all in good fun to learn how to do even one DIY project, and this book can fittingly be called a “springboard book” as it introduces you to self-sufficiency without taking many hits in your wallet.

Betsy Matheson keeps it simple and practical as you can easily following along with the process of a DIY project.

5. Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Is producing 85% of your family’s food supplies in just under one acre possible?

According to this book, the answer is absolutely yes!

If you have never been a farmer or gardener before, don’t worry! This book will share all sorts of tips on how to become self-sufficient with limited land.

Author Brett Markham will explain how to buy and save seeds, how to start seedlings, create raised beds, and how to handle potential pest and disease problems.

Want to raise backyard chickens and start canning? This book covers that too. As someone who owns under one acre of land, I myself can relate to a book like this one.

Its paperback price of around $14 is a complete bargain!

6. Earth-Sheltered Houses

Want to go underground and have an earth-roofed home that is off grid? Do you have a tight budget to work with? This book goes into great detail about why it is beneficial to shelter a home with earth.

Author Rob Roy has a ton of experience building and living in earth-sheltered homes, and he clearly presents the information necessary to create an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient home.

Rob specializes in cordwood construction and started the Earthwood Building School in 1981 to educate builders on cordwood materials.

Becoming self-sufficient typically starts with the foundation of your home, and you will get a finely written book that has 256 pages of valuable content that will last for years. 

7. Back-to-Basics 4th Edition

Ambitious enough to add a well to your off-grid home? Want to dye your own wool with plant pigments? Want to craft a hutch table with hand tools?

This 4th edition to a complete guide of developing traditional skills covers all of these topics.

This book is more than just practical advice as it gives you illustrated examples of how to perform tasks. The illustrations go so far as to break down accurate floor plans for a new home.

You also get tasty recipes for great dishes, which is always helpful if you enjoy cooking. In 456 pages, you are getting a full experience of what to prepare for should you choose to live off the grid. 

8. The Complete Guide to Water Storage

One overlooked aspect of what it takes to be self-sufficient is the ability to store water. You need a fresh source of water to survive, and it will be an uphill battle if you don’t have a way of storing fresh water.

You also need water to perform daily activities in and around the house such as cooking, cleaning, and mowing the lawn. Author Julie Fryer takes you through all the necessary steps to store water for both emergency and future use.

There are also hazards involved in water storage that you will learn more about, which include bugs, rodents, drains, inlets, outlets, and service access. If you start an off grid homestead, consider picking up this book.

9) One Acre and Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It

This book was first published in 1972, but its relevance to topics related to self-sufficiency remains timeless.

This book goes into the details of how you need to prepare for organic gardening on just one acre of land, how to raise herbs for money, and how to make your own wine.

If you are interested in raising animals like sheep, pigs, rabbits, frogs, and turtles, then Bradford Angier has it covered in his clever text.

Angier’s legacy lives on in more than 35 books on how to survive in the wild and how to be a minimalist off grid.

You are getting a book that is very informative, has solid instructions, and provides guidelines that are easy to follow. 

Self Sufficiency Isn’t An Overnight Process

Keep in mind that self-sufficiency isn’t an overnight process. It takes time to really get a feel for the homesteading lifestyle.

Once you have a system in place that suits the needs of yourself, your family, and your home, then you will start the see the roots of self-sufficiency develop.

What is so good about reading the best self sufficient living books such as the ones listed above is that you get different perspectives on what it is like to live off grid and how to stay self sufficient after making all the right preparations. 

Feel free to share your own tips on how to be more self-sufficient in your home! We would love to know more about your journey!


  • 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.