In most books, 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 and living healthily.
However, you’ll probably need to know more about how to become more self reliant if off grid living appeals to you. So, what about the best self sufficient living books? Well, you have come to the right place!
For most people, the best self sufficient living books are The Encyclopedia of Country Living, which is best for people in the USA, and The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, which has plenty of tips for people living in England.
In this article, we’ll show you all our favorite guides to self sufficient living and tell you why we love them. We’ve also ranked them based on how many of us had them on our shelves and used them regularly.
So, want to find a great guide to self reliance? Let’s talk books, then!
- Best Self Sufficient Living Books
- 1. Best Overall: The Encyclopedia of Country Living
- 2. Runner-Up: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
- 3. Best For Homemaking Off-Grid: Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living
- 4. Best For Beginner Building: DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner
- 5. Best For Self Reliance on Small Plots: Mini-Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
- 6. Best For Construction: Earth-Sheltered Houses
- 7. Best Generalist Self Reliance Book: Back-to-Basics 4th Edition
- 8. Best For Saving Water: The Complete Guide to Water Storage
- 9. Best for Off-Gridders: One Acre and Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It
- Self Sufficiency Isn’t An Overnight Process
Best Self Sufficient Living Books
When your goal is to be self-sufficient, you can’t just start with no knowledge – that’s a recipe for disaster. Believe it or not, there’s a lot to learn about before you set out on a plot of land to grow your own food, find your own water supply, raise animals, and create a home.
But asking a personal trainer to teach you how to live off grid isn’t really an option for most people. Well, that’s just where the best self reliance books come in.
These books are worthy of your trust, whether you’re in a tight situation and have no water to drink or you want to use goat milk to make luxury homestead soaps.
So, before we get into the details, let’s take a quick overview of the books we use the most on our own homesteads:
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Alrighty! Now, let’s take a deeper look between the pages of each book and discuss why you might or might not want some of them depending on the types of self reliance you value most:
1. Best Overall: 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 high-quality information.
It covers almost everything you’d ever need to know about living off the grid. If you intend to raise farm animals like goats, for example, then there is a section in this book dedicated to that topic. Want to build your own barn or plan a sustainable garden? This book covers all that, too – and much more.
Carla Emery does a fantastic job putting out all the details you will need to get a better understanding of things like 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.
If you are getting started in homesteading, you can go check out our post on the top 18 homesteading books. Spoiler: this book was one of our top picks over there, too. It’s just that great!
2. Runner-Up: The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It
This textbook-like comprehensive guide to self sufficient life is basically the British version of the The Encyclopedia of Country Living. This volume 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. Best For Homemaking Off-Grid: 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. Best For Beginner Building: DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner
The homesteading lifestyle would be 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 , complete with plans to help you increase your self reliance skill,s will help you manage each project by breaking it 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 to your wallet.
Betsy Matheson keeps it simple and practical, as you can easily follow along with the process of new DIY projects like building greenhouses, garden beds, root cellars, solar systems, rainwater irrigation systems, and beehives.
Because of its blueprint-like approach to self sufficient living, this is one of the best books for people who want to learn to construct different structures on their homestead.
5. Best For Self Reliance on Small Plots: 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!
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 is a complete bargain!
6. Best For Construction: 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. Best Generalist Self Reliance Book: 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 is one of the best, most famous books for self sufficient homesteaders, bushcrafters, and all types of people who care about self reliance.
It’s a complete back-to-basics guide to developing traditional skills like brewing, shoemaking, gardening, constructing buildings, selecting land, and crafting practical household items like fabric and gourd ladles.
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.
The only downside is that it’s out of print, and finding a copy can be tricky. It’s on Amazon and available through many secondhand retailers, though.
8. Best For Saving Water: The Complete Guide to Water Storage
One overlooked aspect of what it takes to achieve self reliance is the ability to store water – something this book can really help you with! 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 it.
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. Best for Off-Gridders: 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!