List Of Favorite Reference Books For Preparedness & Homesteading

list of reference books for preparedness and homesteading

Survival, Preparedness, Homesteading skills. There are MANY potential topics therein! The question is, “What are your recommendations for reference books in this regard?”

I have purchased a number of survival / homesteading / preparedness-related reference books over the years. I’m not talking about novels (which I also have my fair share). Rather, books for referencing “how-to”, etc..

Here’s one of the first books I purchased many years ago. It remains quite popular today. Here’s the latest edition:

The Encyclopedia Of Country Living
(view on amzn)

Another popular reference book for (medical) preparedness is the classic by Joseph and Amy Alton:

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide For When Help Is Not On The Way
(view on amzn)

Or what about this one which we purchased a number of years ago (one of our home canning reference books). Here’s the latest edition:

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
(view on amzn)

There are LOTS of books for preparedness & homesteading reference. And lots of areas of interest.

I am interested to gather your recommendations. That will enable me to update this post with a preferred list based on your input (not just my own).

It will help those who who happen upon this post at a later time through a web search or just searching this site…

>> It will be easier to capture your recommendations if you list each title on a separate line.

Okay, ready, set, go!

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53 Comments

  1. Good recommendations, i will add them to the library.
    Already have the ball canning.
    I find books at thrift stores, and used bookstores. Just to many too list, some I have not had the time to read.

  2. A note to MSB friends and the rest o the community.
    if you use a digital device like an Ipad, and utilize the cloud, make sure you have your books downloaded.
    recently got a new Ipad and yes it downloaded music as i listened or books as i read them, but most were stored in the cloud so if something went awry they would not be available.
    personally am going to put everything on a couple flash drives so i can access them from other devices

    1. Kula,

      Good point. I go one step further and keep electronic books, documents, movies, etc., on an external hard drive that lives in a small Faraday cage and update regularly.

      1. I have a 4 TB in a fireproof box that holds all my hard drive data for the last 10 years.
        I did this after loosing my 9/11 videos and pics.

  3. Seed to Seed- Ashworth
    Small Scale Grain Raising- (love all Gene Logsdon’s books)
    A good gardening reference book for your growing area.

    1. Homesteadergal
      books like that are far more important than many folks realize, simple stuff, but without that knowledge many will be stumped.
      seeds, backyard homesteading, these are subjects that could well mean the difference between making it and not.

  4. I like to gift copies of The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan. Helpful for those tied to an urban area.

  5. Two books we reference all the time are:

    Root Cellaring by Mike & Nancy Bubel ,excellent info on storing fruits and vegetables.

    Growing and Canning Your Own Food by Jackie Clay ,great info and recipes too.

    Another book ,especially for new homesteaders ,is another by Jackie Clay, Homesteading Simplified.

  6. Ours are in storage because of the season we are in at the present time. Will have to pass that data long to you at a later date.

  7. Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia Reference. These show you what drugs are used for and the doses, and the interchange of of most drugs.

  8. Fox Fire (full set)
    Back to Basics
    Crocket’s Victory Garden
    Anarchists Cookbook
    Scout Field Handbook (BSA)
    Bible
    America’s Gardening Book
    How To Brew
    The Survival Medical Handbook
    Reloading Handbook

    1. Have to be careful with the A Cookbook as I understand the recipes in the second edition+ were adjusted to ah burn the fingers of those cooking.

      1. Heard the same thing. I’m told you can kill yourself and others by trying some of the recipes

    2. Make sure your BSA manual is an older version, preferably 70’s or older.
      Too much BS in the newer BSA…

    3. I love my foxfire books. I have read them for years. Enough that I’ve had to replace a couple. I have the first and last version of the Back to Basics books as well. I have several scouting books from the 50s and 60s that were my personal books. They are a treasure.

  9. So many of my favorites have already been mentioned. Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living is in the top of the list. Ditto for Gene Logsden’s grains book and Seed to Seed. I guess the few I’d add are:

    In the medical area, Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech, and The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra, are incredibly useful. Another important one is the rather dry but essential Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions by Francis Brinker.

    General self-reliance: When Technology Fails by Matt Stein. Pretty good all-purpose reference, covers literally everything, from basic wild craft skills to alternative construction for shelters to home craft like weaving, making a still, soapmaking from scratch, etc…

    Most beat up book on my food preservation bookshelf is Stocking Up, 3rd edition, by Carol Hupping and Rodale Food Center staff. Covers canning, freezing, dehydrating, pickling/fermenting, salting, processing dairy into things, root cellaring and also lots of recipes and storage suggestions.

  10. Food – Cookbooks and food preservation books that are pre- 1980 when made from scratch was abandoned by many. An older red/white 3-ring binder cookbook with the basics – Better Homes and Garden or Betty Crocker is essential. More with Less Cookbook by the late Doris Longacre. Books on wild edibles and natural medicine appropriate for my area. Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cookbook.

    Clothing – Knitter’s Handbook and Vogue Sewing cover the basics of each.

    Finances – How to Manage Your Money (workbook) by Larry Burkett.

    Other – Foxfire series. Rawles’ How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. I have been compiling information onto checklists from that book along with the Complete Survival Manual (National Geographic) and The Disaster Preparedness Handbook (Dr. Bradley). Red Cross First Aid Textbook. I found old books on tree care and growing your own animal feed at garage sales.

    A really good non-fiction read that can shift your perspective is Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money by Dolly Freed.

    Bible – or what serves as the book for your faith.

    Garage sales, library/church/school book sales, flea markets, auctions, older relatives, and used bookstores are my usual sources.

    I was wondering if the Shooters Bible would be a good reference with regard to firearms?

  11. Oh..
    Ships medical guide
    The new victory garden
    Crockett’s victory garden.
    These three I have. the actual books.

    Not directly homesteading but they are good additional books to have.

    Actually need to go look through my physical book collection.

    1. Forgot to mention I have FoxFire books 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in PDF if anyone wants them.
      Around 80mb in size total.
      Dunno how I can give them out, possibly send to Ken and he can post them somewhere with a link ?

      I have them and 25 ebooks of survival fiction available in the
      file section of the survival group STDA@groups.io
      No idea if you’ll like the group or not just informing.

  12. Thanks for making this a separate thread Ken. For the new folks out there, when the unexpected arises, the “survivors” are those that tend to be quiet but always in purposeful motion or tending to the needs of body, mind and soul or the needs of others. I was reminded of this during the last series of fires around my neighborhood.

    Rather than have 1 book, I have a series of books and manuals on how to do things from gardening and cooking to casting lead bullets and reloading manuals. The following is a short list of some of the most useful books and manuals on my bookshelves in my home:

    I have already mentioned the book Expedition Canoeing because the author ( Cliff Jacobson ) served as a guide and leader for unsupported wilderness trips in and around the Arctic Circle.

    Wester Gardening guide for my location because i am west of the Rockies. A lot of good gardening info for my climate zone both in California and and my present location.

    Speer Reloading manual #14 edition.
    Lyman Cast Bullet Manual #3 edition
    Ball Canning guide
    Joy of Cooking: has been in print for several generations now. One of the few cook books that address cooking wild game like venison and bear meat, ( Among my hunting mentors: many knew how to field dress. Few knew how to cook in a kitchen and feed large numbers of people or turn field dressed meat into good tasting food for the table. Over the years, I have tried to be proficient in the kitchen as well as the field ).

  13. I came into an interesting book , Improvised Munitions, Black Book Vol 1.
    Very informative

  14. Hi everyone! Finally getting back to MSB! Been reading but not commenting much. So busy here. All major projects except one (new fencing) are done this year! Whoop! Whoop! Now just putting the garden to bed and cleaning up the homestead. Lets see: Favorite books…anything seed-saving, anything homesteading. I have books for beekeeping. And might I add if you have animals get some veterinary medical books. Some good ones:

    Quick Reference to Veterinary Medicine
    The Merck Veterinary Manual
    Dr Pitcairns Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
    Whats Wrong with My Horse?

    And get any others for the animals you have. I LOVE my books!!
    Love hearing how everyone is doing. Gonna get crazy people! Love ya all!

  15. I am making my own ‘book’. I print the information I want from the web then put it in a binder. We have many recipes from cooking from scratch to processing food and processing meat for storage. I also have first aid info printed. I am always looking for natural remedies. I print many of the articles from here to save. Survival library dot com is also a good site to down load books.

    1. I do the same. I have 3 ring binders full of printed material or notes that I took while learning from others. I put them in clear page protectors I get from Office Depot. They have held up well. My kids come to visit and will copy pages on my printer and take home with them.

  16. -The Bible
    -Herbal Antibiotics
    -Herbal Antivirals
    -Machinery Handbook
    -The Ball Bluebook
    -Holmes books- the DIY firearms series
    -CIA Munitions Black books (1-3)
    -ARRL dot org- numerous HAM radio handbooks and topics
    -Root Cellaring
    -The Survival Medicine Handbook
    -Numerous “How To” topic books by turn of the last century author Paul Nooncree Hasluck, (which you can get reprints of at ForgottenBooks dot com at a reasonable cost)- myriad of topics
    -Small Scale Grain Raising
    -The Making of Tools
    -numerous Audel’s Guides for construction
    -From Vines to Wines
    -Start with the Soil
    -Foxfire books (1-9?)
    -Production of Grapes & Wine in cool climates
    -The grape grower’s handbook
    -Build it better Yourself
    -Stocking Up
    -Code Check Books- Electrical and Plumbing, mechanical
    -Museum of Early American Tools
    -Field Guides for the Western US- Birds, Plants, dragonflies, etc
    -Weeds of the West
    -Pests of the West
    -Numerous geology and mineral field/textbooks

  17. – When I was moving around for Uncle, it was commonplace for “Professional Books” to be weighed separately and not be counted against Household Goods limits. Even when moving from Denver back in the early ‘70s, not all of my bookshelves held ‘medical’ titles, and even then, I had 65# of books in my shelves.
    I would be hard-pressed to recommend one book as a reference;

    Mother Earth News magazine, if you can get the electronic copies from #1-60 or thereabouts, would be useful. The later copies are available, but of far less value in my opinion. Paper copies are occasionally available, but far over-priced.
     
    The Boy Scout handbook, either the original or the 1960’s printing (sorry, mine are not where I can get that information at the moment).
     
    The Boy Scout Fieldbook and the

    Survival & Camping Merit Badge pamphlets, among others, also from the 60’s/70’s.

    There are a number of military FM/TM’s which are available online for free. Many of these have good information and can be downloaded to a flash drive. A Faraday cage would be a likely place to store such.

    Others have mentioned Where there is No Doctor & Where there is No Dentist; these would mostly be useful for someone who has little or no medical training., under 3rd world conditions.

    Hope this helps.

    – Papa S.

  18. If you live in Tennessee, Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians this book on wild flowers would be helpful for identification on medicinal plants. Name is
    Wildflowers of Tn. Ohio valley, and So. Appalachians. The map area is north east Ark., south east (about half) of Mo., southern half of ILL., most all of Ind. and Ohio, south western part of (about half of PA., all of Ky and W Vir., most of Va the western part, mountains of NC, western part of SC., all of Tn., and the northern parts of GA, AL, MS. Good photos and some basic info on the medicinal use of the plant.

    1. Mrs U
      that would be a good topic for ken to start a list on all its own,
      books on regional edible and medicinal plants
      i have a few that are specific to my state,
      Medicine at Your Feet is one
      has all the endemic and indigenous medicinals

  19. Janes Chem – Bio Handbook. Information on how to handle chem and bio warfare. Also remember the Nuclear War and Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearny

    1. The Foragers Harvest, a guide of identification, harvesting and preparing wild edibles.
      A Backwoods Home
      series, all through their existence of publication.
      Reloading for shotgunners, 4th edition….thanks cali.
      A binder of my mom’s favorite hand written recipes.
      And a Ford 800 spec and repair manual.

      1. The Foragers Harvest I also highly recommend as well as Backwoods Home. As compared to The Mother Earth News, which I consider to be hippy comedy, Backwoods Home is very fundamental useful information, thanks to Dave and Jackie amongst others.

  20. Lucked out a while back. Was home on vacation when Borders Books went out of business. Went to my local and scooped up lots of books at amazing discounts. Storey and others on raising goats, beef, dairy, chickens, rabbits, bees, ducks, horses, and sheep. Also ID books for minerals, mushrooms, shells, fish, insects. Books on various construction topics, home repair, gardening, herbs. Food preservation like drying and pickling, beer and wine making, cheese making, root cellaring, smoking, and curing. Over the past 50 years have gathered gardening, cooking books, and quilting books and the odd ones like Handbook of Knots and Rodale’s Build It Better Yourself. Favorites by far are Rodale’s How To Grow Fruits and Vegetables By the Organic Method, Gene Logsdon’s Successful Berry Growing, and Ruth Stout’s No-Work Garden Book. These on top of many that have been mentioned already. Have some post-a fiction. Been interesting how an author’s emphasis on something has informed my preps.

  21. The best book we’ve got on food is “The Home Preserving Bible” by Carole Cancler. This book explains the why and the how of preservation techniques.

    “Home Sausage Making” by Charles G. Reavis & Evelyn Battaglie with Mary Reilly is an entry level introduction to the topic.

    “Outdoor Survival” by Garth Hattingh (New Holland Press 2004) is a solid and compact paperback that has it all;

    1. Survival principles
    2. Basic kit
    3. Clothing & shelter
    4. Food & water
    5. Traps & snares
    6. Fires & food preparation
    7. Navigation
    8. Making a move
    9. Medical know-how
    10. Communication and interaction
    11. Glossary
    12. Index
    13. Survival charts
  22. I have hundreds and my family has more than most libraries.

    Integrated Forest Gardening, The Merck Manual, and the classic Readers Digest Complete Do it Yourself Manual are books I give people that are fresh homeowners..

    There are others I have found useful like “Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips: 153 Amazing…” But I wouldn’t call it a reference.
    I am trying to refrain from the typical books.

  23. The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing and Sausage Making. By Philip Hasheider. Trekker Out

  24. Ten Acres Enough, written late 1850’s thru the Uncivil War. City fella sells his business and buys dilapidated 10 acre farm. With his Wife and two kids he makes it profitable by studying Ag books of the time and observing others. He dislikes the modern fertilizers as he believes they will burn up the soil so he goes the manure and compost way. He records all expenditures and profits. His experiences and methods can be applied to modern times. I try to model after his ways as I like to practice the “I ain’t got no money, so what’cha gonna do now” method. A good read and very informative.

    1. I only have a small garden but I don’t like putting chemicals in it either. I compost and manure. I get an amazing amount of food from a 30×30 garden spot.

  25. About a year or so back, my wife was becoming interested in wild edibles and foraging, so I went on Amazon and found a couple of different guides for our area, these could become very useful. I do advise most to ignore mushrooms, too little benifit for an unacceptable amount of risk, in my opinion.

    1. Some mushrooms are a bit iffy, however there are edible and medicinal shrooms which are fool proof to id. Turkey Tail for one. Watch on you tube channel, Learn Your Land, the young man is very very concise and does a great job at describing and showing the difference in mushrooms. The fungi have some minerals which are a necessary to life.

  26. So many excellent books have already been suggested here. I am blessed to have quite a library of books. I’m a reader/learner. I don’t watch much TV. So I have a good bit of reference, non-fiction, and fiction books. I suggest in addition to those already listed are:

    A complete manual on each firearm you own.
    All books by Rawles, James Wesley
    All books by Mel Tappan.
    A complete set of Storey books.
    Black and Decker DIY series for building and construction.
    The Backwoodsman Magazine (back issues can be ordered or ebay for cheap)
    Fur-Fish-Game “I Knew That” book on tips and tricks.
    Gunsmithing Kinks Volumes 1-4 by Bob Brownell.
    Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game
    No Second Place Winner by Bill Jordan (finest lawman and pistolero I ever met- and the only man I ever met with bigger hands than me)
    Both books by Skeeter Skelton (books are good reads and you can learn pistol craft)
    The Art of the Rifle by Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper
    Any book on plants and trees native to your area.
    A repair manual for all of your equipment like tractors or vehicles. (own a vehicle you can fix yourself. A 85 chevy truck is a lot easier to repair than a 2020 model and cheaper)
    A Foxfire book that doesn’t normally get mention or included in set purchases is the “Planting by the Signs: Mountain Gardening”
    All the US Military Field Manuals you can download and print

    And you need some fiction in your life:

    All books by C.S. Lewis
    All books by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The Grapes of Wrath
    Rudyard Kipling Poetry and Short Stories
    Louis L’Amour
    Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Catcher in the Rye

    My list could go on for a while, but I digress.

    1. BG in TX: I believe the “Little House on the Prairie” series should be a must-read for children. I didn’t have a tv most of the time my kids were young, but if I was raising kids now and had a tv, they’d only be watching The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, etc….not any of that crap “kid’s programming” that’s out there now.

      1. I agree. But get copies now. Because of the depiction of Indians in one of the books, the series has been removed from some libraries and some awards have been rescinded. PC strikes again.

  27. The latest edition of the Joy of Cooking is a wonderful book for yourself or for a gift. Nourishing Traditions for great recipes that are good for you.

    1. Angel Eyez:
      I have my mother’s copy of Joy Of Cooking, copyright date…. 1941, hand written in the title page…. 1942…
      What a wonderful part of history.
      And memories of how wonderful life really was.

  28. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer, 1975 edition. It is considered to be THE quintessential basic cookbook.

  29. “The Good Life” by Scott and Helen Nearing………Oh, I should add you will HATE/LOATHE/DESPISE their socialist viewpoint…but the book contains an amazing amount of useful information. I’ll also toss “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau onto my list. Alot of the other ones already mentioned by people are on my list. For budgeting, “Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyczyn.

    1. The Nearings have some good stuff, interesting reading for sure if one is homestead minded

      1. Kulafarmer: I enjoy watching old videos of the Nearings on YouTube. Other than their commie/socialist viewpoints (which people could substitute Christian or neutral other viewpoints), they were amazing at homesteading and their anti-banking, anti-corporation, anti-oppressive-gov’ment-control/etc and pay-as-you-go viewpoints were very good.

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