[Socrates is a total trip. I was first introduced to the Ancients in high school and continued to learn from and be amazed by them through my undergraduate Political Science work. Their ideas are so grand in the sense that they encompassed such a vast expanse of life and thought. More on that later, perhaps.]
I like to borrow knowledge from other people. I think that’s where part of the knowledge’s power come from: transferability. Or maybe communicability. Some of the most powerful viruses are the ones that be transmitted from one host to the next with relative ease. That’s not to say that knowledge is a disease, but more of a helpful bacteria like gut flora or the stuff in kefir. Anyway, knowledge is great and I love to read. I’ve put together a list of books that are really awesome non-fiction resources for self-reliance (see previous post) and I would fully recommend them to anyone who’s interested in being in control of more aspects of their life. I have provided links to author’s blog when applicable. I have also provided an opportunity to support your local bookstore and explore your local library by not including links to big-name retailers. Here are the books in no particular order:
The Scavengers’ Manifesto
My wife got this and the next book as a present for me on a whim and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both. There were a couple of harsh reviews on Amazon about this one, but what I think is great is that it helps you to change your mindset on the economic cycle and our nation’s obsession with new stuff that is quickly discarded (but not very biodegradeable). I think it’s worth the read, whether you scavenge it or not. The writers also have a wordpress blog at scavenger.wordpress.com that it a great expansion on the book’s information.
Green Barbarians: Lively Bravely on Your Home Planet
This one is a mind-blowing dive into the corrupt and misleading world of.. everything really. The book is well-organized into sections like the “The Barbarian Body” and “At the Barbarian’s Table” which discuss the dangers of and alternatives to conventional deodorants and soaps to the disturbingly damaging effects of soy on the human body, “Barbarian Pets” and “Little Barbarians” which, amongst other things, discuss the dangers that our children and pets are being exposed to just so corporate fat cats can continue to wear their human leather and drink dinosaur blood or something (this last part is from my mind, not the book). Definitely an informative and thought-provoking read.
One of the most ground-shaking non-fiction books I’ve read, Possum Living, is a somewhat-biographical passing of homestead knowhow and general information. Freed is the name the author adopted after she and her father essentially went of the grid. They lived relatively comfortably on just short of $1500 a year in the 1970s by raising chickens and rabbits, fishing, burning wood for heat, gardening and preserving. One of the standout parts for me included cures for common ailments, most of which involve homemade spirits and a run.
Backyard Lumberjack is awesome because it not only tells you how to cut down a tree, but how to identify what kind of tree it is, what it’s best used for, and what kind of axe you need to fell it. There are also a lot of great tips on buying chainsaws and gear. It’s good for a look and father-and-son team Frank and Stephen Philbrick did a great job organizing and writing it. I even flip through it sometimes without purpose because the photos are fantastic.
Building With Secondhand Stuff
If you’re interested in the idea of re-claiming, re-vamping, re-purposing, and re-using salvaged materials, then, as the name clearly suggests, this book is a great resource. Like Backyard Lumberjack, this book does a wonderful job of explaining the equipment that you need to get started safely. It also helps you to become more familiar with the best materials to re-use and some good leads on how to find them. Another similarity to Backyard Lumberjack that I enjoy is the stellar photography.
Little House in the Suburbs
This is kind of where it all started for me. I saw this book at the library and decided to give it a whirl. Turns out, this fascinating book contains a wealth of knowledge on all manner of topics like raising chickens, goats, and bees; gardening and composting; and making household and personal cleaning items and soaps. It helped to me visualize the kind of long-term and perpetual projects that I would like to have once we’ve found somewhere to put down roots as a family.
I also want to mention:
The Urban Homestead
I am in the processing of reading the first edition of this book and I’m enjoying it so far. I’ll come back when I’m done and elaborate if necessary.
I hope you get something out of one or more of these books. Remember, knowledge is power and, as Self-Reliants, it is our responsible to be stewards and users of that knowledge.