Starting a homestead is not only a lot of physical work, but a lot of mental work trying to figure out how to get started. I’ve written about 19 solid steps to getting started with a homestead, but even that is insufficient. There is a big learning curve.
While you cannot expect to learn everything at once (you will never stop learning if you have a homestead), the books I have listed below I have found to be invaluable to getting a homestead up and running successfully.
If you have titles I have not listed, but all means add your suggestion to the comments section.
Homesteading Books You Will Want to Read
Everything I Want to Do is Illegal — Joel Salatin is easily the most popular farmer in the world, and for good reason. His farming practices are absolutely game-changing. Read this book to get something of a grasp on the legal hurdles that Big Food has lobbied for in DC against the small-time farmer. You’ll learn the loopholes to follow, and a bit of how to play the game from here.
The Resilient Farm and Homestead — Easily my favorite book on homesteading ever written. Faulk literally created a self-sustaining system up in Maine, and much of what I do at my farm is patterned from his work and research. This book isn’t just a list of how-to’s, it’s a philosophy. You’ll learn the “why” on such a deeper level than you ever would otherwise on various permaculture techniques. It’s well worth the money.
Eat Good Food — I had the privilege of meeting one of the authors of this book several years ago. Food is meant to be used. This book will help you to better understand the culinary aspects of organic food: what to look for ingredient-wise, how to prepare it, and so on. There are several farmer interviews throughout the book that I’ve found to be beneficial as well. And the recipes, well, let’s just say they’re superb.
Mycelium Running — Paul Stamets is the king of the mushroom field. I’ve studied mushrooms for quite some time now, and I’ve yet to come across anyone who has done as much for the field of mycology as he has. If you are looking at growing your own mushrooms (and you should), this is an excellent place to start.
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation — Another fascinating book that is not nearly as hard to read as its title suggests. I’m not entirely sure why mycologists insist on obscure book titles. Nevertheless, this book is superb, and has a number of informative tips and methods that will help you to better grow your own mushrooms and to fully use them to their potential.
Square Foot Gardening — As I mentioned above, I truly believe that this is the best book on gardening ever written. I’ve followed Bartholomew’s instructions to a tee in my upper garden, and the sheer amount of produce that I’ve been able to grow utilizing constant crop rotation has been incredible. I literally never have any wasted space, and I’m able to keep pests and disease almost to nonexistent levels using what Bartholomew teaches. Buy this book in the fall and read it in the winter. This will give you plenty of time to stew over what Mel has to say.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens — Really, when it comes to raising any form of livestock, you should find and buy the Storey’s Guide on that particular animal. When it comes to raising chickens, I’ve found Storey’s to be the best book out there on the subject, and there are a lot of books out there on chickens, believe me.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs — It’s a Storey’s Guide. You can’t go wrong here.
The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals — I find myself turning to this book more than just about any of the others that I have. It’s by no means a definitive discussion of each subject inside, but it offers such a breadth of subject matter, that I find it useful to turn here first to see what they have to say before turning to other sources. Highly entertaining with a lot of great pictures as well.
The Flower Farmer — If you have any interest whatsoever in raising flowers for market, you have to buy and study this book. I’ve read just about every book on gardening that I can get my hands on, and this is the definitive resource on raising flowers on a mass scale that I have found to date.
The Beekeeper’s Bible — This is my go-to reference for my honeybees. Bees can be tricky sometimes when it comes to managing pests and diseases. You’ll need some form of reference to turn to when things get hairy in the hive. This is mine.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Living — A very nice resource to turn to when you have questions to anything homesteading-related. I find this book nice to have just from a prepping standpoint as well. Post-collapse, this encyclopedia will get you started in doing whatever it is that you’re not entirely sure how to do in order to fully live off the land.
Folks, This Ain’t Normal — This is the perfect book club book for this subject matter. It’s more of a look at the current world of food and farming than it is anything else, and by the time you get through you’ll understand why the humble farmer is so important, and why he is vital to our health. Salatin does a wonderful job of explaining all of this while simultaneously bemoaning the fact that farmers are one of the most hated peoples in the United States.
The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer — This book was the door to farming for me. I had never read a book on farming until I read this, and I consider it one of Salatin’s best works. Within these pages is not only loads of helpful farming advice, but a picture of just what it is to be a farmer. It’s not a memoir, it’s an honest look at what farming is supposed to be, and what we need to do to get there.
Gaia’s Garden — I consider this the second best permaculture book ever written, right behind Faulk’s work. There is a lot of in-depth analysis of permaculture techniques with beautiful pictures that make it incredibly easy to see the subject matter being discussed. I highly recommend this one when you are in the planning stage of your homestead.
Secret Garden of Survival / Secret Livestock of Survival / Secret Greenhouse of Survival — Okay, that’s three books, but they’re all by Rick Austin, the founder of Prepper Camp, wrote this bestselling series, and I’ve yet to find a book that tackles the same subject matter. If you live in an area where you are concerned about OPSEC, confidentiality, HOAs, or the Golden Horde, then you need to read these books while you’re in the planning stage of your homestead. Within these pages, Rick will show you how to grow food and raise livestock at your house without other people knowing.
Mother Earth News — Though a magazine and not a book, it is hard to beat M.E.N. when it comes to getting creative and quality farming and homestead ideas. These are truly the only magazines that I get that I do not throw away. The information within them is simply that good. I have yet to open an issue and leave without learning something new. I highly recommend a subscription.
Homesteading Books Happy Reading
There are plenty of books there to keep you reading for a good long while. As I said in the beginning, I welcome any comments you have. I’m sure there are many more books!