7 Books That Influenced My Journey To Self Sufficiency

7 Books that influenced my journey to self sufficiency | areturntosimplicity.com

I was 15 when the crazy homestead/gardening bug officially bit me.

I have always been an avid reader, so once I got it in my head that I wanted to grow and raise all of my own food, I began searching for the best books on the subject.

I found this book on the bookshelf at a homesteading friend’s house.

I asked if I could borrow it, and proceeded to read it cover to cover twice before returning it. I decided that I definitely needed a copy of my own. Covering pretty much every homesteading topic you can think of, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It is my all purpose, go-to reference book.

I found this book a year or so later, and quickly devoured it as well. I think one of the reasons Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Lifewas so inspiring to me is because it is set in my native state of Virginia.

It opened my eyes even more to the HUGE variety of plants that will flourish here in the Mid-Atlantic.


To me, these are the original permaculture books.

Long before the word permaculture was even established, Gene Stratton Porter was writing about the farming and agricultural practices of a few people in Michigan. Laddie: A True Blue Story, and The Harvester are two of my all-time favorite books for pleasure and educational reading. 




This cookbook revolutionized much of the US by starting the real food movement about two decades ago, and is still the mainstay of our diet philosophy.

Growing and raising all our own food fits perfectly with the principles the Dr. Weston Price discovered in the early 1900’s. I use my  Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.



Ok. So, I know they were written for kids, and are a somewhat glamorized version of life in the late 1800’s but I still love the Little House On The Prairie Series.

My favorite part is all the references and descriptions of the practical side of their lives. Reading about the old fashioned way of making cheese, butchering animals, gardening, and preserving is fascinating to me.




Last, but definitely not least, is a more recent book discovery. Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture has forever changed the way I garden and homestead.

Applying permaculture methods to our homestead has been super exciting and educational and I can’t wait to do more and more each year! I have only checked this book out of our local library, but I will be adding it to my personal library of homesteading books very soon!


 There are loads of other amazing books on the subject of being self-sufficient (think Joel Salatin, and all of his amazing books!), but these 7 books are the ones that influenced me most on my journey to self sufficiency!

7 Books that influenced my journey to Self Sufficiency | areturntosimplicity.com


This post has been shared at The Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday, Tuesdays With a Twist, The Backyard Farming Connection, The Homestead Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, Simple Lives, Link and Mingle, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Fridays,  From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Clever Chicks, Mommy Monday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, and The Art of Homemaking

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11 responses to “7 Books That Influenced My Journey To Self Sufficiency”

  1. Sherri Cotten says:

    And how many times have you read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series?
    I lost track years ago. So glad you love to read and learn.

  2. JES says:

    We also have The Self Sufficient Life and are still inspired by The Little House Series! So much to learn from Laura! Our other family favorite is Carla Emory’s Guide to Country Living.

    Thanks for sharing at the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week 🙂

  3. Jamie says:

    I read the Little House books so much growing up! It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I could actually live like that. I totally used to dress up like Caroline (She was my favorite) and pretend to live on the prairie. I was so relieved to realize I wasn’t the only one whose heart longed for these kind of things!

  4. This is a great list! I’ve added Laddie and the Harvester to my Amazon Wishlist. Animal Vegetable Miracle changed my life…love that book!

  5. Abbi says:

    I enjoyed reading your list! I too was much influenced by the Little House series (I had them practically memorized as a child and have enjoyed sharing them with my children as an adult) and also Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I am a fan of Gene Stratton Porter books as well but have never read The Harvester. Her book Keeper of the Bees was one that has influenced my life however – we are beekeepers today partly by the influence of that book. I also have Nourishing Traditions and have enjoyed learning from it. The Readers Digest book “Back to the Basics” was one I have enjoyed and read over and over again (I would check it out from the library often) since childhood. A year or so ago a friend found a used copy and got it thinking I would like it but she didn’t realize just how much I would. I had fun going on to our library site and requesting some of the other books you mentioned – I will look forward to reading them. We are interested in permaculture as well.

  6. Michelle Albanese says:

    We have the same taste in books! I have all of them except the Gaia book, which I just ordered from Amazon. You might also like The Beekeeper by Gene Stratton Porter. I am a beekeeper so I loved that one.

  7. Michelle Albanese says:

    I also enjoyed Gene Lodgson’s The Contrary Farmer (well anything by Gene Lodgson and Wendell Berry) and the classic MG Kains, Five Acres and Independence.

  8. Connie MacCaughelty says:

    Oh my! I was thrilled to see The Harvester in your excellent list of inspiring books. It seems there are few that have discovered the sweet pleasure of reading her books. I have searched antique and used book stores for years collecting as many of Jean Stratton Porters books as I can find. Most are out of print. The Keeper of the Bees inspired me to keep bees. I never comment but just had to say hello to someone who knows The Harvester.

  9. Rita Drobny says:

    I also love Gladys Taber’s Stillmeadow books, and Louis Bromfield’s The Farm. Great reading for anyone interested in the simpler life.

  10. I loved “Living on the Edge: A Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency.” It made me feel like I could homestead RIGHT NOW and not wait years and years to own a big chunk of land… I love your site, we write about similar things 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

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