by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Aside from a large range of different tools to be able to tackle the different jobs that may come up another requirement – for lack of a better word – for self-reliance living is a bookshelf, or better a library, stacked with books on the various aspect and subjects.
The most important books in this library are those of the how-to kind dealing with the many different things you may have to tackle, as there is just no way that you can know everything. But knowing where to find the information is important.
While it is certainly true that nowadays much of this information can be accessed on the world wide web, and from there to get some material for your collection is a good idea as well, there may be a time that you can't access that info online. I therefore also advise to print out all relevant material that you may download and file those in a binder or ten.
You most important books for the self-reliance library, as already indicated, are those of the how-to kind and the older they are, often, the better. Some of the best of that kind were produced by Odhams Press in Britain in the early to mid-part of the last century, but there are also publishers who have brought out books of a similar nature.
It is true that the books by Odhams Press are old and the information, the tools and methods used may not be approved of today by the powers-that-be, and especially not by EU rules and regulations, especially with regards to electricity and such like, but that is neither here not there.
The information in such books is still, as far as I am concerned, as valid as more modern ones, especially if you are going to be dealing with things that are of that age or similar. Especially when you are going to do things yourself without, for instance, power tools and other machines then those old instructions are invaluable.
The “manuals” that you will need to learn to live a self-reliant life, and as reference when you are already at it, are those that deal with all aspects of living such a life, from growing your own food, over making do and mending and making all manner of things to building your own home even.
I found that many of the older books are much better than the newer ones and many of the newer, to be honest, are often nothing but a rehash of the old ones, but claiming to be newly written books, and I have had the misfortune to review more than one of them by now.
The one book, or two, that should not be missing in your library are the late John Seymour's “The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency” and “The Survival Handbook” (ideally the hardback version) which he co-authored with Michael Allaby and others. In fact, those two, in my opinion, are a must.
The right tools, and that includes the resources as to where to find information, in other words books, are more important in this game of self-reliance living than anything else. It is not what you know but knowing where to find the information and hot to apply same that counts. You just cannot master all the skills beforehand that you may need.
I am not going to really put together a list of books here for they will be different from country to country as that would not be very beneficial. However, for those in Britain a look around car boot sales and charity shops for the old how-to books published by Odhams Press Ltd. and other of that kind I would recommend and, definitely the acquisition, and that applies to all, of John Seymour's “The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency” and, if you can get it, “The Survival Handbook” by Michael Allaby, of which John Seymour is one of the co-authors.
General DIY books from about the 1930's onwards to around the 1970's together with homesteading books from before the 20th century and till about the 1950s also should be included as and where possible. Look for anything that deals with the aspects that you might encounter, from gardening, cooking from scratch, making do and mending, to building sheds and other kinds of buildings, up to and including a house.
Two other books that I would like to recommend for inclusion in any self-reliance library are “Skills of the Australian Bushman” and “Australian Traditional Bush Crafts”, both by Ron Edwards. They may be difficult to obtain nowadays but they are worth their weight in gold as to how those old squatters in the Ozzie outback made do, especially as many of those, if not indeed all, and ideas, come in very handy in the pursuit of a self-reliant life.