No matter how long we’ve been prepping, we can’t know it all. Sure, common sense and a logical mind will go a long way toward filling in the gaps but having reference materials is always going to be welcome.
When it comes to putting together a home library, there are many categories to be filled.
The Way Things Were: In this category would be reference materials focusing on “old ways” of doing things, how to do more with less, that sort of thing. The Foxfire series of books would fall into this category.
Homesteading Skills: Animal husbandry, gardening/farming, butchering, things along those lines. Back issues of Countryside Magazine, Backwoods Home Magazine, older stuff from Mother Earth News, are all recommended. Books include The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery and Storey’s Country Skills.
Food Storage and Preservation: This could probably fall under Homesteading Skills but it is important enough to warrant its own category. Canning, dehydrating, and other methods of preservation as well as putting together and maintaining an effective food storage plan. The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving is considered the classic reference. Also look for the Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook by Peggy Layton.
Firearms Maintenance: Complete manuals for every firearm you own, including detailed instructions on disassembling and cleaning. Just because YOU know how to do it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in your family or group does.
Wild Edibles and Medicinals: Ideally, these references will have color photographs for ease of identification as well as common uses and preparation instructions for each plant discussed. One of the absolute best books I’ve seen on this topic is Coast to Coast Survival Plants by Sunshine Brewer. The various Petersen Guides are good as well.
Medical: From basic first aid to complex injuries and illnesses. Hospitals and doctors may be turn out to be luxuries of days gone by. Don’t forget information on herbal remedies and other homeopathic approaches. I highly recommend The Doom and Bloom(tm) Survival Medicine Handbook. Where There Is No Doctor / Where There Is No Dentist are also great and you can probably find those as free downloads if you hunt around online a bit. The other recommended work in this category would be the Special Forces Medical Handbook.
Building Trades: Basic information on carpentry, plumbing, and electrical systems. There is no way to tell right now what will happen down the road and what utilities may still be running for some time. Either way, you can’t count on your local handyman to be available to take care of repairs when they arise. Home Depot actually has put out some very good books on these subjects, as has Black and Decker.
Wilderness Survival Skills: Many wilderness skills will have use around the homestead. Having reference materials to use for brushing up your skills will be welcome. There are many quality books on this subject, including manuals issued by the Boy Scouts.
Homeschooling: I can’t stress this one enough. If you have children as part of your group, they’ll need to be educated. Reading, writing, math, science, history, as well as ethics and morals should all be considered basic courses in a homeschooling curriculum post-collapse. Look for books and reference materials to span all age and grade levels.
Fiction and Entertainment: Even if you personally don’t enjoy recreational reading, there may very well be others in your group who will appreciate you thinking ahead and stocking up on books to pass the time. Novels, including both the classics as well as contemporary, and short story anthologies will be welcome. Also in this category would be books on creating your own games, crafts, and other fun stuff to do.
So, where to look for books for your home library? Naturally you can order almost anything you can imagine from online retailers like Amazon but even their discounted prices can put a fairly large ding in your wallet. Check out your local library as most of them do book sales periodically through the year. Rummage sales and thrift stores are also great places to stock up on books very inexpensively.
Many if not most preppers have also amassed tons of documents they’ve downloaded from the Internet. PDFs, emails, all sorts of great stuff. Keep in mind that you may not be able to access all that information if the power goes out and/or your computer gets fried. Take the time now to print that stuff out and organize it in binders.
Your assignments this week:
1) Inventory your current library and determine the areas in which you’re lacking reference materials.
2) Begin putting together a “wish list” of specific books as well as topics you’d like to acquire. Use Google and Amazon to find titles and other information. What I’ve done in the past is use Amazon’s Wish List feature to keep a list of books I’m searching for, then take that list with me when I’m out book shopping.
3) Make plans to visit local rummage sales on a regular basis during this spring and summer. Also take the time to stop in at local thrift stores periodically to check their shelves. Often you can find some great stuff for literally pennies on the dollar. Inquire at your area libraries too about their upcoming book sales.
4) If you can afford to do so, pick up double your normal amount of extra food for your storage plan this week.
As always, please do not hesitate to comment below or shoot me an email — Jim@SurvivalWeekly.com — with any questions or concerns.