The 22 BEST Homesteading Books

A stack of the best homesteading books on a wooden kitchen table
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If you’re looking for the BEST homesteading books on the market, look no further! These books will help you learn how to grow and preserve your own food, raise chickens, make herbal medicine, and put meat on the table. Bonus: My top 3 homestead cookbooks!

These are excellent books to have on your shelf whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been homesteading for years. I personally own all of them and find value in each one. There’s something here for everyone!

The 22 Best Homesteading Books for Beginners

Having a solid set of homesteading books on hand is absolutely invaluable. Yes, you can find information on the internet, but what if the internet is disconnected? What if your favorite website gets taken down? 

Books are the only truly reliable source of information and often it’s of higher quality, too. I love being able to jot notes in the margins and bookmark corners. These books have become my friends throughout my homesteading journey, and I know they will be of value to you, too!

General Homesteading

#1 The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery

If you look on any homesteader’s bookshelf, you will find this one there. This is the ultimate homesteader’s guide that will touch on just about everything that you need to know. If you’re just getting started, this is the way to go. 

Features a whopping 928 pages and covers topics from planning a garden, canning food, and making cheese to cooking on a wood stove, spinning wool into yarn, and making natural skincare products. This book has it all!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

For more than 50 years, this homesteading classic is the essential book of basic skills and country wisdom for living off the land, being prepared, and doing it yourself. Keep your family healthy, safe, and independent--no matter what's going on in the world.

#2 The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! by Carleen Madigan

Did you know that you can homestead on just a quarter acre? Heck yes! If you want to homestead on a small scale, I highly recommend this book. It will guide you through everything you need to know to live a self-sufficient life throughout its 368 pages. 

From a quarter of an acre, you can harvest 1400 eggs, 50 pounds of wheat, 60 pounds of fruit, 2000 pounds of vegetables, 280 pounds of pork, and 75 pounds of nuts. Let’s do this!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This comprehensive guide to homesteading provides all the information you need to care for honey bees, grow and preserve a sustainable harvest, and raise animals for meat. With easy-to-follow instructions on canning, drying, and pickling, you’ll enjoy your backyard bounty all winter long.

Gardening

#3 The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward Smith

This is the first book that I bought when I started gardening in 2008 and it taught me everything that I know! It’s my go-to resource and I still drag it out with me to the garden daily. Highly recommend!!

Included you’ll find everything from companion planting guides, pest management, and detailed information on how to grow and harvest a wide variety of vegetables and herbs. It even outlines how-tos like raised beds, trellises, and compost bins. 

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This is THE gardening book to have! I've had my copy for over 10 years and it's the one that I keep going back to time after time. It provides design ideas for raised beds, compost bins, you name it! Plus helpful tables for pH ranges, companion plants and more.

#4 The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour

Once we moved to Minnesota in 2013, I knew I needed to change my strategy to cold-weather gardening. Niki Jabbour is the best of the best regarding this, and her book does not disappoint!

Learn how to select the best varieties for each season, the art of succession planting, and how to build inexpensive structures to protect your crops from the elements. She even helps you adjust your planting schedule around whether you’re using cold frames or not – super helpful!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This is an excellent gardening book to have on hand if you live in a cold climate like me! She provides great tips on how to construct and use cold frames/mini tunnels, plan succession harvests, you name it!

#5 The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control by Rodale Organic Gardening

I have yet to meet a homesteader who doesn’t battle pests and diseases in their garden! It’s a near guarantee when growing your own food and you’ll need a plan to tackle these things in an organic manner.

Organic methods are important to reduce toxin exposure in your food, keep your soil healthy, and protect the beneficial insects in your garden. This book has it all – photos and guides to help you figure out what’s going on with your plant and how to best tackle it!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This is the most reliable and comprehensive guide on garden pests and diseases. Includes photos of common pests and plant diseases so you can quickly identify whether you've discovered a garden friend or foe and what action, if any, you should take. Don't miss this one!

#6 Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth

This is a new book on my bookshelf and I’m kicking myself for not getting it sooner! Seed saving is a technique that isn’t always intuitive and this book makes it super simple! It’s not a beautiful picture book, but it provides excellent instructions on what to do for 160 different vegetables. 

If you’re wanting to be truly self-sustainable, then saving your own seeds is the way to go. That way you don’t have to be dependent on large seed companies. Also, you have control over which plants carry on their genetics, plus they become adapted to your area year-after-year.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

Seed to Seed is widely acknowledged as the best guide available for home gardeners to learn effective ways to produce and store seeds on a small scale. The author has grown seed crops of every vegetable featured in the book, and has thoroughly researched and tested all of the techniques she recommends for the home garden.

Food Preservation

#7 The Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry

If you look in any homestead kitchen, you will find this canning recipe book! This is an ultimate resource with 400+ recipes. You don’t want to mess around when it comes to canning and following tested recipes is essential.

Beyond recipes, it gives you comprehensive directions on safe water bath canning and pressure canning methods, plus recommended equipment. This is a must-have homesteading book!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

An absolutely essential book for anyone who has a garden and wants to preserve their havest for the years to come. Easy to follow with over 400 creative recipes along with problem solving sections. A must have resource for any gardener or homesteader!

#8 Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten & Christopher Shockey

I bought this book last year and it has quickly become one of my favorite books. Beautifully done and incredibly educational, beyond just the recipes. 

Fermentation is one of my favorite forms of food preservation – it’s easy and preserves nutrients (rather than stripping them away like in canning, freezing, and dehydrating). Also, did I mention all of the lovely gut-friendly probiotics?!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This easy-to-follow, comprehensive guide presents more than 120 recipes for fermenting 64 different vegetables and herbs! Learn the basics, and then refine your technique as you expand your repertoire to include curried golden beets, pickled green coriander, and carrot kraut. 

Raising Chickens & Livestock

#9 Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow

This is my go-to book for raising chickens! It’s largely focused on egg layers, but there’s some great info for raising and butchering meat chickens as well. An excellent overall resource with realistic information and the book I reach for anytime I have a question.

This book covers everything from chicken coop dimensions, feed considerations and health concerns to breeding, incubating eggs and raising baby chicks. This book has it all and has beautiful color photos and full illustrations. Highly recommend!!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This is THE chicken book to have! I've had my copy since the beginning and it's the one that I keep going back to time after time. It provides everything you need to know from coop design, hatching chicks, layer nutrition, and much more! 

#10 The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens by Kathy Shea Mormino

This is my secondary chicken resource. It’s a bit more focused on chickens as “pets” in a small backyard chicken operations rather than large homesteads or farms, but contains some great information! If you live in the city and have only a handful of chickens, this is the book for you!

The chicken health section is my favorite and very well illustrated. Kathy shares her years of hard-earned experience and collaborations with poultry veterinarians, nutritionists, and professors, while providing simple steps to care for chickens with confidence

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This book covers all aspects of keeping pet chickens in a beautifully illustrated, no-nonsense format. Kathy addresses everything needed to keep chickens simply, including coops, chick care, breed selection, chicken health, and beyond!


#11 The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow

While the two books above touch on the basics of chicken health, this is the ultimate guide! Incredibly thorough and informative while walking you through treatment strategies, step-by-step. There have been multiple instances where this book has saved the day on our homestead.

Most veterinarians aren’t willing to treat chickens, so you’re on your own most of the time… making this a must-have book! I like that it offers both natural and conventional remedies, so you can choose what makes the most sense for what’s going on in your flock.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

After a few health scares in my flock, I quickly purchased this book and it has been a lifesaver! Anything that could potentially come up in your flock is addressed in this book with practical solutions. Worth every penny!

#12 Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin

When we decided to raise meat chickens in 2016, I read this book and it really set us up for success! If you are wanting to get into meat chickens, I can’t recommend this book enough. Not only does it get into the day-to-day important info, but it digs into the why behind raising meat birds on pasture.

Joel Salatin is a leader in the homesteading and pastured poultry world and such an incredible author! His writing style is witty and straight-forward. This book is a bit dated (copyright 1993) and written on a typewriter, but the information is still incredible!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This book is well written, easy to read, and enjoyable. An excellent resource on meat chickens! Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer” produces high-quality “beyond organic” meats, which are raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, sustainable agriculture. 

#13 The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals by Gail Damerow

If you want to learn a little bit about everything when it comes to raising all types of farm animals, this is the book for you! It will be especially helpful if you’re trying to decide what kinds of animals you want to raise on your homestead.

Each section details different breeds, how to acquire them, what to look for in a good animal, how to house them, and much more! By the end, you’ll know how to care for honeybees, milk a goat, and raise your own Thanksgiving turkey.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This book covers everything you need to successfully raise your own farm animals, from selecting the right breeds to producing delicious fresh milk, cheese, honey, eggs, and meat. Even with just a small plot of land, you can become more self-sufficient, save money, and enjoy healthy, delicious animal products.

Foraging, Herbal Medicine & Nutrition

#14 Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

If I had to pick my top 3 best homesteading books, this one would make it on the list. This book covers 33 common medicinal plants that you’ll likely find on your homestead. It highlights how to grow, harvest, prepare and use each of them along with recipes for healing teas, tinctures, oils and salves.

There’s nothing more comforting than having your own little apothecary so you can treat things like ear infections, eczema, coughs, sore throats, and minor wounds. Rosemary Gladstar is passionate, knowledgable and a world-renowned educator – I just love her!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks

This is my go-to book! Make your own herbal remedies for life’s common ailments. Gladstar profiles 33 common healing plants and includes advice on growing, harvesting, preparing, and using herbs in healing tinctures, oils, and creams. 

#15 The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer by Jeff & Melanie Carpenter

This book is more geared toward those wanting to grow medicinal herbs on a larger scale (for profit), so if you’re wanting to make some money on your homestead, definitely check this one out! However, it’s still helpful for those on a small scale as well and is a book a reference often.

I only collect medicinal herbs for our own apothecary (vs selling for profit), but I still find the detailed instructions on how to properly dry and preserve each plant very helpful. If I can’t find the answer I need in Rosemary Gladstar’s book above, I will certainly find it here.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

Whether you’re trying to farm medicinal plants, culinary herbs, or at-risk native herbs exclusively or simply add herbal crops to what you’re already growing, successful small-scale herb farmers Jeff and Melanie Carpenter will guide you through the entire process―from cultivation to creating value-added products.

#16 Prepper’s Natural Medicine by Cat Ellis

You can never be too prepared when it comes to your own heath! If disaster strikes and you don’t have access to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies, natural medicine will be your family’s best hope for staying healthy.

Prepper’s Natural Medicine is the definitive guide to creating powerful home remedies for any health situation, including: herbal salves for infections, natural ointment for poison ivy, infused honey for burns, soothing tea for allergies, and much more!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

With easy-to-read herbal charts, a breakdown of essential oils, tips for stockpiling natural medicines and step-by-step instructions for creating your own elixirs, salves and more, this book offers everything you need to keep you and your loved ones safe.

#17 Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon

If you’re still recovering from the nutritional whiplash of the fat-fearing last few decades, this is the book for you. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious.

Topics include the health benefits of traditional fats and oils (including butter and coconut oil); dangers of vegetarianism; problems with modern soy foods; health benefits of sauces and gravies; proper preparation of whole grain products; pros and cons of milk consumption; easy-to-prepare enzyme enriched condiments and beverages; and appropriate diets for babies and children.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

DIY

#18 The Natural Soapmaking Book for Beginners by Kelly Cable

Master the basic techniques that you need to create luxurious, toxin-free soap from local ingredients using this book! It covers everything from how to get started, what tools you’ll need, the science behind soap-making, plus 55+ incredible soap recipes.

Try everything from creamy gentle baby soap and jewelweed soap for poison ivy to goat milk soap and kombucha face bars! It also includes recommendations for utilizing natural ingredients for vibrant colors and gentle scents. A must have if you want to start making your own soap.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

This helpful resource for entry-level soap makers will demystify the soap making process and show you how to bring nature and your own unique style into your everyday soaps. An excellent resource for supporting your journey to making toxin-free products.

#19 Polyface Designs: A Comprehensive Construction Guide for Scalable Farming Infrastructure by Joel Salatin

Wow. All I have to say is wow!  I bought this book while researching what to put on this list and I am so sad that it didn’t exist years ago when we started homesteading. Yes, it’s pricy, but it’s worth every single dollar. If you live on a homestead or farm, you absolutely NEED this.

A full 568 pages of full color and easy-to-follow instructions for building anything you could possibly need. Includes designs for winter hoop houses, chicken tractors, cattle working chutes, hog pasture infrastructure, pastured rabbit harepen, and bulk feed buggies, just to name a few!

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

Have you wondered how to build the Polyface broiler shelter, or the dolly to move it, or an Eggmobile, Gobbledygo or Shademobile? For folks getting started or wanting a cheaper bootstrap way to build portable livestock infrastructure, Polyface Designs has all the diagrams and do-it-yourself building specifications.

Cooking From Scratch

#20 The Prairie Homestead Cookbook by Jill Winger

Our list of the best homesteading books wouldn’t be complete without Jill Winger. This is my go-to recipe recipe book! I love that it is written specifically for using up that garden surplus, sourdough starter and raw milk. No crazy ingredients. Just wholesome, delicious food.

It includes 109 from-scratch recipes, plus 17 bonus recipes for homemade sauces, salt rubs, sour cream, and the like―staples that many people are surprised to learn you can make yourself.

Beyond these recipes, this cookbook includes practical tools and tips that Jill has learned from life on the homestead, like how to churn your own butter, ripen green tomatoes, feed a family on a budget, and experience all the fulfilling satisfaction of a DIY lifestyle.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

Jill Winger, creator of the award-winning blog The Prairie Homestead, introduces her debut The Prairie Homestead Cookbook, including 100+ delicious, wholesome recipes made with fresh ingredients to bring the flavors and spirit of homestead cooking to any kitchen table.

#21 Homestead Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Our Hearth to Yours by Eve & Eivin Kilcher

Another excellent cookbook, but this one is more focused on foraging, wild game and fish. Eve and Eivin Kilcher live in the Alaskan wilderness, so they provide a unique perspective to the homesteading world. If you like to hunt and fish – I highly recommend this one!

Stunningly photographed in and around their handmade home and farm, Homestead Kitchen illustrates that taking on small-scale sustainable projects is not only possible in a suburban/urban setting, but ultimately a more responsible and gratifying way to live.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

The first cookbook from homesteaders and co-stars of Discovery’s Alaska: The Last Frontier Eve and Eivin Kilchen. This cookbook provides appealing recipes for anyone looking to live more sustainably, healthfully, and independently, regardless of where and what they call home. 

#22 Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Moose, Antelope and Other Antlered Things by Hank Shaw

I love this cookbook because it offers true nose-to-tail recipes for all forms of venison (deer, elk, moose, antelope and caribou) such as summer sausage, barbacoa and steak diane. Features over 100 recipes that utilizes all cuts of the animal – nothing goes to waste!

You’ll also get thorough instructions on how to butcher, age and store your venison, as well as how to use virtually every part of the animal. Buck, Buck, Moose also includes a lengthy section on curing venison and sausage-making.

The Homesteading RD's Product Picks:

There is no other cookbook out there that celebrates the outdoor lifestyle and dedication to responsibly harvesting everything antlered like Buck, Buck, Moose. A true nose-to-tail cookbook and a must-have for every hunter out there!

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Final Thoughts on the Best Homesteading Books

Well that was fun! These are certainly the best homesteading books out there in my opinion and each one has helped us establish the homestead that we have today. I’m confident that they will serve your journey to becoming more self-sufficient as well! 

Let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites 🙂 Thanks for reading signature

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8 thoughts on “The 22 BEST Homesteading Books”

  1. This book list is fantastic! It’s introduced me to some authors I hadn’t heard of, and I’m definitely keen to read most of these books.

    I’ve been vegetarian for a few years, so I’m not sure about the book that discusses animal products in your diet! But, I like to read books that challenge my preconceptions, so I think I will read it with a open mind. There is always room to learn and grow in life.
    Pippa

  2. I always love a good book list! Many of these are ones I already own and love, but there are several others that I have already put on my list of books to buy! Thanks for a great post.

  3. Wow, great, just great! As a person who actually loves reading, this list is quite informative. The books are not only useful for homeowners looking to enhance their homesteads but also professionals. Quite informative!

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