You Can NEVER Have Too Many Books – An Update

Several recommendations from the last article about seeds mentioned a book, Susan Ashworth’s book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Growers. This reminded me of an article about books that I had written a number of years ago.

With all things internet being censored, banned, deleted or taken down, real live books you can hold in your hand may turn out to be a precious commodity, especially when you are trying to do things the new-old fashioned way. A number of the links from the old article no longer worked so I have updated them.

Think about your situation, your family and what your needs may be if this electronic gadget you are reading these words on were no longer available. We have all become dependent on this thing I am typing and reading on for everything. Computers literally control the world at the operators behest, from how much water is released from a dam during the rainy season, to controlling your banking activities, to ordering diapers for the baby – everything. What happens when a storm rolls through knocking out the power? You can’t buy anything because the cash registers don’t work, or if a company can still sell something, they can only take cash because the card reader is down and can’t process your debit or credit card. No gas pumps, no internet, cell phone towers have back up generators or alternate power, but they won’t last long with their life giving electrical grid being gone.

No power = truly the dark ages. Short term or long term, man made or natural causes, electricity, and thus all things electronic, are just another means of control. Look what has been happening in California over the last few years with intentional brown or black outs. Any reason will do when an intentional control of a population is the desired effect. Those with the power have increased their methods of control in the past few years and no longer try to hide many agendas, instead they have been blatant in wielding that power in an attempt to woo or force the people into subjugation. We can stand up, stick out and announce with a loud voice that we will not comply and get slapped down to the ground via censorship, incarceration or the disappearing act, or we can fight back from the shadows doing all we can to provide for ourselves no matter what comes.

Books. Do you have enough? For everyone under your care? Adults, teens, children? You can never have too many useful books. Enjoy the article.

Until next time – Fern

Originally published September 20, 2013

It’s true. You can never, never have too many books. I know, I know. What about your Kindle, or Nook, or iPhone, or laptop, or computer, or….or….or…..What about when the power goes down – and stays down. What if…..

We have bought ebooks. We bought all of the past issues of Mother Earth News on CD and downloaded them on our computers – a great wealth of information. Even if we had a solar panel system that would keep our computers running, it would be a waste of energy to do so. Printed material is a necessity for information preservation.

This is a wall in our living room. It is my favorite wall. Frank built this bookshelf just for me and I love it. After we put most of our books on it there was a lot of extra space. I told him, “You know what that means? We need more books!” Then after a while, we had to have the floor reinforced – a worthwhile investment.

A friend of mine – I have mentioned her several times – I told her the next time I mentioned her I was going to give her a pseudonym.

– Grace – for by the grace of God we met and have become friends. So back to books. Grace has laughed and told me I am her only friend that has a ‘bug book’. We have talked many times about needing to know how to do things for ourselves in the case of a collapse or downturn in the quality of life in our country. When she has asked me about a variety of topics, my answer is often, get a book about it. I have been trying to stock my library with many useful reference books over the past few years. 

Patrice Lewis at Rural Revolution recently reminded us that having our important information on an electronic device may not always be a dependable medium. She has printed out and organized her important information so it will not be lost if she can no longer access it on her computer or online. It is a great idea.

I would like to share a few of the many books I use regularly. I will also share a few new ones that I have not had the chance to read yet. Here are a few of my favorites by category.


The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – great general information

The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening – We have a very old version that is literally falling apart at the seams. Tons of great, fairly detailed information.

Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver – Good book. All kinds of plant and pest information.

Carrots Love Tomatoes has taught me a great deal about companion planting. I have changed my garden planting patterns with the help of this book.

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control – My favorite bug book. The one Grace was talking about.

The Seed-Starter’s Handbook is not only good at helping me get my seeds started, I use it for information on how to save seeds as well. It is an old book (1978), but one of my favorites. 

The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food is one of the new books I just got from Backwoods Home and I haven’t had a chance to look through it yet.

I have several new and old reference books I use as well. I have begun keeping my annual garden ‘map’ of where I plant things in a binder to make sure I rotate crops and don’t plant a new crop where it will not thrive because of the last occupant.

Food Preservation

Stocking Up – the old and new version. This is a great book. It covers canning, freezing, drying and storing. 

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a book I use every time I can something.

I have half a dozen other canning books including Jackie Clay’s book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. It is a great book and full of a lot of information besides canning and preserving.

Another book I have had for a while and just started using with my dehydrator is Making and Using Dried Foods. After I bought the dehydrator, I was surprised that it didn’t come with more instructions. Then I got to thinking…… don’t I have a book about that? Sure enough, I did.

Enola Gay‘s new book The Prepared Family Cookbook is another one of my new books I have not had the chance to read through yet. 

Cheese Making

I have several books, but the only one I have ever used is Mary Jane Toth’s  Goats Produce Too! The Udder Real Thing


Our book collection about herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes started many years ago. This is a mixture of old and new that I use most often now. The Herbal Antibiotics book is another new one from Backwoods Home that I have not had a chance to read yet. 

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies both have a great deal of information about how to use plants medicinally, but little to none about how to grow and harvest them.

One of my older books Growing and Using Healing Herbs has great information about planting, harvesting, preserving and using herbs.

But the best one I found for information about growing and harvesting herbs is Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. 

When I was researching sources of perennial vegetables that I could get established here I ran across Perennial Vegetables, which has proven to be a good resource.


When we got our first Great Pyrenees to guard our goats, we wanted to make sure it was a successful venture. We had read enough to know that training a livestock guardian is not like training the Labrador Retrievers we used to raise. We found that Livestock Protection Dogs gave us very valuable information. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have kept Pearl. She has turned out to be an excellent dog. 

I have a good selection of books about goats – my goat book collection. If something comes up, like an abscess, I look in all of my books and compare the information I find. I feel much better informed this way because not all authors have the same opinions or give the same advice for a particular situation.

All About Goats has some good basic information.

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats is a good beginners book with fairly thorough information.

Raising Milk Goats Successfully and How To Raise Dairy Goats are very similar and have good basic information.

Natural Goat Care is by far my favorite book. It raised my learning curve on the natural needs and health of goats. I would highly recommend it.

We have other reference books for animals which include The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable and The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats.

Resource Books

We have a variety of books that we have not and may not ever use. They are for references when and if the need ever arises for the topics they cover, such as, establishing a black smith shop, how to train oxen, small scale grain raising, cooking on a wood stove, building small tools or equipment, and more. 

Grace and I have been doing some bartering for eggs. One of the things she brought was this Chicken Health Handbook which is another good reference book. Books that will add to your peace of mind are also an important part of a good library. The Simplicity Primer from Patrice Lewis is one of many. We read the Little House on the Prairie series last summer. They are a great resource of information for living without electricity and growing or raising what you eat, or how to do without.

So, to go back to the title – I truly do believe you can never have too many books. Printed information may one day be in very short supply. Electronic media may one day be a thing of the past. As memories age, they don’t keep details stored as well either. I have felt a strong need to include a plethora of books as a very important part of my ‘preps’. 

We have even stored more than one copy of some books to share with others if the opportunity arises. Books such as James Wesley Rawles How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It and The Ball Book of Complete Home Preserving. James Wesley Rawles’ book is what got Frank started in radio. It was the first place he read about MURS radio frequencies. You never know when that little bit of information can revolutionize a person’s perspective and greatly increase their ability to be self-sufficient and provide for their families.

I will continue to encourage to you learn something new each and every day. It will bless you and yours in untold ways for years to come.

Until next time – Fern

17 thoughts on “You Can NEVER Have Too Many Books – An Update

  1. Bill Buppert’s site Zero Gov has gone dark for the first time in since it started 12 years ago. Whether you always agreed with bill or the other’s who posted there or not it was always an informative site to visit that presented though provoking concepts and ideas. In leaving Bill once again posted a link to a previous post tilted “Library for the End of the World”. If you don’t know which books to buy next this reference list will give you many options.

    As goes on more and more sites will go dark either by choice or attrition so make connections with folks as best you can. build community and remember: local, local, local.

    Frank & Fern on another note one of your readers did touch base and ask to be added to the weekly email burst. Off to plant spring bulbs. Mid 50’s and sunny here in the mountains of NC today. Rain and another cold spell on the way.

    1. Hi, Sawman.

      There are a lot of people going dark and I think I understand why. They may hold us accountable for what we say and what we have said. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. We had noticed that his site had gone down, and that’s a shame, I have read his site for years. Kind of like the Woodpile Report, there comes a time to step down. Maybe we’ll all meet again in Valhalla.

      Thank you for the resource to his library, it is quite extensive. Thank you for your comments. I wish I had a crystal ball. We all need to pay attention right now, get everything in order and be vigilant.


  2. Frank and Fern,
    Thanks for continuing your very helpful blog site. You provide good information, and a place for those of a like mind to gather and share thoughts and ideas.
    Having a library of books is a very important part of the self reliance journey . We cannot possibly remember all the data and info that is contained within the pages of books.
    Blessings to you both as we all journey forward.

    1. For the first few years we were here, we bought many books to build our reference library for the time there would be no other option. I’m glad we can still utilize electronics and cyber world for data and learning, but a real book is almost as valuable as a handful of seeds. Irreplaceable.

      Thank you for the encouragement, Fern

  3. Great advice! I also like print versions of my favorite “classics” as you never know when the digital versions might be made more PC in subtle ways, nevertheless affecting the meaning and/or plot.
    Loved the mention of Pearl.

    1. Good point, Robin.

      Pearl, along with our ‘old lady goat’ One Stripe, went to that homestead in the sky about a year or so ago. We miss them both. One Stripe left her girls with us to continue her blood line of great milkers, and another dog has followed Pearl. I think I will give her the pseudonym of Girl Dog for now. She doesn’t live with the goats like Pearl did, but down here around the people. We decided it was time for a woof alarm.


  4. Hi Sawman, lots of good information. We have several of the books you referenced here.

    If you would like, would you share with folks how they can get on your email list?

    Thanks for what you do. We’re all in this together.

    Decades ago I lived in Charlotte for a while, spent a lot of time in the Durham/Chapel Hill area. Old memories.

    Take care, Frank

    1. Frank many of the books you pictured are in our library and we recognize a lot of the goat books. years ago when we live din northwestern MI we started raising dairy goats and our herd eventually grew to 50+ goats. Predominantly Nubians for their cream content and their friendly demeanor but we also raised Saanens for the sheer capacity oi milk produced. we had one large Saanen doe named Hildebrand who topped the scale at 200+pounds. That was back when I was young enough and crazy enough to work a demanding full time job and keep up a farm with the help of my family. Out children showed goats both 4-H first and then ADGA and did quite well and the herd became well known. We flew in a buck and a doe from OR to being new blood into the area.
      Charlotte and Raleigh, Durham/Chapel Hill much like Asheville are hot beds of liberalism these days and we seldom if ever travel there. They are also well past the one hour window of one way travel from the homestead that we normally adhere to. What we don’t have here at the homestead can usually be found locally down in town or can be shipped in. We left MI where we lived because of a job contract I had to fill after selling the first company I helped start. Like most rural areas around the US there were real good folks there but the winters were just to harsh.
      At one point I had though to start a blog named after our homestead, Road’s End Sanctuary as we live at the very end of mountain gravel road, but it seemed just to be too much work so I opted for the email bursts to folks in my network. We have lived in the Northeast from the mountain area of NH and Upstate NY to Or, WA, SC, MI and finally settle din NC and we stay in touch with friends we made along the way. If any of your readers want to sample the emails which come 3 times a week with links and updates from our homestead they can reach out to me at If they later want to be dropped a simple email request is all that will be needed. If the email list continues to grow I may be forced to start a blog.
      Thanks again for all you and Fern do.

  5. In an email burst that i sent out to folks in my network last week I touched on the importance of building a large home library of physical books of all types. 4 times a week a send out an email containing links to news, articles and prepper info to folks I know well. Being retired I have more time than some work a day people to to cruise the internet especially in the winter time when thing slow down a bit here on the homestead. Here is part of that email from last week.

    “Our reference library of books grows each month. It covers subjects on farming & raising animals, orchards, berries, medical and veterinary guides, herbs, wild plants edible & medicinal, building & construction, brewing, ciders & wine making, canning and preserving without refrigeration.

    We add a couple reference books each month along with some fiction and nonfiction books and educational books and materials as well as children’s books.We have most of the children’s books from when our three now grown kids were growing up with some in boxes and others in the great room on the second floor where our grand children can enjoy them when they are over. We shop Ollie’s when we are in Hickory, local used book stores and bargain deals online. We have gotten to the point where books that are not referenced often are stored in boxes by type and labeled. There may come a time when these are the only reference materials and educational materials we have access to. At a NC PATCON some years ago I picked up two of Kris Anne Hall’s books which she had for sale at that meetup: Sovereign Duty and Essential Stories For Junior Patriots. We later purchased her book Bedtime Stories for Budding Patriots. The two children’s books my wife has read to and with the grandchildren.

    A few reference books on preserving food that are not among our various canning guides and recipe books:

    Root Cellaring – Mike and Nancy Bubel

    Preserving Food Without Canning or Freezing – Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante

    Butchering, Processing and Preservation of Meat – Frank G Ashbrook

    A Guide to canning, freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game – Wilber F Eastman Jr

    The Joy of Smoking and Salt Curing – Monte Burch

    The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing and Sausage Making
    Philip Hasheider”

    Frank & Fern keep up the good work. The information and insight you provide are truly a blessing. I have followed your site for quite some time but did not post often. Again I like the new site and thanks.

  6. Thanks for mentioning my book THE FIRST-AID COMPANION FOR DOGS AND CATS (I’ll be releasing an updated audiobook version this month). FWIW, you may also be interested in NEW CHOICES IN NATURAL HEALING FOR DOGS AND CATS. *S*

    1. You are welcome, Amy. We like to take care of our animals when we can. We just like to be better in touch with our pets and livestock.

      Good luck on the new audio book, and thanks for the comment. Frank

  7. And while you’re talking about “hardcopy,” Make sure that you’ve got dead tree versions of all your vital records; house deed, car paperwork, health records, etc. Keep them readily available in a fire box or fire-resistant safe. You can also keep an e-copy of all that stuff in there as well, on a thumb drive. This cache should be one of those things positioned so that everyone in the house knows where it is, and can be grabbed on a moment’s notice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s