Back in the day I used to write library posts about new books I added to my personal home library, but after I started using Goodreads to track what I have, I stopped posting updates. I’ve decided to resurrect the tradition, as I usually have a steady stream of books from publishers to review and a bad habit of getting through the stack in a timely fashion. So I figured I would do a monthly review feature again. While all of these books were provided to me gratis from their respective publishers, I only review and recommend books that I personally enjoy and would actually buy.
A reprint of a 1970’s gem from Mother Earth News, the new edition of the the Mother Earth News Almanac comes to us from Quarto Publishing. This is an absolute must have for any homesteader – it is chock full of gardening, foraging, cooking, projects to build, useful tips, charts, weather info, animal care – basically everything you could need to know to keep house and home running smoothly. With fantastic line drawings throughout, it’s also just a pleasure to flip through.
Also from Quarto, Water Smart Gardening is a useful read no matter where you live. Water conservation is, and should be, an important consideration for all gardeners, even those that don’t live in arid climates. This comprehensive book discusses everything from understanding drought and your own landscape to designing and implementing a garden that uses water responsibly. There are tons of design ideas throughout, as was as practical info and full color photos and diagrams on how to install a rain barrel, build a terrace and set up drip irrigation. This is a great book for ensuring your garden design is as sustainable as possible.
The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products & Treatments is another favorite from Robert Rose Inc. I always enjoy their body care and natural health titles, and this newest one doesn’t disappoint. Chock full of recipes for your face, hair and body, my favorites in this book are the selection of bath oils and body lotions. The Sleep Inducing Bath Oil followed by the Rose Body Milk is a combination that smells amazing and gets you ready for a good night’s sleep – something I’m always chasing after.
Being prepared is a smart thing to do. Used to be, keeping a fully stocked pantry and having the right tools at hand and skills under your belt was just a way of life. I like Countdown to Preparedness from Ulysses Press first and foremost because I have a penchant for lists, and this one is a practical workbook for every week of the year, arranged seasonally. Outlining everything you need to know for how to build a pantry, deal with water needs, learn emergency skills, address security and more, if you’ve ever been overwhelmed with the amount of books and websites out this is absolutely the one to start with. It will have you up and running in one week, and you easily build up more supplies and skills by following the homework exercises laid out for each week.
Also from Ulysses, Prepper’s Natural Medicine is of interest to both those interested in self reliance and those interested in DIY natural remedies. Most of the book is given over to a Materia Medica (which describes the characteristics of plants, what they can treat and how they’re used) but there is also useful info on how to make a variety of treatments (tinctures, salves, etc.) as well some basic herbal first aid recipes. It’s a great practical reference book to have on the shelf.
I’m a big fan of Square Foot Gardening, and this latest book from Mel Bartholomew, High Value Veggies from Quarto is a great addition to the series. Examining the economics of gardening, this book looks at a variety of plants, breaking down the average cost to grow them against the return on investment you can expect to receive. Useful in order to ensure your stretching your dollar as much as you can, this kind of review is downright critical for anyone who wants to try to garden for profit. It’s a great companion to Cash from Square Foot Gardening.