We’ve discussed books we love and books for children before, but here I would like to focus specifically on building our home libraries. There’s an impermanence bred into the digital realm that is solved with the tangible. Books, those luscious carriers of information, history, wondrous folklore, traditions, and mystical stories of days gone by are a connector to what was and what is possible.
I worry that our blinding faith in the convenience of the internet will cost future generations. I remember when the internet first appeared in my life. I already had two children by then. I could go on my dial-up internet and search up something like “kid’s ear infection” and fall into a tunnel of the most bizarre and fascinating rabbit holes. Pages would pop up with cures from old gypsies and Slavic great-great-great grandmothers using plants and kitchen ingredients. Today, you get WebMD and whatever other sanctioned website your search engine deems worthy. The internet doesn’t come close to offering what the obscure old books in my library do.
Now the ever-changing and modifying of classic books that don’t meet today’s standards of acceptability is becoming normalized. I want my grandchildren to read classic books that emphasize character and resilience. We had a wonderful book thread for children awhile ago here. Today, I thought we might all chime in with some of the books we consider essential in our home libraries. If you don’t have a home library, my hope is that many of you will start one. We need to preserve and pass down these treasures while we still can. Time is ticking and we are at just the right time to be putting forth the effort our future generations will benefit from.
In the category of farming/homesteading/sustainability, we have collected the Foxfire series, the entire volume of Harrowsmith magazines and books, biodynamic teachings, old farming journals that can be found online from the 1800s and printed, and all of the classics like “Five Acres Enough”, “Gold in the Grass”, Juliette de Baïracli Levy’s books on herbal livestock care etc.. We have volumes of books on everything from vegetable gardening in our climate to raising livestock without inputs.
We also have a wide variety of books on health. We have collected books on regional herbal and wild medicines, gem elixers, the spiritual properties of plants and flower essences to wild medicine making, herbal antibiotics and antiparasticals, and everything in between. Hundreds and hundreds of books on this topic.
We also have an enormous, leather bound, gold foiled dictionary from 1934. I consider it imperative. You may change the meaning of words on a digital screen, but ink and paper do not lie.
And the categories go on. From children’s books to spiritual books. From books written by or covering the lives of the Saints to books on current globalist takeover. We have books on defence of the home and person and books on developing and living as a human of good moral character and fortitude. And we have a load of books on everything from round timber building to all manner of on-farm project plans and tools. When the EMP goes off we will indeed have the best looking outhouse this side of the Mississippi.
And, of course, we collect the classics and anything we think should have been. I have stories written by the first settlers of different lands outlining what they saw and encountered. There are plenty of historical memoirs that fill in the blanks, and sometimes offer a different narrative altogether, to what we’ve learned.
My favourite place to purchase books is in used bookstores. That’s been a practice of ours, dating back to when our kids were still underfoot. That was how I purchased the entire back catalogue of Harrowsmith magazines from the 70s and 80s. I paid a quarter for each of them. It’s silly to see what they’re worth now. I also like used book online retailers for the obscure. I recently purchased every book on herbal and vibrational healing written by Gurudas and a slew of old homeopathy books to add to my collection. I’ve also been known to peruse the little ‘give one/take one’ libraries at some of my favourite haunts. You never know what goodies you’ll find in there. For that reason, I also gravitate towards garage sales (okay, for the books and the jars).
And what about you? Are you building your home library? What types of books are you collecting? If you feel so inclined, please share a few of your favourites with us so we can all learn from each other. I’m always up to add a few new books to my shelves. I’m duty-bound to preserve what I can.
I’ve been sticking with the oldies. As of late I’ve been perusing “Chest of Books” online, which is a collection of free online books, some more recent but many from the late 1800s and early 1900s. It has lots of ads on the site and is easier to navigate on a laptop rather than phone, but is a wealth of knowledge. Obviously not hard copies, but books prior to 1921 have no copyright from my understanding, so perhaps could be printed off or downloaded, or found online for purchase once you know it’s a keeper.
There are topics of interest to me such as cooking, herbal medicine, natural cures, (both of the latter under the Health and Healing topic), all of the Popular Mechanics books (under Craft and Hobby) and many, many more. For example, here is a book on Elixers from 1892:
More Natural Cure books:
Herbal Medicine books:
Loads and loads of cookbooks:
Flora, Herb, Mushroom & Plant books:
Too many more topics to mention, but worth checking out if old books are your jam. Enjoy!
One of the benefits of moving into my husband’s family house that was occupied by thrifty folk who saved everything (every cottage cheese container level) is that there is a fabulous library of how to do and fix almost everything. Foxfire and more. In the sorting out of stuff that we did when we moved in, we set aside a place for this survival library. I have really struggled sometimes with the amount of hoarder crap I have had to dig out, but am also grateful for the gems that will and already do save the day.
Impossible to answer, really. ;) I've been collecting for all of my adult life, as I could see it was a lost art and an important feature in our home to preserve. Every room has books neatly tucked into them, so our library is the house itself, which lends to curosity and browsing. I detest a public library; I'm a book owner at heart and a fine builder by design (which makes me more thrifty by being an owner). Nothing quite like cracking open a classic. And to your question, naming just a few (oh, the agony!!): Little Men, Freckles, The Walking Drum. Just this morning, I took my granddaughter to a book sale and we were both delighted! Mission accomplished. :) I've corrupted my family beyond repair.
Yes! The Fox Fire Series!! We have that set too!
A Modern Herbal by Mrs M Grieve.
A stack of old National Geographic’s.
About 10 years ago I nearly turfed a heap of books in frustration of clutter and small children, now I find my boys laying down in the hall way in-front of our library/very large book shelf engrossed in the old Nat Geos, conversation between them and lots of “awwww look at this!!”...followed by one reading aloud to the other so they can decipher the image.
Some of my most recent purchases are books that have been written by Covid Dissidents. (Berenson, Eisenstein, Malone, essays by Paul Kingsnorth) I want that stuff in hard copy so my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren can know what happened.
I’m never throwing another book out!
My mother had the Fox Fire series. I was an early and prolific reader. These books were kept down on the bottom shelf behind m Father's chair. They were very enticing. Surely with a title like Fox Fire they must be fabulous. When they were the only books, besides Conan the Barbarian, in the house that I hadn't read, I asked my mom if I could. She said a very curt and flat "NO." Years later I found out they were homesteading books. Why did she say no? Because I am a read and do sort of person. I would have been implementing all of the ideas in my 12 year old manner dragging my poor mother behind me. It was easier to say no at the beginning than to say a series of no's to each attempt to implement everything in the books.
I have several herbal books, some foraging books, a great book called, "Where there is no doctor." I have a few books on breathing and how to handle joint pain without a doctor (Egoscue method is especially user friendly).
Books on dairy animals and cheesemaking have a hefty spot, but there are a lot more needed in that realm.
I will have to look into the Gurudas books. 10 acres enough is on my Christmas list.
I love this (and will be coming back for book recommendations)! As a herbalist, energy worker, cook, and dreaming-stage homesteader living in the North, I’ve collected a large amount of books. My partner gets a little exasperated with it (especially when I come back with more from the free store), but they’re worth it!
Some of my personal favourites from my own library:
Country Women - this is a rare-ish reference that I accidentally permanently borrowed from my mother’s friend. Lots of great information on how to build a homestead from the ground up with limited resources and physical strength.
The Bloom Book - flower essences
Where There Is No Dentist
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and Spiritual Midwifery
Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm - Stephen Harrod Buhner - All of his books are wonderful, but this one is my favourite.
Herbal Medic - amazing resource for emergency herbal care.
Herbal Antibiotics - another Buhner gem with protocols and dosages.
Harrowsmith Cookbooks (I have the collected volume edition, but there are 3 cookbooks) - good old-fashioned recipes.
Food that Really Schmecks - a wonderful little cookbook with recipes from the Kitchener-Waterloo Mennonite communities.
The Northern Cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, Home Made, and Summer Kitchens.
The Flavour Thesaurus
Back to Basics - a reader’s digest reference book
Herbal reference books from my bio region - particularly The Boreal Herbal, Plants That We Eat, and Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada’s Northwest Boreal Forest, and one or two broader plant identification manuals.
The Organic Gardener and The Prosperous Gardener
Nature and the Human Soul
Susun Weed’s books
The Essential Rumi
Fiction: Earth’s Children Series by Jean M. Auel, Pride and Prejudice, The Haunting of Hill House, The Outlander Series, and Surfacing by Margaret Atwood are my essentials!
and many many more, including some already mentioned! Two recent additions to my library are The Gift of Healing Herbs, and Ancestral Medicine, both of whom I can see being treasured classics in years to come.
Oh, this is a topic near and dear to my heart! So many favorites... The Odyssey, all of our poetry books, our Foxfire and other crafting and homesteading books like The Good Life, children's classics like The Wind in the Willows and A Christmas Carol which we read aloud to each other at Christmas time. John McPhee, Wendell Berry and the wonderful One Man's Meat by EB White and so many other books on the land and place. All of our many art books, both monographs and art theory and then interior design books like my favorites on Shaker living... I could go on forever. We are book lovers and addicts in my house and we have instilled the same obsession in my teenager, so our library is ever growing and beloved and rather unruly. It is a pleasure to read about everyone else's favorites too... Gotta go read now!
And I just saw this poem by Dylan Thomas...so appropriate...
Notes on the Art of Poetry
by Dylan Thomas
I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.
My two most treasured books are my mother's first cookbook from the 1920s, written in the old German Fraktur type. I also have her first edition of a herbal book from the 1970s, Geheimnisse und Heilkräfte der Pflanzen (secrets and healing power of plants).
Over the years, I have acquired a large collections of books on herbal healing, arts and crafts, and my treasure trove of beautifully illustrated folklore and fairytale books. I have the whole set by Helga Gebert. These out if print hardcover books are quite small and so beautifully illustrated. If you read German, you can still find them on ebay. The author/illustrater even signed my 1001 Nights edition and included a hand drawn illustration! Priceless!
Since our daughter was born I have been thinking the same thing. I started collecting books on the ancient world out of my personal interest and it just took off. Besides older children's books, I started with topics like math and that led me to Sacred Geometry and books like Hamlet's Mill, The Hermetica, Emerald Tablet of Hermes, Nag Hammadhi scriptures, The Apocrypha, etc. I also collect a large amount of books on warfare and fighting. The obvious staples like the Go Rin No Sho and The Art of War, but also books from fighters like Jack Dempsey (greatest boxer ever imo), Thomas Monstery, Donald MacBane, Fiore die Liberi, Jaochim Meyer, Achille Marozzo, and so on. I also collect some of the better modern stuff that is as unbiased as possible like Fry the Brain and When Violence is the Answer.
Great topic, great suggestions. I love books and I always have a stack of (almost always non-fiction, unless it's poetry or other creative form of turning the literal into the spiritual) books begging to be read.
I believe in collecting a myriad of works, especially if they are censored 🙊
Some books that I reference often--
The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack
The Invisible Rainbow by Arthur Firstenberg
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Folks Thus Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin
The New World Order by HG Wells
Behold a Pale Horse by Bill Cooper
Government, the Biggest Scam in History by Etienne de la Boetie2
Prescriptions for a Healthy House by Paula Baker-Laporte (highly reccomend)
Brighton Baby by Roy Dittmann
I need to develop a stronger base of herbal medicine books that I like.
Over the years, I have slowly been building my library with both new and second hand books. As I live in a non-English country (Europe), it's not always easy to find second hand books from the US or something. So I often try to find them online. I am now trying to find the Foxfire books, which is really hard if I don't want to buy them new on Amazon. So I might just have to go that way.
I am also always on the lookout for old cookbooks. I haven't found a lot here yet, the oldest is from the 1950's.
I have also started looking for the books that accompany the BBC series about Victorian Farm, Victorian Pharmacy, The Victorian Kitchen Garden, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm.
I know it's probably not feasible, but I would really love a complete list of books you have and recommend. I have been making a list of all my fiction books (haven't even started on the non-fiction yet) and I know it's a lot of work, so I totally understand this is pretty much not possible :)
oooo and the best book ever is "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Gene Stratton-Porter originally published in 1909. The story is set in the wetlands and swamps of Indiana about a teen girl who loves to collect moths and lives with her overbearing mother. I LOVED it as a teen.
When we moved into this family home full of ALL the things...there was an original publishing date copy of this book...so I took that as a good sign about where I was in life.
After my grandfather passed away we found more books tucked in every corner of the home that he shared with my grandmother since 1958. There were books for everything you could think of some with printing dates as far back as 1931 (Boy Scouts Handbook). He kept his schoolbooks from grammar school straight through college, Marine Corp training materials and so much more.
My favorites were a 15 book series from the 60s that contained 'the greatest detective stories ever written'. Some were too damaged by mold and time to keep but we did hang on to an encyclopedia series from the 50s, several Time Life series from the 60s (my dad remembers using them for homework when he was in middle school), some interesting homemaker manual style books and any classics that he had.
Some of the stuff in these books is absolutely wild and it is amazing how much they expect/assume you to know about basic life skills. Nothing in the older cookbooks is spoon-fed like the cookbooks of today. That being said, I now have a new Macaroni & Cheese recipe thanks to the 1937 version of the Girl Scouts Handbook that I found and know how to cook it over a fire if needed! :)
I love this topic, and have an impressive collection of print books, old and new. Mainly holistic health, permaculture and gardening, herbal remedies, lots of kids' books and classics alike.
I have old issues of Compleat Mother magazine, and a large collection of John Holt's Growing Without Schooling magazines that were printed in the late 70's and 80's. We also have a copy of Bill Mollison's Permaculture Design Manual. We have Beatrix Potter's collected stories in hardcover; also Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies - and a copy of The Little Prince that's older than me. Some older texts on shamanism and expansion of consciousness, too.
Books are so important that I recently put up a "library" section on my website to share my favorites :)
Oh I should also mention. The Joy of Cooking is my cookbook bible. My mom gifted me a copy when I moved out of the house because it tells you how to cut up a chicken and other basics. I bought used copies for each of my daughters as they moved out as well.
I absolutely love treasure-hunting books and am really proud to have two voraciously reading daughters who love both fiction and non-fiction. Our best books are the ones I found in a library and bought a copy of for myself later. We utilize thrift books dot com a lot too.
The books I return to the most often are my interior design books. My husband once referred to Pinterest as “room porn” (cringe) but it was super true for me. Pinterest never inspired my own creativity and left me feeling ashamed and empty. There is comfort in revisiting rooms I “know” in my interior decor books and binders.
I love holiday books too. I have found some true gems about Christmas by placing some of the library catalog on hold and perusing through. Recipes, songs, decor, gift ideas.
In the Idaho University library in 2009 I found one of my favorite books ever, “Cooking Plain” by Helen Walker Linsenmeyer. It’s a collection of Illinois County family recipes from the turn of the century. It includes incredible gems like squirrel pie and hickory nut cookies. Every recipe starts with a story. I bought a $1 copy off eBay before I ever moved to Illinois myself. I highly recommend it. The recipes are delicious and fun to read. Definitely old school- more method than prescription.
Another book I found in the trash (!) and love with my whole heart is How To Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method edited by JL Rodale. A compilation of a defunct magazine. It’s THICK and taught me, who knew nothing, how to garden. Part one is stories of organic gardens all over the USA. My favorite is about a little old lady in Ohio who added a foot of topsoil to her backyard garden by collecting dust from the neighborhood gutters every morning for years- undoing the dust bowl herself in her own little kingdom. Part two is a step by step instructional guide to composting, planting, etc. Part three is an index of every fruit or vegetable you could think of with notes on how best to successfully grow it.
I've got a few books in a few categories that might be keep me alive. I've got some great field guides on reptiles, edible plants and even humanure. I've got Robert Roger's mushroom encyclopedia he's kind of like a Canadian Paul Stamens and Matthee Wood Steven Martyn, Abrah Arneson and Samantha Orthlieb for herbal teachings. I couldn't live without nourishing traditions and I turn to every Joel Salatin book I own when I'm depressed. I enjoy reading Nikki Scully books on Isis and Toth, and Megan Watterson work on Mary Magdalene. I've got Bill Bryson for humor and history. I love Vladimir Ringing Cedar series and dragon books by David Eddings or Jennifer Robeson shape shifters to keep me remembering magic in imagination. It's an eclectic shelf, not a ton of super old books but they feel like my companions. My kiddos got the classics on his plus some of y'alls amazing recommendations!
I love Libraries of Hope and The Well-Educated Heart. They are helping families build their libraries and to save old, beautiful books. In fact, I am starting a private lending library in my home. We homeschool and have a large garden, so the next step is opening our doors to learning and sharing with our community of parallel economists. We will teach classes for high school and up on regenerative ag, animal husbandry, homeopathy, herbalism, ancestral foods, traditional skills and read Wendell Berry, Joel Saladin and all of the Chelsea Green offerings. But also have school-age clubs and circles for nature study, art, literature and poetry. I am inspired by Sara Maserik of Plumfield & Pædeia who offers support for the budding private librarian as well as Biblioguides which has a directory of private lending libraries. https://www.biblioguides.com/libraries/
I ran for library board in my progressive but predominantly Christian college town earlier this year with a platform of two non-negotiables: no drag performances in the library and explicit and sexually inappropriate material is not available to minors. I lost. And I cannot in good faith patronize the public library any longer. My children are not safe wandering the stacks alone. So, we are proceeding with the free market to provide a better, more enriching and enduring choice.
(Smart Meter update: a fellow WAPF chapter leader who is also on the Children’s Health Defense Exec. Board invited me and my autistic daughter, Esra, to their big conference in Georgia this last week. She insisted that we be there so people in the organization can hear our story and meet Esra. It was last-minute and expensive. But we met the right people and doors opened. Our case will now be reviewed by the wireless litigators!! This is important because we have been representing ourselves as no attorney will take the case. The regulatory capture of our public utility commission is so deep and dark that litigating is a hopeless task to any lawyer we approach. Our small group of six families is undaunted as now we have reached the Idaho Supreme Court. We feel confident that God is leading the way and He will keep us safe through this.)
Can we also discuss the dusting and care of books? Because there's got to be a less-dusty life of librariness than mine!
My 1950s giant dictionary is imperative and used so often. So many books on farming from various viewpoints in various climates. Books on plumbing, masonry, basic wiring, and woodworking. Books on herbalism. Books on grammar. Books on putting up food without canning or freezing. Books on putting up food with canning and freezing (from nearly a hundred years ago.) One pair of books is from 1910 and is all about child-rearing. A lot in there is bygones that can stay bygones and spark good conversation, but other parts are very practical like everything you'd need for birthing your baby (at home, like you do/did.)
And poetry. Old poetry books. And Alice Walker and EB White. And a box set of primers for the kids to explore how kids used to learn to read. And of course my husband and my's favorite book from each of our childhoods: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.
There are books on space and books full of folk tales. There are even a small handful of cookbooks!
Our most-used recent gathering is The Classic Collector's Edition of Grey's Anatomy.
But seriously. The dusting. Are everyone's bookshelves the kind with glass doors or what?
I really enjoyed reading this post! For me, a home library should be just that - it should feel like HOME. If you love the classics, the ruggedness the outdoors and the love of bygone eras then no home library is complete with a copy (or three of Wuthering Heights).
I think as an adult it's important that your home library contains the books of your childhood, even if you don't currently have children in your life to share them with. The feeling of nostalgia when the spines catch your eyes as they sit on the shelf is unrivalled. As a child of the mid-90s, for me those books are 70% Jacqueline Wilson.
A book on astrology, ideally specifically written about the star sign of the owner is a MUST. What better book to comfort you in a moment of uncertainty about who you are, than to read that you are made up of the planets, and the stars with the universe also looking out for you and guiding you on your path.
I donated so many books some years ago when the hubs and I were downsizing. I regret a lot of it now and have had to re-buy some of them. I have e-books that I bought quite a few years ago now that I sometimes feel a little guilty that I haven’t read. I’m an avid reader but I just don’t enjoy reading that way. I buy most books used from Thriftbooks or new from Bookshop or my local bookstore, but would love to hear some of the other sites those in here buy from, especially used. I’ve been slowing making a library of homesteading, self-sufficiency, home healthcare, etc...from recommendations here over the last year or so but there are some great ones in this thread that I’ll be looking for. Thanks everyone!
I recently purchased a new version of an old book. The New Testament (by David Bentley Hart). I can't articulate why, but it speaks to me. Previously The Message version was my go to Bible. I duck my head as I put this out here as I know many don't like these kinds of versions. But this is where God meets me.
My Nan’s old Good Housekeeping books are a family treasure we fight over. I’m always on the lookout for old cookbooks and herbals. Maud Grieve is a favourite, also frequently reference Gerard’s and Culpeper’s. For more recent herbals Matthew Wood, Stephen Harrod Buhner. Right now I’m lapping up everything by Charles Eisenstein, Chris Smaje, and anything I can find on soil, self sufficiency, husbandry, butchering, John Seymour is great., and pretty much anything published by Chelsea Green!
I love this topic. Actual books are such a treat lately for me. I gave many away during multiple moves. This year I have been building my library of herbalism books. First from used bookstores, then from current herbalists who are teachers and clinical herbalists. I highly recommend looking for regional books for your area.
And if you’re new to herbs or just looking for a great reference book, there are 2 books by Rosalee De La Foret that are wonderful and easy to read. Plus she has lots of free online resources.
Alchemy of Herbs
Some local friends and I have used Wild Remedies as a monthly study group guide. It follows the seasons which is fun.
Honestly, I take future access to physical books for granted. I tend to buy soft cover books for our reading, as we thumb them well, sometimes take notes, and loan them out. I have seen people work to amass beautiful libraries of hard cover, well bound books, only to never have read most of them. Maybe this isn't a bad thing though. It just feels out of my price range for the time being.
We are working through the "Great Books". My husband faster than myself. I cover good literature with the children also. I have found especially with the children's books, they love to read and all their books are heavily handed. They are not page rippers or scribblers, but the covers fade and the binding wears. My oldest is 4 and a half, my third is 18 months and I'm pregnant with number 4. A lot of our favourite books will need to be replaced soon. For example, our beautiful Beatrix Potter books. Anything with poetry has tired binding now. Some of it my own from when I was a child. Though probably in such good condition due to it hardly being read.
This year I have read the children all of A.A Milne's works, Peter Pan, Oliver Twist, Charlotte's Web and we have just started on The Jungle Book.
For me, I am always drawn to the saints. And moral philosophy/virtue ethics. A favourite of mine is Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis De Sales. I just listened to an audio book of The rule of St Benedict. For Christmas, I will buy my Husband Virgil's Aeneid. He has just finished the Greek tragedies. Currently I am searching for some Christian agricultural philosophy works. I have heard of Cato, but am reluctant to begin with him. Open to ideas
I picked up a load of really old gardening books someone else was giving away free.... They are so beautiful.. And contain much wisdom
Oh, I forgot to add: Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter is a must for your library! Especially the new edition by Purple House Press. Really anything written by GSP and anything published by PHP. So enduring and beautiful!
I'm always buying out of print books - it's how I invest in my retirement. That's where the best knowledge is. If the internet were to ever go down, I want to have permanence - printed on the pages of what were once trees. I have old books on herbalism, Foxfire series, and Stephen H Buhner's books. Seriously buy Stephen Buhner's books if you haven't already.
I forgot to mention that there are tons of PDFs of old books on here! https://www.academia.edu/
My husband rolls his eyes when I see books at antique stores, garage sales, etc. Because he knows I’ll be bringing some home! But he doesn’t stop me either 🤣 This isn’t a favorites list, but I asked for boxes of books from my grandfathers library. He would have been nearly 97 this year and a retired pastor. I didn’t have anywhere to store his books so they are the decorations on my mantle! (One day when my kids are grown, I’ll read through all of them and reflect on the wonderful conversations I had with my Papa about Jesus.) I stash books alllll over the house. My current favs are my vintage cook books and vintage children’s books. Maybe one day, I’ll have a library room like that dreamy painting in your post, Tara. Thank you for this post! I’ll be adding to my wishlist now.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Growing up we had two sets of encyclopedias and I avidly searched them out when I had questions. Once started though I always ended up reading about many things. We don’t have much space and a lot of my books are in boxes currently but I’d like a library with an old set of encyclopedias!!! What is the name of the online used bookstore you like Tara?
Just this morning I was thinking that I’ve been buying too many books. This article made me rethink that and even if I don’t get to reading everything, I have them as references when I might need or feel inclined. My most recent two are The Carl Rogers Reader and The Amazing Gall Bladder and Liver Flush. I am hoping to get Maimonides books on health. I have 2 out of 6 and realized I need to actively look because it may never get reprinted and it is a healing modality that has become lost to our current modern medical system.
Thank you for this inspiration!
Yes, I do build my home library! Many books ( parent long collected libraries) now are just thrown away by modern people. We have a place nearby where you can find and take these books for free. I am taking also additional copies for my kids.
I love this subject!! I've been collecting important/useful books for years. Every time I move I am reminded of how the collection keeps growing, but I refuse to get rid of any. I need to go hunting for good books more often - but when given the chance I hit up thrift stores, garage sales, used book stores, library sales, online sites like Paperback Book Swap, 'little free libraries', estate sales, etc. My favorite place I ever stopped was a little bookstore in a Montana mountain pass years ago - I wish I could go back and visit, because it had an insane amount of books that I had never even heard of, in every genre available.
I'd like to add sheet music as an important addition to anyone's collection. And being able to play off of chords/fake books increases the amount of music one can keep on hand exponentially.
Some of my favorite finds have been The Moral Compass and Book of Virtues by William Bennett ($1 apiece at the thrift store!), the Silent Planet series by CS Lewis (bought for a quarter from a library sale), a Red Cross home nursing manual from the 1940s (medical advice was WAY more chill and relaxed back then, it's amazing), the original Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, and an 8-volume anthology about the Old West by Time & Life.
Otherwise I feel like my book collection covers a wide range of topics but only has a few in each. I've become more and more picky about what I want included, mostly because we're still in a period of life where we move every few years, but I take what I can and store it if need be, and wait until we have a permanent home to put it on a shelf out in the open.
We recently moved into a camper/RV for the time being and I told my husband right away that I wasn’t willing to get rid of any books. My dreamy man didn’t push it one bit and made sure we kept under the bed and a few shelves clear for them all🥰
This summer I last minute stopped at a small local book sale and I couldn’t believe how I hit the jackpot! So many old classics, lots of them the local school and library were throwing out. I got the whole box for $6! I got a 1939 childrens picture dictionary, 1940 social studies book, E.B. White classics, J.R.R. Tolkien sets, Wind in the Willows, Swiss Family Robinson, and so many more. I was in a hurry that morning because I was on the way to pick up a new milk cow otherwise I probably would’ve walked out with 3 more boxes😅but I already can’t wait till next year to stop by and see what they have!
I’m thinking of asking for Wendell Berry for Christmas.
I’ve been loving the Back to Basics readers digest book (also found at the book sale).
Another home library must have for me has been Be Your Own Doctor and Be Your Child’s Pediatrician. And of course Nourishing Traditions books.
Oh I’m so excited to keep collecting and writing down everyone’s recommended titles!
One more thing we’ve been doing is picking up old records at thrift stores, I know we aren’t talking about music in this thread but it would be a fun thread someday! I don’t know a lot of music classics but it’s been so fun to randomly pick records that look good and take them home and listen to them with our toddler. We are finding it important to not always be pulling out our phones to listen to music in front of her.
I’m suggesting Kinship with All Life by J Allen Boone. During my investigations into horsemanship and animal communication someone suggested it as a book to read to your animals. I dip in to it all the time.
We used to live in Jacksonville, Florida and if anyone ever finds themselves there, check out Chamblin Bookmine. It is an endless wonder of books on everything. You could spend a whole weekend there. We are slowly, and sometimes rapidly, collecting books for our home collection. More on growing food and lots of children’s books. Love the Richard Scarry books. I bought some of the recommended children’s books after the previous thread and currently enjoying reading to the girls Caddie Woodlawn.
Steve Solomon’s work, especially Gardening When it Counts. Here is an example: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ogwlresources/Files/The_Intelligent_Gardener_Growing_Nutrient_Dense.pdf
The joy of cooking. I did not realize what a fantastic cook book this was until recently (though I've known about it since I can remember). It even has a section on game!
While I’m an avid fiction reader, I don’t often read non-fiction - thank you for the reminder to buy reference books! I love buying used books and have been growing my library for many years, but I’ll definitely focus on buying dictionaries, encyclopedias, herbal medicine and gardening books, and the like. This weekend I actually encountered a second hand beautiful hardcover edition of all of Jane Austen’s books and decided to pass because I already have one that includes four of her novels, but I did leave with an annotated hardcover edition of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Thank you for your encouragement and reminder on the impermanence of the digital world. Now on to collecting reference books!
Sadly I have turfed a lot of books over the years as I live in a subtropical environment with a lot of rain that all the dehumidifiers in the world can’t keep up with all the time. Old books all tend to go mouldy eventually 😔
I discovered a book website that locates books from across many many websites. Interestingly enough, it’s called https://www.bookfinder.com/. 😁I have found several rare books that I couldn’t locate on the usual sites.
What is the best online used bookstore in Canada? My local used bookstore has become so woke and they are still demanding that customers wear a mask.
I have a small home library (20 books or so) and I have recently had the urge to read through all of them and make sure they are what I want on my shelves and then to begin expanding my collection with more intentional book choices. I will be so excited to revisit this post in the future for inspiration. Currently I like to read books from the library and then I have a running list of books I enjoyed enough to purchase. Now to start the hunt & begin slowly building up my collection.
Fun to read about everyone's libraries, and find new titles, like Harrowsmith.
I've spent my adult life moving around, so my library is relatively small -- and dwindles each move as we anxiously tally up cubic metres -- or lose them to damp storage facilities, or things unexpected, like when i donated my collection of beloved vintage Ukrainian children's books to a refugees association Each time, I get the books pared down to the absolute essentials, then slowly buy more at the next location -- always used, except for my daughters' school texts.
I'm realising I might need to write sthg about my books. Thank you for this great question!
We are huge book lovers, and have been building our home library from the minute we left our childhood homes at 18 to move in together (11 years ago now!!) and old used books are obviously the best. My husband is on a huge old non-fiction and fiction bender at the moment (everything from worm oroborous and Conan to ‘the good life’ by the Nearings and Walden and more). I am collecting and diving into old biodynamic books at the moment, (starting with Maria Thun) and also some homeopathy and herbalism. Just got Robin Rose Bennett’s book ‘the gift of healing herbs’ that I absolutely loved. Top favorite herb book now. I have ‘energetic herbalism’ by Kat Maier next on my tbr shelf, followed by Shannon Hayes ‘Redefining Rich’ and ‘Radical Homemakers’. Also rereading ‘the resilient farm and homestead’ by Ben Falk (one of my favorite books ever- sooooo excited for the updated edition in January!) Chelsea Green is a publisher (the only, really) that we buy new books from. Great resource of alternative farm/homestead/health books outside of the out of print ones you have to get from Thriftbooks or local used stores. We have collected most of their catalog, and will continue to do so. Also working on adding Ben Law’s woodworking and silviculture books to our library.
Side note, I splurged on that braising book you’d recommended Tara and it is worth it 😁 made some very delicious venison and lamb braises!
Thank you for explaining :-)
@tara did you do something different this post? I cannot listen to it using Substack’s built-in reader. [I generally listen and then quickly review posts for photos/pictures and links.]