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Monday, January 31, 2011

Self-Sufficiency Is Of No Real Help For Self Sufficiency

Another library copy

If you've read any of my book reviews, it would appear that I love everything I read.  Well, I'm going to change that perception because I found a book that I think is not so good. When a book called 'Self-Sufficiency' says in its introduction that the term in somewhat misleading and that complete independence is not possible or even desirable, you have to realize at that point that the book is going to fall short of its title.  Far short.

Self-Sufficiency is one of four books of the same ilk by Sky Horse Publishing.  The others are Back to Basics, Homesteading, and Simpler Living. I own Back to Basics, and think it a pretty decent book that covers a lot of ground that would certainly steer a reader toward greater self-sufficiency.  I have to agree with the assessment that total independence is not really possible, nor is it desirable (unless you really are a recluse at heart), but I think that most people that are interested in self-sufficiency are interested in real help with how to do for themselves, if push came to shove, and Back to Basics does a better job of that than Self-Sufficiency.   Self-Sufficiency covers the family garden, the country kitchen, canning and preserving, country crafts, the barnyard, and the workshop. The garden, kitchen, and canning sections are generally rehashes of material found elsewhere.  The book really goes south at the country crafts and workshop sections.  Broken into seasons, the country crafts section starts off with wreaths and blown eggs, and covers things like mosaic flower pots, potpourri and pressed flowers, kites and other subjects.  What do any of those have to do with surviving anywhere, or being self-sufficient? They do cover candle making, soap making, and quilting, but not with any depth.  The pictures in this book are pretty pictures; they don't show you how to actually do anything.  The workshop section covers various tools, and then has a lot of illustrations of wooden tool chests, which are cool enough if you collect them, but doesn't really do anything for me in the self-sufficiency arena.  The building and furniture chapters are not particularly helpful, either.  Dimensions and limited drawings are given for various things, but no real help.  If you had experience with either putting up buildings or building furniture, you could maybe figure out how to put things together, but woe to you if you don't know what you're doing.

Back to Basics covers real self-sufficiency issues, like buying land, developing a water supply, and getting energy from wood, water, wind, and sun. There are plans for a do-it-yourself solar water heater, and how to properly plow sloping land.  There are instructions for skinning a rabbit, and tanning hides, how to make a bench and real instructions and diagrams for making a trestle table and a hutch table. There's a section on herbal medicine, and recipes for practical household formulas like stain removers, metal cleaners, paints, glues and pastes, inks.  There's a bit on tinsmithing.  How to build a forge out of a brake drum.  Back to Basics covers a lot more subjects fairly well if things were to get difficult, and for anyone looking to start over in the country, I think it would give you far more useful information.  It would be a decent book to take with you, if all you could take was one or two books.

Self-Sufficiency, on the other hand, is not.  I'm glad that I borrowed it first- it's certainly not worth buying.

8 comments:

becky3086 said...

Thanks for letting us know. I have Back to Basics but didn't have this one and now I know I don't need it.

Paula said...

Yeah, don't waste your money.

I have Simpler Living and Homesteading on hold with the library, and I'll be giving them the once over as well....

Miriam said...

I really don't like books that jump on a bandwagon and then don't live up to their billing. The same way I really don't like people who do the same. Grmph. I sound like a curmudgeon...

Paula said...

...or companies. Koch Industries, which is run by the Koch brothers Charles and David who evidently contribute heavily to fight global warming information groups (among other things), has the audacity to have a section of their corporate website devoted to "Koch and the Environment - Learn about Koch companies' environmental achievements" see http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-koch-brothers-20110131,0,3791885.story and http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/why-liberals-are-rising-up-against-the-koch-brothers-2200191.html and http://www.kochind.com/ Talk about greenwashing.....

Toni aka irishlas said...

Thanks for the review. I'm always on the lookout for good books.

Don't even get me started on the Koch brothers... ugh...

Worm said...

Thanks for the review! I will definitely save my money and my time!

Jennifer Montero said...

I like the Back to Basics book too, but I always feel a bit let down by most books that claim to be the definitive guide to self-sufficiency. I think the term means different things to different people. Blowing eggs and making kites isn't in my definition either.

However, I have discovered blogs (like this one for example!) that offer honest-to-goodness handy tips and new ideas for dealing with waste, or recycling, or just funny anecdotes when things don't go to plan.

I will always love books, but when it comes to self-sufficiency, I need my blogging friends and their creativity.

Paula said...

Thanks Jen! I like my blogging friends, too. Blogging friends offer different sort of solutions and moral support; books can't do that!