Resources for Further Reading
Essential books that have shaped my worldview.
I have a voracious appetite for books, and I love playing with new ideas and considering ways to integrate them with what I already know.
The worldview that I have arrived at in my life is largely the result of an endless and impossible quest, both spiritual and practical, to understand the “Why?” questions of the universe.
This has led me in many different directions, from music, to literature, to philosophy, to physics, to biology, to Buddhism and beyond.
These days I’m pretty well settled in the garden, but my reasons for living with the rhythms of nature are informed by every other discipline I’ve encountered along the way.
With that in mind, the following is a list of books that have had a major influence on my perspective, and why I do what I do. Some are practical, others are more philosophical, and if you mixed ‘em all up in a blender you’d end up with something that looks a lot like this website.
Please note that the links I provide to each book are Amazon affiliate links, which means that Amazon will give me a small cut when you make a purchase after clicking. This is a really easy way to support the work that I do, at no additional cost to you – and when you’re done reading I hope you’ll drop me a line so we can talk about it.
But whether you choose to use the links or not, above all I hope that you find something interesting here that you’ve never heard of before, that inspires you to take action and live life on your own terms!
Maybe the most important book I’ve ever read – it’s no exaggeration to say that I am who I am today in large part because I stumbled upon this book at age 20.
I absolutely revere the Nearings as high elders of the back-to-the-land movement, and I am eternally grateful to them for sharing their story.
Scott and Helen Nearing bought a parcel of land in the Northeast US for pennies on the dollar at the height of the Great Depression, and set out to craft a more natural, holistic way of life for themselves.
More than offering an elegant and inspiring example of how to live “The Good Life”, the Nearings taught me that a lifestyle of integrity was not only a moral imperative, but indeed, the true path to happiness and wellbeing. God bless them.
Former research scientist Fukuoka wakes up to the reductionist myth that rules the modern world, and resolves to rethink the way that humans interact with nature by letting go of ego.
A wholly unique—and uniquely Japanese—take on ‘natural farming’, published in the same year as the Permaculture Designers Manual and sharing many philosophical perspectives. A perennial classic.
The book that introduced me to permaculture, and not coincidentally, one of the most popular books yet published on the subject.
Hemenway offers an elegant elucidation of the principles of permaculture through their application in backyard garden and homestead systems.
Endlessly readable and immensely insightful.
A dense read no doubt, but Holmgren’s holistic exploration of permaculture principles is one of the most cherished books on my shelf, and I refer back to it more than just about any other. A must-read for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of permaculture that extends well beyond the garden.
The definitive text on the concept of ‘rewilding’, written by Peter Michael Bauer channeling his incendiary alter ego Urban Scout. I’ve read and re-read and dog-eared so many pages in this book, and every time I pick it up I discover some new insight that I missed the last time around. Can’t recommend highly enough.
Permaculture: A Designer's Manual
by Bill Mollison
(this one is prohibitively expensive, so here's a downloadable PDF - learn and share!)
The foundational text of the permaculture movement. As impressive and actionable today as it was 40 years ago. Written more like a textbook to be referenced than read page-to-page.
All of the existential ecological crises that Mollison was responding to have only compounded and accelerated in pace –
“The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for your own existence and that of your children. Make it now.”
Carrying on in the footsteps of Scott Nearing and Eliot Coleman before him, Falk has designed a remarkably holistic homestead for himself in the Northeastern US, which he profiles in his book.
The design process that Falk illustrates through its application on his own land—informed by permaculture but blended with the author’s own techniques and experiences—warrants emulating.
It’s hard to pick just one collection by the poet laureate of the natural living movement, but I suppose the first book I read by Mr. Berry is a good place to start. I feel a deep connection to Mr. Berry’s writing as I live just a couple counties over from him, but his words are sure to resonate with anyone who desires to connect with the land they reside upon.
The definitive text on non-conventional, small-scale market gardening; the first of its kind? Coleman’s shadow looms large over every other text on this subject, and with good reason. Learn from the master himself!
Though I don’t live in the Northeast US like Damrosch and her husband Eliot Coleman, this is still my go-to resource for all things related to gardening. The Garden Primer compiles advice on planning, seed starting, site selection, soil requirements and more for just about every cultivated vegetable and fruit you’d ever want to grow – over 370 plants, in fact, according to the cover. Conversational style, comprehensive resource.
The book that launched a thousand market gardens! JM’s Jardins de la Grelinette (“Broadfork Gardens”) is a beautifully elegant model of a small-scale farm that’s sustainable, resilient, and profitable, and in this book he shows you exactly – down to dollar figures – how he and his wife made it happen. An immensely practical resource.
An excellent companion to The Market Gardener that builds off the examples set by Fortier and Coleman, but with an urban bootstrapping twist. Stone built a wildly successful market garden business on borrowed acreage in the center of his city, and with his tell-all guide he arms the reader with hard-won wisdom and practical how-to info from his first six years of operation.
Hartman offers a very novel approach to applying ‘lean’ management systems to small-scale farms, sharing what he and his wife have learned through years of trial and error. This book is second-to-none in terms of logistical and organizational insight, and much of the wisdom found within is equally applicable to homesteads of any scale.
Equal parts how-to and ‘can-do’, Salatin’s motivational message of encouragement ought to be required reading for any and all wannabe farmers. He does a damn fine job convincing the reader that it is possible, and offers page after page of food for thought about how to get started, to how to pick your enterprises, to marketing and sales and beyond – all imbued with his characteristic wit and charm.
An incredibly rich, thoroughly researched exposition of the ways that Native peoples of California managed their natural resources. You don’t have to reside on the West Coast – or in North America, for that matter – to appreciate the depth of insight about indigenous practices found within.
Stay tuned for more...