Reviewed by Jackie Clay-Atkinson

Issue #141 • May/June, 2013

Are you a new homesteader? Perhaps you have dreams and plans to become one sometime in the near future? Maybe you’re an old-timer, like me, needing a piece of information from time to time? This is definitely the book for you! If I could only have one comprehensive how-to book on self-reliant living (and I think I’ve read them all), this would be it. As a matter of fact, I have two copies of this book myself.

Where most books fail by providing sketchy (or incorrect) information on select subjects, The Encyclopedia of Country Living is filled with simple down-to-brass-tacks, detailed information on so many aspects of homesteading. After all, where else would you find almost all you would want to know about delivering a baby, making breads, keeping bees, canning, building a barn, foraging wild foods, making soap, raising animals, making vinegar, cheese, recipes for using nearly every food imaginable, and tons more?

The late Carla Emery spent much of her life writing, updating, correcting, and adding information to this book. What started out as a home-mimeographed book, sold in sections to “subscribers,” quickly became an immense volume, published first by Bantam and later by Sasquatch. It has gotten better and better since it was first printed 40 years ago. And the massive book is filled with personal stories and anecdotes, making it a friendly and easy read — not at all like a textbook.

This is the biggest book on my shelves, composed of more than 900 pages. You’ll not only learn how to knead and set bread, you’ll learn what happens when several of your children all decide to “help” you the same day.

Even though I’m a homesteader with more than half a century’s experience, I still find myself paging through The Encyclopedia of Country Living often for a bit of information.

With such a huge book, the detailed, complete index is invaluable. I can quickly thumb through it and pop right to the subject I want.

This new 40th Anniversary Edition has also been completely updated with all new contact information for sources such as animal and poultry breeders and associations, seed catalogs and nurseries etc., including quick to contact websites and e-mail addresses.

There is also new canning safety information. What was considered safe by experts years ago is no longer considered so. In all the canning sections, this information has been updated with modern safety concerns addressed.

All in all, this is a wonderful book and when Carla looks down on us reading it, I’m sure she is well pleased with her life’s work, as she should be.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, 928 pages, paperback, $24.95.


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