7 Books That Help us Be More Self-sufficient

by | Off-Grid Living & Self-Sufficiency

Books about self-sufficiency, living off-grid, growing your own food and permaculture

A peek at (a part of) my own bookshelf – resources about homesteading, self-sufficiency, chickens, making wine, permaculture, gardening and more!

Before we moved off-grid, I spent quite a bit of time searching for the perfect book about living off the grid. In the course of the years, we amassed a nice little library of books to help us be more self-sufficient.

One question I get asked regularly, is which book I’d most recommend to people looking to learn more about permaculture, become more self-sufficient or move off the grid…

These are the seven books have been most helpful to us in our journey.



Complete Book of Herbs: a Practical Guide to Growing & Using Herbs – by Lesley Bremness

Why I love this book:Complete Books of Herbs - Lesley Bremnes - Great book for self-sufficiency

It’s my #1 reference guide for whenever I find an interesting herb or plant and want to know what I could do with it. Not that I usually do… It’s also great to know whether plants are toxic or extra healthy or just good to use as fertiliser.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

It’s a small book with SO much in it – doesn’t take much space in the house, but can play a big role in your garden.

-> Get the Complete Book of Herbs on Amazon: click here.

Back To Basics: A Complete Guide To Traditional Skills – Multiple Authors

Why I love this book:Back to Basics

“Back to Basics” was a gift from my husband in 2013 (before we moved to Spain), and since then we’ve both spent so much time reading through all the interesting facts and instructions. Every time I open it, I find something new and (usually) fascinating.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

When the world all goes to sh*t and there’s no YouTube for the handy tutorials, this is the ONE book you’ll want with you. It covers everything, from building a house to planting a garden and from making your own clothes to milking a goat. We like to call it “the end-of-the-world-book”.

Get “Back to Basics” on Amazon: click here

The Self-sufficient Life & How To Live It – by John Seymour

Why I love this book:The Self Sufficient Life

All throughout our adventure, this was the book of “how it could be”. Although some of the things in the book aren’t 100% applicable to Spain, it’s still full of inspiration and good advice for our journey towards self-sufficiency.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

It’s a great book that allows you to dream, plan, and learn a couple of things you’ll want to apply to your own lifestyle.

Get “The Self-Sufficient Life & How to Live It” on Amazon: click here

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture

Why I love this book:

It was a wedding present from one of my best friends in the world. She was an urban gardener and I did NOT have her green thumbs – but she’d always help me out whenever she could. With seeds, practical advice, and setting an example. I read the book when we first got here, I broke my knee and I wasn’t able to move around much for months. It was an eye-opener – I had a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) already, but it taught me that I still had to think for myself.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

This is probably the most inspiring book in this whole list; it’s not just a book about permaculture, it’s also about thinking for yourself, really working with nature (and not just applying methods learned from others), really understanding your surroundings (and not just applying what you learned in a course or saw the neighbour do). Sepp Holzer’s climate is very different from ours, so I haven’t done much with the practical parts of it – but I’ve re-read it twice since I first got it.

Get “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture” on Amazon: click here

The Basics Of Permaculture Design by Ross Mars

Why I love this book:The Basics of Permaculture

This was probably my first book about permaculture – and I believe it was the best way I could have gotten introduced to it.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

It’s straightforward and includes plenty of pictures. A great introduction to designing your own property, your house, your garden, your pastures. When we have guests, it’s often the one book in my “gardening library” they’ll read.

Get “The Basics of Permaculture Design” on Amazon: click here

Gardening With Chickens by Lisa Steele

Why I love this book:Gardening with Chickens

Most people will tell you you can either have chickens or a productive garden – and I’ve had plenty of experience with chickens destroying the garden. Thankfully, not the other way around. But I learned a couple of really good things from this book that I still apply to this day…

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

If you want chickens AND you want a garden, this will help you combine both.

Get “Gardening with Chickens” on Amazon: click here

Getting Started With Off-grid Solar

Why I love this book:Getting Started with Off-grid Solar

Hmmm… because we spent blood, sweat, and tears putting it together, mostly. And because I know it’s helped many people since then!

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

You only need this book if you’re planning to get a solar system when you move off-grid. Or if you’d like to support our efforts in writing more actionable off-grid guides, of course 😉

Get “Getting Started with Off-Grid Solar” on Amazon: click here

Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art Of Self-reliant Living – by Kris Bordessa

Why I love this book:Attainable Sustainable

Full disclosure: at the time of writing, I’m not in the possession of this book yet. It just came out a couple of weeks ago, and I was planning to buy the hardcover edition when I’d travel to the USA… however, with Corona lockdown being what it is, plans have changed.

Why every off-grid adventurer needs this book:

I worked with Kris at Attainable-Sustainable for a couple of months as a social media manager. She’s a lovely woman to work with and the “real deal”, doing all these amazing things in Hawai’i! I believe a platform like Attainable Sustainable has the power to make the world a lot more sustainable, one family at a time.

Get “Attainable Sustainable” on Amazon: click here

What’s Your Favourite?

Tell me in the comments – which book should we be adding to our library?


  1. Md. Hamidur Rahman

    Thank you for the list. It is an inspiration for someone like me who lives in Bangladesh and wants to have a self-sufficient life as much as possible.

  2. Somnomulus

    The Earth Care Manual.


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Hi, I'm Sandrine!

I live off-grid on an olive and almond farm in Spain, with alpacas and chickens and dogs and all the things. We've got solar panels and water from a borehole, we aim to grow our own food and be more self-sufficient, and we also try to make more time for what's really important in life... Come and join the sunny simple living movement!

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