Books for the Prepper

What Is In a Prepper's Library?


     Since reading Patriots and Survivors by James Wesley Rawles, I had a good look at the book cases that hold both the books and the movies. Rawles never suggested I do any such a thing.  I took it upon myself to have what I like, have what I need and acquire what I may need.  I thinned out to make room to store better books suited to my needs.

     I have always had craft books and how-to books that represent the things I like to do or want to learn to do.  I have a number of tips and techniques for keeping house and organizing.  I have NO exercise books although I do have a couple exercising and tightening for dummies videos.  I have always had an  array of tips & techniques  books as well as two good cookbooks and a few of the classics I mean to read this year coming up.  I have a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. 

      I have sorted out a lot of things in the house toward my prepping lifestyle goal.  Books are just one place I found it made sense to let go of unused items.  The books I let go of had not been opened in years and it was easy to wipe off the dust before I donated them.  Our county library allows that donated books needed for their collection to go into the collection and those they have or have enough of are sold to raise money for more new titles. 

     I thinned out some of my craft book collection by being perfectly honest with myself.  I am never going to learn to knit.  I crochet and that will have to be good enough.  I freed up about four inches of space on the shelf with the subtraction of knitting for dummies and the like.  I gained another few inches when I pulled out the books I bought from some infomercial that were a total waste of time and money.  They were all good books in mint condition and were taken to the library for donation. 

     Since I have been prepping for a time when I may be on my own without modern convenience, I have been thinking what I should have on hand.  I have acquired two new  books on herbal remedies and disease prevention through herbal teas and supplements.  The best way to get well is to stay well, I think.  I bought a set of The American Medical Association Home Medical Encyclopedia for $3 at a yard sale.  The Red Cross First Aid manual has been there for years.  

     I have added other titles from yard sales for an average price between 50 cents and a dollar, titles like; Produce your own Power, The Reader’s Digest Treasury of Humor, The Reader’s Digest Book of Facts,  The Reader’s Digest Complete Book of The Garden, Solar Cooking.  Notice the pattern emerging here?  Lots of information is in a condensed version when the author is not paid by the word. I may not be ready to produce my own power, but that book was full of money saving tips that work to reduce power consumption.  I got the book of humor because everyone needs a laugh. 

     I have the Betty Crocker Complete Encyclopedia of Cooking ( the 1940 edition).  Maybe you are lucky enough to know how to clean a deer and scale a fish, I do know these things, but it’s nice to have the diagrams in the cooking encyclopedia for the removal of the scent glands of every animal edible including bear and squirrel.  Oh, yeah! Squirrel!  This book is a total coup de gras.  My mother has her mother’s cookbook and there have been a few discussions among sisters about it.  Thanks to a lucky yard sale find, I am out of the conversation!  I have my own!!  

     Some of these books have a lot of general information that I know but the bits I don’t are invaluable.  I have a book for the repair of small engines and one for my specific model car.  No one knows it all and a good reference book is gold to me.  

SO, what’s in your library?

Books for the prepper.

     Almost any how-to book will be a help when there isn't “a little man to call in”. 
I have already posted my opinion of Reader's Digest how-to and household tips books, but here are some other books to keep in mind for your home library.

     The basics of auto mechanics can be found at your local auto parts store.  The Advanced Discount Auto parts store sells a Chilton’s book for a wide variety of cars, trucks and SUV s.  I am sure there is a book department at Pep Boys and Rose Auto Parts as well as NAPA.  Check them out.  Maybe you won’t learn how to rebuild your motor in the driveway in one weekend, but you could learn how to change your wiper blades, change your oil, the proper levels for fluids in your car.  Learning how to change your own oil can save you $30 to $70 or more and you can put that money into your prep

      At Jo-Ann etc., Michael's, or Hobby Lobby, you can get books that teach knitting, crochet, and needlepoint.  Needlepoint is good to know for the skill of hand sewing.  A less expensive route is to look for these skills in the Simplicity pattern books.  If you see a crocheted vest pattern, the pattern is a step by step how-to crochet and how-to read any crochet pattern.  It is a great skill builder

      How-to books can be found at your library. Ask your librarian when they ever have book sales to raise funds for new books.  Don’t forget to stock a history of the world, history of the USA, a copy of the Constitution, Camping for the beginner, Cooking over the fire, Colonial American skills, Victorian living (not just the fancy lacy living, but the hard work done in the home).

      You can go to or order the Major Surplus and Survival catalog by mail and pick up “How to survive the end of the world as we know it” by James Wesley Rawles or something similar, if you have a preferred author.  Also available is Cody Lundin’s “When all Hell breaks loose”, if you want humor in your survival guide. Or, as I often recommend, go to your local scout shop or online at and get a guide to outdoor skills.  It has simple easy to follow instructions and diagrams.  The money goes to a good cause.  I have a survival guide in my car and a book on household cleaning tips.  I am a housekeeper, I need to research some nasty stains from time to time.  The survival handbook?  Well, that's because it's good to have wherever you are. il_fullxfull.336687079.jpg

     I have my tablet loaded with books I want to read or read again.  I have two SD cards, each one has a survival guide, a colonial or Victorian cookbook, a book on clothes making, and a collection of good books.  These cards are in a safe grounded with copper wire against an electro-magnetic pulse.  EMP is one of MY worst case scenarios.  I will have a good library to read because I have a solar panel with the proper adapters. 

      I have a similar collection of books printed on paper.  I am not storing books to use as toilet paper.  I am broadening my knowledge base now and easing my tension, knowing I have a good book to turn to in times of need.  I include a Bible for myself.  I have read the Bible cover to cover once as a mental exercise in the 80s.  I have slept since then and thus have a copy for reference.  I don’t care if you are comforted by a Koran, a Torah or the complete Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series.  Get a copy of what you need if you don’t have it.

     One of my sons is doing most of his research online, now.  This works for him.  He reads about pickling pork and he pickles pork.  He researches jelly and jam and I get a picture on my phone of homemade apple and grape jelly.  This is all well and good for now.  He needs a good cookbook.  He needs a good cookbook that predates the use of microwaves.  He really needs a cookbook that predates the use of refrigeration.  I guess we all know what he is getting for his next birthday!  Learn what you can now, and keep a handy reference library for the things you will need to know later.  

Condensed Books


   For ages Reader’s digest magazine has assisted busy people by condensing material for quick consumption.  I used to have a collection of Reader’s digest monthly magazines from a specific time.  I noticed as the War in Viet Nam geared up, the appearance of the feature Humor in Uniform returned to the Digest.  I collected them all.  From yard sales and thrift stores, I had every Digest from the Era.  I eventually gave them to a Viet Vet who asked me about the magazines and had never read one.  A lot of the humor was relatable to him and he started borrowing the magazines to read the background articles he had missed from his time away at war.  Reader's Digest gave him the history of his time in the army.

   Reader’s Digest had also published a quarterly hardback book that contained the condensed version of best sellers.  I could have read the originals but I got a lot more out of reading the best bits of the best literature available at the time.  How else was a housewife going to find time to read four best sellers and raise four boys?  It worked for me.

   I was at a yard sale a few years ago and came across a book called Reader’s Digest’s Book of Facts.  I snapped it up at the $1 price.  It was a glossy covered hand held encyclopedia of everything.  When my son went back to college, I passed it over to him as a refresher.  You forget a lot of what you learned in high school and this book covered the ancient world in three four page chapters.  It was a helpful tool to bring all the old forgotten lessons forward.  It is also full of interesting little known facts and a fun read.

   Since then, I have had my eyes open looking through all of the boxes in driveways where the old books go to die before they hit the landfill.  I always suggest they get dropped off at the library.  I have since found two more Book of Facts.  One is mine, and one will be a gift to another son’s library.  I did not know how many other great books Reader’s Digest had to offer until I started looking.

   I have found three helpful household books you might consider for your own library.  The practical Problem Solver offers substitutes shortcuts, and uses for things you have on hand to solve your household problems.  The Household Hints and Handy Tips book is set up in sections relating to indoors, outdoors, home and family.  Extraordinary USES for Ordinary Things will help you get the most use out of things you already have.  It is set up alphabetically.  Look up candles and you will find how to un-stick a drawer, weather proof labels and quiet a squeaky door.   There are thousands of entries.

   I know there are many more titles, some may be better suited to your needs than these listed here.  Look it up!  That’s mommy talk for, “Do your homework!”  Take a look online.  Keep your eyes open at yard sales and charity shops. could end up at for your book.

    Reader’s Digest may offer you a clue to what was going on in the country while you were away at war.  It may give you a leg up on your reading list.  You may want to keep the Book of Facts on hand for quick reference for homework papers or the next Jeopardy! game.  You may not want all three of the books I have for tips and  42 uses for duct tape, I don’t know, maybe you do.  Look to Reader’s Digest to cover a lot of information in a short amount of space.

What’s in your library?

(After note:  I found a Reader’s Digest Legal Problem Solver, A Quick and Easy Action Guide to the Law for $1 at a yard sale!  It includes a law dictionary and solutions to dozens of general problems from property disputes to school suspensions!  YAAAAAY!)

How to pick a prep book Cook Book

     SO, this weekend, like many weekends, I was out at a yard sale.  I was looking over the knick-knacks and the lady had not priced anything so she was calling out prices, "the jars are a dollar each, the set of cake plates are $20..."  I was totally losing interest when she said the hardback books are a dollar, and the ...I interrupted "any cook books?  Old cookbooks?'  She said yes, but they are $2 each because they are good cookbooks.  I sort of shrugged and she pulled out a box under a table and right away I knew she was overcharging.  

     All the books were thick with bright colored pictures and lots of professionally photographed food.  I told her that wasn't what I had in mind exactly.  I want the old kind that are a little dingy.  She said oh, those, they're in the garage and she invited me in to look.  I walked away with two good prep book cookbooks for a dollar.
     A good prepper's cookbook is a book that dates back all or in part to a time when cooking was done over open flame.  A really good prepper's cook book will have a section on Game, it's butchering and it's preparation.  A crown jewel of cookbooks is the Fannie Farmer cookbooks.  This book is a jewel.  It is a Victorian homemaker's kitchen bible.  It does have a draw back of assuming you know what she is talking about.  It was common for the homemaker to make her own gelatin so the instructions for aspic state "start with a plain gelatin."  It assumes you know to boil the feet of calves because that is the most dense yet soft  bone in the cow that will gel the most with the least of its own flavor, lacking a lot of meat.  You are to cook the feet, pull the meat to make a soup stock then return the bones to the pot to boil out the fat and marrow.                 
     I have a modern printing of the Fannie Farmer Boston School of Cooking cookbook with many additional editorial notes.  Yesterday, I bought The Junior League's first printing of the Taste of Oregon cookbook.   I settled on this book for my stash because it came as it's cover stated, from Oregon.  I am sure it is a very modern urbane state, but I felt it was worth looking into because it is not from the swinging tourist locations Like New Orleans or New York or Miami.  I find these books to be trendy and needy of electricity and the trend to eat from the local farm hasn't quite impressed the printers yet. I like a cookbook that is less sophisticated.  The recipes translate to a time without electricity and very few of them have a recipe called hobo stew, like the campout cookbooks.  
     I bought another book called Cooking From Scratch Overseas because the forward told the story of following her husband overseas for work and finding no electric oven and only a two burner propane stove for cooking.  It looked like a page turner.  It has a section titled Cooking during a Revolution.  Can't wait to get into it, because their are several pages that are stained from dripping.  

     That is a good sign.  When a recipe appears on two pages and requires turning the page to follow the directions, the staine pages mean that recipe or, better, that book was used and was good enough to use more than once.  A pristine cookbook, no matter how old it is, is an unused cookbook.  If the recipes were too hard to follow or the book too clumsy to stand on the counter, it stayed on the shelf and that makes it pretty useless.  This book in the photo right , I would pass up.  It has sticky pages, but, it is falling apart and most of the staining is foxing from water or humidity damage. There are no written notes on the pages but there are clippings from magazines.  It was a filing cabinet, not a real cookbook.   

     I can look for a few recipes I am familiar with and tell if the book is at least a valid collection of genuine recipes.  I know my biscuit recipe inside out, since my sister and I did our demonstration for 4H at the county fair.  I know I don't like Scottish shortbread cookies, because they turn out like sand if it's not done right, but I know the recipe that works and if I check that one, I can tell if the author actually made them or just added in the recipe to fill the pages.
     Cook book Encyclopedia are nice.  The Betty Crocker Encyclopedia of cooking is a favorite of mine as it includes the skinning and butchering instructions.  It tells you how to test for a hot oven without a thermostat and things like preserves, drying fruits, root cellaring and reconstituting stored foods.  Try the site, Abe Books.  IT is a sales port for used and hand me down books.  The encyclopedia to the left here, is listed for $6 and $3.50 shipping.  You can't beat that with a stick!  

Get yourself a new/old cookbook and see how it was done when food was fresh, not wrapped in plastic and cooked over wood or gas.  It will change your thinking.  Oh, and I also bought the biggest hulking NERF machine gun with three 18 dart cartridges, but THAT is another story!

No comments: