Book review: Encyclopedia of Country Living

My problem in entering this contest is not being able to chose from all the great survival and preparedness books that I have, they all have good information and I wouldn’t want to be without any of them. I’m constantly adding to my library, both in book form and on my Kindle Fire.

So, which one of them has inspired me the most? Taught me best? Encouraged me to keep going longer?

I thought back to the very first book that got me interested in all things to do with self-reliance, preparedness, homesteading, raising livestock, growing a garden, canning, living frugally.

That would be Carla Emery’s “Old Fashioned Recipe Book-An Encyclopedia of Country Living”. I found a battered copy of her 1974 edition at a local library when I was a young wife and mother trying to stretch our income to cover our needs and I knew it could help us out.
I remember sitting in the living room of our trailer late at night, the only one awake besides the cat, reading Carla’s fascinating book. She credited the idea of the Book to a subscription to Organic Gardening. Emery wrote: “It got me to thinking about how it seemed so many city people were wanting to move to the country and all the things they needed to know”. So she decided to write the “go to” manual for Back to the Earther’s, as she called them.
Unlike most books hers was advertised before it was written. She felt like she could adequately cover the subject in 2, at most 3 months, so she placed an ad for her book-to-be in the classified section of 3 magazines. The book would be written in installments for a total cost of $3.50.
She received hundreds of responses for a book that consisted of a Table of Contents and some good ideas.
Carla Emery started the Book in 1969. She was still working on it at the time of her death in 2005. Oh, she completed it! The first edition was mimeographed sheets that were collated around a huge table by a group of people passing the pages to each other. When the Book took off and the public became interested in it Bantam Books produced a printed copy, the one which so inspired me in 1993. From an original 529 pages the book grew to over 900 pages, single space, so crammed with information and experience that it reads like a novel in some parts. It morphed from being a basic country handbook to the 2010 edition which includes information on: living off the land, growing your own food, building a cabin…making egg noodles from scratch, delivering a baby, tap a maple tree, forage for wild food, use medicinal plants. Yes, her encyclopedia does cover all those topics, and does a thorough job of it, too. That’s just a smattering of the information available from the Book.
The Old Fashioned Recipe Book is exactly what it says it is: a recipe for living a responsible, self-reliant life. The Book taught me gardening and canning.
From Carla I learned how to raise chickens, preserve their eggs, and then slaughter the roosters and old hens. I made my own sausage from deer meat from her recipes.
Most of all I learned to work hard to do a job I was dedicated to: being a wife and a mother and the teacher of my children. Because of Carla’s work I was able to make some of my dreams come true. When I’m in need of new inspiration or a refresher course I reach for one of the 3 editions of her Encyclopedia. She was, and is, the best source of information I’ve ever found.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

2 thoughts on “Book review: Encyclopedia of Country Living”

  1. Marie I too love this book I bought it on Ebay and really cannot say enough about why it is a great prepardness book!

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