12 Best off the Grid Living Books

Many people live off the grid and many more might be thinking of doing the same. However, there are very different reasons why people prefer to live off-grid.

Some of these reasons include complete independence, staying away from political convictions, and much more.

Everyone wants to live off the grid but it entails more than most of us know. Luckily, different books have been written by people who have had an experience living off the grid.

These are very helpful when you are planning out your life and are doing some research. We have compiled a list of the 12 Best off-the-grid living books.

Some of the books in this section are step-to-step guidelines while others contain detailed experiences to give you a clear insight into off-grid living.

Why do People Need Off the Grid Living Books?

Why do People Need Off the Grid Living Books?

The truth is, living off-grid is a good idea. However, it might be a completely new idea to you, which means that some research would be very helpful in the planning process.

Why do you need to do your research on books? You must have complete knowledge of what you intend to get into.

There are two main things you need from your books. First, you will need a guide that will explain all the basics and provide a sort of foundation for all the advanced books.

You will then require books that address specific topics in-depth, covering more than the foundation books do.

Reader’s Guide: What to Look for in a Good Book for Living Off the Grid

Reader’s Guide: What to Look for in a Good Book for Living Off the Grid

As we have explained before, living off the grid can be a completely new idea. A good book should help you understand different aspects more clearly. Different books offer different kinds of information in different ways.

When you know exactly what you need to look for, you will have a better chance of finding a book that will specifically address all the information you need. Here are some of the things to look for.

The Core Values

What are the core values of the chosen book? When you are looking for a certain book, you have the intention of finding out certain information.

The core values, usually found in the foreword, will help you figure out if this book will be relevant in regards to the information search.


We all know that living off the grid, even though desirable to most of us, might require that you have certain skills. However, some books do not provide you with this information.

Instead, they provide you with information that is not relevant in regards to attaining these skills.

A book that features step-by-step guidance is much better compared to one that shares the sorrows and joys of living off-grid.

Practical Applicability

Most of the step-by-step guide books on this post provide you with detailed instructions on doing things when living off-grid.

However, will you be able to apply these steps? Is it possible that you might have the instructions but they will not be relevant to you living off-grid? It is a very important aspect to consider.

Living Off the Grid Book Reviews

Living Off the Grid Book Reviews

In this post, we will be looking at 12 of the most amazing books on living off the grid.

The reason why we chose to review these 12 books is that they provide detailed information on living off the grid and some go into extensive details on specific topics.

They are all helpful and have received great reviews from clients who have tried them out.

1. The Encyclopedia of Country LivingCarla Emery928 Pages$48.46
2. Twelve by Twelve: A one-room cabin off the gridWilliam Powers278 Pages$14.17
3. Back to Basics: A complete guide to traditional skillsAbigail Gehring456 Pages$24.95
4. DIY Projects for the Self-sufficient homeownerBetsy Matheson160 Pages$32.44
Comparison of books on living off the grid

Now, let us get to the book reviews.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

There are several reasons why we chose this book as our first pick.

First, this is a guide that takes you through everything you need to know about living off-grid including the initial purchases, such as land and housing, as well as the final steps such as growing and canning peaches.

It is a perfect book for those who are complete beginners.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living


  • Author: Carla Emery
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 928 Pages 

Main review

It contains everything you need to survive off-grid. It contains up-to-date information because it has been updated every year ever since the first publication and continues to be updated.

However, because of its scope, some articles do not have as many in-depth details as others.

The writer, Carla Emery, has lived in Idaho on a farm as a mother, wife, and farmer for more than 30 years. She is a writer but also a home-schooler, garden-grower, goat keeper, and much more.

She wrote the first copies of this book in the 70s and has kept updating the information as she continues to learn.

This book is a perfect choice for survivalists, urban farmers, homesteaders, and anyone with an interest in living off-grid for a simpler lifestyle.

In the book, you will find a wide range of information and insight, including the struggles and pleasures associated with rural life. It is not only instructions or a book of reference. You will enjoy reading the book.


  • It is always up to date.
  • It gives you a good idea of how living off the grid is like.


  • It does not cover every aspect of living off-grid.

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream

Living away from the entire grid might be a challenge. But people have done it and the author of this book, William Powers, did it in a one-room 12 by 12 cabin without any electricity or running water.

We chose this book because of the insight it provides on the overall life off the grid.

Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream


  • Author: William Powers
  • Publisher: New World Library: Illustrated Edition
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 278 Pages

Main Review

The book focuses on the life of Powers without electricity, killing his food, showering in rainwater, as well as meeting some of the locals.

You will find out the spiritual and emotional impact that an off-grid lifestyle can have on an individual. The focus of the book is the struggle to attain inner peace through this lifestyle.

The Author is a successful Physician who chose to live in a small cabin without the luxury of electricity or running water. In the book, Powers explores the community around them and tries to get a meaningful life. His main focus is to get some global healing coupled with personal happiness.

If you are not sure how you will feel about living off the grid, we recommend that you try out this book. It will give you great insight into the journey of living off the grid.

While living around the small community, the author learns how to live self-sufficiently doing new things such as killing a chicken for food. This is in the middle of a nation that is squandering resources.


  • Provides great insight on living off the grid.
  • Explains the spiritual and emotional journey.
  • Shows how to do some basic things while living off-grid.


  • Does not provide a step to step guide on what you should do to live off-grid.

Back to Basics – A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills

We all know that our forefathers had a very simple lifestyle that included using basic skills to go through life.

When you decide to live off-grid, you are going back to a time when things were better and you will need some of these skills for it to work. We picked this book for anyone who identifies the need for such traditional skills.

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition


  • Author: Abigail R. Gehring
  • Publisher: Skyhorse; 3rd Edition
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 456 Pages

Main Review

The book does not focus mainly on political matters. Instead, it has a factual, neutral tone that is meant to help you simply understand the information presented without being biased.

If you love history and simply want to know how things were done, then this one is for you. Its main focus is on traditional skills that might have been lost over the years.

Abigail R Gehring, the author, and editor has a wide range of books in the market.

She is a writer who loves making discoveries in the kitchen, gardening, as well as being a wife and mother. She is from a very old farmstead in Vermont.

The book is meant for beginners who are thinking about making that change and moving to an off-grid environment.

Even though it is helpful and fun to read for beginners, it has adequate information for even skilled farmers and homesteaders.

The topics in the book are detailed, including some on grapes and the wide variety there are for different palates. It is a must-read.


  • The book is really fun to read.
  • It does not have a political message and is only informative.
  • Great basic skills for living off-grid.


  • It is not an in-depth book.

DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner – 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle

Living on a farm requires that you have a lot of skills so that you can be self-sufficient. There is a different project that you might find yourself starting when living off the grid.

These are projects that help you to grow food, get some utilities like heat, electricity, or even water. With this book, you will be able to take on 25 important projects that you can do yourself for better sustenance.

DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle


  • Author: Betsy Matheson
  • Publisher: Cool Springs Press
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 160 Pages

Main review

The book features projects that will work for a farm or even a suburban garden. There are even tips that will work for apartments.

Mainly, they are projects that focus on self-sustenance including collecting your food, raising plants, building chicken runs, and much more. Each of the simple projects gets around two to four pages.

If you are a person who aims to get your resources or important utilities such as water and electricity, then you can get this book.

It aims to help you do almost everything yourself and learn how to do it even better than most people. It is great if you are trying to increase your overall self-sustenance without overhauling the entire current lifestyle.


  • Great for beginners.
  • It explains the basic projects that you can do yourself.


  • It is not meant for people who need to complete advanced projects.

Mini Farming: Self-Seufficiency on 1/4 Acre

Being self-sufficient does not mean that you have to be a country dweller.

Did you know that you can produce almost every type of food you need with a small piece of land? We picked this book because it helps you learn how to do just that.

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre


  • Author: Brett L. Markham
  • Publisher: Skyhorse; Illustrated edition
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 240 Pages

Main review

This book aims to maximize the overall production of food by taking on a scientific approach to the issue. In the book, you will learn the importance of the different aspects of gardening.

You will be able to learn why potash might be beneficial for you. But more than that, you will be able to learn how much you need to depend on the conditions.

The author of the book, Brett L. Markham is a full-time engineer who works on his garden only during spare time.

During that time, he can produce adequate food for his entire family. He is a strong believer in the fact that with a ¼ acre of land, you will produce 85% of the food your family needs and even make some money.

There are different topics in the book, including an interesting one on the nutrients that your plants will require for adequate growth. It is truly a masterpiece.


  • The main focus is on mini-farming and being completely self-sufficient.
  • Allows you to garden properly with less time.
  • Well organized.


  • Not every chapter goes into proper detail.

Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home

After you buy land to live in, the next thing you have to do is build a house. Building a house presents a challenge for most people.

This book will indeed help you build an affordable home. But more than that, it will help you make it all unique.

Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series, 4)


  • Author: Roy Roy
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 256 Pages

Main Review

As you can expect, building an underground home is not very easy and you might even expect it to be a bit expensive. 

However, if you are looking for a living situation that is more environmentally friendly, then what you want is an earth-sheltered house. This book is among the most popular for earth-friendly living.

Roy Roy, the author, has been teaching, researching, and building for more than 20 years. In the year 1981, he and his wife started a building school and he has written more than 10 books on construction and alternative building.

The book covers all important techniques for construction including planning, excavation, floor, footing, and every important aspect. You will find everything you need for the construction process.


  • The writer has a long construction experience.
  • Colored pictures to make understanding easier.
  • The book is well-written and organized.


  • Might not be for beginners.

Earthship: How to Build Your Own

Living off the grid, you will want a house that is not only self-sustaining but also earth-friendly.

It should be able to provide adequate power, cooling, heating, and much more. But how do you build it? This essential guide by Michael Reynold should help you make it possible.

Earthship: How to Build Your Own


  • Author: Michael Reynold
  • Publisher: Solar Survival Architecture
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 240 Pages

Main Review

This book was indeed written in the 90s. However, all the information included is solid and is still applicable to date.

In the book, the author talks about the methods that have already been tested in the past. He even talks about the Earthship history to make sure that you have a good grasp of the idea behind them.

The book talks about how these houses are built using spare material including old tires, mud, or even aluminum cans.

Recycling these materials allows you to make an eco-friendly, sustainable dwelling. Even if you do not plan on building your Earthship, you will have good knowledge of this method as a lifestyle.


  • Method of preserving the environment.
  • It is detailed and well-organized.
  • Great designs and concepts.


  • It should be updated with a second edition.

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling

We all know that being a homeowner, there are times when you look at the bills and the heating and cooling expenses just seem to be overwhelming.

Fortunately for us, there are different energy sources all around us that we can use to adjust the temperature in our houses. This is the right guide to help you learn how to do it.

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling


  • Author: Daniel D. Chiras
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 286 Pages

Main Review

The passive method of heating and cleaning will make use of energy sources that nature provides to keep the house at a perfect temperature. It makes use of sunlight to heat the house and the wind to cool the house.

The author explains why most of the experiments that have been conducted before have failed.

The author, Daniel Chiras, made his last bill payment in 1996 and has not made another payment yet.

However, this is not because he does not use electricity anymore. He has simply turned to wind and the sun to provide these important utilities.

If you are looking to become more self-sufficient and reduce the overall electricity bill brought about by heating and cooling your house, then this is the right book for you.

You will find some great techniques that you would require to make use of the sun and wind to heat and cool your house as you need.

Builders and architects have made use of easy knowledge to create some great solar homes that will function on their own with the sun and the wind.


  • It has amazing information.
  • Great insight on simple and functional techniques.


  • The details provided are not as in-depth as you would expect.

The Backyard Homestead: Produce All the Food You Need On Just A Quarter Acre

You must be able to grow adequate food for your family if you want self-sustenance. 

Most people assume that it means you would require a large piece of land to make that possible but that is not the case. We chose this book because it helps you learn just how you can do without a large piece of land.

The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!


  • Author: Carleen Madigan
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 368 Pages

Main Review

This book helps you understand how you can get adequate wheat, eggs, fruit, vegetable, pork, and much more, adequate to sustain your family.

You will be able to put your entire backyard to work so that you can enjoy organic, fresh food all the time.

The author of the book was a managing editor of a horticulture magazine. He has lived on an organic farm in Massachusetts. This is where he learned that there are skills that he could provide and he did that through this book.

It does not matter whether you are trying to get a bit of food or are looking for complete sufficiency. The guide will teach you how to handle everything from the seedlings to beekeeping, and any other thing you might think of.


  • The book is perfect for beginners.
  • You will find every important information regarding gardening.


  • It does not provide an in-depth description that you would require.

The Complete Guide to Water Storage

One of the most important things you need when living off the grid is water. You will need drinking water and water for all other purposes such as cleaning your clothes, yourself, your dishes, and much more.

So, what do you need for efficient water storage? This is the book that offers all the important information.

The Complete Guide to Water Storage: How to Use Gray Water and Rainwater Systems, Rain Barrels, Tanks, and Other Water Storage Techniques for Household and Emergency Use (Back to Basics Conserving)


  • Author: Julie Fryer
  • Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 336 Pages

Main Review

You cannot do anything without water and access to some clean water is very important. Most people realize this and are trying to get access to ponds, tanks, and other means of getting some clean water for their families.

The book guides you on the water storage methods. You will also learn about the legal implications and all financial aspects.

The author, Julie Fryer, provides nonfiction books and articles that focus mainly on organic and green living, self-help, and other aspects of daily living.

The book is meant to help anyone who is looking for different ways of storing water. It is for everyone, including beginners who have no idea where to start.


  • Great guide for beginners and experts equally.
  • Diagrams make it easier to understand.
  • Well-written book.


  • Unfortunately, there is a lot to be covered in regards to water storage but the book does not cover it all.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it

Being off the grid means that you can sustain yourself and your family by producing your utilities. You can also produce your food and live without any state-provided services.

The problem with living off the grid is that it can take some time to figure out. Fortunately, this book has everything you need to know.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-to-Basics Guide


  • Author: John Seymour
  • Publisher: DK; Illustrated Edition
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 408 Pages

Main Review

This book features everything you need to know about being self-sufficient. It gives some detailed instructions on how to do everything you need including harnessing solar power to chopping trees and much more.

The author of the book, John Seymour, has been an inspiration for most people for more than 40 years. He has encouraged people to make some enriching, eco-friendly, and responsible choices.

It does not matter how much knowledge you have about living a self-sustaining lifestyle. You can use this book whether you have a lot of information or none at all.

The retro-style illustrations make the reading experience exciting.


  • It has instructions for most tasks for living off-grid.
  • It is interesting to read.
  • Organized properly.


  • Not all details are provided.

Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons

The final great off-grid living book we have is this special guide. Self-sufficiency is something to be desired.

There might be a lot of work that comes with it but fortunately, you can use a guide like this one to learn the perfect way to do things.

Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons

Quick Overview

  • Author: Mother Earth News
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 240 Pages

Main Review

When you are trying to be self-sufficient, you should have adequate knowledge and skills to do most things yourself.

Such tasks include sustainable gardening, harnessing solar energy, water storage, and much more. This amazing book helps you learn how to do all that yourself.

Mother Earth News is the leading magazine that focuses on self-reliant, sustainable living. The magazine was founded in 1970 and has been a great guide for living off-grid.

If you are planning to live off the grid and would like some of the important tips and instructions, make sure that you get this guide. It is explained properly so that even a beginner can understand how to do things without any help.


  • A great reference for living off-grid.
  • The book is written well to make it easier to understand.
  • All the information is applicable.
  • The details are explained well.


  • It is not a big book so it does not touch on every aspect of living off-grid.

Notes to Avoid when Choosing Books for Off the Grid Living

Notes to Avoid when Choosing Books for Off the Grid Living

As you would expect, there is a wide variety of off-grid living books. However, they are not all helpful and they may simply take up your time and money. 

That is the main reason why you need to purchase foundational books. Check what they offer in regards to specific topics.

Here are notes to avoid for off-grid books

Books About Inspiration

Some of the inspiration books in the market are not going to inspire you.

What they do, instead, is to fill your mind with personable anecdotes, pretty pictures, and politics. What they try to do is to get some misguided ideas in your head.

Complete Guide Books

Complete guides are not always complete and that is something to watch out for. What you need to do is get a basic guidebook. It provides more insight into different topics.

Autobiographical Books

Autobiographical books are mainly meant to provide stories about the experience of other people when doing what you need to do.

As is expected, these books do not give you detailed instructions and instead give stories that are not helpful.

Off-Grid Living Books FAQs

What is the best book for living off the grid?

The truth is, there is no perfect book for everyone for living off the grid. You simply have to figure out what you need to know and find a book that offers that information in detail.

Which are the best self-sufficiency books?

As per the article above, the best self-sufficiency books include Mother Earth News Almanac, The Self-Sufficient Life and how to Live it, and finally, Mini Farming.

Books about Passive Heating and Cooling?

The Solar House is the book we thought is worth reading for this specific purpose.

Books about building your own?

If you are looking for books on building your own house, then go for Earth-sheltered houses, as well as Earthship: How to build your own.


There is a wide range of books in the market, each of which features its type of information. Some will focus on specific topics while others go further and give you an overview of every important detail.

The book that would work best for you will depend on your specific needs and your purpose.

Unlike most other products, books are products of the mind. It is impossible to judge whose intellect is superior and better than anyone else’s.

The content described in the book depends a lot on the reality that they have experienced.