Review: Encyclopedia of Country Living

Available at or at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.
Available at or at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Editor’s Note: Three or four times a quarter, we’ll be reviewing various books here on Country Life. Want to know if a particular book is worth the sticker price? We’ll tell you! Send your suggestions for book reviews to: Looking forward to hearing from you!

Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living is a tome–887 pages worth of how-tos, recipes, advice and resource contacts.

If you’re thinking about ditching the city and reconnecting with a simpler, more direct way of life, living the self-sufficient lifestyle full-bore, or just living more directly and simply where you are right now, The Encyclopedia covers a wealth of information to keep you on target.Along with practical pointers on purely country topics–buying large parcels of land, training draft animals, people-powered harvest methods–Emery also covers topics that have a much broader appeal. She goes into detail about baking bread, and the issues that can involve, garden planning, raising independent children, thrifty living, food preservation, raising small animals for food, beekeeping, and hundreds of recipes for meats, dairy foods, breads, herbs, and most other edible things.

Unlike some general ‘country life books’, you’ll find some things that may surprise you in The Encyclopedia of Country Living.

Discussions of how to care for one’s dead on one’s own, how to deliver a baby if medical help isn’t available, doctoring one’s animals, and how to handle wool once it off the sheep are some of the topics found in this book that aren’t often addressed in such detail elsewhere. When aiming for a goal of self-sufficiency, handling matters like these becomes vital, and Emery does an excellent job of breaking things down for novices, while still managing to keep it interesting for off-the-grid veterans.

The volume is compilation of Emery’s writings from 1969, when the first edition was written, through 1994. (The current 9th edition was released in 2003.) Traveling back and forth through time as Emery chronicles the changes in her life can be a little bewildering at first, but the information in each essay is so compelling that you’ll grow used to it quickly. And the vignettes of her life are very illuminating–and provide some subtle advice that’s still useful.

On page 871, you’ll find an “Achievement Checklist” and a “Final Exam”, both of which can help you track your transition into a simply way of life.

Read The Encyclopedia straight through, or use the handy tabs to pick and choose the information you want right away. Either way, you’ll benefit. Emery’s book shows that a simple lifestyle isn’t one deprived of rewards and riches. Discover them and add them to your way of country living.

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