gather and grow

Homestead skill-building and simple living

A recent post on Root Simple offered an intriguingly simple method of figuring out what one should do with one’s life — the very question that is right now as “live” to me as it was in my early twenties (if not more). It goes like this: “Look at what books are on your bookshelf and do that.”

IMG_0832Though I’ve collected a fairly vast library in my lifetime (dominated by works on religion and spirituality, fiction, and Asian history and literature), if you look at the books I’ve purchased in the last three years, their message is very clear. They are almost exclusively about homesteading, gardening, permaculture, natural building, making from scratch, keeping small livestock, food preservation, self-reliance, community resilience. These are the topics I cannot resist reading about, the books I end up buying even if I otherwise don’t shop much, the ones I devour and always come back to. I see them as guides to a way of life that I aspire towards — and in some ways am already living: a way of life that offers an alternative to the high-consumption, high-stress, petroleum-fueled madness and alienation from nature’s processes that defines so much of the affluent North in particular. I awakened to this way of life when I was well into my thirties, so I’m an adult learner, trying to pick up as much as I can, and these guides are invaluable to me in the process.

And what does this say about what I should be doing with my life? Apparently, more and more of what I’m already doing, and dreaming about — and in fact writing about here at Gather & Grow — and seeing where that takes me. Yes?

For those of you who are curious, here’s a partial list of the most-consulted books in my permaculture and homesteading library — starting with the book by the very bloggers of Root Simple who inspired me to write this post:

What about you? What does your bookshelf point you towards?

7 thoughts on “Your life’s calling on your bookshelf

  1. Pia says:

    In that case I should just keep trying to do everything, I have horse books, I have gardening, photography, art, spinning, knitting, dyeing, dictionaries, computer graphics and my favourite novels in my bookshelves. I guess I really am just thoroughly confused inside and out! ;-)

  2. Erik Knutzen says:

    Best of luck to you in your homesteading pursuits. And I’m honored that you included our book. Looking forward to following your blog.

    1. Mari says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Erik!

  3. Jenn says:

    My results seem to be much the same as yours – in recent years, I’ve been really focused on self-reliance and have picked up quite a few books that feed into that interest. It was really interesting to see what kind of books I gravitate to a lot, and which ones are more targeted to things I’d like to do later in life. I seem to have a significant focus on food – growing, cooking, and preserving, certainly, but also the social and cultural meanings of food and the issues in our current food system.

  4. This is such a thought provoking article. My bookshelves are not that dissimilar to yours – literature, cooking, religion and spirituality, gardening, growing, a better and simpler way of living … They do say the ‘answer’ is often right in front of you !! :)

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