Books That Inspire

The Forgotten Arts & Crafts

Some of my favourites

I’m a reader. Most of what I’ve learned is from reading (and living, of course). One of the interesting things I’ve noticed when looking back over my life is that who I am today is very much the same as who I was in the ’60s. I’ve married, raised children, moved back and forth across the country more than once, divorced and made what I hope will be my final move in 1998 (I’ve lived here much longer than anywhere else in my adult life). Some day I’ll post a couple of photos from ‘the old days.’

The books I have most enjoyed through the years are the same — they inspire, instruct and give hope for a good and worthwhile life (on my ‘simple’ terms). Here I will list some of those books as I remember them or come across them when digging through my bookshelves.

You will notice that I have an affiliate account with Amazon. If you buy any of these books through the links on this page (by clicking on the pictures) I will earn a small percentage of the book’s price. Obviously, I encourage you to do so if you’re going to buy a book. I also encourage you to get a book at the library first, then only if you feel the need to have your own copy, return here and buy it through the Amazon link.

The list: additions to be made sporadically. (BTW, please add your favourites that fit the theme of this blog by making a comment. I love learning about books that are new to me.)

The Good Life, by Helen & Scott Nearing. One of the best, IMHO, and probably the book that inspired the most people to find their own ‘good lives.’ There are some strong naysayers in the Amazon reviews. What’s your opinion?


The Forgotten Arts & Crafts, by John Seymour. This book is a compilation of The Forgotten Arts and Forgotten Household Crafts written by the “Father of self-sufficiency.” It appears to be back in print now, available at He’s written many other books  on self-sufficiency, too. I love this one as it gives an historical overview, personal thoughts, and some how-to instruction.


A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity, by William S. Coperthwaite. I recently won a copy of this beautiful book from the publishers, Chelsea Green (on Twitter!). I love it! “William Coperthwaite is a teacher, builder, designer, and writer who for many years has explored the possibilities of true simplicity on a homestead on the north coast of Maine.”


Forks Over Knives, a dvd & book about saving your health and maybe your life. Read what Strombo had to say on his show and he chose it as the top film of 2011: The Amazon link is for the book.


Whitewash, by Joseph Keon. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 30 years. The only thing that kept me from going all the way to being vegan was my love of cheese. This book finally helped me make that step in 2012. It’s an eye-opener! One tidbit: Which country consumes the most dairy products? Answer: the United States. Question: Which country has the highest rate of osteoporosis? Answer: The United States.


Gardening Without Work, by Ruth Stout. This is my all-time favourite vegetable gardening book – I love it! Ruth was an authentic free-thinker. As a teen, she smashed saloon windows with Carrie Nation (but apologizes to Nation as she had a glass of wine later in life); she gardened naked, thinking she was hidden from others’ view; and she believed in doing things her own way, without judging others. There’s a video of her in her 80s or early 90s that appears & disappears regularly on-line – do a search and watch it. This book rambles, it’s true (as some critics say), but I like the fact that it’s not slick and I enjoy her anecdotes. The book is written the way she spoke. Solid and useful information is found throughout. I’ve been following her method, and this year (it’s now July 16, 2013) I haven’t watered once since seeding. We’re in the middle of a heat wave (30C++ with humidex in the 40s) and my vegetables are thriving! Highly recommended.


Canadian Crusoes: A Tale of the Rice Lake Plains (later re-named Life in the Back Woods), by Catharine Parr Traill. Written in 1851, Catharine dedicated this book “to the children of the settlers on the Rice Lake plains, by their faithful friend and well-wisher, the authoress.” Oaklands, Rice Lake, 15th Oct. 1850. Catharine Parr Traill lived in and around Gore’s Landing for eleven of her most productive years as a published writer (spring, 1846-early winter, 1858-59). My house was built in 1855 by William McBride, the Landing’s first boat builder and coffin maker; he must have known the Traills. This story was written while she lived here, and contains exciting adventures of  lost children in places still recognizable today. A great book for children (and adults), it includes relationships between immigrants and the Indigenous people and foraging for wild edibles, all written from CPT’s personal experience.


Snugg the Bug in a Rug Snugg the Bug in a Rug: Treasure Lost and Found, by Robert McFarland; illustrations by Rama Dixit. This is the first book written by my friend, Robert McFarland. It’s a delightful rhyming book for parents to read to very young children, and older kids to read themselves.  “Life lessons” are woven into the story, beautifully illustrated by Rama Dixit. The author and the illustrator have never met – they found each other on-line and the collaboration continued that way. Self-published, the link takes you to Snugg’s Shop.

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