On this page you'll find links to music, books and movies that we have found useful on the homestead, for practical knowledge, theory, philosophy, inspiration and entertainment. You'll also find books on boat building. The links lead to Amazon.com. If one purchases the item by following the link
from our pages, a percentage of the purchase price is credited to us at no additional
cost to the buyer.
In fact, if you go to Amazon.com from this page, a percentage of anything you buy there will bring in a small percentage for us, whether it's listed on our page or not. This is a "trickle income," one of many that we use to support our off-the-grid lifestyle. We appreciate everyone who purchases from these links, as it's a great
help to us!
The links are categorized when possible. We try to add titles as they become available or prove useful.
Note that these are books we like. For books we wrote, please go here.
On the other hand, please remember that any of these books can be found at, or ordered through your town's locally-owned, independent bookstore! While we appreciate your patronage, your friends and neighbors would as well. Buying locally builds communities.
Besides, many of the books we like go out of print. If these links don't take you to the book described, your local independent bookstore may be able to find it for you.
Alternate Living: Controlling Money, Simple Living, Frugal Living, Survival
Sailing How To
Seafaring Writing, History, Fiction
Music is very important in this family! We enjoy a wide variety of styles, and listing our favorite CDs would take too much time and space. Below are CDs and/or artists who are particularly meaningful to us as "music for the homestead."
Will Ackerman The founder of Windham Hill Records, known for beautiful guitar music. His Conferring With the Moon is particularly meaningful for Mark, as it reminds him so much of his late mother, Gertie.
Glacier Bay, Dennis Hysom. Music and wildlife recordings from around Alaska. Music to watch whales by!
Nightnoise A Celtic band from Portland, Oregon. Alas, no longer recording, but beautiful music for a quiet morning or evening on the homestead. Standout cuts include Night in That Land, Shaun, and Sauvie Island (for the memories!).
Jeff Johnson and Brian Dunning, Celtic Legends: Bard & Warrior A Nightnoise spinoff, these guys make great music. This CD is my favorite of theirs.
Michael Jones, After the Rain We owe our friend, Stephanie Ker a debt of gratitude for introducing us to this one. It's breath taking!
Our neighbor, Burl Sheldon, Busy Makin' Money. Besides great music of pertinent political and humorous import, he sings a lot about life here on the "Far Side" of Mud Bay Peninsula.
Alternative Living: Controlling Money, Simple Living, Frugal Living,
The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, Meik Wiking. We discovered the term Hygge, and love having a label for the way we live on the homestead. You should hygge, too!
Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet, Alisa Smith, J.B. Makinnon. This young urban couple proves that you don't have to live out in the woods to eat locally. As a bonus, they live in Vancouver, BC, so their experience is very close to living in our part of the world.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver. How to be a locovore. Mark picked this up because he thought he should read it, then read it out loud to the family because it was so entertaining!
Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, Jenna Woginrich. A delightful book about starting small, with what you have, to live a more deliberate life.
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan. This might be the last "diet" book you ever read. Highly recommended!
The Alaskan Bootlegger's Bible, Leon W. Kania. An excellent resource for do-it-yourself brewing.
Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Richard
Heinberg. This book spells out why we need to learn and practice alternative
life-skills NOW! This ought to be required reading for all school children,
and anyone seeking public office.
The World Without Us, Alan Weisberg. Extremely informative and thought-provoking book on how the earth will recover from the changes we've made here.
The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, Charles Fishman. Water is life, yet its ubiquity makes it almost invisible to us. This book may help you see water for the precious resource we cannot live without.
Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving
Financial Independence, Joe Dominguez, Vicki Robin. Your path to freedom
Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy Dacyczyn. Amy's compiled newsletter on
frugal living has saved us thousands of dollars in just a few years.
the Farm, Ken Neumeyer. Your boat is your world! Very intriguing practical
advice for boaters or anyone trying to live in a small space.
There Is No Doctor, David Werner et. al. A guide for third world countries that helps when you can't call 911.
Pain Free, Pete Egoscue. This is a tough life, and injury and pain must be avoided! This is an excellent guide to eliminating pain, plus a super easy exercise regime to keep your body aligned and pain resistant.
The New Complete Self Sufficiency This is the latest version of John Seymour's excellent book on doing it yourself.
Four Season Harvest Cold frames, green houses, extending your growing season throughout the year.
Mushrooms Demystified and its field guide companion, All That the Rain Promises, and More . . ., David Arora. Our forest is full of edible mushrooms, so these are essential sources for us!
Discovering Wild Plants, Janice J. Schofield. If live in Alaska, western Canada, or the Pacific Northwest, this is a book you should own. Foods and medicines are all around us for the gathering.
Guide to East Pacific Rockfishes and Guide to Northeast Pacific Flat Fishes. There's more to eat out there than salmon and halibut. This book helps you figure out what it is you've just caught!
Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast, Hilary Stewart's excellent book describes fishing in our region as practiced by the local Natives for eons, using local natural materials.
Tracking Animals in Snow This has been a very helpful resource for us, identifying who's around, either in the snow or the mud.
Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America. Many people agree this is the best tracking book.
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation It used to be called Keeping Food Fresh. This is how to store up food without freezers and fridges, or sweltering canning sessions.
American Boys Handy Book, American Girls Handy Book, Field and Forest Handy Book These three books, originally written at the turn of the last century, are full of great ideas for simple play for both boys and girls (our daughter owns and uses all these books—gender doesn't really matter anymore) with a lot of ideas for adults, too. They're great resources for doing it yourself.
The Joy of Rhubarb Cookbook, The Joy of Blueberries Cookbook If you have a lot of rhubarb (like we do) or have access to blueberries, these books give you a lot of ideas for how to move beyond the basic recipes.
Solar Living Sourcebook Most of the alternative energy books we use are now out of print. This sourcebook is a great place to start if you're thinking of augmenting your power system or going off grid. This is updated periodically. Older copies are very useful, but look for the latest edition.
Making the Best of Basics. This was a very good place to start thinking about reducing our level of consumption. Still a very valuable resource for us.
The Art of Shen Ku by Zeek. This book may be kind of hard to take at times, but it's got a lot of very valuable information in it on almost any subject.
The Ax Book: The Lore and Science of the Woodcutter by D. Cook. Here's how to cut wood! I especially admire his discussion of chainsaws.
The Book of Non-Electric Lighting: The Classic Guide to the Safe Use of Candles, Fuel Lamps, Lanterns, Gas Lights, & Fireview Stoves, Second Edition, Tim Matson. The best guide we've found for "alternative lightstyles."
The World Made by Hand Series by James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler wrote The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century, in which he described a more hopeful future after the end of oil than many might expect. He expanded on those chapters in his World Made by Hand novels. If you'd like a peek at our possible post-fossil fuel future, give them a try!
World Made by Hand, The Witch of Hebron, A History of the Future, The Harrows of Spring
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling Holt's concept of "unschooling" makes a lot of sense. Free your child's mind and let her learn the best way she already knows how!
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education, Grace Llewellyn. This book explains Holt's unschooling theories a bit better. It's addressed to teens, but good reading for parents as well.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, John Taylor Gatto. An award-winning educator tells what's wrong with our institutionalized education system.
The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded Most of us have our own reading lists, but this provides good guidelines and suggestions.
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
This book offers advice and examples on how to get an education in the 21st Century, and offers paradigm shifting evidence that a college education isn't always the Holy Grail we believe it to be.
If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, Heather Lende. This is the best way to catch the flavor of life in Haines. I think she does know our name, by the way.
the Southeast Alaska: Dixon Entrance to Skagway ; Details to Every Harbor and
Cove: Itineraries of the Inside Passage San Juan Islands to Glacier Bay,
Don Douglass, Reanne Hemingway-Douglass
Southeast, 9th Edition: Touring the Inside Passage, Sarah Eppenbach,
Southeast Alaska With Pack & Paddle, Margaret Piggott
Guide to the Birds of Alaska, by Robert Armstrong. Perhaps the most used of our many bird identification books.
Cooking Alaskan Recipes by and for real Alaskans.
Backyard Boatbuilding, George Buehler
Boats, Harold "Dynamite" Payson
the New Instant Boats, Harold "Dynamite" Payson
With an Open Mind, Phil Bolger
Joinery and Cabinet Making Simplified, Fred P. Bingham. Great ideas
for interiors, deck fittings, etc.
Sketchbook, Bruce Bingham. This is a really cool browsing book with
excellent ideas for your boat!
Boat Building Magazines:
About In Boats
Complete Sailor: Learning the Art of Sailing, Dave Seidman. This is
THE BEST! We constantly refer to this one!
Craft of Sail, Jan Adkins. Good theory, great illustrations.
for Dummies, J.J. and Peter Isler. More about high tech sailing than
homebuilt, but still useful.
Complete Rigger's Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional
Rigging, Brion Toss
Arts of the Sailor : Knotting, Splicing and Ropework, Hervey Garrett
Guide to Knots, Mario Bigon, Guido Regazzoni. If you need your knots
spelled out for you, like we do, this and the next book will be very useful
Book of Knots, Maria Costantino
Coastal Navigation: An Introduction to Piloting, Frank J. Larkin. Getting
there . . .
Put!: The Art of Anchoring, Brian Fagan. Staying there once you get
Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-To for Survival in Extreme Conditions,
Lin and Larry Pardey
Sailor, Lin and Larry Pardey
Weather Forecasting, Alan Watts
to Simplicity: Life Lessons Learned at Sea, Migael Scherer. Buy this
one for your reluctant spouse!
in a Spoonful of Water, Joe Coomer
on a Small Income, Annie Hill (She REALLY makes it sound like it can
An Illustrated Guide to the Boats, Gear, Navigation Techniques, Cuisine, and Comforts of Small Boat Cruising, Douglas Alvord
Seafaring Writing, History, Fiction:
of the Sands, Erskine Childers. Not only one of the first and best spy
novels, but an excellent description of life on a small boat in cold, rainy
seas. Worth owning and rereading often, which is why we recommend it in hardcover.
Sea Wolf, Jack London. Perhaps the best of his sea stories.
of the Fish Patrol, Jack London. Great stories of San Fransisco Bay
in the age of sail. Includes a comment on the superiority of junk rigs.
Ocean Almanac, Robert Hendrickson. Excellent reference/trivia book of
all things oceanic and nautical.
Courageous, Rudyard Kipling. Masterpiece of fishing on the Grand Banks.
O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin Series Excellent sailing historical novels.
Ransome's Swallows and Amazons Series Kids sailing their own small
boats in England's lake district (and beyond!) in pre-WWII England. Inspiring
for those wanting their kids to like sailing.
Maritime, Jim Gibbs. Good history of Alaska ships, shipping, ship-wrecks,
the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates,
Hunter, The: The True Story of Captain Kidd, Richard Zacks. Was Captain
Kidd everything we thought he was? Apparently not!
Island, Robert Louis Stevenson. This is the edition with the N.C. Wyeth
illustrations. Accept no substitutes!
Bello Gold, A.D. Howden Smith. There are many sequels to Treasure
Island. This is one of the worthier ones, and a prequel to boot!
Pyrates, George MacDonald Frasier. Monty-Pythonesque pirate adventures,
with one very intriguing real-life character!
Boats, Seafaring, Pirates:
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl We were disgusted when
we learned Disney was going to make a movie based on a ride. But, what a ride!
This is a surprisingly entertaining movie, and it features the Lady Washington,
built in Michelle's home town.
Bounty A great depiction of the most famous mutiny, featuring young
Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day Lewis, and Liam Neeson.
Island The Disney classic! Robert Newton defined the voice of Long John
Silver for a generation.
Treasure Island Irreverent treatment of the classic. Loads of fun and
great songs, too!
Planet I don't know why this movie flopped at the box office. Suspend
your disbelief (and knowledge of physics, etc.) and enjoy the cruise!
- Legend of the Seven Seas This is not the Sinbad of the Middle East,
and I was disappointed that he had a junk rig instead of a lateen, but junk
rigs are cool, too. Great sailing scenes in this one.
of the Sands Hard to find on DVD, more's the pity. Good movie, but no
substitute for the book.
Courageous Strays from the book, but we love this one for the footage
of the fishing schooners.
Island This was a bomb that sank the studio that released it, but it's
actually a good seafaring popcorn adventure.
and Commander - The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Special Two-Disc Set) Not only is this an incredible seafaring movie, it stars the ultimate Bolger
boat! Phil Bolger designed the H.M.S. Rose, the ship used to represent
the H.M.S. Surprise in this movie. If you really want to give a "yachtee"
fits, just mention that interesting bit of trivia. Grown men have wept!
Other Topics (a very small sampling) We Find Interesting:
Franklin We can't recommend this one highly enough. Excellent overview
of the greatest American, with excellent actors bringing his writings and correspondence
with Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Beasts We love dinosaurs, and this series
is the closest you'll get to seeing the real thing. The computer animation is
incredible! We bought all of these individually before they combined them into
this set. Wish we'd waited, but then, how could we?
Dinosaurs Roamed America The animation's not as good as the Walking
With . . . series, but the program's great.
Future is Wild So, what might animals look like when the ones
we know are as dead as the dinosaurs? This is a very intriguing series.