Prepping advice from books

I love books. Fiction, science fiction, biographies, all cross my reading pile. I’ve finished a few recently that have got me thinking SHTF thoughts. So I had to share.

Little Heathens – I loved this biography for Mildrid Kalish, “Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm in the Great Depression.”  She lived in similar location to where I’m living now. But, where I’m a relative new comer, she was born and raised here, with family back to the original settlers.   She detailed how a family working with man power and horse power was able to put away enough hay for our long winters.  It was a complicated arrangement of 3 teams of people, pulleys, rope, horses and some sort of murderous-scary hay hook, I shudder at the thought.   photo credit

She mentions that the children would get sent down to the cellar every year in February to pinch the sprouts off of the potatoes, so they would last longer.  She talks about the care her grandparents put into the planting of those potatoes, carefully placing the eyes pointing up before covering with soil.  Gleaning was discussed, as a standard practice, the whole family would go out soon before the first frosts were expected, to the garden/orchard and glean all remaining food, no matter how scrawny or ill formed. Her mother would make a hearty soup for everyone from the evening’s harvest. I loved the every-day details that get described, it’s peek back in time. I highly recommend biographies, when you can learn how people used to live in the places where you live now, it can give you some great ideas for how to plan to live in that place when conditions make things similar to the past.

ConquistadorS.M. Stirling wrote novels outside of the “Dies the Fire” universe. This is one of them.  The opening character is a discoverer of a portal to an alternate universe, one where the Americas were never discovered by Europeans.  He sets up a colony with ten of his closest friends, and their family and they start a settlement. This novel explores the dangers and challenges that face his family 2 generations later, as infighting and smuggling are threatening the whole colony. When you’re making a new and better world, it’s always a struggle about who’s vision the new world will mirror.

Plus, many of us will admit to a certain amount of disappointment with our modern trappings/busyness/pollution and wish for a simpler, cleaner life. Fantasies of surviving alone in a cabin in the middle of some large expanse of woodland while the world crashes are fun enough; and this book hits just that longing, with a portal to unspoiled America.  It’s not all pretty nature though, there are gun fights with Indians and incendiary bombs and large carrion birds and well, I shouldn’t spoil everything for you. :-) It’s pretty good.

American Apocalypse Wasteland – Nova’s second installment of the American Apocalypse is out in paperback, so of course I had to have one.  It will grab you by the short hairs from page one and keep you turning the pages long past bedtime.  It opens minutes after the attack on Gardner’s hotel by government forces angry over a botched weapons reclamation program. Everyone’s injured or worse, and most of the supplies and all of the plans are up in smoke.  They head for their fallback location, to regear and heal up and try to survive as things unravel quicker and quicker and winter approaches.  Nova introduces engaging new characters, and the survival-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth is exciting to read about, even if it’s far from what I want to see in real life.  I love his books for small group tactics, and a realistic view of the timescales involved in something as large as the USA unraveling. Gardener spends a lot of time poor and sporadically employed, trying to participate in what little  civilization remains limping along, before things take a sharp nosedive. Trying to get food, shelter, health care and practice time with his weapons take up more of his time than shootouts, but those do pop up, in true Gardener fashion. :-D Love it.

Have you read anything good lately? Anything that triggered a thought about your preps, or a change to how you prep? Interesting information gleaned from old stories? Do share!

– Calamity Jane

15 comments… add one
  • Joe September 6, 2011, 7:17 am

    Thanks, Calamity! I really enjoy reading good books and I’ll add these to my list.

    I’m currently reading Lucifer’s Hammer. I’m about a quarter of the way through it right now. Good read so far.


  • russell1200 September 6, 2011, 7:57 am

    I don’t think I have ever read Sterling’s work. They sound entertaining, but more escapist than practical. They seem almost the exemplar of a “cozy catastrophe” except that in some cases they are there voluntarily.

    Hmm LOL, yes I did read a few books recently. Probably too many.
    The summary page (with links to reviews and amazon) is here:

  • Jarhead Survivor September 6, 2011, 8:13 am

    I just re-read Robert Heinlein’s “Tunnel In The Sky.” I read it when I was a kid (it’s considered one of the Heinlein Juveniles) and saw it on my bookshelf and had to pick it up again.

    It’s a story about high school and college age kids who are sent to a different planet as a class exam on survival. A whole bunch of kids are sent through, but due to a supernova exploding in the area the coordinates to the “tunnel (wormhole?) on Earth are lost and the kids go from having to survive for just a few weeks to an indefinite period.

    They can take just about anything they can carry, but our hero is influenced by his sister to just take basic survival gear and a couple of knives. The idea is that if you don’t have a big gun you won’t put yourself in a situation that you can’t shoot your way out of.

    They eventually band together and the result is a small society and how they organize it is part of the story.

    It’s a quick read and Heinlein was a great writer for his day and his survival philosophy is sound. I’d recommend it for your kids (or even you) if you’d like a quick and fun read.

    -Jarhead Survivor

  • Spook45 September 6, 2011, 9:19 am

    Mtake in this is that learned experiance and knowledge are things taht cant be taken away. With that said, Low teck is going to be the new future. What I mean by that is that technology breaks down and with the economy and political issues as they are, it may not get repaired, err go, knowledge of the old low tech ways, methods and means of doing things and getting things done is good way around broken technology or technology that may eventually be abandoned due to lack of profit or lack of funding and an inability to keep it running. Books are like guns in that regard, blue collar GOLD!

  • cbrand0641 September 6, 2011, 9:49 am

    One of my favorite books still has to be “The Last Centurion” by John Ringo. Google it, kindle it, read it. Its a great book for those who like military fiction, near future fiction, SHTF fiction, WROL fiction, action, humor, and the like. Once you read it you will ask yourself why you haven’t heard of it before and why isn’t there someone like Bandit Six (the lead character) in read life.

  • Odd Questioner September 6, 2011, 9:51 am

    I’ve found two books (well, one book and one series of magazines) to be quite valuable:

    Back to Basics ( ) – a comprehensive pile of traditional homesteading skills. I have the 2nd edition which I bought in 1994, and I still refer to it from time to time.

    The Mother Earth News. Originally a quarterly magazine, it is now a website ( ) – begun roughly the year after I was born, the back issues to today all contain a metric shedload of stuff from homesteading, to alternative fuels (even back in the ’70s and ’80s they had articles on how to brew your own gas), to you-name-it. Well worth getting your hands on.

  • Prepared N.D. September 6, 2011, 10:20 am

    Read the “Creature of Jekyll Island” last week and grabbed one of my Fox Fire books from the shelf last night.

    Calamity, you might like the Fox Fire series if you like personal stories about the depression. 90% of the information is a transcription of interviews with people who lived to tell the tale.

    • Spook45 September 6, 2011, 1:09 pm

      LUV them FOXFIRE books. I hva several myself and they apply to my ao. The keyboard on my ne laptop SUX, please excuse my pisspoor typing due to the squishy KB.

  • kevin September 6, 2011, 11:01 am

    i found a series some years ago called out of the ashes by william w johnston its about what mighthappen after a limited germ nuclear war and how the surviors cope with a world with no government and worst of humanity gone crazy

  • PrimalCane September 6, 2011, 2:22 pm

    Halfway through “98.6° the Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive” by Cody Lundin (the dual survivor guy from Discovery channel) and I have to say it is packed with extremely useful information, presented in a very down to earth, and technically sound manner. Got it through amazon for a very reasonable price along with some other goods, and his other book “When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need to Survive When All Hell Breaks Loose”

    Hmmm sounds like something y’all might be interested in…


  • Suburban Survivalist September 6, 2011, 8:18 pm

    I was a bit put off with the introduction of a supernatural element at the very end of American Apocalypse Wasteland (Freya, a Norse god). The author left a small note on the last page saying the series wasn’t meant as survival fiction. Felt sort of ripped off as that what the book and series was billed as. Meh.

  • Michael September 6, 2011, 9:59 pm

    Thanks, I’ve put in a request for Little Heathens at my local library.

    Speaking of… I’m reading the same kind of stuff I was reading two years ago, but then I never had to wait for a title and now there’s always a wait list. I think people are catching on.

  • nova September 6, 2011, 10:07 pm

    Thanks for the kind words on my writing.

    Survival fiction as in what kind of gun to buy? No. I am trying to write about possible scenarios as seen by the people will be living through them. There are a lot better writers on gear out there. Hopefully what I am trying to write about is what kind of world will you be living in with that gun, farm, or whatever you managed to put away or end up with.

    To me what I am writing is apocalypse fiction but I can’t recommend it to anyone who wants to know about gear.

    Thanks to those of you read what I wrote. I write live and online if anyone is interested.


  • Satori September 7, 2011, 4:29 am

    one of my new favorites is
    The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly
    its a fictional account of a flu pandemic
    good read,and pretty accurate in my opinion

  • Ssuburban Survivalist September 7, 2011, 9:07 pm

    Survival fiction vs. apocalypse fiction? Really? Norse gods in America after financial collapse as “possible scenarios”??? Really?

    From the Amazon description of Wastelands:

    [Quote] Starvation, violence and death run rampant in the remains of our once-proud country. Federal troops, commissioned to protect the homeland, have turned their guns on the lawless population. Citizens find shelter in government safe zones while ruthless gangs enforce their will outside the camps.

    When the military transforms Washington’s life-saving food bank into a gun collection center in order to disarm all but the soldiers themselves, riots ensue. Weary of the militaristic government’s intent to render the citizens defenseless, America’s remaining patriots begin a mass migration out of the camps in search of refuge.

    American Apocalypse Wastelands tells of a young man discovering the role he must play to defend himself, others and his country as everything around him crumbles. [/End quote]

    Where is the supernatural element to the description? No mention for the third and fourth books, either. Going off the first book, as I did, no way so suspect good ole Thor (aka Thursday) would be putting “Christian blood” into his diesel fuel tank.

    Your series, write what you want. But declare it, especially if the first book is NOT in the same genre.


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