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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Self-Sufficient Living (Idiot's Guides) Paperback – December 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jerome D. Belanger started and ran Countryside magazine for 30 years. Along with magazine articles, he has written six books on country living. He and his wife also operated a general store for tools and supplies for simple living, while they lived self-sufficiently on a small farm.
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Product Details

  • Series: Idiot's Guides
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: ALPHA; Original edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592579450
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592579457
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Actually, I just received this much anticipated book, yesterday. The moment I received it, I began reading it. From the start I was disappointed but I kept reading thinking that at some point I would get into some substance. Well, It hasn't happened yet. Jerome Belanger only tells you why it would be a good idea to become more self sufficient but never really how to do it. So, if your looking for the why then this is the book for you but if your like me and you have already gotten to the why and are ready for the how, keep looking!
P.S.
In all fairness he does give some ideas on things to implement but not enough in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Belanger, you're my hero.

I've been a Countryside subscriber for years and just had to get this book. I've read it, my wife is reading it, and throughout the book we realized that we already were 50% of the way to being self-sufficient. This book inspired us to make the final push and move out to our cabin on 20 acres near Prentice, WI (ironically, a stones throw from Countryside's HQ)

Lots of good, practical advice. Mr. Belanger doesn't pretend to take the stance that this book will answer all of your questions or encompass all that there is to know...simply because that is impossible. What he does do is give you all the tools you need and references, links, addresses and ideas to get you going in the direction of your choice. His recommendations on books to read are dead-on. On his recommendation, I picked up "Craft of the Country Cook" by Pat Katz and it is an amazing volume of information and absolutely all that Mr. Belanger says it is, plus more.

Tonight I stuffed sausages, making bratwurst from scratch for the very first time. Yesterday, our bees arrived for our new hives, and we got free grapevine cuttings for various wine varieties from the University of Wisconsin research station at Hancock. Over the weekend we picked up a propane chest freezer (free) and a wringer washer (also free, will convert to gasoline power).

Although I've read Countryside for years, it was this book that gave us the inspiration to make that final push. Thank you, Mr. Belanger.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would have to say that this is one of the best books that I've read. It is a great eye-opener about how unsustainable much of our culture is, and I've purchased multiple copies to spread around to friends. The first parts give a great argument for why we should understand more about the not-obvious and thus unpaid cost of the way that many of us live. The second and third halves of the book get into the high points of topics of interest to a modern homesteader (someone who wants to live in a more sustainable way), but since it isn't a multi-volume encyclopedia set 8000 pages long, it doesn't get into the most minute details. For instance, if you have never known anyone with chickens and don't know anything about chickens, this book gives you enough of an overview to decide if you should buy Gail's chicken books (to get the rest of the story), or if chickens just aren't for you. This concept repeats for the rest of the topics. I think of the latter part of this book as a launching pad in that regard- about home cheese making, gardening, livestock, etc (and thus quite useful for the average suburbanite).

I do have two complaints, and one is the title. This issue alone is almost enough to cost a star in my rating. How am I supposed to give someone a copy of this book without implying that he is a complete idiot? Furthermore, perhaps the strongest aspect of this book is that Jerome puts sustainable living in the context of right now. I've read it in the spring of 2010 and it is very truly up to date. Perhaps a more accurate title would be "Sustainable living for the 21st Century," "Things your great-grandparents forgot to tell you," or "the modern homesteader." Perhaps those titles were already taken.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If this were meant as a series of web articles on how to spend less money and some basics (and I mean VERY basics) of homesteading I wouldn't have an issue here. However, when a book proclaims itself to be a complete guide of anything I expect it to be more comprehensive than a brief overview of a subject and then a suggestion to read another person's book to actually learn about the subject, as was the case with the canning section. A how to book needs to tell you how to do something otherwise what's the point?
I do understand a lack of ability on the writer's part to include everything about everything but fewer subjects with enough focus that they gave information enough to actually instruct you would have been a possibility. Instead we are treated to the writer spending more than half the time either telling you where else to go for the information you really want or waxing philosophical on the subject of "green living". I understand that these are parts of what I get when a writer uses a more personal narrative but I found it to be a distraction, frankly I am tempted to say he used it as filler material so that he could meet minimum page requirements.
If nothing else I have learned somethings from this book: never buy a complete guide to a broad subject they are most likely exaggerating their expertise, never buy a complete idiot's guide book, buy a physical copy so that you can at least have the satisfaction of throwing it away.
On the flip side, if you are interested in such self sufficiency guides I can offer up the Chickens for Dummies book which has excellent and detailed information and many of the books that the author suggests are very good sources of information as well. Just don't pay $13 for a suggested reading list.
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