on January 12, 2009
I just finished browsing Carla Emory's "Encyclopedia of Country Living". And when I say "browse", I mean it. It is too painful to read directly. The seventh edition is almost 600 pages. But size is not the issue -- organization is. For instance, there's a section entitled something like "why to move to the country." Fine. 4 paragraphs start in on that, then the author starts writing about breast feeding, which goes on for 15 paragraphs or so -- how to, why to, Jesus this, and Holy Spirit that. Ugh. I'm a man, so my decision to move to the country is not so that I can breast-feed, thanks. If the topic had been entitled "Breast-feeding and the Holy Spirit", I'd be fine with it, because being a man with grown children whose a Buddhist and Atheist, I'd know to just skip that part. But when that takes up the majority of a section entitled "Why to move to the country," it indicates a problem.
However, there is plenty of useful information in this book. Imagine 8 or 9 other books, about subjects like basic gardening, butchering, dairy farming, canning, candle-making, beekeeping, raising chickens/goats/cows, skinning rabbits, printing and selling your own book, how to live on pennies per day, bed-wetting, doing laundry by hand... Okay, imagine maybe 20 small how-to books, and another 50 two to five-page "information pamphlets". That type of content is what you will find here, and it's very useful. Unfortunately, a good half of the book is her wandering off mentally, talking about whatever is on her mind, or whatever is happening in her life as she's writing: observations about her neighbors, or other random off-topic ranting or preaching.
It's annoyingly unfocused and unorganized. She lost 1 stars for being wildly unfocused, and another for injecting Christian mythological and philosophical nonsense everywhere she can wedge it in. If those two elements were removed, and the remains organized better, she'd get 5 stars. There is indeed much good information throughout, and when it comes to the how-to subjects, no glaring misinformation.
For the modern back-to-the-land movement, there are some omissions, maybe because the book is now 30 years old. But for the amount of coverage for the price, it's hard to beat.