Americans have always possessed a deep vein of self-determination and a fundamental desire to be as independent as possible. The more you can do for yourself, and the less you have to rely on entities like governments, utility companies, food markets and other “outside providers,” the stronger your position.

At the beginning of the 1970s, there was a surge of renewed interest in what was then called a “back-to-the-land movement.” It spurred the creation of a whole new market for literature that could provide people with the information they needed to escape the insanity of city life, move to a rural location and live off the land.

Thus, it was in 1970 that Mother Earth News began publication. Founders John and Jane Shuttleworth were among the first to recognize this trend. They capitalized on it by establishing Mother Earth News on a shoestring budget of $1,500. The publication enjoys a circulation of more than 500,000 subscribers today.

Thus, our first recommendation for great off-the-grid books is not a book, per se, but a magazine – Mother Earth News. It’s published bi-monthly, and each issue is jampacked with absolutely suburb information for making a go of getting back to basics.

Furthermore, Mother Earth News is a major publisher of numerous full-length books on self-sustainable living. It is significant to note that this magazine also sells a massive digital collection of every issue published that you can purchase online as one huge e-book.

Another top recommendation would have to be The Encyclopedia of Country Living. This massive 900-page tome covers every imaginable scenario for those who want to live a simple and independent life on a plot of their own land. You find information on everything from canning food to buying a tract of land at a cheap price.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living is continuously updated with new additions, and each volume provides excellent web links to massive amounts of deeper resources.

Finally, for inspiration, consider picking up a copy of Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream. It’s written by William Powers who rented a cabin owned by a successful physician, Dr. Jackie Brown.

With remarkable descriptive skill and an entertaining writing style, Powers gives readers a vivid idea of what it’s like to take the plunge into a living-off-the-land and self-reliant lifestyle. It just may be the motivation you need to successfully embark on your own journey to “escape from it all.”

John Shramko Chattanooga