The Lost Arts of Hearth & Home, The Happy Luddite’s Guide to Domestic Self-Sufficiency by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger sounded right up my alley! Hearth, home, luddite, domestic, self-sufficiency… The title hits a bunch of my buttons. I accepted a free copy to review thinking I was just the right person to review this kind of book.
The authors explain that the content is going to follow an old-fashioned feel, too. You won’t find complicated instructions on how to do something just so. You won’t find detailed recipes. What they promise to show you is a way to discover new possibilities and trust your own discovered processes instead of the proclamations of expert instructors.
I love books. As much as I love my glowing screens, too, I really love to hold a book in my hand. Lost Arts is a comfortable package, an old-school book. There’s no dust jacket, no fancy image on the front, just an old-fashioned look and feel. If you’re a book person, this is a bonus.
That all sounds great to me. Let’s go!
And… then splat. I didn’t like the book at all. I had hoped to be inspired, but it fell really flat. Over half the book is kitchen/food related. I’d rather have a real cookbook or instructional book for that stuff. Gardening gets a mere 5 pages. Sewing, quilt making, and rug braiding get some attention, but these aren’t new ideas. The writing and the presentation aren’t very flashy, so they can’t really inspire me to try an new project, and yet they aren’t informational enough to actually teach me anything.
I suppose as much as I like books, they aren’t right for every topic. I do enjoy reading blogs and following Pinterest boards that get me inspired for different projects. And then when I’m ready to actually do, I want real instructions.
These authors also assert that what they’re doing isn’t homesteading. They aren’t raising animals or planting crops, for instance. Oh! Maybe that’s where I should have realized that my interest wasn’t going to last. I suppose it’s cute that they share the idea of hammering a ring out of a silver quarter or how to make a broom. But these kinds of tasks seem like novelties rather than the big picture of self-sufficiency.
What other books would you recommend to someone looking to be more self-sufficient?