The 7 Best Books for Learning How to Live Off The Grid


It’s possible to find a lot of information on the internet about living off the grid, but there is nothing quite like being able to browse a book to get you started on a new journey. 

My shelves feature a range of volumes that, along the way, have become my firm companions. Books provide a way to get inspired and find the energy and motivation to pursue your goals and get off the grid, or a helpful “how-to” tool that I can be propped up alongside you while undertaking a new project.

The books here give you a range of those possibilities. If you are just starting to live off-grid or are well on the way but want to know more about solar power, DIY or growing your food, there’s likely a book that will help you on your way.

How to Live Off-Grid by Nick Rosen

About the Author

Nick Rosen is probably the UK’s guru in terms of off-grid living. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist and activist, Nick has spent time across the globe, so his writing is informed from beyond his UK home. While some of the information in his book relates to the UK, the ideas and practices are entirely transferable to other climates, including the US. Nick has also started a website following his book’s content, but with a more global vision. 

The book is particularly significant because you feel a sense of his drive and purpose in his writing. I found this hugely inspiring in the fact that there is a point to going off-grid that serves beyond just ourselves. There are also several videos of him available giving interviews or talks:

What does it cover?

This book brings a sense of typical British pragmatism to a globally shared idea. It showcases many of the different ways people can make moves towards off-grid living that leave you with a sense it all might be actually possible. 

The first section travels around the world, meeting different people and hearing about their reasons for living off the grid. It’s fascinating finding out about all the different ways in which they achieved their goal.

The second section gives some useful starter information on critical topics such as generating power, shelters, accommodation, and water.

Why it should make it onto your bookshelf

  • An easy read with more of a story style narrative than some books but one that leaves you feeling completely inspired. 
  • A UK perspective on off-grid living that gives some great, universally applicable information.
  • A great starter book to help you to develop a plan for living off the grid. 

Get your copy from Amazon.


Many of these great books and thousands more are available on Kindle Unlimited. Or you can sign up for Audible Plus to get access to an incredible selection of audiobooks.


Going Off the Grid’ and ‘Living Off The Grid’ by Gary Collins.

About the Author

Gary Collins had a long-standing dream to build himself an off the grid house. After 20 years in the federal government, he made a move to stop the burnout and simplify life. Now, off-grid living is just part of his whole life approach that takes into account nutrition, health, finances, purpose and happiness.

His down to earth and realistic approach to life and living is one that is easy to get on board with. He has the right amount of aspiration and inspiration to get you wanting to be up and making changes straight away. Get to know him a little:

You can also get an insight into his approach and ethos from the Your Better Life podcast or Gary’s website The Simple Life

What do they cover?

The focus of Going Off the Grid is the journey towards living off the grid. It also takes a good look at the reasons behind pursuing the dream in the first place. Gary talks about decluttering and simplifying your life as the best place to start a journey to living off the grid. It then goes on to trace the author’s experience of finding and buying his land, considering the design and construction of his house and the practical steps needed to actually build his off the grid home. 

Gary’s 2019 book Living Off The Grid: What To Expect While Living The Life Of Ultimate Freedom And Tranquillity is the next step in the story. Adjusting to day-to-day life living off the grid presents the need for a whole different set of skills and strategies to those required in getting there. In Gary’s easy style, he makes this transition seem not only possible but far too appealing to miss out on.

He describes a rich community of people who share his lifestyle and are generous in sharing skills and offers of help. He covers many of the highlights of what has become his way of life and honestly discusses some of the challenges, particularly in the chapters entitled It Still Takes Money and My Top 10 Major Lessons. 

Why it should they make it onto your bookshelf

  • They take a holistic approach to living off the grid, acknowledging it as a lifestyle in the fullest sense, something for heart, body and soul.
  • They’re well supported with additional and up to date information on the podcast and website. You can take or leave this to a certain extent, but I enjoyed being able to follow
  • Taking the two volumes together provides a great view of achieving your off the grid goals and then having them become embedded in your life.

Get ‘Going off the grid‘ or “Living off the grid” from Amazon.


Off Grid Living: How to Start Your Off Grid Journey by Mike Holsworth

About the Author

Mike Holsworth has written a plethora of books. His writing has more commonly focused on solar power. Here, however, he steps out of the specifics to take a more general look at why people live off the grid.

What does it cover?

Unlike some of the other books featured here, this book doesn’t have a strong “personal” voice where it is easy to get invested in another like-minded individual’s journey. However, right from the first page of this book, Mike Holsworth leads with the compelling environmental case for getting off the grid. Citing data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that shows ‘poor health and diseases that stem from polluted air, water, and environmental sources are expected to steadily increase up to the year 2050’, it is impossible not to feel called to action. This thread remains strong throughout the book when considering what living off the grid means, how to prepare for it and how far off the grid is right for you.

Why it should make it onto your bookshelf

  • A clear and concise starter book, the kind that would get anyone thinking about the environmental benefits of living off the grid.
  • Takes a look at things from a strong environmental perspective, so it’s a useful one if you are wanting to consider the impact you have on the world and the potential your changes could make.
  • A useful alternative if you don’t want to get caught up on the ins and outs of someone else’s journey.

Get your copy at Amazon.


The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 50th Anniversary Edition. The Original Manual for Living Off The Land and Doing It Yourself by Carla Emery

About the Author

As this book proudly states, its contents accrued over 32 years, with the last major rewrite in 1994. The fact that this 2019 edition exists as a celebration of the book’s 50th anniversary only serves to confirm its continuing place as a must-have volume. Carla Emery passed away in 2005, having spent a lifetime sharing her skills through this encyclopedia and the publicity that went with it. Living for over thirty years on a farm in Idaho, the mother of seven had a passion for preserving the skills of a previous generation as well as advocating for how vital they could be to a homestead of the present and future. 

What does it cover?

Not specifically aimed at those wanting to pursue a life living off the grid, this packed book could nevertheless quickly become one that you could not live without. It covers everything that would make your off-grid house your home. Raising chickens; making cheese, sausages or soap; everything from planning your garden through to preserving the fruits of your harvest; natural remedies and skincare; even how to deliver a baby. 

Despite this book covering such a variety of topics, its breadth does not detract from its value. In its approach, it almost feels like you are getting advice from some wise old family member. The details are carefully described and incredibly insightful. Emery has taken the time to include things like:

  • What kind of homestead you could get from half an acre, an acre, two acres, ten acres etc.
  • Emergency measures and precautions right down to the clothing you should have and the supplies you might need.
  • A glossary of potentially unfamiliar terms so you can get the best understanding out of everything. 

Why it should make it onto your bookshelf

  • This is an excellent book for anyone to own, living off the grid or not.
  • It truly is the encyclopedia of a sustainable life, the one that, once you are set up with the basics, will add all of the homely goodness of a homestead into your off the grid world.
  • The tone of this book is the perfect balance between warm and comforting, authoritative and informative. It’s a great read but also full of practical and sometimes surprising information.

Check the latest price of The Encyclopedia of Country Living at Amazon.


Off Grid Solar by Joseph P O’Connor

About the Author 

Joseph P O’Connor is a solar entrepreneur and has worked on developing his specialism for over ten years. He lives and breathes renewable energy working in the industry and consulting on everything from design and building to new product development and testing. His ethos of sharing knowledge really comes through, and he has some hugely useful tips and ideas. 

Once again, I liked the support and backup of the linked website found at offgridsolarbook.com. Not only did it re-emphasize Joseph’s commitment, but it was a great place to dig into more detail or new topics. If you are still unsure whether to buy this book, O’Connor offers you a free excerpt if you sign up for his newsletter here.

What does it cover? 

This is a great practical guide that takes you through the steps of how best to design your site, battery selection, photovoltaic modules, charge controllers, choosing your converter, PV mounting and electrical enclosure.

You start right at the beginning looking at how solar power works, from the sun, through your solar panel, charge controller, battery and inverter to give you power. In the section on design, the focus is on energy efficiency so you can build a system that is tailored to your energy needs. The section on understanding electricity is also handy to help get the best out of what you are doing. I found that the more I understood the physics behind it, the more I understood why I was doing what I was doing with my solars.

This book first came out in 2016 but has just been updated to a second edition. The new edition has updated graphs and figures as well as new sections based on feedback from readers. There is more detail on batteries and how to choose between them, along with practical improvements that O’Connor has been working on himself. It is reassuring to know that the book’s content is based on the author actually working through the best ways to get on board with off-grid solar rather than just spouting the theory.

Why it should make it onto your bookshelf 

  • This is a book written from experience. It’s a true sharing of knowledge from someone who has got to know the subject in great depth
  • An inspiring yet realistic tone that gives the confidence to get on and do.
  • Lots of additional support through the website, newsletter and YouTube videos, which just adds to the comprehensive and expert nature of O’Connor’s writing.

Get Off Grid Solar from Amazon.


Step-by-Step Projects for Self-Sufficiency

About the Author

Rather than being written by one person, this book is brought together by the editors of Cool Springs Press. Cool Springs Press is a leading publisher of step-by-step guides, particularly those relating to DIY, gardening and home improvement. These credentials suggest they are the perfect people to be putting together a book on projects to increase self-sufficiency in the home. This volume does not disappoint.

What does it cover?

This book aims to help an average home become more self-sufficient through its series of over 60 projects. But the projects are so diverse that they will take you a long way towards living off the grid completely. Each project is laid out with easy to follow instructions, including details of all the tools and materials you will need. The instructions are supported by clear and helpful photographs of key stages of the project.

The projects are categorized into sections. Chickens & Other Creatures, Nourishing Your Garden and Food Preparation & Preservation contain great projects for your homestead, but it is the section on Homestead Amenities that takes this book an extra step in terms of being useful for converting your thinking from self-sufficiency to living off the grid.

Why it should make it onto your bookshelf 

  • This is a great book for you to start working towards your self-sufficiency or off-grid living goals straight away.
  • A book that helps you break down your to-do list into practical, achievable projects.
  • It has instructions that are clear and easy to follow for projects that are central to better living. The photographs really make a difference to the book as well as being well taken and informative.

Get your copy from Amazon.

Conclusion 

Books give you the opportunity to learn from others in a comprehensive way, perhaps more so than articles on the internet. Those that really stand out are often those with an honest exchange of experience from the author to you. They have done what you are trying to do, learned along the way and then have written about it. 

There is nothing more powerful or inspiring than reading about someone else who overcame the challenges you face and can give you some excellent information and tips on how to do it yourself.  

My Off-Grid Product Recommendations

Useful Book: Off Grid Living 2022-2021 – This incredible step by step guide is a great read and gives you useful information about reaching self-sufficiency in just 30 days. Get the paperback on Amazon or read it free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription or listen to the audio version with Audible Plus membership.

Small Solar Panel Systems: Silicon Solar – This is an excellent company that offers lots of products to get you started on your solar journey. Visit Silicon Solar.

Family Water Filter: Big Berkey – For a fast, affordable water filter with no plumbing required, you can’t beat a Big Berkey gravity-fed filter like this one from Amazon.

Canning Equipment – This canning starter kit, 22-quart Barton pressure canner and twelve-pack of Ball 16oz mason jars will help you preserve food as you work towards self-sufficiency.

Cleaning: Fuller Carpet Sweeper –. This carpet sweeper is an ideal way to keep your home clean without using up your energy stores on vacuuming.

Handy Knife: Gerber Serrated Paraframe – This handy all-purpose knife is lightweight and ideal for all those little jobs around your home and garden.

Nathan Allin

I'm Nathan Allin, a writer at Off-Grid Home. I’m gradually taking my home off-grid and sharing what I've leant.

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