The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.


From know I shouldn't preach the merits of books --- if you're a believer, you know in your bones that an armful of good books has immeasurable worth, while if you're a disbeliever there's no way I'll change your mind.  So I'll just assume you're a believer.

Being a bibliophile on a budget takes a bit of getting used to.  I went through a book-buying phase, but now I've returned to the (cheap) joys of the library.  I challenge you to try out some of my tips before buying your next book (but if you must buy a book, buy it from Amazon by clicking here and give us a little kickback to keep our "doors" open.)

The only books I even consider buying any more are books which I will use over and over and over.  This is pretty much limited to cookbooks and field guides (and I've found that I actually do a lot of my recipe searches online now.)

Even if you live in an area with a puny library system like mine, there are some tricks worth having up your sleeve.  First of all, find out if your library is part of a larger system --- ours is, so I can browse online and choose books from nearby towns to pick up at my local library.  I can even choose books from my local library to be placed on hold so that Mark can pick them up for me when he goes to town!

Robin McKinley literature mapOnce you check out your books, mark down when they are due and how many are due on your planner.  Everyone complains about late fees, but there's no reason to pay a dime with a little planning!  If you know you won't be able to return your book on time, renew your book online or over the phone and save gas.  And if you pick up another book while in town, ask the librarian to renew all of the rest of your books so they're due on the same day --- it makes it much simpler to remember only one due date.

But what if you want to get a book that's not available within your library system?  That's where interlibrary loan comes into play.  This is more difficult, but can be done.  Our library makes me come in and sign a sheet of paper before they'll get a book from outside their system, but they can nearly always find the titles I ask for.  If not, ask them to buy a copy and they often will!

As I said above, I often like to choose my books over the internet and then have Mark pick them up when he goes into town to buy groceries.  It's harder to browse over the internet, but I've found two useful ways to discover new authors you've never heard of.  One way is to search for books you like on Amazon, then scroll down to see which books were bought by others in the same order with that book.  An even more fun technique is to use the Literature-Map.  Type in your favorite author and watch a web of similar authors appear.  (Warning, extremely addictive!)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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