Roughin’ It Memoirs.

Roughin' It Memoirs
Books are one of my guilty pleasures. Particularly books about women (or men, but mostly women) that rough it in the wilds or on farms. It’s probably my ultimate dream “to take to the woods.” I’m not a fan of city living. I don’t really even like city-visiting. Despite living an hour and a half’s drive from NYC, I’ve only been about three or four times. And despite living so close, we are surprisingly rural here. Anyway, picking up and moving to the woods is a far off dream (and no doubt hugely different from what I imagine), so I live vicariously through books.

I think the one that started it all was We Took To The Woods and is, perhaps, my favorite. The author is very engaging with her words and observations. It’s hard not to feel like you too are roughin’ it in Maine.

There are few scattered in there that focus more on solitude. That’s something else I dream of doing, staying in a little cabin and avoiding human connection for a whole month. I’m sure you’d learn a lot about yourself, your limits and capabilities as an individual.

So far, I’ve enjoyed all of these books, except one—which didn’t even warrant being photographed. Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl seemed like it was right up my alley but within the first chapter I was simply annoyed. It’s really just a whiney book. It’s intended be funny but the humor lacks grace and feels forced. The author does not seem open to learning or growing from her experience. Though, as I said, I didn’t get far into it. Maybe her outlook changes by the end of the book, but I have no desire to trudge through it and find out.

Made From Scratch manages to be witty with grace. It’s a cute, simple read, perfect for someone like me, who daydreams of the homesteading life. It’s also laced with helpful resources and advice for someone who wants to go beyond daydreaming.

Another favorite has been Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I just passed it on to my father and it’s inspiring him to eat more locally/seasonally as well.

I’m doing this post because living a simpler life has been on my mind a lot lately. I do consider myself to lead a pretty simple life already, but I guess, just like with the yearlong challenge to buy only secondhand/handmade, I want to up the ante—take simple more seriously. I want to cut back on screen time and see more green (as in nature not money—though more of the latter would be helpful!) I want to get my hands dirty more often. I want to learn more about the natural world around me. I want to be more self-sufficient.

(Do you have any suggestions on books in this vein?)


  1. Reply
    elizabeth of course January 9, 2012

    I LOVE We Took to the Woods. LOVE it. And A.V.M. is an all time favourite for sure. I think you would like Half Broke Horses as well. Its close to the same genre.

    And yeah I hate whiny narrators. It drives me crazy when people flat out refuse to learn a lesson! LOL

  2. Reply
    I Love Pretty Little Things January 9, 2012

    Thank you so much for your book suggestions. I am always looking for a new book to read! I have seen the book Made From Scratch and have been drawn to it. I guess it’s time to buy it. :)
    I felt exactly the same way that you did about the Confessions book. I read one chapter and gave it to the library. Besides being whiny, her language was so offensive to me.
    Can’t wait to check out the other books,

  3. Reply
    jodiblyJodi January 9, 2012

    It’s so funny you wrote that about the “Confessions…” book. I thought the same thing and tossed it after one chapter. It was awful. I totally love solitude. Now with our foreign exchange student with us, I feel I need to be more social — but dang! it’s hard getting out of my quiet routine.

  4. Reply
    Annie January 9, 2012

    I LOVE all the book suggestions! I read Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and it is what got me into eating more local & from-scratch. I also started balcony gardening in my apartment that year, and continue to do so, because of that book (and many to follow, including Made from Scratch). I look forward to reading some of your other suggestions very soon. Thanks!

  5. Reply
    Allison January 9, 2012

    I’d recommend Fat of the Land by Langdon Cook. He’s a forager in the Pacific NW, so it’s not like you can go out and find all the same things he’s finding, but it’s still very motivational. If you don’t already I think you would love foraging for wild food! You’re outside, getting fresh air, and harvesting your own local, organic food…and it’s FREE. Just a thought!

  6. Reply
    Barbara January 9, 2012

    Yes! I love this sort of book, too. I recommend several old books:
    (1) Wilderness Wife, by Kathrene Pinkerton; (2) The Egg and I, by Betty MacDonald (funny!); and (3) anything by Gladys Taber. These may feel dated to some folks (and indeed, they are old) but I still love them. They are mostly of the same era as We Took to the Woods.

  7. Reply
    allison January 9, 2012

    I never would have pinpointed this genre, but it is one that I love. I’ve just added all of these to my reading list. I think you’d also like “Two in the Far North” by Margaret Murie. It’s about her time in Alaska in the early 1900s. Her husband did biological fieldwork and they raised their kids out in the wilderness. It’s one of my favorite books.

  8. Reply
    Lori January 9, 2012

    I would recommend Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin. I guess it isn’t so much on roughing it in the woods but about making a choice to live more mindfully and without excess. It is an oldie (from the 80s) but I still think it’s relevant…

    I really enjoyed Animal, Vegetable, Miracle too.

  9. Reply
    Daily Fashionist January 10, 2012

    Silent Spring by Rachel Carson would make for an interesting read. Not only is it engaging and eye opening but the eloquence of the book keeps the reader hooked till the end. Btw, this book was also responsible for launching an environmental movement. Happy reading! :

  10. Reply
    Annie January 10, 2012

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention my favorite show series: River Cottage. Season 1- Escape to River Cottage, 2- Return to River Cottage 3- River Cottage forever.

    It used to be available without commercials on but it has since been taken down. I did find a youtube channel with a plethora of his videos here:

  11. Reply
    Rachel at Stitched in Color January 10, 2012

    I’ll have to request We Took to the Woods from the library! For real practical info, I really enjoyed Radical Homemakers. It’s a little more about homemaking than maybe you want, but I bet the info/perspective will be really useful for you someday.

  12. Reply
    Genevieve January 10, 2012

    The Egg and I is a funny take on the same idea. :)

    I also love The Little House Series. Young but still so good. :)


  13. Reply
    Yarn Along « Liesl Made January 11, 2012

    [...] far as Monday’s post: Thank you all for the book recommendations! They’ve all be added to my [...]

  14. Reply
    Martha January 25, 2012

    We had a wonderful trip to Maine a couple of months ago…as a child, we would spend our summer vacations there…hope to go again in 2012. I think I’ll have to go get “We took to the Woods,” hopefully our library has a copy! I read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Vegetable Miracle” a couple of years ago and LOVED it. I made homemade mozzarella like she did…a couple of times…so wonderful. I want to live off our backyard goods, too.

  15. Reply
    kerri January 27, 2012

    Thanks for the book recommendations. I, too, love to read about women homesteading. Have you read “The Dirty Life”? I liked that one a lot. Her honesty was impressive, especially when directed at herself.

  16. Reply
    Britney February 17, 2012

    I love this genre. I live in the Northwoods of Minnesota (a little town called Ely, you should visit, you would love it). And my dream is to be self sufficient. I think you would enjoy Hit by a Farm, The Last American Man, and Desert Solitaire. I know I have more but this is all I can come up with off the top of my head. Oh the author of Made for Scratch has a new book out called Barnheart!

  17. Reply
    Jayne February 29, 2012

    I loved Farm City by Novella Carpenter – roughing it but in the city. I loved her descriptions of dumpster diving to feed the pigs and chickens!

  18. Reply
    Molly March 4, 2012

    I love these books too. I second the nomination of The Last American Man, but it is by Elizabeth Gilbert, and ironically, I thought Eat Pray Love was very whiny (like Counterfeit). My favorites are the Woodswoman series by Anne LaBastille.

    I found your blog while looking for scrap quilt inspiration….I found that and got some reading suggestions too! Thanks!

  19. Reply
    Kelly S April 17, 2012

    Love those kinds of books myself. Here’s one that you might like.

  20. Reply

    [...] of Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness. As someone who is often daydreaming about ‘taking to the woods’, I hope it’ll be a fun [...]

  21. Reply

    [...] finished Wilderness Wife by Katherene Pinkerton. It was suggested to me by a reader when I posted this post. If ‘roughin’ it memoirs’ are your thing, then you, like me, will enjoy this one. [...]

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