Books by Thomas J. Elpel
On the surface, the diverse topics of my books might seem random and eclectic, covering subjects ranging from wilderness survival and botany to house-building, green economics, and consciousness. But on a deeper level, my books are all about survival skills and reconnecting with nature. The theme starts in the Stone Age with primitive living and wilderness survival in Participating in Nature. Instead of merely camping in the wilderness or passing through it, you can become part of the process. You learn about nature by using it to meet your needs for shelter, fire, water, and food.
Botany in a Day breaks down the mysteries of plant identification and introduces people to our amazing green neighbors, as well as their applications as food, medicine, or materials. It is now used as a textbook in numerous universities and herbal schools across North America, as well as by thousands of individuals. Shanleya's Quest and the companion Patterns in Plants Card Game makes these skills accessible and fun for people of all ages. Foraging the Mountain West is a hands-on manual for identifying, harvesting, and preparing wild and feral plants, mushrooms, and neglected wayside crops, bridging the world between wilderness survival and sustainable living.
Living Homes deals directly with basic survival skills in the modern world. We all need a warm and secure shelter to live in - preferably without the baggage of a twenty- or thirty-year mortgage. Living Homes provides a model for low-cost, high-efficiency houses, enabling the reader to build a dwelling that is truly unique and designed to outlast anything else in the neighborhood.
Green Prosperity addresses survival in the economic ecosystem, providing tips for readers to find freedom from the never-ending toil of working a job and paying bills. Green Prosperity helps the reader understand how the economy functions much like an ecosystem and how to plant the seeds of prosperity, including how to make a living while making the world a better place for all.
Roadmap to Reality takes survival to a whole new level, showing how cultural patterns of thought dictate our interactions with the world and the people around us, helping or hindering our prospects for survival as a species. Roadmap identifies patterns in worldviews much as Botany in a Day identifies patterns among plants, giving the reader an astonishing new perspective to understand the world we live in - and how to make a difference that matters.
My most recent book, Five Months on the Missouri River, is about living the dream of adventure. With my kids grown and out of the nest, I felt ready for something big. I was fortunate to connect with Churchill Clark, a fourth great grandson of Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Together we whittled a 10,000 lb. log down to a 500+ lb. dugout canoe. I then drafted friends to join me for a "Missouri River Corps of Rediscovery," to paddle, camp, hike, and explore America's longest river. Come share the adventure!
Learn more about Tom's books at
HOPS Press, LLC
My name is Kenton, and I'm a rewilding instructor over in Wisconsin. I discovered you last year when someone recommended your book Botany in a Day. It has truly revolutionized the way that I approach learning and teaching about plants. In ordering your book, I also saw Roadmap to Reality, and ordered that as well. Lo and behold, you were addressing many of the realizations that had culminated in me creating my "Zen-Inspired Self Development" website at kentonwhitman.com. My wife Rebecca and I read it together, and it gave us many nights of good conversation.
I wanted to reach out, connect, and thank you for the work you're doing in the world. Of all the various wilderness instructors I've seen out there, you seem to be doing an amazing job of making nature accessible. You blend ancestral skills with green business and it's clear from Roadmap to Reality that you are exploring the nature of this reality that we humans are co-creating
I'm not really writing to ask for anything in particular. Just to give a smile and greeting, a hope that we meet in person at some point, and to let you know that you are inspiring us over here in Wisconsin. I run ReWild University, a school that mentors people in rewilding, ancestral skills, and mindfulness. All my students hear about you and your work, and I feel a sense of kinship knowing that you're out there with much the same "mission" as myself, to reconnect people with nature and their natural selves.
Thanks again for everything you're doing, Tom.