Tiny House Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Live The Tiny Life

tiny house books

I’m a bit of a bookworm and I know I’m not alone in that when it comes to other tiny house folks. Despite living in a tiny house without a lot of storage space, I make sure to find space for my books. Most of the books on this tiny house book list are available as audio or ebooks, so there’s no need to install a bookshelf for a collection of tiny house books!

tiny house libraryI’ve started my tiny house book list with books to inspire you, teach you about tiny houses, and help you design your dream home. I’ve included the best tiny house building book list to help you through the construction process. But then you’ll see I’ve also included some books to help you get into the right mentality for the tiny life.

Living the tiny life isn’t just about the physical house. It’s about the lifestyle that you’re building. People see others living in a tiny house and think, “wow—it’s a charmed life! Instagram-worthy! Stress-free!” And they associate that with the tiny house itself, which trips people up because it leads some to think they can buy happiness. It’s very natural, but it misses the point.

This tiny house book list will help you get into the right frame of mind and philosophy to live a life that’s not just about “dwelling in a tiny home” but about embracing less as more and learning to find simple satisfaction in all areas of your life. Not every book on this list is for everyone—choose a few tiny house books to help you get started, maybe one from each section, and then build your library from there. Happy reading!

Tiny House Inspiration Books

tiny house inspiration books

This tiny homes book list includes all the books to help you brainstorm on your journey to living the tiny life. Whether you’re looking for beautiful photos to give you ideas about your future house design possibilities or looking for an excellent introduction and overview of the tiny life, these are the tiny house books for beginners.

tiny house living book

Tiny House Living

by Ryan Mitchell

Yes, this is my book. Not to sound too boastful, but I really do feel like it’s one of the best books to help you get started with the tiny house lifestyle. In this book, I explain the basics of tiny houses and why moving to a smaller home and downsizing your life has outsized benefits.


the not so big house

The Not So Big House

by Sarah Susanka

This book preceded the tiny house movement. The Not So Big House was the first tiny house book to propose the idea of “let’s not have giant homes. Instead, let’s have homes that are well-built, well-designed, and facilitate a different way of life.” Some folks point to author Sarah Susanka as an influential figure who added to the collective consciousness to bring about the tiny house ethos.


cabin porn inside

Cabin Porn

by Freda Moon & Zack Klein

When you have limited space in a tiny home, you probably don’t have a lot of room for coffee table books. So if you’re looking for the best tiny house book to display, my choice would be Cabin Porn. This book has beautiful photos of cabins and is pure tiny house inspiration fodder.


compact cabins

Compact Cabins

by Gerald Rowan

Compact Cabins is a top choice if you’re looking for a great guide to building a tiny house or cabin. It’s hard to find floor plans under 1000 square feet, but this book has an array of ideas for small cabins. Now some don’t quite qualify as tiny homes (typically under 400 square feet), but it’s still a great book on small living.


tiny houses built with recycled materials

Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Material

by Ryan Mitchell

My second book is a practical guide to building a tiny house using reclaimed materials. It’s the best tiny house building book for DIY-ing on a budget. You’ll find plenty of inspiration on using different materials to build an eco-friendly home on a shoestring.


microshelters

Microshelters

by Derek Diedrickson

The author of Microshelters builds these quirky, small shelters and shares them in a very unique tiny homes book. This tiny house book is a popular option for getting design ideas and inspiration and includes some practical insight.

Tiny House Design Books

Tiny House Design Books

Next on my tiny house book list are the tiny house design books. These texts will help you throughout the tiny house-building process. If you’re hoping to design and build your dream tiny house from scratch, these are the resources you need.

designing your tiny house

Designing Your Tiny House

by Ryan Mitchell

In my guide to designing a tiny house, I offer practical tips and explanations on approaching your tiny house design process. I went in with the philosophy that I wanted to write the book that I needed when I built my own home. When you’re living in 100 square feet, design is critical—every square inch matters. I’ve packed this book with practical tips to ensure your house meets all your needs.


tiny homes on the move

Tiny Homes on the Move

by Lloyd Kahn

Author Lloyd Kahn has been living the tiny life for over 50 years in one form or another. His books are truly unique and authentic. He includes real-life examples—not just filtered “Instagram” tiny living, but practical tips and insights.


tiny homes simple shelter

Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

by Lloyd Kahn

Another Lloyd Kahn book, Simple Shelter, is an excellent guide to building a tiny house. Lloyd is a true “old hippie” who makes these books, prints out the photos, does the layout and copies himself, and then sends them to the publisher. Although his process may be wild, what you get is a really excellent tiny house building book.


make your house do the housework

Make Your House Do The Housework

by Gerald Rowan

This tiny house book gets more into the tiny lifestyle. If you’re looking for a tiny homes book that talks about how to take care of your small space, then this is the book for you. I listed this here on my tiny house book list because it really goes into the material choices and the design process. It explains how to design a tiny house, so it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or cleaning.

The Building a Tiny House Book List

The Building a Tiny House Book List

Now, if you’ve gone through the tiny house book list for inspiration and design tips, you’re ready to move into the building phase. There are several tiny house building books and guides that I recommend. While you don’t need every book on this list, it doesn’t hurt to do additional research before building. You can never be too informed going into the process.

how to build a tiny house

How to Build a Tiny House

by Ryan Mitchell

When I wrote How to Build A Tiny House, I tried to write the best tiny house building book possible. I wanted a step-by-step guide to building a tiny house that was accessible and beginner-friendly. Whether you’re building with your own plans or pre-purchased plans, this book is easy to follow (even if you’ve never built before). I wrote this guide to building a tiny home for people who haven’t picked up a power tool in their life—and if you ARE familiar with the building process, there are still many tips that will ensure success.


shockingling simple electrical for tiny houses

Shockingly Simple Electrical for Tiny Houses

by Ryan Mitchell

One area that tends to elude tiny house builders is electrical. Truth be told, it also eludes “traditional” homeowners, but electrical is often a fully DIY process for tiny home builders. In this tiny house book, I delve into everything you need to know to get off-grid. More importantly, I explain how to calculate your power needs, the basics of electrical, and the formulas you need to know. I’ll explain to beginners how to wire outlets, switches, panels, and all the details you need to get your tiny house electrical up and running.


cracking the code tiny house building codes

Cracking the Code: Tiny House Building COdes

by Ryan Mitchell

The other major struggle that many new tiny house builders face is navigating building codes. In my tiny house book Cracking the Code, I explain how to think about compliance (or non-compliance). If you decide to do everything above board, this is the best tiny house building book to guide you through what you need to know. If you have a higher risk tolerance and decide to roll the dice, I’ll offer some ideas on how you can work around some of the coding restrictions.


working alone

Working Alone

by John Carroll

Compact Cabins is a top choice if you’re looking for a great guide to building a tiny house or cabin. It’s hard to find floor plans under 1000 square feet, but this book has an array of ideas for small cabins. Now some don’t quite qualify as tiny homes (typically under 400 square feet), but it’s still a great book on small living.


learn to timberframe

Learn To Timberframe

by Will Beemer & Jack A. Sobon

I included Learn to Timber Frame as a wild card on my building a tiny house book list. If you want to build a timber frame or use heavier joinery as you’re building a tiny house, this book will help you figure out what you need to know about handling heavy framing.

Simple Living Mindset Books To Transition To The Tiny Life

Simple Living Mindset Books To Transition To The Tiny Life

As I said before, if you’re ready to explore the tiny life, it’s not as easy as finding the best tiny house building book and starting to set up a home. There’s a shift in lifestyle and mentality as you move into a smaller place and embrace a simpler life. I think this part often gets overlooked when we see Pinterest-perfect tiny house ideas. This tiny house book list will help you get into the right frame of mind.

the minimalist mindset

The Minimalist Mindset

by Danny Dover

The Minimalist Mindset is one of my favorite practical minimalist books. My friend Danny Dover wrote this, not just as a tiny house book but as a guide for anyone who wants to shift to a minimalist life. Many books make a case for simplifying and decluttering, but they talk in broad strokes. This book gets into some practical tips and ideas about becoming minimalist, especially making the mindset shift.


walden and civil disobedience

Walden and Civil Disobedience

by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau is known as being one of the original fathers of the natural, simplistic life mindset. He built a cabin on Walden pond from the ground up, and in his writing, he muses on nature and human’s connection to the earth. The companion, Civil Disobedience, is a nice tie-in, especially when navigating the rules and regulations of building a tiny house. It explores our liberties and our relationship with government, as well as our philosophy on freedom.


the littel book of hygge

The Little Book of Hygge

by Meik Wiking

I’ve been a big fan of the concept of Hygge for years. When I visited Stockholm, I got to see the philosophy of cozy, comfortable living in practice. As you set up a tiny house, this idea of bringing coziness and warmth to even a small space is essential. I like this book because it’s a nice beginner’s guide that gives a good overview of the concept and how you can live it.


minimalism live a meaningful life

minimalism live a meaningful life

by Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Minimalism goes hand-in-hand with the tiny life—to be comfortable in a small space, you need to learn to live with less. If you’re looking for a guide to minimalism, this book is it. This was written by THE original minimalists, two bloggers, who started the movement. They make a strong case for the minimalist lifestyle and offer this book as a helpful primer and introduction to the idea.


the big tiny

The Big Tiny

by Dee Williams

Although this isn’t a traditional tiny house book, by any means, I included it in my list because I think it’s great reading for anyone who really wants to get into the philosophical mindset of reprioritizing and living with less. The Big Tiny is a memoir that delves into the life of Dee Williams. One day she discovered she had a heart condition, and the doctor told her, “You could go at any time—tomorrow or years from now. One day you’ll just drop dead, and there’s nothing you can do.” It changed her perspective on the world; she moved into a tiny house and changed her priorities to focus on what really mattered to her.


logam the swedish art of balanced living

Lagom The Swedish Art of Balanced Living

by Linnea Dunne

Lagom (a great word!) is a Swedish philosophy on not having too little and not having too much. It’s about choosing a home and lifestyle that offers you what you need, without anything extraneous to weigh you down. Not only is this an eye-catching book, but it’s a lovely book to help you transition to a balanced life. It explores minimalist concepts like capsule wardrobes from this Swedish mindset.

Downsizing And Decluttering Book List to Help You Live in a Smaller Space

Downsizing And Decluttering Book List to Help You Live in a Smaller Space

The tiny life is so much more than just living in a small home. From a practical perspective, you MUST downsize and declutter if you want to move into a smaller space. I have to have a place for everything in my house, and even a small amount of clutter can feel overwhelming and disruptive. The selections on this tiny house book list on decluttering can help anyone get organized (not just tiny house owners).

the life changing magic of tidying up

The LIfe Changing Magic of Tidying Up

by Marie Kondo

Marie Kondō created a movement in 2014 when this book on decluttering came out. People joked about discarding items that didn’t “spark joy,” and her name became synonymous with radical decluttering (as in, “I’m going to Marie Kondō my life”). The philosophy of only keeping items that spark joy is beneficial to everyone, especially tiny homeowners. While this book is a little less analytical than some others on this list, it helps shift your mindset.


the joy of less

The Joy of Less

by Francine Jay

Like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Joy of Less is focused on finding happiness by clearing out the clutter. However, this book offers a more practical, hands-on approach to decluttering and organizing your house. I would recommend choosing one or two books on decluttering in a style that appeals to you—remember, not every book will speak to you. Some folks might like a practical approach like the Joy of Less, while others might want to delve into the philosophy of organizing as a concept.


The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

The Gentle Art Of Swedish Death Cleaning

by Margereta Magnusson

Swedish death cleaning came into vogue recently after several news articles discussed the concept. In Sweden, as people age, they don’t want to leave a mess for their loved ones to clean up. There’s a culturally initiated practice of “death cleaning.” When you get to retirement age, you streamline and downsize possessions, your home, and life. I’ve seen this amongst my own friends; when someone dies, there’s emotional guilt and trauma in parting with their stuff. The “death cleaning” frame of mind assures that you aren’t leaving that burden for loved ones to bear


Decluttering At The Speed of Life

Decluttering At The Speed of Life

by Dana White

Admittedly, I’m not the target audience for this decluttering book, but I believe it’s a helpful guide for those who run a family household. There’s a lot of emotional stress keeping a home tidy for your family. Much of this book focuses on women and mothers who are bearing the weight of housekeeping. While a smaller home cuts back on some housekeeping tasks, it’s still important to organize the process, so it doesn’t fall on one family member

Breaking Free Of Consumerism Books To Shift Your Mindset

Breaking Free Of Consumerism Books To Shift Your Mindset

Ultimately, at the root of the tiny house movement and philosophy is the idea that we need to break free from the consumerism that dominates our lives. The selections on this tiny house book list are about letting go of the “buy more” mentality and helping pull back the curtain on how marketing manipulates us to purchase things we don’t need.

Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational

by Dr. Dan Ariely

Predictably Irrational is another wild card choice on my tiny house book list. This book talks about how we make decisions and how those are influenced. These days, we even call marketers online “influencers”—external parties that sway our choices. Consumerism is so deep-rooted that it’s hard for us even to realize it at times. I live in 100 square feet, and I can account for almost everything I own, yet I still fall trap to these ideas sometimes.


Invisible Influence

Invisible Influence

by Jonah Berger

Similar to Predictably Irrational, Invisible Influence explores our culture of consumerism and how marketing permeates our day-to-day choices. Again, while every book on this list won’t appeal to every reader, I wanted to offer a selection of different perspectives on similar tiny life topics.


Trust Me Im Lying

Trust Me Im Lying

by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday was a marketer schooled in the art of deception and manipulation. He gives the example of paying for billboards for a client, then taking red paint and defacing them on purpose. Not only did this result in free press for the client, but it increased their business and the sympathy of consumers. This book is a fascinating read on the capitalist mindset and how marketing can be exploitive.


Affluenza

Affluenza

by John de Graff

Another similar book on the malaise and dissatisfaction that comes from the “buy more” mindset. I took on a year of buying nothing to help me move away from this mentality and prove to myself that I didn’t need to purchase anything. The year opened my eyes to how deep the programming of consumerism is. During the year, I made a list of everything I wanted to buy, and in the end, there was only ONE item that I still wanted. All of those other items would have been wasted consumption.

Debt-Free Living Books & Financial Book List For The Tiny Life

Debt-Free Living Books and Financial Book List For The Tiny Life

Like me, many people go into the tiny life because they want to save money. When I downsized to my tiny house, it was with an eye to financial freedom. I wanted to decrease my spending and enjoy a simpler but more fulfilling life. It worked! If you’re exploring the tiny life as an answer to financial health, here are some excellent books to help.

The Total Money Makeover Workbook

The Total Money Makeover Workbook

by Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is one of the most popular financial writers out there. I’m not terribly keen on some of his financial advisings, but his advice for people getting out of debt is really great. The “snowball method” of paying down credit card debt, loans, medical bills, and other debts works and is simple, accessible, and practical. Dave Ramsey is an excellent place to start if you’re looking to shift your mindset about money.


I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

by Ramit Sethi

This book is a different side of the same coin as Dave Ramsey. When it comes to money, you first need to get out of debt and trim your expenses. Then you reach a point where you can only cut back you’re spending so much. Even if you give up frivolous expenses, there are still needs that will arise—gas, food, medical bills. That’s when you need to figure out the income side. At some point, it’s not just a spending issue but an income issue. This book offers practical tips on negotiating a raise, finding a new job, saving on bills, and bargaining for lower prices.


Your Money Or Your Life

Your Money Or Your Life

by Vicki Robin

This book is about what we call “F.I.R.E” or “Financial Independence to Retire Early.” Many tiny homeowners are very interested in the idea of living with less, so they can retire at a young age. The idea is to figure out how much you will need to live out your current lifestyle for the rest of your years and then save that money and put it to work for you.


The Simple Path To Wealth

The Simple Path To Wealth

by J L Collins

A similar F.I.R.E. book, this guide to financial independence offers tips along the same lines. If you want to retire early, it’s definitely possible. My cost of living has drastically lowered from $1,500 in rent per month to $15 per month. I enjoy my work on the blog, but otherwise, I have a goal to retire under 40 and to be able to continue doing what I enjoy.

All in all, the tiny life is really about finding a life you love. For many people, it requires simplifying, downsizing, and learning how to shift our mentality to a life (and home) that meets our needs without the “extras.” The books on this tiny house book list should help you make the change and guide you through everything you need to know to live a small, meaningful life.

Your Turn!

  • What are your favorite tiny house books?
  • What books have helped you change your mindset?
1 Comment
  1. Really liked your list to browse through… I will have to make sure I STAR my email to go back to this page again!

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