Helen Nearing was a collector of words. As one of the leading twentieth-century practitioners of self-sufficient living, Helen Nearing found illumination and solace in the sayings of predecessors who had sought their own versions of "the good life." By grouping the wisdom of the ages into categories that are quirky yet eminently sensible, she brings to life the contemporary relevance of some of the most profound chroniclers of our rural heritage:
- Horace on simplicity
- Virgil on farming
- Spenser on solitude
- Thoreau on poverty
- Jefferson on the evening of life
As well as being a gleaner of quotations, Helen was the creator of her own "wise words." Her book Loving and Leaving the Good Life was described by May Sarton as "a tonic for any young person dismayed by the state of the world, and a drink at the fountain of youth for any old person depressed or discouraged." Helen's book Simple Food for the Good Life was described by Health Science as "far more than a mere cookbook. It belongs to the category of classics, destined to be remembered through the ages."