Book Review: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend

Book Review: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend by Laura VanderkamWhat the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days OffBook Review: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend by Laura Vanderkam by Laura Vanderkam

If you’ve read a lot of time management books, or even Vanderkam’s own book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam (which I highly recommend), not much of this short ebook will be super original. You have time on your weekends to accomplish a lot towards your goals. The key is to be intentional about how you use that time, instead of allowing it to slip away.

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Book Review: My Life in France

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme - Nonfiction book review by The Deliberate ReaderMy Life in FranceMy Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme - Nonfiction book review by The Deliberate Reader. by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme

I picked this book up on a whim – I love biographies, but I tend to shy away from celebrity biographies. Julia Child was a celebrity, but I decided to give this book a chance because, in a way, she got her start as a writer before becoming famous. And I am so glad that I tried the book – it’s a delightful account of her years in France, written by Child and her grand-nephew in the last few years of her life.

Because the book is based in large part on the letters that Julia and her husband Paul wrote to friends and family, it retains a contemporary feel and minimizes the retrospective analysis some biographies or memoirs have. I loved Child’s account of her first meal in France – how eye-opening it was and how it led to her eventual status as an American cooking icon.

I always love behind-the-scenes details, and the stories about what all went into the publication of her masterpiece “Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1” are fascinating. The years of work, the struggles with her coauthors, the difficulties in finding a publisher – even though I know that eventually it is published to wide acclaim, I still found myself wondering how on earth she stuck with it and persevered.

The joy and exuberance with which Child approaches life is infectious, and her love for her husband is heart-warming. Overall it is such a wonderful read: light, amusing, and fun. I highly recommend it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Julia Child single-handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn’t know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France.

Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia’s unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.

Book Details

Title: My Life in France
Author: Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme
Category: Nonfiction / Biography
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Book Review: Perfectly Unique by Annie Downs

Perfectly UniquePerfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to FootBook review of Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot by Annie Downs by Annie Downs.

Don’t miss yesterday’s interview with Annie Downs where she discusses which chapter in Perfectly Unique was her favorite to write, as well as the one big take-away she wants readers to get from the book.

I’ve read Annie Downs’ blog off and on for a few years, and I knew she had book out this Fall, but I’d read that it was geared towards teenage girls. So, while I was once a teenage girl, I am most definitely not one now, and figured the book wasn’t one that I’d read. Too many books, not enough reading time.

And then I heard Downs speak at Influence Conference. Not about her book that much, but about Mocha Club and her work with them. And she was so real and approachable, and the little bit that she said about her book made me sit up and think “I have got to read it.”

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Book Review: Dinner: A Love Story

Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny RosenstrachDinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table by Jenny Rosenstrach

I have never read Jenny Rosenstrach’s blog Dinner A Love Story before, so I didn’t pick up her cookbook with the same name because of familiarity. I saw the book title somewhere so I decided on a whim to grab it from the library, and I am so glad I did.

It’s a cookbook, yes, but it’s almost equal parts memoir. There are details of Jenny’s story, and her “dinner diary” which shows the changes in her life as her dinner table changes from just her and her husband to accommodate her two daughters as well.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes (although many of them sound delicious, and eminently doable even in my current stage of motherhood.) I adored the cookbook because of all the extra information Rosenstrach includes. The memories she shares, and the tips she includes for how to manage getting dinner on the table and getting your family to eat it.

If you enjoy reading cookbooks or food memoirs, do yourself a favor and take a look at this one. It’s a gem.

Publisher’s Description:
Jenny Rosenstrach, and her husband, Andy, regularly, some might say pathologically, cook dinner for their family every night. Even when they work long days. Even when their kids’ schedules pull them in eighteen different directions. They are not superhuman. They are not from another planet.

With simple strategies and common sense, Jenny figured out how to break down dinner—the food, the timing, the anxiety, from prep to cleanup—so that her family could enjoy good food, time to unwind, and simply be together.

Using the same straight-up, inspiring voice that readers of her award-winning blog, Dinner: A Love Story, have come to count on, Jenny never judges and never preaches. Every meal she dishes up is a real meal, one that has been cooked and eaten and enjoyed at least a half dozen times by someone in Jenny’s house. With inspiration and game plans for any home cook at any level, Dinner: A Love Story is as much for the novice who doesn’t know where to start as it is for the gourmand who doesn’t know how to start over when she finds herself feeding an intractable toddler or for the person who never thought about home-cooked meals until he or she became a parent. This book is, in fact, for anyone interested in learning how to make a meal to be shared with someone they love, and about how so many good, happy things happen when we do.

Book Details

Title: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table
Author: Jenny Rosenstrach
Category: Nonfiction / Cookbook
My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

Nonfiction book review of The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen FlinnThe Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home CooksBook Review: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School - by Kathleen Flinn. by Kathleen Flinn

I came thisclose to including Flinn’s latest book as part of the 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads series (despite already including her book The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry on day 19 of the series).

The only reason I decided against it is because I only just read it last month; all of the other books in the series I’ve read from at least six months earlier to many many years earlier. I was confident that they’d stand the test of time because they have; I’m still excited about them no matter how long ago it was I read them. Can I guarantee that in a year or five I’ll feel as enthusiastic about this book? No, so I skipped it and went with The Ice Master instead. None of that should take away from this book however; I really really enjoyed it.

Flinn is a trained chef, but she’s also a gifted writer, and, as is apparent from her latest book, a talented teacher.

Inspired by a random stranger’s grocery cart, Flinn ends up teaching a group of 9 kitchen-challenged students the basics of cooking. Sounds simple, but Flinn details how she works to unlock the mysteries of food and meal preparation, and the emotional component behind many seemingly straight-forward and obvious situations. The book made me appreciate how food preparation and grocery shopping doesn’t come with any baggage for me, and it’s not a power struggle in my home.

The book is very inspiring and empowering – it made me want to go to the kitchen and make a pot of soup and bake some bread to accompany it. It made me want to improve my knife skills. It made me want to get better about how I use leftovers and random bits from the fridge (my culinary nemesis). It made me want to form a cooking group to have fun and improve our cooking. It made me want to be brave in the kitchen and try something new. It made me want to have tastings of salt and mustard and pasta and other basic ingredients that I buy without thinking or wondering if another brand would just taste better.

It made me sad when I finished it, and that’s always a good sign of a great book.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The author of The Sharper Your Knife tells the inspiring story of how she helped nine others find their inner cook.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn’s “chefternal” instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School includes practical, healthy tips that boost readers’ culinary self-confidence, and strategies to get the most from their grocery dollar, and simple recipes that get readers cooking.

Book Details

Title: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
Author: Kathleen Flinn
Category: Nonfiction / Food
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

May B by Caroline Starr RoseMay B.May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. Childrens' book review by The Deliberate Reader by Caroline Starr Rose

Beautifully written in verse, May B. tells the story of a young girl sent to help out on the neighbor’s homestead. “Just until Christmas” she is promised by her father, and she knows that they need the money she’ll be paid.

Long before Christmas May B. is abandoned and left to fend for herself on the isolated homestead, and she struggles to survive.

Her current struggles echo her memories of trying to read at school under a new teacher.

I didn’t expect to love the book as much as I did, but May B. is an engaging heroine and long after I finished the book I’ve thought about her and hoped for a sequel, to learn what happens to her.

This is a very quick read, and if you enjoy children’s historical fiction at all I think it’s worth trying.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

Book Details

Title: May B.
Author: Caroline Starr Rose
Category: Fiction / Children’s / Historical fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

31 Days of Great Nonfiction: I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson

I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson. Day 3 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate ReaderI Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The HolocaustI Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson. Day 3 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader by Livia Bitton-Jackson

I’ve read a lot of Holocaust memoirs, and this one is a standout. Bitton-Jackson does a stellar job of describing her experiences trying to make it through the war. As a young Jewish girl in Hungary, she was insulated from many of the effects of the war until 1944.

The final year of the war brought incredible suffering: at 13 she was rounded up with her family and moved into a Jewish ghetto, where she was separated from her father and brother. After transportation to Auschwitz and surviving the selection process, inside the camp she endured torture and forced labor.

Her detailed story of survival in horrific circumstances is moving, and despite the circumstances, the book has an underlying message of hope that helps to prevent it from becoming a bleak recitation of events.

Publisher’s Description:
Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslavakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. This is her story, written for middle school or high school students.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction BooksIf you enjoyed this book, Livia’s story continues in My Bridges of Hope, which is also excellent.

Additional Holocaust memoirs which I highly recommend include:

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.

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31 Days of Great Nonfiction: It’s Not About the Tapas by Polly Evans

It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels by Polly Evans. Day 2 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate ReaderIt’s Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two WheelsIt's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels by Polly Evans. Day 2 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader by Polly Evans

I love biking-across-some-large-area stories so I was anxious to see how I liked this account of a trek across Spain. Happily, it did not disappoint.

Throughout the book Evans mentions that she’s tired. And sore. And biking is hard work. If I ever managed to go on a biking trek, I’m sure that’s what I’d be noting every day too, so I felt like I could relate to her experiences. And like Evans, I’d be thrilled that all the physical work was paying off with smaller pants size.

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31 Days of Great Nonfiction: A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. Day 1 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, IndianaA Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. Day 1 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader by Haven Kimmel

A poignant and hilarious memoir of growing up in small-town Indiana. The vivid descriptions and characterizations bring Kimmel’s childhood to life and read more like a novel than nonfiction.

I didn’t grow up in a small town, and I didn’t grow up in Indiana, so my adoration for this book doesn’t come from a familiarity with her stories. Not much of her childhood reminds me of my own, but her tales almost make me wish that I had grown up nearby to experience life in Mooreland.

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Book Review: Enough by Will Davis Jr

EnoughEnough: Finding More by Living with LessEnough: Finding More by Living with Less by Will Davis, Jr. by Will Davis, Jr.

How do we know when we’ve had enough, living in a culture that pushes for more-more-more?

I’d probably be more enthusiastic about the book, except for reading it so soon after 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Enough seemed like it covered a lot of the same ground as 7, and in a much more impersonal way. Part of what made 7 so powerful for me was how Jen threw herself into the challenge, and made it so easy to imagine myself in her shoes {so to speak}.

Enough challenges you to evaluate you life, and realize that whatever you have, it’s enough. It encourages contentment in what you already have, and compassion for those in need. All good stuff, to be sure. But coming so soon after reading 7, it wasn’t as powerful as it would have otherwise been. However, I think Enough would be easier to recommend to my husband, or other men. 7 is so personal, with such a feminine perspective, that most guys I know wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

So, if you’re in the market for a book about being satisfied with what you already have, about acknowledging how blessed we already are, about sharing with those in need, either 7 or Enough are good choices. But I’d pick one or the other, and not both.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Book Details

Title: Enough: Finding More by Living with LessEnough by Will Davis Jr
Author: Will Davis, Jr.
Category: Nonfiction / Christian Living
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!