Sunday, July 14, 2013

Book Review: Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with RecipesBread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes by Shauna Niequist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Shauna Niequist book that I have read. I came across a recommendation from a blogging friend (Annie B. Jones) who enjoyed it and decided that I too wanted to read this book. Part of what was compelling was the fact that there were recipes included throughout the book and the promise that they were fairly simple to make - something that I am constantly looking for.

And I wish I could put a finger on it about what is so compelling about this book, but the proper words elude me. Maybe it is it's sweet simplicity - great vignettes throughout with great recipes. Maybe it is the joy that Niequist is wonderful at conveying about the act of creating a meal and then sharing it with loved ones. Whatever it is, it has inspired me immensely and gotten me in the kitchen, actually cooking for myself. That sounds like it shouldn't be that big of a deal - after all, cooking isn't that new of a thing or some great novelty. But for me, a single woman who comes home most nights, after solving problems or navigating stressful waters with clients or coworkers all day and only a few hours to go before falling asleep, somehow cramming in time with friends or high school girls - cooking has remained something just out of my grasp. It's not that I can't cook or follow a recipe - it's that it is the last thing I want to try to do and wait to eat until 9pm after a long day at the office (and also why all working mothers have my utmost admiration).

Anyway, this book has been very inspiring and gotten me in the kitchen, creating meals - and I love it. It's gotten me thinking more about actually planning meals and stocking my kitchen so that there are things to eat. I have felt more adventurous about trying new things and being ok if they don't turn out great - it's all part of the process. Which is exactly what I think Shauna herself would say.

It's a great book about love and cooking and has some really great recipes. Honestly what more does one need?

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Review: Quiet

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I strongly believe that this is an important book for people to read. I was pretty hesitant myself before picking it up - I had seen Susan Cain's TED talk, which was interesting, but I wasn't sure if it would be interesting enough to hold my attention through an entire book. I was very wrong though.

Through research and interviews that Cain compiles, she makes a compelling case for introverts everywhere and provides a voice to people who the world thinks are just "different" or "shy". And because (especially in America) we are conditioned to hear the loudest voice in the room, these people are unconsciously written off because of their personality. Introverts are cast as "anti-social" and not liking to be around people, which is one of the many myths that Cain dispels about this segment of our population - which, according to which research you believe makes up either a third or half of our population.

Part of what the book so interesting to me was the many different approaches and topics that were addressed in the book: Introverts in the workplace & space - how can they survive in the new "open" work environments (something that I myself have struggled much with); Introverts in modern-day evangelical churches - Are churches set up in a way that only allows for extroverts to worship; Introverts and biology - can you tell whether a child will be an introvert or extrovert soon after they are born?; Introverts and personal relationships - how to navigate different personalities in relationships; and Introverted children and how they do (or don't) succeed in school and how parents can help them.

If there's any complaint that I would have about the book, it would be the style with which it is written - it read like a Malcolm Gladwell book to me - lots of overarching statements with some compelling antecedent research. However, when flipping through the appendix, you do find that this book was well-researched and thoroughly thought out.

Again, I think this is an important book for people to read because of the understanding of different personalities it will provide you - which will help you in relations with coworkers, parents, children, friends, and spouses. And if you are an introvert or are not sure, you'll learn more about what makes an introvert and what makes an extrovert from this book.

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Friday, July 12, 2013


This is an incredible speech by a beautiful girl. It is well worth the time to listen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: Life of Pi

Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If I had to sum up this book in one word, that is the word I would use. A week later, and every time I think about it, a gamut of emotions is conjured - confusion, awe, wonder, disbelief. This book marries beautiful writing with an incredible story, that sweeps you up in the end and leaves you feeling a bit breathless, because you can't quite believe what you have just read.

The author, as I said, has a way with words. His ability to craft together words and string sentences piece by piece into a beautifully woven tale allows you, the reader, to simultaneously enjoy and reject the journey that he is taking you on. You reject it because it is so horrific what the main character, Pi, experiences - and the art lies in the fact that you never quite understand the stark horror he lives in until the closing of the book, because of the way the story is told. It is a remarkable and impressive feat to capture this boy's journey is such a masterful way.

And if anyone can help me to understand the line, "And so it goes with God", I will be very grateful. Highly recommend this book.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I Know Why There Are 10 Men for Every 1 Woman in Alaska

It is freezing in Virginia. Bone-chilling, sensitive-teeth-hurting, should-have-worn-socks-today-but-they-wouldn't-have-gone-with-my-cute-shoes, unbelievably freaking freezing. I'm lucky I didn't morph into an immediate icicle the moment I walked out of my office door, because it felt like I was going to. I swear I got frostbite on my toes in the ten minutes it takes to walk from my office to my apartment. It is wicked, horrid, awful cold.

And as I was walking home as fast as my ice-cube feet could glide along the sidewalks (on which was yet again spotted another pile of loveliness, evoking memories of certain Christmas parades) the thought occurred to me that I, as a woman, have been handicapped and rendered ill-equipped by society and culture to handle the cold. Because I am required to remove all bits of hair off of my body in order to conform with proper grooming expected of women, I have no coat of fur on my limbs or hairy hobbit feet to cope with the awfulness of the bitter cold air cutting straight through my clothes and directly to my bones. In a flash of understanding, I realized why women would never dare to voluntarily choose to live in a place where 33 F is a warm day - they are hampered by societal norms from being able to evolve and adapt to such frigid conditions.

And yes, I know that during winter us girls are more prone to letting that leg hair grow - but you still find yourself having to shave some of the time - and all those years of shaving have stunted your hair follicle's growth (at least that's what I've been led to believe), so I maintain there's no way you can grow it to a suitable length in order for it to give you a layer of protection against the biting blast of the cccccoooolllllddddd (that's me shivering just typing about it).

It occurs to me as I sit here typing, I now also understand why Russians are always portrayed as a moody, somewhat depressed, tumultuous people who are prone to drinking too much and wearing lots of black and fur - it's because they are always friggin' freezing! If I was living in a constant winter, I would wear black all the time, so that I could attract whatever precious rays of sunlight were available directly to my body. I would buy all the furs I could afford to wrap all my limbs and extremities in and I would drink all the time because it would make my insides feel warm for at least a few minutes - and help me to forget that I was oppressively depressed by the frozen tundra that I was surrounded by. And no wonder their national symbol is the bear - because they are the smart ones and hibernate during the freaking winter! I wish I was a bear!

The worlds of understanding that can be mined through misery - it never ceases to amaze me. Now please excuse me - I have to go wrap myself tightly in a blanket to combat the hypothermia that my body is succumbing to. It's so bloody cold!