The Bookshelf

Reading Lately (March and April)

The past two months have felt a bit like a blur.  We’ve had a lot going on, many sleepless nights (thank you, Cooper), and my reading momentum has slowed down.  When I open a book after the kids are in bed, I usually make it about 5 pages and then I’m asleep.  We might have made a turn for the better now, and I’m finding my ability to read is improving.


Here’s what I read in March and April:

For the Love

For the Love, Jen Hatmaker.  This book came out last fall and I saw all the images and comments on social media but quite honestly, I just didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon.  During a visit to the library in early March I discovered a ‘recent material’ section.  While browsing for some interesting books, I saw a copy of this one and went ahead and snatched it up.  It’s a great, light read.  Many times I was laughing out loud at her way of explaining people/things/experiences.  Reading this book required no deep thoughts or introspection, which was a treat because I read it in the midst of a family-wide stomach bug.  She has some great things to say, but I wouldn’t call this one a life-changer.

Bread and Wine

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life around the Table with Recipes, Shauna Niequist.  Wow.  This was the first time I had read any of Shauna’s writing.  I’ve heard a lot about her and have been waiting to find out what everyone raved about.  Now I understand.  Her writing is encouraging, healing, helpful, and inspiring.  Again, not a profound book by any means, but it uncovered in me an art that I’ve put on the shelf far too long:  Cooking.   I used to dream of attending culinary school and it’s always been at the top of my hobby list.  I even began blogging five years ago with a blog titled Only From Scratch (is anyone still here from those days??), where I shared recipes and other homey type things.  Somewhere in the midst of having more babies cooking has become something that is just another ‘to do’ and I’ve lost the enjoyment of it.  Most of our meals are just whatever can be fixed quickly with no preparation or thought required. This is boring and has taken the fun out of cooking and eating.  Shauna’s writing helped to re-awaken that desire in me.  It reminded me how much I love spending time cooking a complicated recipe, reading recipes and being inspired to try new ingredients, and using my love of good food–preparing and eating it–to bring people into our home and share life around our table.  I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate both of these into life during this season, but I did realize that it’s something I want to prioritize.


Delicious, Ruth Riechl.  This novel had me strolling the streets of New York City in my head and getting completely lost in Billie’s (the main character) life.  She works for a food magazine and the story follows her life as a member of the staff.  I don’t want to spoil the story, but there’s a lot about loss (a theme that continues to resurface in my own life), adventure, self-discovery, some history, exceptional character development, and it’s just overall a great book.  It was fascinating to read some behind the scenes of what life as a member of an editorial magazine might look like.  If you enjoy food, cooking, recipes, history, and life, you’ll like this one.

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton.  On my way to the library one day I texted my sister asking for her favorite authors.  Kate Morton was on the list, so I found this one.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre for a novel, and I loved how this one went back and forth between time periods, picking up the pieces of a family’s life and putting it all together.  This was probably the longest book I’ve read in a long time (more than 500 pages), but it was worth it.  I’ll be reading more of her books in the future.


Brazen, Leeana Tankersley.  I had the privilege of being on the launch team for this book, so I received an advanced copy.   While I don’t agree with the main premise of the book, I did find some inspiration and encouragement to courageously use my God-given gifts and abilities.  Leeana writes with authenticity, sharing her own personal experiences and struggles; a style of writing that I always appreciate.

Make Room for what you love

Make Room for what you Love, Melissa Michaels.  I also received an advanced copy of this book, which just released this past Sunday.  You can purchase a copy here.  This came at just the right time in my life.  While we’ve gotten into a pretty good rhythm with five children, there is always room for improvement and the state of my home is one area that needs some work.  No, it’s not a dump or horribly messy.  But there are toys, articles of clothing, hairbows, books, etc., in places where they do not belong.  We have more things than we need.  My floor is often covered with crumbs, and the kitchen counters collect items throughout the day.  Reading this book was like a kick in the pants–in a good way–for me.  And it helped me to see that my home doesn’t need to feel out of control.  With a few simple habits incorporated into my daily life, I can have a home that doesn’t scream at me with its messes, and I can make room for what is truly important in my life.  Like drinking a cup of tea in the afternoon while I read or write.  Sitting around the table with my family and not feeling behind in my household chores.  Enjoying being in my bedroom at night because the dresser is not messy and the laundry is all put away.  I would recommend this book for any homemaker that feels like their house might be a little bit out of control and would like someone to hold their hand in getting it back in order.

Little Victories

Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living, Jason Gay.  I grabbed this one on a whim at the library because I recognized the name of someone who endorsed it.  I was laughing so hard reading this book because he is SO right about life!  I will say there’s some language (you’ve been forewarned) but if you can breeze past that, I think you’ll find this to be a fun read.  I read it in a day, if that says anything.  And then Bradley read it too.  If you’re a bathroom reader–which I am not–this might fall into the category of bathroom reading.

A Sacred Sorrow

A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament, Michael Card.  This is a book that was on my list for this year because it was on the bookshelf, it came from a friend who recommended it, and I am interested in this topic.  I haven’t finished it yet.  I got several chapters in and realized that this one requires time.  Time to read Scripture, pray, soul-search, and allow myself to face the pain of losses in my life.  Grief is inconvenient in that way, that we don’t have the luxury of sitting and mourning our losses in one big chunk.  I’m not giving up on this one, though.  Each section of the book covers men in the Bible who truly lamented.  It walks through their pain, how they handled it, and how they communicated with God in the midst of it.  I would highly recommend this for anyone who has experienced significant losses in life.

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  • Reply Aimee

    I LOVE Shauna Niequst’s books! I’ve read them all and when I finished the last one I was kind of sad. Reading her books was like chatting with a friend and knew I was going to miss her.

    May 4, 2016 at 1:55 pm
  • Reply sherri lynn

    I love this post! 🙂 I’m so glad you’ve found more time to read! Bread & Wine, Delicious, and The Forgotten Garden are all books that I loved! Also felt the same way about Brazen…. I have For the Love on my to-read list – I’ve found Jen Hatmaker’s books enjoyable to read but like you said, not life-changing. I think Little Victories sounds fun and I just added it to my to-read list. I should also probably read A Sacred Sorrow. But like you said, that will take some time to work through. Love hearing what other people are reading and recommending!

    May 5, 2016 at 8:28 am
  • Reply Clarita

    Thank you for the recommendations! These days my reading time is limited, and so I often go by recommendations of what to read next! 🙂

    May 5, 2016 at 8:40 am
  • Reply Jenn A

    I enjoy your book review posts and am so glad you share what you are reading. It gives me new ideas. I’m still here from your “Only from Scratch” days. I’ve enjoyed both forms of your blog. Kate Morton is also a favorite of mine and I really enjoyed Delicious too. I need to read something by Shauna Niequist. I’m sure I would enjoy it. I enjoy cooking too, but with four boys, one of them having autism, I relate very much to cooking whatever is fast and easy. I love to look at recipes and try new ones, but that seems to go in phases with how busy I am. My oldest boys have developed favorites and make requests regularly now, so that helps a bit. I hope you are able to find a way to still do the cooking that you enjoy in the midst of caring for all your precious people!

    May 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm
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