Happier at Home (Booking It: November Update)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. This month’s book is  Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.

(Heads up: if you make a purchase through any Amazon links in this post, I do receive a small percentage of the sale.)

When last we left our fearless readers, I had given up on Les Miserables for a season. Instead I turned toward the next month’s readings and some lighter, though still important, fare. I’m pleased to report that I put away four books in the last month!

I guess it shows that what you put on your plate has some effect on how fast you chew. And how much you enjoy your meal.

Let’s just say that I’ve been eating well! I enjoyed all four books that I read since we last talked. And I’ve got a few more on my plate for the remainder of the year.

Speaking of the year coming to a close, I’m wondering if y’all are getting a little burned out on assigned reading. Unless there are significant numbers of you asking for reading suggestions, I just might omit that part of the program in 2013. So, give it some thought, eh? Let me know.

So, here’s the lowdown on my month’s reading.

Happier at Home

I tackled Happier at Home first because I certainly did not want to show up to class unprepared twice in a row. I’d requested a review copy, so it was nice to have it ready and waiting for me. I didn’t need to stand in line at the library or anything. I really enjoyed the book, the sequel to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. It wasn’t the “life changing” book that her first book was for me, but it resonated with me on a number of levels.

It made me think about making our home more homey. I rearranged some furniture, made a better effort at the pre-bedtime pick-up, and overall gave my home the once over to see what we can improve to make home even better.

This book was in many ways a refresher course in The Happiness Project. I was reminded to be more intentional about my home and life and how I spend my time. I enjoyed the book immensely and found that it gave me a good burst of encouragement.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Several of you mentioned the book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter as being helpful to you in your cooking and shopping. So when I was  sent a review copy, I knew it would be time well-spent.

I devoured this book, like so much fresh baked bread and butter. I found it to be an extremely interesting analysis of what you should buy and what you should make yourself — when it comes to food. In a sense it was a lot like Anne’s Buy or DIY? flowchart.

That said, I disagreed with the author on a number of points. Seeing as we’re both native Californians, I found this additionally interesting. But, Jennifer Reese grew up in Northern California while I am a Southern California girl. And that has made all the difference.

She says buy your burritos, make your Chinese food. I say just the opposite. Asian influences are prevalent in the northern part of the state while Latino influences are strong here in the south. ‘Nuf said.

Despite our differences of opinion, I found the book fascinating. She has tackled some culinary projects that I would never dream of attempting, like making homemade cheese and prosciutto. More power to her!

Did I mention that she is hilarious? She’s not afraid to mince words — or use what some might consider profanity. But, it’s not overdone like some food bloggers-turned-writers-that-I-can’t-read-even-though-their-book-was-made-into-a-movie. #justsaying

French Kids Eat Everything

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon was another recommendation from you smart people. By the time I heard the name three times, I was in line at the library to get a copy. Oh la la, did this make me think.

La Famille Le Billon, composed of a Canadian mother and a French father and two young children relocated to France for a year. There mom learned how much she had spoiled and coddled her children. They were fussy eaters and sorely out of place among their French classmates, cousins, and friends.

What resulted was Maman’s efforts to understand French culture, and specifically, how they get their children to eat a wide range of foods.

While I’ve never considered my kids truly picky, I know that their tastes have grown a lot since we started getting a weekly produce box. Though we’ve come quite far in expanding our culinary horizons, this book helped me see that we still have far to go. The author identifies 10 “rules” that the French live by, sometimes unconsciously. I think that all of them serve as great guidelines toward helping us and our kids have healthy attitudes about food.

I feel like my eyes were opened a bit. I have some things to work on in my family’s diet, but I feel well-equipped to do so, thanks in part to this book.

Love Does

I first heard about Bob Goff in a book I read last Christmas, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. THAT book is amazing. Author Don Miller mentions his friend Bob in that book. Bob lives in San Diego and hosts a parade down his street every New Year’s Day. I wanted to go last year. This year we might.

I ordered the book off Amazon and started reading  Love Does on our fall vacation in September. I had heard good things about the book, but mostly wanted to find out more about this crazy guy named Bob.

Yes, crazy. He answers my tweets and gives me his email address. Not only that, he lists his phone number in the back of the book and says to call him if you ever need him.

He’s an amazing man with an even more amazing picture of Jesus. It shows in the book. My two oldest sons both read the book along with me. In fact, they finished it before I did. Hubs is almost half-way through. We are inspired by the way that Bob loves people, opens himself up, leaves himself vulnerable. I can’t even fathom all that he does. All that love does.

You really do need to read the book. I know I need to change my life based on it; I’m just not sure how.

So, those are my good reads for the month.

Have you been Booking It?

Tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, be sure to tell us what you thought of it.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next month’s book is, ahem, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook by Yours Truly.

Disclosure: if you make a purchase through those Amazon links up there, I do receive a small percentage of the sale.

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  1. I really enjoy this part of your blog! It has led me to purchase and read some great books! Please don’t get rid of it! Very FEW people actually read a real book anymore, so I do value this part of your blog tremendously! Also, I love learning about new books/cookbooks!

  2. Please don’t stop then required reading lists! I read about half each year but its so nice to have them as suggestions. Most of what I read comes from free kindle books so its nice to see what else is it there. Thank you for putting the lists together!

  3. I really enjoyed most of Happier at Home and reviewed it here. http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/08/review-happier-at-home-by-gretchen-rubin/
    Although Gretchen Rubin writes nothing about salvation, I found that her book really pointed to Jesus. Funny how that sometimes works!

    I also read a whole lot of other books this month. The top three, besides A Simpler Life, are

    The Power of Habit, an inspiring and empowering look at the way we live our lives and why– http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/11/a-homeschooler-thinks-about-the-power-of-habit-by-charles-duhigg/

    All Things New, the latest Lynn Austin novel, and every bit as good as I expected — http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/10/review-all-things-new-by-lynn-austin/

    21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, a hand-holding guide to fixing up your life, one baby step at a time — http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/10/review-21-days-to-a-more-disciplined-life-by-crystal-paine/

    And for the kids: Shadow Hawk, a high-energy, well-researched book about Egypt, suitable for middle school and highschool — http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/10/review-shadow-hawk-by-andre-norton/

    Although I don’t always read the ‘assigned’ books, I do enjoy having the reading list to think about.

    1. Isn’t that funny…. when I was reading it, I kept thinking, but what about Jesus? For some reason, I felt His absence in this book more strongly than I did in the first book.

      1. Yes, Gretchen does not mention Jesus in this sense, but by trying so hard to do right, she’s coming up against her inability to do so. Because she’s trying so hard, she’s starting to realize the need for a Savior, although she doesn’t realize it. I’d never really seen this dynamic in a secular book before.

        I wrote about this at the end of my review.

  4. Well, first of all, I agree with skipping the assigned reading. However, I do like seeing what others are reading (which is why we read Guernsey two years ago, right?), so please continue with Booking It. 🙂

    Second, I started a blog devoted to book reviews of What’s On My Nightstand. Today I’m sharing two of my reviews:

    Talk to the Hand (which I LOVED): http://www.whatsonmynightstand.com/2012/10/talk-to-hand.html


    I finally finished “Quitter”: http://www.whatsonmynightstand.com/2012/10/quitter.html

  5. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter sounds interesting, as well as your take on it compared to hers. Right now, I’m reading about habit changes with Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit and Crystal’s 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.

  6. How funny, because I just started Happier at Home last night! Your review makes me even more eager to read and finish it. I really enjoyed Make the Bread, too. I know exactly what book / movie you are talking about, and I completely agreed! Loved the movie, but couldn’t stomach the book. I agree with the other ladies. I greatly enjoy your Book-It reports and the recommendations they give. Happy reading, Jessica!

  7. Happier at home – Motivated me to get my started on my shelves – this will be a year long project I think. More importantly it has inspired me to go on Monthly adventures with my spouse – like mini-vacations. Just what I needed to get me out of my rut.

    Thanks for the booking it.

  8. Love your reviews….I’ve read many based on your recommendations and descriptions! Please keep them coming…..I don’t know that you need to put pressure on yourself to have a booklist for the year (unless that helps you stay disciplined). Just share what you’re reading and tell us your impressions etc. Thanks. With appreciation! 🙂

  9. I really liked the Happiness Project, but I thought Happier at Home was more fun for the author than the reader. There wasn’t really much that was groundbreaking, more just a narrowing of focus. I also felt that it was altogether to self-centered, which may seem a silly criticism since it is a memoir of one person’ search for happiness at home, but I felt it made a better personal journal than a published book.

    I’m reading Love Does too, and I agree that I know I need to do something, but have no idea what. I simply do not have the personality for that kind of stuff!