Friday, December 13, 2013

A Year In Books: 21 Books I Read and Recommend

Last Christmas a friend gave me a blank journal as a gift.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, as I do not journal, but I quickly decided that my journal doesn't need to contain my reflections, but can contain my activities.  So I put it to work as my running note-taker (as I am ALWAYS taking notes on things).  I keep it in my purse, always and often dig it out for brainstorming sessions, when giving an interview, along with some reflections.  It is a more accurate representation of me and what my life is like.  If my children or grandchildren find it dusty in the attic-they will see who I was at the time and everything I was working on.

Last January, Levi and I were deep in hibernation-mode.  We had just gotten back from a week in Florida,  rarely went anywhere and kept to ourselves for the first few months of the year.  At that time, I was reading like crazy-getting this book list off to a nice start.  From January-today I have read about 25 books and attempted to keep a list in my journal.  I think I'm missing a couple, but here is a great list of reads with links to personal reviews (on some):

1. Anna Karenina By: Leo Tolstoy - This book is an amazing story, full a drama and incredible detail!  But it is the reader's version of a marathon.  I would go so frustrated as I read because I wanted to know: 'where the story is going' or 'why are we talking about this', but after finishing it-I was proud to have stuck it out.  Anna Karenina is a beautifully frustrating tale of the upper-crust of the Russian social-class and contains incredible character development.  This book is about enjoying the journey and not the destination.

2. Eat the City: A Tale of the Fisher, Foragers, Butchers, Farmers, Poultry Minders, Sugar Refiners, Cane Cutters, Beekeepers, Winemakers, and Brewers Who Built New York By: Robin Schulman - Ms Schulman give the reader a detailed account of how certain genres of food have evolved in NYC, from beer to sugar to wine.  Each amazing story uncovers a layer of NYC-most people cant see with the naked eye.  Full Review HERE.

3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change By: Stephen Covey - This book has been on my to-do list for so long.  I was happy to finally get it under my belt.  Great life lessons here, the one I enjoyed the most was Covey's lesson on Integrity.

4. The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy By: Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko - I've heard this referenced so many times during my stint as a Financial Rep.  The language is heavily study-laden, but the information is interesting.  This book is great at expanding your perspective.

5. The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink By: Kevin Young - a wonderful collection of food-related poems collected and curated by Kevin Young.  A favorite of mine was 'Be Drunk' by Charles Baudelaire-it has such a great message about living life to the fullest!  Full Review HERE.

6. The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life By: Tim Ferriss - This is a beginner's cookbook like none-other.  Tim shows how to develop the cooking basics in an extreme and yet, simple way as to show anyone-even in cooking, the concept of 'smarter not harder' applies! Full Review HERE.

7. Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks By: Kathleen Flynn - Kathleen's story about teaching a cooking class comes with so many valuable lessons everyone can take home! Full review HERE.

8. Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer By: William Knoedelseder - The history of Anheuser-Busch, the company and the family.  I will never look at it the same way again.  Full Review HERE.

9. White Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story By: Jenna Weber - One young girl's story about finding her way in life by going to culinary school after college. Full Review HERE.

10. Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life By: Anne Lamott - Ms Lamott's writing guide for those trying to find their inner voice.

11. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith By: Anna Lamott - Ms Lamott's story of her own personal struggles with drugs and alcohol and how she turned herself around with the help of faith.

12. Drinking with Men By: Rosie Schapp - Ms Schapp's journey from one bar to the next and how they each take on a personality all their own. Full Review HERE.

13. Bringing up BebĂ©: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting By: Pamela Duckerman - An American mother's take on the French method of child-rearing.  Why French children eat a larger variety of food, self-entertain and sleep through the nights within 6 months of birth.  (I don't have children and I found this book fascinating).

14. Life, On The Line By: Grant Achatz & Nick Kokonas - Grant and Nick reflect on how they got from the beginning of their careers as a chef and a stock manager to running one of the most successful restaurants in the world!  Full Review HERE.

15. 4-Hour Workweek By: Tim Ferriss - This book makes me want to quit my job, but even if thats not your goal-there are wonderful tips on how to create a more efficient workday. Full Review HERE.

16. Recipes for Disaster By: Tess Rafferty - This home entertainer's recalls multiple dinner parties that have gone fabulously well or hilariously bad as she and her partner launch their careers in LA.  A great read for any new homeowner looking to host events in their home.  Ms Rafferty gives great tips on time savers, things to avoid and recipes to save you from some outcomes she incurred.  Full Review HERE.

17. Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table By: Ruth Reichl - This book has been on my 'to-read' list for awhile (I bought it when it first came out), so I was happy to check it off the list!  Ms Reichl did not disappoint-her honest story about how her career began was a beautifully written memoir that takes the reader through her experiences in a very powerful way.

18. The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping  By: Charles MacPherson - This guide to home entertaining, written by a lifelong butler, gives even the most novice of entertainers the tools to host like a pro!  I read this book within a day and find it my new go-to guide for tips and tricks for a more well-rounded and functional event! Full Review HERE.

19. Franny & Zooey By: JD Salinger - Salinger doesn't fail to dish-up an accurate portrayal of the young mind.  Without knowing where you're going he takes you on this ride between a brother and sister and how complicated family politics can be.

20. Jane Eyre By: Charlotte Bronte - Jane, the female protagonist, is forced to grow up with few, if any, adults to shape her growth.  Thus, being forced to trust her internal moral code to make her decisions.  A wonderful character with so much richness to her character-a book all women should be required to read.

21. Wide Sargasso Sea By: Jean Rhys - An intended prequel to Jane Eyre, Ms Rhys takes a look at how the relationship between Bertha and Rochester developed.  A rather short read with incredible insight on how resentment and bitterness is born.  

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