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Today I’m dishing on all the books I read this last year with my 2018 book review. I’m also sharing a sneak peek of the books I hope to read next year!
In 2017 I set a goal to read more. I started the year out strong, but about half way through, I was faced with all kinds of personal challenges and really didn’t have the time nor desire to read. So, inspired by some of mynfavorite bloggers and influencers who read between 52 and 100 books last year, I decided to revisit my reading goal and set out to read more in 2018!
Again, this year I set a goal to try to read (or listen to via audio book) at least one book a month. The first half of the year I was going strong and reading/listening to at least two books a month. And then, I had a baby, and well, I didn’t have time for ANYTHING, let alone reading! I mean, I guess technically I’ve been reading up storm if you count all the board books and children’s books about food that are now scattered all over my house! 🙂
But I feel like now we are in a routine and I have learned so many time management, multi-tasking skills. I’ve also found that since I’m go, go, go all day long, that by the time the end of the day rolls around, I need that time to relax and have a little bit of me time (that is if I don’t fall asleep before nine!). In 2019, I hope to use that “me time” more wisely, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching some lame TV show, I instead read, journal and dream big!
Hopefully next year I’ll be able to read at least one book a month. But in the meantime, check out the books I did manage to read in 2018!
2018 Book Review
1.Yes, Chef: A Memoir – by Marcus Samuelsson – I actually listened to this as an audio book and really enjoyed “reading” this book this way because it was read by Marcus himself. Having a culinary background, I really liked hearing about Samuelsson’s life, starting back when he was a boy in Africa, to being adopted and being raised in Sweden, and his long journey to becoming the successful restaurant owner and celebrity chef we know today.
In the book Samuelsson is also very open and upfront about other personal struggles he faced, including discrimination, trying to mend his relationship with his daughter, and lots of financial struggles. In fact, unless you are in the food industry, you may not realize and understand that chefs really don’t make that much money and even those celebrity chefs have financial struggles and have a hard time finding work or investors to back their restaurants.
While I really enjoyed this book, I have several friends who said they didn’t care for this book. They said they thought Samuelson came off as rude and negative the entire book. I guess since I’ve worked with many chefs and restaurant owners/managers throughout my career in the food and beverage industry, many of whom HAVE been very rude and arrogant, I didn’t take him that way.
With that said, I think that even if you are not a chef or foodie, most anyone would enjoy this book and could relate to the struggles, sacrifices and determination made to pursue the career of your dreams.
2. Lab Girl – by Hope Jahren – Lab Girl is very similar to Yes, Chef, in that it is about a female scientist trying to break down barriers to pursue her dream as a scientist. To be honest, it was hard for me to get into this book at first, as Jahren talks a lot about science and paleobiology, things that don’t interest me as much as food and cooking.
But as I kept reading, I really enjoyed this book because, again, the underlying theme of the book was her struggle to pursue the career of her dreams, despite challenges she faced as a woman scientist, as she struggled financially (again, a job of passion and not necessarily paying well despite impressive degrees and experience) and Jahren’s openness as she struggled with becoming a working Mom. Things, that whether or not you are a scientist, as a woman in the workforce, can relate to in one way or another.
AND!! Even though this book took me awhile to get into, I think this was my favorite book of 2018! I say this now after having a baby and trying to get back to working a job I love, while trying to be the mother I’ve always dreamed of being. Since I’ve now experienced firsthand what it is like being a working Mom, as I reflect over the books I’ve read this year, this one with Jahren’s honesty about being a working mother and path to her dream job, resonates with me even more!
3. The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – A Love Story – by Ree Drummond – Whether you are a Pioneer Woman fan or not, Ree Drummond helped make blogging what it is today. I regularly read her blog in the very beginning and even met her a couple of different times (she is super nice in person!); and once I even accidentally crashed a private party she threw, oops! but besides on social media or occasionally catching her cooking show at the gym, I haven’t read her blog in ages.
But I’ve had her memoir on my reading list for quite some time, and when it popped up as a book suggestion earlier this year, I decided to go ahead and read it. Ree is a great storyteller and the book inspired me to be better about writing my own story and to do the creative storytelling I once loved and that inspired me to start my own blog.
This book is about the Pioneer Woman and Marlboro Man’s love story; and that is exactly what it was, her romantic account of their meeting, falling in love and first year of marriage. It read like a novel, was relatable (even if you don’t live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere) and it was interesting to hear how they met and how she had to learn to cook red meat and a lot of the recipes she is known for. It was very entertaining, but at times very predictable, especially if you are a fan of The Pioneer Woman and read her blog. I recommend it, especially if you are a fan of The Pioneer Woman and are curious as to how her life on the ranch all began, however, if you’ve read her blog religiously, I’d say skip it, as most of the story can be found there. If you are not a fan, then you might still enjoy it if you like love stories.
4. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) – by Lauren Graham – I’ve been a Lauren Graham fan since Gilmore Girls (yes, I’ll confess, I love that show!). Not only do I love the TV show that made Lauren Graham the star she is today, she always seems so down to Earth and I feel like we could be friends in real life. Ever since I watched the Gilmore Girls Revival, I have wanted to read Graham’s memoir and the fictional novel she wrote, Someday, Someday, Maybe.
I started out listening to Talking as Fast as I Can as an audio book and it was fun to hear Graham tell her story of getting into acting, the behind the scenes info on how she got the part on Gilmore Girls and how the reunion show came to be. However, I switched to reading the book as Graham kept referencing photos in the book. This book is a quick and easy read and as a fan, I really liked reading this insider info, however, I felt the book just ended abruptly. I mean Lauren is still young, so obviously she is still writing her story, but after liking the book so much, I wish it ended better.
5. The Magnolia Story – by Chip and Joanna Gaines – Whether you are a fan of the TV show Fixer Upper or not, I’m sure by now you have heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines. I can honestly say I’m not a super fan, having only watched a handful of episodes, but I can say that I have been intrigued by their story. There is no doubt about it they are inspiring as entrepreneurs, way before they even made the TV show, and they have done so much for the little town of Waco, Texas.
After my mother-in-law requested me to take her to visit the silos and thoroughly enjoying baked goods from the Silos Baking Co., I became even more curious about this seemingly picture-perfect family and decided to read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, technically listening to it as an audio book (which was fun, due to it being read by Chip and Joanna) and I was inspired by their honesty about how they struggled to get where they are today. That it was through honest hard work, sacrifice, giving back and being ready when that completely unexpected call, to film a pilot, came.
If you are a fan, or just someone working hard to reach your dreams, then I highly recommend this book!
6. Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel – by Lauren Graham – After reading Lauren Graham’s memoir, Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), I knew I wanted to read her fictional novel. This book is about a struggling actress in New York City and while fictional, has similarities to Lauren’s real-life memoir. While I wanted to love this book, since I like Lauren Graham and enjoyed her memoir, for me it was just alright. Maybe it was because I felt the story has been done before, or maybe it was because of the similarities in this novel as in Graham’s memoir, but I just thought it lacked something.
7. What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories – by Laura Shapiro. This book is was unique and interesting in that it is a historical biography highlighting diets, cooking styles, food trends, entertaining styles, etc. of six famous women throughout history. For the most part I thought this book was extremely fascinating, especially since I’ve spent a lot of time studying the history of certain dishes and recipes; as well as have always been drawn to a woman’s role in history.
However, there were a few parts of the book that were a little dull and I lost interest, causing me to skim through those sections. Even with that said, I would still recommend this book if you are into food, history and the evolving role of a woman in our culture over time!
8.The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker: 100 Delicious Recipes for Easy Everyday Meals – by Vianney Rodriguez – Sadly, this was the only cookbook I managed to “read” and cook through in 2018. I love doing cookbook reviews, but they can be a lot of work, so unfortunately, I don’t cook through as many cookbooks as I would like. But, since Vianney is a friend of mine, I had to make sure I read and tried some of the amazing recipes in this cookbook!
You can read my full cookbook review of The Tex-Mex Slow Cooker, here. I really recommend this book if you like Tex-Mex food, as there are a TON of great authentic recipes in this book, with all of them easily made in the slow cooker!
What did you read in 2018? Have you read any of the books I shared above? What were your thoughts?
And so far, my 2019 reading list includes the following books, but I’d love your recommendations!
2019 Reading List:
- Becoming – by Michelle Obama
- Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be – by Rachel Hollis
- The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness – by Dave Ramsey
- Big Stone Gap: A Novel – by Adriana Trigiani
- Next Year in Havana – by Chanel Cleeton
- The Pretty Dish: More than 150 Everyday Recipes and 50 Beauty DIYs to Nourish Your Body Inside and Out -by Jessica Merchant
- Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits – by Reese Witherspoon
- Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering – by Joanna Gaines
- My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: A Cookbook – by Ruth Reichl
- Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes – by Gina Homolka