Wednesday, May 15, 2013

currently reading: Bread & Wine





I loved this book.  And, just to be clear, I've never begun a book review that way!  

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes is Shauna Niequist's third book.  Unlike many other reviewers, I knew little about Niequist before I began the book.  Really, I only knew that she was a blogger, but I'd never even visited her site.  But with this book, she won me over.  It felt like I was hearing from a kinded spirit and, over and over, I found myself nodding, crying, laughing and drawing little pencil hearts in the margin to mark my favorite points.   
The book is arranged into four sections, each consisting of about 10 essays.  Most of the essays are followed by a recipe referenced therein.  I liked the essay format because it was easy to read a little at a time.  Food, of course, is the predominate theme throughout the book, but addition topics include Christianity, infertility, miscarriage, family, friends, body image/self-confidence, parenting, hospitality and running.  Her life was transparent in these pages.  Sometimes that was hilarious, for instance, when she talks about training to run a marathon ("the runners themselves kind of freaked me out").  Other times the honesty was sobering and convicting.  The essay 'Hail Mary' made me cry as she talked about being all alone in the hospital with a very sick baby and I thought of my own baby and how terrifying that would be.

Niequist is a foodie.  She admits to obsessing over dinner parties and getting carried away when planning events.  But it didn't come across as snobby.  In fact, what I loved about the book was that she urged the reader to 'Start Where You Are' (the title of one essay).  She says to "order pizza and serve it with a green salad and a bottle salad dressing."  In other words: don't let not being a perfect chef stop you from entertaining.  This same idea was seen in another essay 'Open the Door' where talked about hosting in less-than-perfect situations (e.g. a tiny apartment).  Over and over again, you see how Niequist sees food as a way to connect with people.  And that's what I loved.  This book was about food, yes, but it was about more than that.  

As I said before, I knew very, very little about Niequist before this book.  Through reading the book, I picked up on the fact that her parents must be well-known.  A quick Google search told me that she is the daughter of Bill and Lynne Hybels (the founders of Willow Creek Church).  Near the end of the book, she mentions hosting a dinner for a family friend named Shane.  As she described a little more about him I realized was Shane Claiborne.  While Niequist could have done a lot of name-dropping throughout the book (it's clear that her family is well-connected), I appreciated that she didn't.  She just wrote.  She was simply honest and, with that, she won me over.

Since I'd never read any of her other writing (blog or books), I do wonder if this could have felt like a repeat to some readers.  I have read other books by bloggers and, sometimes, it seems that they simply recycle their blog material and turn it into a book.  So much of this book is based on Niequist's life, so there may be repeated stories from other places.

When the book first arrived, I was itching to open it, but I had another book/review I needed to finish first.  So I just read the first essay.  I read a little aloud to my husband because I was so struck by it and he said, "I can already tell you're going to like this book.  This book is you."  We love trying new foods and I cook a lot, so I loved reading her descriptions and I'm looking forward to trying the recipes (tomorrow we're making the watermelon feta salad!).  Overall, I loved this book: the stories, the writing and (hopefully) the recipes.  I think it's a beautiful read for anyone who sees food and hospitality as an act of love.  One word of warning:  reading this will make you hungry!  :)



**I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.



4 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book!
    Thanks for sharing!
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. You convinced me....I am reserving this book from the library! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You persuaded me....I reserved a copy from my library! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mrs. Scott, you'll have to let me know what you think!!!

    ReplyDelete

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