Just Read

The Simple Life – Rhonda Hetzel

Genre: Memoir, self-help, simplifying life, home memoir, non-fiction

This book is about the author’s real-life attempts to lead what she calls ‘the simple life’, after she and her husband managed to buy a house and when her kids were grown-up and independent. She doesn’t claim that the way she lives now is the only way to live, or that this will work for everyone, but she does talk about the number of ways in which this type of living has impacted her.

I read The Simple Life at a time when I started thinking about going back to a slower pace of life, of paring down to the things and activities that I really need and love, of home-cooked food and fresh ingredients that are largely free of chemicals. The book is quite short and, in fact, reads more like a booklet on the main points you would need to consider if you are considering leading a simpler life. I wish the author had gone into a bit more detail about each of the points she has discussed- that would have made it a much better read for me. That said, I still think it was still an above-average read.

The author’s philosophy of life and the step-by-step way she planned out everything is impressive. I could relate to her writing, brief as it is. The book inspired me to do more with my life, with the resources I have at hand, and I can only imagine how impactful the book would have been if the author had gone into further detail!

I would totally recommend this book, if you have been thinking about switching over to a simpler life, too. I am not sure if this book will give you everything you need, but it will definitely give you a direction. If you have never read this kind of book before, this is a great place to start, because there is information enough to get you inspired and thinking, but not enough to overwhelm you. Why don’t you check it out?

Have you read this post and this one that I wrote earlier about The Simple Life? Please do, if you haven’t already. The author also has a blog called Down To Earth, which is very inspiring, too. Down To Earth also happens to be the name of another book by the author, which I would love to read, too. Another book of hers, called The Simple Home, is slated for release in 2016, again something I would love to read!

Dinner: A Love Story – Jenny Rosenstrach

Genre: Cookbook, non-fiction, memoir, food, food memoir

Dinner: A Love Story is about how the author, Jenny, and her husband, Andy, grew up with a lot of fond memories about home-cooked dinners at tables populated by dear family members and friends. It is about Jenny and Andy wanted their children to have the same kind of memories at the dinner table, too, and committed to having the entire family eat at least one meal, consisting of the same foods, together. It is about following through on that commitment in spite of obstacles along the way – like hectic work schedules, laziness, growing-up children, the dilemma of just how much processed food to include in one’sΒ  meals and how much to make from scratch, and so on and so forth. All in all, the book was an enjoyable read for me. I wouldn’t say it is the best book I have read this year, but it definitely was a lovely, inspiring read.

Part of the book is a memoir, about the foods that the author and her husband grew up eating and the meals that they cooked for their kids and friends. Partly, the book is a how-to guide, including things like making a spouse who is not at all interested in cooking a part of your family-dinner-every-day-at-home commitment. Part of it is cookbook, including recipes for the foods that the author mentions in the book. I couldn’t much relate to the cookbook part – and parts of the memoir – considering that the book is meant for an American audience and Indian dinners are something else altogether (actually, ‘food’ in India and ‘family’ in India are very different from America – something only an Indian brought up in India will understand, I think!). I did love the parts of the memoir where the author speaks about her food memories – that is a language anyone, anywhere in the world will understand. πŸ™‚

It is not easy to put a cooked-from-scratch (at least mostly), self-made dinner on the family table night after night after night, especially when there are kids involved and when both parents are working. I can say that from experience. I admire the author for working out her own equation to make her dinner commitment work – that is quite inspiring. The author talks about her dinner goof-ups and cheat meals to make the dinner idea work, which make her sound like a normal human like you and me, and not some robot-like woman with superpowers. That is, again, something I liked about the book. I also liked the fact that the author’s voice is very honest, and definitely relatable. The book gave me some practical tips on how to successfully have at least one home-made meal with my family every day, for which I am grateful.

Would I recommend this book? I would say yes, if you believe in the power of home-made food and family meals, if you like foodie memoirs in general, and like reading about people’s trysts with food in different forms.

Thank you, Trish, for writing about this book on your blog. Without your post, I might never have found this one!

The author also has a blog by the same name, Dinner: A Love Story. The blog came first, and then the book took shape. The blog makes for a nice read, too. Do take a look!

Have you read any or both of these books? What are your thoughts about them?

What are you reading at the moment?

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Just Read

    1. @Perspectivesandprejudices

      Well, I have never lived out of India, so what I am about to say is based on what I have heard and read about life out of India. In India, there’s very little baking that happens in regular homes on an everyday basis (as far as lunches and dinners are concerned). Most of the cooking happens on gas stoves, which involves slow cooking, and standing and watching over the dish. Out of India, pasta, pizzas, sandwiches and breads in various forms as well as baked dishes constitute a major part of everyday meals – many of these things have a considerable hands-off time while cooking.

      In India, it is considerably easy to get fresh vegetables (not off supermarket shelves!), which I am not sure happens out of India.

      In India, food is often a bone of contention between MILs and DILs, which I am sure is not the case outside India. Then, there’s the joint family system in India too, which means veggies get chopped relatively easily with plenty of help (sometimes, at least). Babies get watched over while a family member cooks. In that case, it is relatively easier to put a home-made dinner on the table.

      Out of India, I find a lot of store-bought mayonnaise, cheese and other things going into dinners, which I don’t think is the case in India, at least not on an everyday basis.

      That’s all I can think of at the moment. I hope this helps! πŸ™‚

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      1. Ah that’s really interesting. Having grown up and lived in India for the first 24 years of my life, and living in the US now, I think I agree with everything you say here. There is a massive amount of processed food that goes into making even regular dinner/lunch items. My cooking has evolved to include a lot of baking (mostly savory dishes – not much of a pastry/cake baker) simply because my apartment came with an oven so I started experimenting. It definitely makes cooking much simpler, which is crucial considering you don’t have much help here. Really interesting comment and it got me thinking.. thanks for replying πŸ™‚ Happy New Year to you and your family!

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  1. Hey.. I liked the review of The Simple Life.. I’ll try to get that.. It sounds good.. πŸ™‚

    I had just finished Twinkle Khanna’s book- Mrs Funny Bones and right now reading “Selected works of Rabindranath Tagore”. It’s a collection of his three novels. First one is The Wreck… So far it’s quite intriguing…

    I think, I’ll write a review once I’m done.. πŸ˜‰ what say!!!

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