This time of year is reading season for me. While other seasons seemed to be packed full of evening activities, on most of the post-holiday cold and chilly nights you’ll find me cuddled up with a book. Follow along for my top 5 recent reads that I’m thrilled to say are all written by fabulous females!
1. Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman (Cookbook)
This cookbook is the whole package. It’s stylish, modern-kitsch photography is worthy of a coffee table, and I find I enjoy Ms. Roman’s hilariously-deadpan writing as much as her recipes. Let’s just say if I could invite anyone to a dinner party right now, Roman would be on the top of my list (or better yet she’d invite me over!). The overall message of the book, that entertaining having people over should not be arduous, but relaxing and fun is something I certainly need reminding from time-to-time. And while I don’t share the author’s anchovy obsession, we do share a love of citrus, herby salads, broccoli, and yes, wine. And in an era when we’re all trying to eat a little less meat, she has an amazing selection of vegetarian dishes that don’t disappoint. Favorite recipes include Scallops with Spicy Beans, Tomatillo, and Citrus, Lemony Turmeric Tea Cake, and Grilled Carrots with Limey Hot Sauce and Cotija.
2. Pacific Natural by Jenni Kayne (Lifestyle and Cookbook)
You know you’ve got something good on your hands when queen Marta (Stewart) writes the forward! I was drawn to Kayne’s lifestyle book Pacific Natural because I too live on the West coast and love to cook and entertain, and was not disappointed by the materials therein. Broken out by season, the book’s primary focus is on entertaining, with an abundance of beautiful table settings, party ideas, recipes, and craft projects. With its focus on natural setting and materials, the book’s photography is muted, rustic, romantic, and looks lovely on my coffee table if I do say so myself. I hosted a version of Kanye’s chocolate fondue party this Valentine’s Day, and can’t wait to make my own garden-grown floral tea this Fall and fire starters for Christmas gifts.
I love books that inspire me, and Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden, as evidenced by the several hundred sweet little bulbs poking their heads up in my pumpkin patch, did just that. After growing way more produce than my family could ever eat or preserve last year, Floret Farm’s book, which is based on their commercial flower operation in my home state of Washington, inspired me to add several flower beds. The book focuses on the basics of designing a cut flower garden by the seasons, and incudes beautifully-photographed instructions on planting, floral selection, and a variety of arrangements from bouquets, wreaths and even flower crowns. The authors identify several species of flowers to plant seasonally, calling out their favorite tried and true varietals, many of which you can order directly from their website.
4. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (Fiction)
My favorite people tend to be unapologetically, exactly who they are, which, is why I believe Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Olive, Again is the sequel to Strout’s Pulitzer-Prize winning Olive Kitteridge (which was also made into an HBO mini-series). The book finds Olive windowed, then on to her second marriage at the sunset of her life; she puts it best as “Imagine at my age, starting over again.” I’ll be honest, I was hesitant to pick up Olive, Again. I felt a little like a mother about to have her second child; there was simply no way I could love it as much as the first. But I was happily proven wrong (both with the book and the second child 😉). Written as a series of short-stories that Olive sometimes stars in, but also occasionally weaves in and out of, the prose beautifully captures the human condition in the everyday, with moment so raw and beautiful they took my breath away. And while the ending leaves another sequel unlikely, one can only hope for an Alive, Before in the near future.
5. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (Non-Fiction)
I’ll admit it, I was never particularly interested in reading this book. To start, I have a very poor reaction to anyone calling me girl or telling me what to do. But after enjoying a podcast by Hollis, seeing her book all over Audible and bookstores, I finally relented and downloaded an audiobook of Girl, Wash Your Face. And guess what; I thoroughly enjoyed it to the point where I’d look forward to commuting and cleaning, which is when I get in my audiobooks/podcast listening. Hollis got her start as an LA event planner, which later expanded into a career as a lifestyle blogger, author, and inspirational speaker. The book’s chapters focus on various aspects of Hollis’s life, including building a successful career, marriage, sex, motherhood, body image, and both mental and physical health. The book is vulnerable, honest, and not shy of providing tough-love advice for living your best life. As someone who loves herself a list, I particularly appreciated Hollis summing up each chapter with specific, concrete-strategies for getting past the things that often hold us back as women. NQM Tip: Elizabeth, No Qualms Mom Founder, really the audio version of this book with Rachel reading it aloud.
I’m always in need of a bit extra motivation and inspiration in the winter months, and these 5 books definitely hit the mark! What are you reading or inspired by these days? We’d love to hear it!
Feature photo by Angela Carlyle