Julia Child Rules

julia child rules

Julia Child Rules
Lessons on Savoring Life

Karen Karbo
Illustrations by Mark Steele
skirt!, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, 2013

From the dust jacket: “…Julia Child Rules dissects the life of the sunny, unpretentious chef, author, cooking show star, and bon vivant, with an eye towards learning how we, too, can savor life.

“…{the author} takes us for a spin through Julia’s life: from her idyllic childhood in California to her confusing young adulthood in New York, her years working for the OSS in Sri Lanka, her world-class love affairs with Paris and Paul Child, and her decades as America’s beloved French chef. {The author} weaves in her own personal experiences and stops for import life lessons along the way: how to live by your whims, make the world your oyster, live happily married, work hard, and enjoy a life of full immersion. It celebrates Julia’s indomitable spirit and irrepressible joy, giving readers a taste of what it means to master the art of living.”

Julia Child was an amazing woman and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life. The author wrote about Julia in a way one might write to a friend about another friend. It is friendly, warm and funny and far from one of those staid, traditional, (and some may say, dry) biographies. It is inspirational and thought provoking, especially with the ‘Rules’ with which the book was tied together. Some of my favorites were: “Rule 1: Live with Abandon; Rule #3: Learn to be Amused; Rule #4: Obey Your Whims; Rule #6: To Be Happy, Work Hard; Rule #7: Solve the Problem in Front of You.” All good rules for any one follow, but the main overall thought is to accept who you are and be that person. Julia knew she would never win any beauty contest but she accepted that fact and was happy and successful anyway. She lived every moment of her life until she lived no more. Her life had just as many valleys and peaks as any of us has, yet she accepted the moments, both good and awful, for what they were and then moved on, still excited about the next step.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for providing inspiration to get out of bed each morning and throw myself fully into my life, savoring it all.

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Angel Letters

angel letters

Angel Letters
 
Ballentine Books, 1991
 
After writing and publishing her book, A Book of Angels, hundreds of people wrote to the author telling their own angel stories. Those stories are compiled into this book, Angel Letters. “These experiences of healing, rescue, warning, and comfort, of angelic blessings seen and unseen, will bring solace, wonder, laughter, and inspiration to anyone who welcomes a little angelic intervention in everyday life.” (From the dust jacket, inside flap.)
 
The stories in this little book are really inspirational. Sometimes in this crazy world we need to be reminded that we are Loved and Looked After.  Here’s a story shared by the author – 
 
“I remember once I was in the desert without a hat. The sun beat down unmercifully. I thought, “I ought to have a hat; I’m going to get sunstroke.” And four hundred paces ahead, behind a rock, was a battered, torn straw hat. I clapped it on my head. This was before I understood that something—angels, a spiritual cavalry—is watching over us, waiting to be of help. And not to me alone but to all of us and all the time.  I took it as a lucky accident, that hat.”
 
 
As I read these stories, my skin rippled with goose pimples and I was truly amazed at some of them (one of my favorites was the elderly man on the side of the road that stopped a car from plowing head-on into a herd of deer in the dead of night. However, even as deeply as I believe in angels and the Presence of the Divine in my life – some of the stories were a little more difficult for me to believe – but then I realized, I don’t have to believe them. They weren’t my angels; those messages weren’t meant for me.
 
If you believe in angels – or even if you don’t – I hope you’ll find this book to be inspiring, or at the very least, thought provoking.
 
Rating:  4 paws
 
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack

Gift from the Sea

Gift_from_the_sea_by_anne_morrow_liGift from the Sea
 
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Pantheon Books, 1997, 1955
 
 
From the back of the book, “A modern-day classic here are Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s elegant and wise meditations on youth and age, love and marriage, solitude, peace, and contentment, as she set the down during a brief vacation by the ocean. She helps us see ways to reconcile our most deeply personal needs with obligations to family, friends, lovers, and work, ways to separate loneliness from replenishing solitude, and ways to find solace in the simplest of daily tasks. Now more than ever, Gift from the Sea serves as a spiritual compass guiding us toward inner tranquility in the face of life’s deeper questions.”
 
I loved this book. It is going on my wish list to add to my library. There is so much nourishment contained within its pages that it deserves – no, demands – to be read once a year. This one reading only scratched the surface if the treasure within. I read it slowly – had to renew it once at the library – as to savor the words and lessons. And there are lessons to be learned and applied to my life. Lessons that are just as meaningful today as the time in which they were originally written.  First published in 1955, her insight into the world and its foibles is just as apropos today as it was then. This quote is timely despite its age:
 
The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold.  Or rather—for I believe the heart is infinite—modern communications loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life-span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. I cannot marry all of them, or bear them all as children, or care for them all as I would my parents in illness or old age. Our grandmothers, and even—with some scrambling—our mothers, lived in a circle small enough to let them implement in action most of the impulses of their hearts and minds. We were brought up in a tradition that has now become impossible, for we have extended our circle throughout space and time.
 
I love the way the author writes – it is quiet, lyrical, and soothing. Like a cup of cool water on a hot day or a mug of hot chocolate on a cold night.
 
“The sea does no reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
 
Rating:  5 paws
 
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
220px-CharlesLindbergh22 Of interest: Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh, of flying solo across the Atlantic fame and mother of  the infamous kidnapping and subsequent murder of her son, Charles Lindbergh, Jr.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book

goldneEverything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book
Golden Books, Random House, 2013
          From the forward by the author: “Dear Reader, If you are like most Americans, you grew up with Little Golden Books. … We at Golden Books think there’s a good chance that many of us learned pretty much everything that really matters about life from what we read between those sturdy, gilt-bound cardboard covers. … Our country has faced some hard times of late, and we’ve been forced to look at ourselves and how we’re living our lives. …Maybe this book can help you! After all, Little Golden Books were first published during the dark days of World War II, and they’ve been comforting people during trying times ever since – while gently teaching us a thing or two.”
          What a sweet book!  It is compilation of many illustrations from many different Little Golden Books and recaptioned to gently remind the reader to enjoy life. I loved it – but then I love those little books. Many of the illustrations were familiar to me and it was good to see favorite artists again (Eloise Wilkin, Gustaf Tenggren). But I also ran across some books that were new to me, ones that I’d like to read even all these years later!  It’s a great book to give a friend  – or even yourself – when they’re feeling like life has run them over. We love this book very much and although the copy we read is a library book, we wouldn’t mind having a copy for ourselves!!
4 pawsRating 4 out of 5 paws
simon 2 locReviewer: Simon

Romancing the Ordinary

loc romancing the ordinary 0807Romancing the Ordinary
A Year of Simple Splendor
Sarah Ban Breathnach
The Simple Abundance Press, an Imprint of Scribner, 2002
          From the back cover: “…author Sarah Ban Breathnach takes readers to a new level of personal fulfillment and spiritual awareness as they learn to rediscover and savor the sensual experience of daily life. . . . Organized as a saunter through the year, Romancing the Ordinary celebrates the spirituality of the senses, seasonally and monthly. . . . encouraging [women] to delight in the often overlooked gifts of every day—from the aroma of simmering homemade spaghetti sauce to the sensation of freshly laundered linen against the bare skin. . ..”
          This book offers a reading for each day of the year – and like many other books of its type the writings are grouped together by month. She includes seasonal poems, rituals, and ideas for learning to become aware of who the reader truly is. The author focuses on the here and now, the physical plane of existence, and only touches on the spiritual. Ms Breathnach’s writing style is effortless and beautiful, which really reflects all the love and devotion she put into writing it. She borrows liberally from other writer’s thoughts, including insightful quotes from obscure sources; because of those quotes or mentions in the meditations, I have read several other books on spirituality.
          I picked up this copy up at a thrift store based solely on the author’s name – I’ve read her spiritual writings before and they have always brought a great deal of inspiration. But because I have little time to read I always want to make the most of what I do read.  Unfortunately this book didn’t live up to my expectations or needs. My spirit craves inspirational writings and my spirit was not satisfied with this book. I guess because I’ve read the author’s Simple Abundance three times, I expected to find more spiritual nourishment – but at the end I find I am just as hungry (spiritually) as I was when I started it. That’s not necessarily the author’s fault. Maybe I’m not in the emotional place to indulge in the sensual pleasures of a physical existence. Maybe in another lifetime I was a cloistered monk and find catering to physical/sensual desires a bit too self-indulgent and self-absorbing. Maybe that’s the point of the book. Maybe it’s just simply not the book for me. I can only provide my feelings toward the book and I do not come away anywhere near feeling satisfied or better for having read it.
2 pawsRating: Were I rating based solely on the content, the writing style, and the author’s knowledge of her subject, it would rate out as a 4 out of 5 paws. But because this rating system is entirely personal and subjective, I have no choice but to rate it a 2 out of 5 paws. But don’t let that deter you from reading it. You may well enjoy it!!
IMG_1067Reviewer: Jack
We read this book as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge, 2016!
Topic: Read a Romance (this is stretching the topic a bit because we don’t read romances and after all, this book is about romancing yourself!)
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