Skip to Content

A Simple Christmas and other book reviews

At the beginning of the year I made a list of books I wanted to read and thought I’d post reviews of them each month. While I’ve read most of the books on my list, I haven’t done many reviews. So while most of these were not on my original list – I really have a hard time sticking to a list – I thought I’d share a few of what I’ve been reading lately.

A Simple Christmas {Celebrating and Savoring}
This is Crystal’s (of Money Saving Mom) new ebook. This ebook is pretty short (under 50 pages) and yet is really just what I need this time of year. There’s encouragement to not get trapped into the chaos and craziness that happens both financially and emotionally. There’s a great section about helping our children be gracious and generous. And as is customary for Crystal’s books there’s practicle steps at the end of each chapter for you do (things you decide on – like going on a date with your spouse)

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
When I brought this book home from the library and put it on the end table I received some raised eyebrows from family and friends. But you know what, I don’t have to agree with everything someone else believes to respect something they’ve done. I greatly respect the time and effort that Mrs. Obama has spent in encouraging people to begin growing food and eating better. I got some great ideas about what I want my garden to look like in the future from this book. And there were some recipes that looked great from the White House Kitchen staff. And, of course, there are beautiful photos.

This book is written about the community of gardening. Meaning that for most people gardening isn’t an individual activity. Even if no one helps you maintain the garden there’s usually others who benefit from it and that helps create community. There’s a large section about community gardens across the nation that is truly inspiring.

One element that I think is missing from this book is the personal responsibility of growing your own food. There was alot of talk about donating and sharing your excess with those in need – which I love- but I think that people in need also need to experience how empowering it is to provide for themselves. Gardening is a small way in which people can begin to rely less on the governement or others. Obviously, there are some people whose living situations do not allow for a garden but some do.

Homemade Pantry:  101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making
I first found out about this book from a magazine ( I think it was Martha Stewart’s Living) and as soon as my library had it in stock I put a hold on it. I read it over the course of a weekend and proceeded to make a couple of the recipes (the cheese crackers were wonderful). After I returned it to the library I kept thinking about all the recipes I didn’t get to try so I broke down and bought a copy. I’m so glad that I did.

Along with the 101 recipes there’s heartwarming stories about the author and her family. I love that throughout the book the focus is on being healthy and not on weight or body shape. There’s also a focus on slowing down and enjoying the process – something that I need to constantly be reminding myself.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself
Often when I’m trying to be helpful to my husband and it doesn’t turn out like I think it will and I say, “I was just trying to be helpful .” He says, “It’s only helpful if it actually helps.” (Like when I took out the tile around our bathtub while he was away at summer camp and he came home to a big hole in the wall)

I think “It’s only helpful if it actually helps” could be the motto of this book. This is a very thought provoking book and to be honest is taking me a little longer to read that I thought it would. I find myself going back and rereading chapters or segments to fully understand what the authors are trying to communicate.

What I really appreciate about this book the statement that Christ is the answer for both spiritual and material poverty. Now that doesn’t mean that other things can’t or shouldn’t be done to help those in need but it does mean that when we keep Christ in the center we will not shame the poor in our effort to help them. It means that we will be prayerful and thoughtful of our help. As our family prays about what our role is in alleviating poverty I’m thankful for these men and their research and experience.

What have you been reading lately?

Thanks for sharing with your friends!


Wednesday 14th of November 2012

I love Taste of Home. What a great idea for your daughter.

Rachel E.

Tuesday 13th of November 2012

I bought a few cookbooks from Taste of Home website for my daughter's hope chest. They are having a fantastic $5 sale. I also bought a table cloth with napkins for $5.