What I Read This Winter

Since having a baby, I haven’t had quite so much opportunity to read. However, we have been blessed with a wonderful night sleeper, and while her naps vary greatly depending on a number of different reasons, at least she does usually do a bit of napping!

So it’s been a while since I did any book reviews, but I thought I would let you know some of the books I have been able to read over the past few months…

Books I Read This Winter:

Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

This was such a refreshing read. It was not quite what I expected, but I love that it is a breath of fresh air after the many many books out there claiming to have the answers to parenting problems just as long as you do things their way. Lisa-Jo’s chronicle of her journey from never-wanting-kids to stay-at-home-mum-of-three is a gorgeous one, and her stance on the need to ban “mommy guilt” and instead give ourselves grace and recognize the amazing role we have been called to as mothers is one that has lit a fire in my own belly. This book is one that you can read (as I did) in just a few days, and although her language is sometimes a little overly descriptive for my taste, it is still easy to read and enchantingly evocative.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

This was the single most useful and practical book I have read this winter. I love Crystal’s easy style, and her book was very very easy to work with. I was inspired to put her advice into practice, and feel more on top of things and generally more peaceful as a result. I have heard some of what she said before from various places, but it was nice to have them all in one book with practical notes on how to apply them. If you are a busy parent who is trying to juggle a lot of different plates and feel like you are on the verge of burning out (what parent hasn’t been there in today’s busy world?!), then this book could be amazingly helpful to you!

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

What can I say, there is always room for a Terry Pratchett book. 🙂 I was so sad to hear of his passing recently. I have been really really enjoying the Sam Vimes-based books in his Discworld series, and have actually just finished another of them called Jingo. I do read other fiction (I go through phases of mostly fiction or mostly nonfiction – currently in nonfiction mode as you can tell), but for some reason Pratchett has been the main recurring author recently, other than J K Rowling, whose Harry Potter books make a regular appearance on my reading lists.

Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob

I just finished this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I ended up skipping a couple of chapters because I didn’t feel they were particularly relevant to me, but Jacob is an expert in the food-writing industry, and I really valued her advice. I love writing the Food section of this blog and would like to take that writing and recipe-creating a little further, so I wanted to read her book to get a little insight into what that may look like. If you are a food writer (or want to be a food writer) of any description (blogging, freelancing, restaurant critic, cookbook reviewer or writer, etc.), this is the book to read. It kept appearing on blogs as a number one suggestion for aspiring food writers, so I felt it was worth a shot, and I’m glad I gave it that chance. It’s 100% worth it.

Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease by Dr Robert Lustig

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is absolutely life-changing and well written by someone who is clearly extremely well-versed in what he is talking about, as a doctor who has worked with children suffering from obesity and metabolic syndrome for almost 20 years. His knowledge is unbelievable, his research is thorough, and his advice is applaudable. If there is a downside to this book, I would say it is perhaps in the way it can sometimes come across a little bleak (he does suggest that until we get the government and general ‘big-wigs’ involved in the no-sugar movement, the rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome will be unlikely to change significantly for the better), but he does give some very good tips and explanations regarding the little bit we can do both on a personal level (in our diet and our family’s), and on a more national/global level (appealing to government figures). In a world where so many parents don’t recognise both the signs and causes of obesity in their children (and themselves), and statistics show that chances are, my daughter will be obese as the rate continues to rise, I feel better equipped to protect her from this because of this book! I also like Dr Lustig’s helpful new traffic light system shopping list that helps start you off in the early days of what can feel like quite daunting shopping when trying to quit or at least seriously reduce sugar content.

I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar for Life by Sarah Wilson

I won’t write much about these books as I have done an entire series on the topic! But these books absolutely changed my life and I would recommend them without hesitation to anyone who is curious about sugar and its effect on our life and health. It is a much lighter, more practical version of the information in Dr Robert Lustig’s Fat Chance, and a good precursor to it.


The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Despite her often less-than-flattering depictions of my faith, I actually love Joanne Harris as a writer. I went to a session she ran at the Oxford Literary Festival last year, and I was content to find that she is just as enchanting in person as on paper. During the session, she was mostly publicising her new book, which was a departure from her usual style, but was for her a ‘going back to the start’ of where she fell in love with literature – through Nordic myths. My mum, who is also a big fan and was with me at the time, bought a copy and got it signed, and I borrowed it from her to read this winter. I read it quickly and enjoyed it, but I have to say, it is not quite up to her usual standard. It is probably still better than many many fiction books out there, but having read so many wonderful Joanne Harris stories before, I was a little disappointed that this didn’t quite live up to my expectations of her.

Yes, it is a good book, and I’m glad I read it. I enjoyed it, but would probably not read it again. The stories within it are funny and interesting, and – as she always does – Harris just gets how small communities work and the good and bad that can be found within them. But having got used to her beautifully accurate and truly magical portrayals of village-life in France, her mouth-watering descriptions of food, and her wonderfully in-depth and enticing character developments, I found this book just fell short. Guess I’ll just have to go back to the Chocolat series!

Simplify by Joshua Becker

I have just purchase Joshua’s Clutterfree with Kids for my Kindle, because I so enjoyed this one. He makes a minimalist/clutter-free lifestyle seem easy, and gives you little, easy-to-manage steps to get you there. I love his philosophy and practical approach to it. Very cheap to buy on Amazon, and definitely worth it! It’s also a really short book, and doesn’t take long to read at all.

If you are interested in Joshua Becker’s philosophy and want to find out more, check out his website: Becoming Minimalist.


I’ve got some great books lined up for spring now, which I am already digging into, including one particularly exciting read which a friend of mine has recently published! 🙂 Looking forward to sharing them with you.


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