Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: "Bread & Wine" by Shauna Niequist

Bread & Wine Shauna Niequist
Published: April 9, 2013
ISBN-10: 0310328179
Genre: Memoir
Source: Shauna Niequist
Highly Recommended

Summary (from the back of the book):
As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table.

Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together.  This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir.  Bread & Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table.  It's about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them.  It's about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.

With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread & Wine.

My thoughts:
My husband sometimes talks about having a spiritual guru, someone who can guide you in your faith journey.  I know people look up to Anne Lamott or Marianne Williamson.  For me, it is Shauna Niequist.  From the moment I opened her first book, Cold Tangerines, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit.

That being said, it is no surprise that I jumped at the opportunity to review this book.  But, I have a confession: I was a little apprehensive.  You see, I used to be the foodie girl.  I'd eat at the best restaurants, take gourmet cooking classes, try all the hip recipes...and then, something happened.  That something was having children and all of a sudden cooking became a chore and something that I dreaded.  So, when I found out what the subject of Shauna Niequist's new book was, I was worried that I wouldn't connect with it as I had her other two books.

I was wrong.  I can't be critical about this book because I loved every bit of it.  Niequist's welcoming writing style and dry humor invite you in and her stories of food, family, friendship and faith keep you at the table.  And there are recipes!  And some of the recipes are gluten free (we're trying to go gluten free in our house)!  And then something strange happened....

I wanted to cook.  And not just something that I had to open and warm up or throw in the crock pot.  Now, I wanted to cook a full meal--for people.  A lot of people.

It isn't that there is anything magical about food itself.  But when you bring people together around the table, magic does happen.  Guards come down, authentic selves appear.  In a world where people tend to eat and dash, we miss out on this fundamental human experience and Shauna Niequist not only illustrates how important it is, but how to bring it back.

I know that some people will see that this is a book from a Christian publishing house and will immediately turn away.  I beg you not to do that.  Yes, Shauna Niequist is a Christian and it is part of her being, but this book truly has a universal appeal.  And, yes, she talks about her faith, but not in a way that seems she is trying to convert you to anything (other than cooking).  And for those of you who are Christians, you will find this a spiritually fulfilling memoir.

I want to have the community she describes.  I want to have my best friends over to cook a meal together (is anyone game?).  I want to sit around the table and open my soul to others.  And I want to try those bacon-wrapped dates!

About Shauna Niequist:
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life--friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.

I was given a copy of this book to review.  All opinions are mine and mine alone and I receive no other compensation for this review.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, thank you! What a lovely post--you've made my day. And you'll love the dates. :) XO --Shauna