During our Chicago trip last week, I felt extremely burned out.
Over the last year, I’ve been working more than I ever have (except maybe my last year as an undergrad when I was working three jobs and taking a full class load, or . . . maybe my second year of grad school when I was working three jobs and taking a full class load. I am basically incapable of saying no to a job offer, obviously), and I was just at the end of my rope.
So instead of working through every nap time and after the girls went to bed (which is what I do at home), I pulled out Bread and Wine and read on the couch. (Except for the night we watched the latest episode of Once Upon a Time).
It was the best kind of vacation.
I think I would have enjoyed just about any book I’d read last week, but this was the absolutely the perfect book.
First off, I love any book about food. If you’ve read my blog for a while, that’s no surprise to you. I bookmarked at least half of the recipes to make as soon as I got home. Goat cheese biscuits? Dark chocolate sea salted toffee? Blueberry and peach breakfast crisp? You don’t have to ask twice.
Secondly, a good chunk of the Bread and Wine book takes place in Chicago, so it was fun to be reading it interspersed with outings to the very restaurants and neighborhoods she was referencing in her book.
Also Shauna (yes, I feel like we are on a first-name basis, and besides when we were flying out of Chicago, the flight attendant noticed me reading this book and told me that she and Shauna went to the same high school and now attend the same church. So, we’d totally be friends), is hilariously funny.
bread and wine by shauna niequist
In a chapter on her struggle with secondary infertility, she talked about fighting the feeling that, if only she were pregnant, everything in her life would be better:
At one point, I told Aaron, “Pregnant is the new skinny.” What I meant is, if you know me at all, you know that one of my most cracked-up, terribly errant beliefs is that skinny people are always happy. Because I think I would be happy all day long if I was skinny. If something upset me, I would just look down at my long, skinny legs — happiness! If my heart was broken, I’d just put on a bikini — and that sadness would vanish.
I know this isn’t true. I know this is crazy talk. I know miserable skinny people. But I confess that sometimes I want to shake them: I know, I know, this or that has got you down, but find a three-way mirror and look at your butt. Don’t you feel better now? I know I would.
I mean, how can you not love a person who writes that kind of thing?
I really appreciated how similar her philosophy on having people over is to my own. People don’t care if your house is perfect. They just want to feel welcomed, included, and loved. And she makes a new recipe practically every time she has people over, which is just the kind of person I am (yes, that’s my idea of living on the wild side).
I loved reading about her family, the eventual birth of her second child (hooray!), and her really sweet and insightful thoughts about friendship and family. And there was a whole chapter in the Bread and Wine book about unplugging and just living your life, which was basically exactly what I needed to read last week.
Mainly, reading this Bread ad Wine book just made me feel deeply happy. I like books that are fun or suspenseful or romantic or funny. But a book that makes me happy? I just can’t ask for much more.
I’ve been to the library twice since I finished the book and I can’t bring myself to return it yet. I’m probably going to have to buy my own copy. And copies of her previous books too.