Big Magic, a book review

A long time ago, I bought Eat, Pray, Love for my mom as a birthday present. That was a complete fail because she hated it. She thought the narrator was patronizing and silly. Oh well, that book ended up on my bookshelf, and I enjoyed it. We recently watched the movie, and it was good too. So when I went to the library and spotted Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I brought it home.

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This book focusses on creativity, inspiration and on how to include creativity in our lives. Great topic! I feel like often people are drawn to do things but will find themselves excuses not to go for it and will end up regretting it or not doing anything. Well, this book is the perfect cure for this “I want to, but I won’t” state of mind. Through short, funny and personal chapters, Gilbert explores the different ways in which creativity can be part of our lives and how we can let it be part of our lives.

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I have to say, I really preferred this book to Eat, Pray, Love because it feels more honest and more relatable to me. I really love that Gilbert uses personal examples from her path as a writer because it demystifies the whole thing while also bringing creativity to an everyday level. This is the perfect push in the back for anyone who has a project in mind but feels insecure or not qualified enough to embark on the “let’s do it” boat. Very inspiring and fun to read, this is a book to keep on your bedside table and to look at when you’re feeling uninspired. As the chapters are so short and independent, I feel like you could pick the book up, read a few pages, get creative and come back to it some time after for another shot of courage and inspiration. I will definitively put this one on my “To Find” list as I need to bring this copy back to the library soon.

Anyone else read this? What did you think of it?

3 inspiring cookbooks

It’s the end of the year, and I have been swamped with corrections, grades and cleaning up. So, I haven’t been in the kitchen seriously for a little while. Instead, I have been looking at my cookbooks, and well, found a few new exciting books. I love looking at these three amazing books because they are so well edited: the pictures are to die for, the instructions so clear, and the food incredibly dreamy! They are bound to give you some ideas and make you want to get in the kitchen right away!

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Deliciously Ella- Every Day, by Elle Woodward: If you are vegan and gluten-free you must have stumbled upon Ella’s amazing blog Deliciously Ella. I loved her first book, Deliciously Ella, but this new one is quite fun! Plenty of recipes and tips to get you eating healthy and, well, deliciously every meal of every day. I have to say I might try out her raw buckwheat bowl for breafast tomorrow morning, and give her zucchini banana bread and smoky eggplant dip a try this week-end. The esthetics of this book are also quite charming: soft colours and wonderful pictures make the food stand out and look so yummy!

Minimalist Baker’s- Everyday Cooking, by Dana Shultz: Another book by a blogger! Any burger lover will have stumbled upon Dana’s delicious sweet potato black beans burgers, or her Mexican green chili burgers. In this book you’ll find recipes for cashew soba noodles, chocolate-dunked peanut butter cookies, and cherry chocolate chip ice cream: sounds great to me! The pictures are colourful, the food is fun and exciting, and the recipes are so simple. This is such a great book for days when you feel uninspired: everything in this book is so appealing. The biggest challenge for me will be to decide on what to start with first!

Kansha- Celebrating Japan’s vegan and vegetarian traditions, by Elizabeth Andoh: This book is so beautiful and filled with interesting content. If you have any curiosity about Japanese cuisine, this is the perfect book to browse: detailed, filled with stories and vivid descriptions, this book is a gold mine of information. I’m particularly curious to explore the Tsukémono section: be ready for some pickles!

I hope these books will inspire you as much as they did me. Some of you might be wondering why I bought books that come from blogs. Well, there are two main reasons for this. The first one, I love books! There is something quite magical in looking at a cookbook and turning page after page to discover more delicious recipes. The second reason is that it is so important to support creators whose work we enjoy. Anyways, I really can wait to experiment and try out recipes from these wonderful guides. Let me know if you have any of these or other recommendations.

2 books to make you feel good!

I’m not big on self-help books, but this week-end I found a new one that is really funny, and rediscovered an old time favourite. These books are the perfect books if you are looking for quick reads as they books that you can pick up, read a few pages, leave and come back to a few days later. They’ll give you a push in the back to get out there and do you!

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The new one: Cours Toutoune, by Geneviève Gagnon: Unfortunately only available in French, this is a simple, colorful and super down to earth guide to running. Geneviève is super funny and lives by a simple philosophy: just get out there! Her tone is really encouraging while shattering all the excuses you might have for not exercising and taking care of yourself. Each page is a different tip so you can easily read a page once in a while when your motivation lowers and say goodbye to all those silly excuses!

The favourite: The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin: This books hardly needs any introduction. For the little story, Gretchen decided to give herself a year to increase her happiness. This book is her tips, tricks and experiences with happiness. Each chapter tackles a different aspect of life and is filled with anecdotes, steps and ideas to make your life easier and ultimately make you a happier person. Her 10 rules are filled with common sense, yet are so relevant. I really recommend this book because there is something for everyone!

Let me know what are your favourite motivational books or if you’ve read any of these!

Summer is coming!

With the warm weather coming back, I have but one thing on my mind: TRAVEL! Every time I hop in the car or on the bus, I feel like shouting, “To infinity and beyond!”

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However, as we don’t have any trips planned for this summer, I’m starting to think that exploring our province would be a good alternative. To help me in my quest for the perfect outing, I have selected four books. I hope they might inspire you to check out your piece of map a little this summer too!

  1. Prenez le champ! by Julie Aubé: This is a new one coming out this week. I was so intrigued by this book that I decided to go check out the book release and bought it there on Monday night. I really didn’t feel too cool with my bright orange raincoat while everyone else was cruising along with drinks in their hands, but the book is amazing! It is filled with itineraries regrouping different farms and local producers. I’m really excited to go explore Québec’s countryside, coasting from food stop farm to farm. The book in itself is also really well made with hand-drawn maps, amazing pictures and descriptions that really make you want to leave right away to go taste Mr Poncelet’s asparagus or go wine tasting on Orleans Island.
  2. Le Montréal Gourmand de Philippe Mollé, Ulysse: Philippe Mollé used to have a cooking show that I would religiously watch with my mom. Our excitement when meeting him last winter at the Salon des Métiers d’Art, where he was selling a really nice maple syrup, was just ridiculous. He was charming, and so we bought maple syrup, and I took out this book again. Filled with restaurant and café recommendations all in Montreal, this is a great companion for those week-ends when you don’t feel like going out too far. Some suggestions are even vegan!
  3. Escapades au Québec, La Presse: This is a really beautiful book filled with amazing pictures of the nicest places to visit in the province. There’s something for everyone: lovers, kids, hermits (traveling separately), beach enthusiasts, foodies and more. I wish I had enough time to visit each one of these wonderful spots!
  4. Randonnée pédestre au Québec, Ulysse: Because I will probably double in size this summer (I blame the incredible food all the other books are promoting), I want to select some hikes too. Québec has a great variety of landscapes ranging from fields to beaches, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of the great outdoors during the summer! This book is really well put together with tips, maps and difficulty levels for each hike.

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I feel like it will be impossible to choose from the amazing selection these books bring forward! I’m really excited to skim through them and to discover new favourites. Let me know if you have any recommendations, or if you have fun travel plans for the summer!

The Forgotten Garden, a book review

When we were in San Francisco, we visited the Book Passage book store situated in the Ferry Building. There, I bought a used copy of the book The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton. It took me a while to get to this book, as my book stash is overbooked (pun intended, eheh). Once started however, it took my a week to finish it. Now,I am a little bit sad to let it go.

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The story starts with the death of a grandmother who has had a strange life as she was first found alone on an Australian wharf at four years old. As the story unravels, we learn about her mysterious family story, and about the elusive Authoress and her fairy tales (which are included in the book). Cassandra, the granddaughter, sets off to Cornwall where an unknown house awaits her…

What I really love about this piece of writing is that the story goes back and forth between the present (2005) and the past (1900’s). This helps the reader learn things as the characters set in the present do. The mystery surrounding the Moutrachet family thickens up and keeps you turning the pages to know, finally, why this child has been abandoned on a boat set for Australia with only a fairy tale book to keep her company.

This book is clearly the adult version of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, with clear references made about this author (she even makes an apparition in the story!), and the secret walled garden guarded by a dark maze playing a central role in the plot. Is it as good as the children’s book? Yes! All the elements are there: spooky manor, enchanting garden, secrets, doctors, lively cousins, friendship and family grudges.

Set both in Australia and England, this is the book for you if you like family stories, fairy tales and mysteries. I highly recommend it! Let me know if you have any recommendations or thoughts about this book!

Book Review: Easy reads, great laughs!

Usually, March marks the end of my love for winter (to be completely honest, 10 minutes after the first snow storm marks the end of my love for winter). By this time, I can’t take the cold anymore, and I crave for sunshine, flip-flops and greenery. However, because I’m in Canada, I’ll probably have to wait for another month or so before I can see anything grow outside.

Very depressing.

So, what do you do when you are sad? You look for laughter! While I was roaming the internet, I stumbled across two books (that became three books) that caught my attention. Well, They are amazingly funny and really did the trick!

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I was told there’d be cake, by Sloane Crosley : The tone of this book is so honestly funny! I love the little anecdotes the author brings out and features in wonderfully well written essays. I was immediately drawn into her life and shared some of her frustrations and could identify with most of the thoughts she wrote about. I love how she is able to capture both the awkwardness and hilarity of some situations. Most essays are short which makes this book perfect for when you need a kick laughter fix. If I had to choose only one essay to recommend, I would go with You on a stick: bridezilla and wedding planning nightmares fill this really funny essay on how you are sometimes trapped in weird situations because of old friendships and social expectations. I also recommend Sign Language for Infidels which will make you laugh even harder if you ever worked with children and faced their awkward questions. But really, the whole collection of essays is great and will keep you turning the pages for more absurdly funny stories.

Is everyone hanging out without me ? (and other concerns), by Mindy Kaling: OH MY!!! I flipped through this book in one day while dying of cramps in an over-heated pod. Believe it or not, this is actually a great memory because this book is basically like talking to your ideal girl friend. Mindy is funny, and shares her sharp observations with a unique humoristic tone. I could really identify myself in situations she shared about her childhood and her stories made me think about my own growing up. I also like that she is really honest and perspire confidence and self-love. She is a great role model and is so down to earth and filled with life! It was a really refreshing read. After finishing her first book, I ran to the bookstore and grabbed her most recent one:

Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling: This second book covers her life since starting to work on her own TV show, The Mindy Project. Although it was more difficult for me to identify to the situations portrayed in this book (I don’t have my own TV show yet and never had to prepare for a red carpet event), I still enjoyed it because I learned a lot of things on how TV shows were written, produced and made. Once again, her fierce humor makes you want to be her best friend, and her advice feels like vitamin C for the soul.

If you have the opportunity to do so, I would definitely give one of these books a try as they are really funny and will cheer you up for sure! Do you have any other funny books to recommend?