To be 100% honest with you, I just am not sure where to start with this book review. For books I don’t necessarily enjoy, writing reviews are a piece of cake… but for books that I read and love I have a really hard time. I feel like the words I write will not do the book the justice it deserves. I felt like that with this book, and this book, and now again for this latest book—Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.
I will start off by saying that I am not an amazing cook. I am still learning the basics around the kitchen, and I am becoming more comfortable while cooking. That being said, I will say that the kitchen is a place I am drawn to. The excitement of trying a new recipe, the therapeutic rhythms of dicing vegetables, the community and sense of closeness a group feels while enjoying a home cooked meal together around the table I love every moment of it!
I want to be a great cook, one that throws dinner parties for all of the people in her life. And you know what? One day I think I will be.
Shauna starts this book off by describing something that I immediately resonated with.
“What happens around the table doesn’t matter to a lot of people. But it matters more and more to me…My friend Nancy is a nature person. To know her is to know that the created world—mountains, wildflowers, sunshine—is the tie that binds her to God, that demonstrates his presence to her in the deepest ways..And for me, it’s the table. What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it’s the way I was made, and I believe it matters.” (page 16)The other day, before reading this book, I was listening (ok, eavesdropping) on 2 ladies’ conversation. They had just met and knew mutual acquaintances. One lady just casually threw out an invitation, “You all should come over for dinner at my house sometime. I’ll cook up something good.” You know what my reaction was? I was shocked. I thought about my own insecurities and the pressure that comes along with inviting others into your home and cooking them a meal. It’s one thing to invite your closest friends, the ones that know your good and bad…but to invite a stranger?!
After reading this book, my perspective has shifted drastically. Shauna encourages us to shift our mindset. The purpose of inviting people into your home is much more.
“This is why the door stays closed for so many of us, literally and figuratively…But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the richest moments in life—the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love—if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.” (page 109)
“But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open the door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide.” (page 195)Each chapter of the book was a little glimpse into Shauna’s life, a story or lesson—and then it closed with a recipe. I honestly can’t wait to try some of these recipes, they look delicious. She writes about real raw stuff, her struggles with infertility, her difficult conversations with friends, training for a marathon, pursuing her passion, and much more. Each chapter was packed with so much wisdom and truth which ultimately left me inspired.
I seriously recommend this book, whether you are a fan of cooking or not—everyone can take something from her stories and lessons. It made me realize the importance of embracing my passions, and using them not only to connect with others on a deeper level, but to show them a glimpse of God’s love and communion by representing the “heart of Christ.” (page 250.)
I give it 5/5 sparkly pink stars.