You may remember the photo above because I used it as the opener for this post a couple of months ago. I borrowed all those books from the local library, and since then I’ve read a couple, returned a couple, and renewed most repeatedly online.
Well, I finally got around to picking up the third one down in the photo: 52 Loaves by William Alexander. I started it yesterday, and I finished all 334 pages between appointments this morning. I was so intrigued by it I just couldn’t bring myself to put it down! It was the first book I’ve picked up this year that has kept me awake past 10 pm… a rare feat for my tired pregnant body!
Usually Wednesdays are “wordless” (or mostly-wordless because well, I think you probably have learned by now how much we like to talk) but because this book had made a small appearance on the blog previously, it has to do with creating, and I just loved it so much I figured I’d do a little book review and call it a “wordy” Wednesday instead!
I’m going to preface my review with an excerpt from the jacket cover of the book (because it captures this book’s essence far more eloquently than i ever could):
“An original take on the six-thousand-year-old staple of life, 52 Loaves explores the nature of obsession, the meditative quality of ritual, the futility of trying to re-create something perfect, our deep connection to the earth, and the mysterious instinct that makes every single person on the planet, from any culture or society, respond to the aroma of baking bread.”
Yes. This book is about baking bread.
Yes. This book does include a few recipes at the end for the “perfect” loaf of bread… or rather the loaf the author found perfection in, in the end.
But… this book is SO much more.
It’s about life:
Sometimes it was about the day-to-day life
Sometimes it was about the meaning of life
Sometimes it was about the origins of life
Sometimes it was about connecting to our life
Sometimes it was about the journey life takes us on, planned or unplanned
And it was all so neatly, or should I say messily (think covered in flour), tied up in the author’s quest for creating the “perfect” loaf of Peasant Bread.
Personally, I think I was so drawn to this book because at its heart was the work of creation. Of doing something over and over and trying to perfect it each time. And in that process, defining (or possibly re-defining) what perfect means.
And yet, I need to get across that this book was not just filled with lessons on life, there was a good dose of history to give you background and information on creating bread, and yet lighthearted enough that the history portion doesn’t weigh you down. And it was PACKED with hilarious misadventures along the way! The writing felt down-to-earth, like a conversation that moves from funny anecdotes, to interesting and strangely related facts, to a deeper conversation on what it all means, and right back to the weekly batch of bread that came through all of that.
Am I going to follow his recipe for bread? I’m inspired enough at the moment to say I certainly want to attempt it someday… even though there are many time-consuming steps.
Do I think you need to have that as the end goal of reading this book? Absolutely not. It’s a fun read, with interesting history, and an author who I thought was easy to connect to on a human level.
The author says toward the end of the book to “Choose one thing you care about and resolve to do it well. Whether you succeed or not, you will be better for the effort.” Your thing doesn’t have to be bread, (I’m thinking although I really want to make bread now, it certainly isn’t my thing…) but I still think it is a great either way!
In short, my review: AWESOME. Go buy it, or download it on your e-reader, or check it out from the library!
Happy Wordy Wednesday!