Three non-fiction books for New Year’s inspiration


I have a room that I can write in.  But it also has about 25 piles of stuff on the floor, including long-abandoned knitting projects, and lots of books.  I have to step over a lot of things to get to my wonderful purple writing desk.  So the first book up for my New Year’s reading is “Sink Reflections” by Marla Cilley, the FlyLady.

FlyLady has an amazing system on both her website and presented in her book Sink Reflections.  This is a book that teaches cleaning and de-cluttering routines, but most importantly teaches the value of being kind to yourself.  You do this by taking BabySteps into the tasks of de-cluttering and cleaning.  This book has a strong message to not “overwhelm” yourself by doing too much, and to accept that you are not behind.  You can start anywhere.

Your home is broken down into zones, and Marla Cilley’s book has tasks for every part of every room.

This is found in the chapter,  “Zones, You Never Have to Spring Clean Again.”  There are some very lacking clip-art moments in the book, and some religious undertones but the detailed system itself is genius material.  For instance, there is a bullet point for cabinets and the reminder to clean one at a time.  There is a bullet point for windows and one for drawers, and throughout, there is the FlyLady coaching you through every step, holding your hand.

If you don’t think hand-holding is necessary then perhaps you don’t have the problem that I do of things falling out of cabinets when ever I open them, or not being able to get the coat closet door shut for all the things in there.  De-cluttering is an immense task, and this book is helping me both to not be overwhelmed and to understand how to begin.  Maybe I’ll even do a before and after picture of my writing office for the blog.


Recipes include the enticing White Leek Soup and Mamie’s Chocolate-Stuffed Baguette.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about that other common resolution.  The one about maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy diet.  As a Francophile, I am always curious about how those French ladies age so gracefully.  “French Kids Eat Everything” may seem like an odd title to learn about adult diets, but there are many great ideas written by a North American mother who spent about a year in France with her children and French husband.

University Professor Karen Le Billon was not unhappy with the way her children ate in Vancouver, B.C., but when she moved to France she was amazed by the frequency and variety of vegetables and other foods that the French children ate.  She steadfastly refused to change her ways at first, but her sister-in-law is a researcher who provided her with studies upon studies to support the French way of eating.  She learned that French children don’t eat snacks, but have four square meals a day.  She learned that the French feel that if a child hasn’t tried a new taste at least a ton of times, that they keep on trying and encouraging and don’t give up.  They just believe that the child will come around.  They also feel it is okay for the child to feel hungry before mealtimes.

Karen Le Billon comes up with ten simple rules to follow based on her experiences.  Each one represents a change from the way I normally think about food.  I really like the idea of Slow Food is happy food.  But avoiding emotional eating, and no bribes or food rewards is going to take a long while to incorporate.

What is great about this book is that there is a reality check in the last few chapters.  The family returns to North America and experiences new challenges integrating the healthy French eating with the pace and school lunch differences in North America.  The real-life solutions that Karen Le Billon finds upon returning are ones I’m going to explore adding to my family’s meal planning.   I’m already re-thinking my snacking habit.  As with all new habits, if I imagine that the French are doing it, then I want to do it too.  In this case, that means less snacking and more beauty in my meals.


Lots of funny stories mix with lots of practical beauty advice in this awesome book.

Speaking of beauty, the final and most guilty-pleasure book I’m reading is by Jean Godfrey-June.  I have loved reading her columns in “Lucky” magazine.  Her writing style is conversational, and she has an amazingly exotic life because of her job.  She actually can try all the most expensive beauty products and surround herself with the most expensive candles.

“Free Gift With Purchase” was one of those not-so-urgent reads, but one I always wanted to try.  My dear mother-in-law purchased all three of these books for me off of my Amazon wishlist and I’m very grateful that she did.  “Free Gift with Purchase” is set up as a memoir.  The tag line being “My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup.”   The draw is the view into the world of high fashion and beauty and she takes us behind the scenes at Elle magazine to parties and presentations and photo shoots.  But right along with the tales of glamour, are these text boxes with all Jean Godfrey-June’s real opinions on Creams, or cellulite or how to take a photo or if Creme de la Mer is worth it.  There are real stories of how Lev Glazman makes perfumes for Fresh, and how Sally Hershberger approaches hair.  And all along, Godfrey-June is just like us, a normal person in the candy store.  From spas to natural makeup to the world of models and designers, and to being a mom, she has been there and has excellent advice for us.

Each of these books are well-written and make me feel excited for a new year of shiny sinks, healthy eating and clear complexions.  What should I read next?  I can see that an inspiring book about writing will head the list.  Do you have any to recommend?

by Janis Wildy


About writeinseattle

Two Seattle writers examining the writer's life.
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One Response to Three non-fiction books for New Year’s inspiration

  1. mahoganysoup says:

    I want to read all three books now too! What a great trilogy – you’ve covered all bases.

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