A few weeks ago, I posted my review of The Lifegiving Home. As I touched on in the review, this wonderful book does have tips on how to implement the Clarksons’ ideas, but at its core, this book is really about the heart issues and goals of homemaking rather than a practical how-to manual. If you’re looking for encouragements and inspiration, this book is a great place to start.
However, after writing this review, I found myself thinking about the practical homemaking helps I’ve encountered over the years. For cleaning, I use the Flylady method and I’ve found a few other helpful sites out there as well. However, many of my favorite home guides are books and I find myself returning to them again and again. Here are some that I’ve liked:
- Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House – Weighing in at nearly 900 pages, this colossal guide isn’t the sort of book that I’d sit down to read cover to cover, but it’s a wonderful resource to have on hand for answering all of those home-based questions. I’ve consulted it for figuring out how to remove just about every kind of stain known to man, for example. There’s helpful information in here not just on cleaning, but on many facets of home maintenance in general. Whether you own or rent, this one is a true must-have.
2. More-with-Less cookbook – Another one of those books that is great to receive as a newlywed. This cookbook is published by the Mennonites, and one of the points of the book is to help people minimize their impact on resources while feeding their families nourishing foods. While not comprehensive, I did learn a lot about nutrition, meal planning, and frugal eating from this book. It’s far from my only cookbook, but it’s one that I pull out frequently. The companions, Simply in Season and Extending the Table are standouts as well.
3. More Hours in my Day: Proven Ways to Organize Your Home, Your Family and Yourself – True confessions time: I’m not naturally an organized person. I have to work very hard at it, and if I’m not mindful about setting up routines in our house, I have a tendency to fall back into survival mode.
As I’m sure you all know, that is not a fun place to be. Being pulled into too many directions and not getting things done as well as they should be done is very stressful. That is where this handy book comes in. Barnes and Torelli have helpful and very practical solutions for breaking things down to the nuts and bolts so that we can get organized in the home and stay that way. I got this gift when I was feeling overwhelmed once, and it’s been truly helpful. Many of the ideas in here are common sense, but the way in which they’re presented truly does help.
4. The Nesting Place – Many of you have probably heard of The Nester. Her blog was one of the first places I learned about approachable, appealing and (best of all) affordable ways to decorate my house. We all have our talents, and while I can talk books for hours and put together meals that people seem to love, the decorating gene is a toughie for me.
I have a close friend that can look around a thrift store, find the pieces with the most potential, and throw together a gorgeous room. For the rest of this, this book is a wonderful resource. I don’t often splurge on hardbacks, but this book has great tips and inspiration for taking a house or apartment, and making it into a true home.
5. Plan a Fabulous Party(without losing your mind) – And once you have your home decorated and looking, well, homey, it’s time to have people over! In this short e-book, Mary Carver takes what can sometimes seem like an intimidating task and breaks it down into simple steps.
Her party-planning tips will keep you organized and on schedule for anything from a small child’s birthday party to a huge family reunion. There’s also plenty of encouragement along the way. And, as in all of the most helpful home books, everything here adjusts to a wide range of budgets. It’s $2.99 well spent.
And on the broader topic of hospitality, I would recommend Karen Ehman’s A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others. I read this book back in January of this year, and it’s one I’m definitely going to keep around.
6. One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler – As a general organizer, this book is helpful not just for homemaking, but for life in general. Tsh Oxenreider lays out 52 projects for readers to take on in order to help gradually change their habits and simplify life. I found many of these very helpful in the homemaking arena, but they apply pretty broadly.
The tasks range from such things as “Eat Your Frog” (i.e. pick out your worst task of the day and get it done first) to meal planning and creating a family chore system. It’s all doable, and the tips given are both encouraging and practical. If you find that Oxenreider’s approach to simplifying life works for you, then you may also want to splurge on her larger reference guide, Organized Simplicity.
I could keep going just on books about different facets of homemaking. These are my top 6 – because I just couldn’t stop at five.
In case you’re wondering, the absence of books about parenting and children here is intentional. Yes, I believe that raising and educating children is a very important part of homemaking. Caring for the people inside our homes is part of our calling. However, books on marriage and parenting could be whole blog posts of their own.
So, what about you? What books have you found most helpful with regard to cooking, housekeeping, and all those things that make up the greater category of homemaking?