How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

My favorite books

Time for another giveaway! And this year, I wanted to mix it up a bit for Home for the Holidays and make it a bit more personal, from me to you.

Today I’m giving away a collection of my favorite books—not all my favorites, of course (oh goodness, that would cost me a million dollars), but these are a collection of both favorite classics of mine and recent reads I’ve enjoyed. I think you’ll like them, too.

One person will win ALL these books! Give them to different people you love, wow one person with a reader’s paradise, or (shhh) keep them for yourself. I won’t tell. Here they are, in random order.

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Novelist Kingsolver recounts a year spent eating home-grown food and, if not that, local. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a memoir of her family’s year of eating locally, and in storytelling fashion, shares how everyone pitches in. I adore this book—I couldn’t put it down the first time I read it. And I’ve learned so much from it; it served as a foundation in my appreciation for eating real food.

2. Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True, by Elizabeth Berg

Berg is one of my favorite novelists, and Escaping Into The Open is her work on writing. I love this book. An inspiring, practical handbook on the joys and challenges of the writing life, Berg interweaves the story of her own journey from working mother to bestselling novelist with encouraging advice on how to create great stories, even in nonfiction. I read this book when I’ve got writer’s block.

3. Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Love and Logic is our pseudo go-to parenting manual (if there really is one). This book is a heavyweight wealth of advice with both encouragement and practical tips when I’m weary from parenting. In the context of a healthy, loving relationship, “Love and Logic” parents teach their children responsibility and the logic of life by solving their own problems, providing skills for coping in the real world. It taught me not to freak out when my kids are being loud. Again.

4. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, by Dave Barry

I keep Dave Barry Slept Here in my nightstand and read it when I need a laugh before bed. It’s quite a few years old, but the humor stands as a classic. Written like a history book, Barry walks through American history from the Mayflower to the Reagan-Bush years (yep, a bit old). How great is a book with chapter titles like “Spain Gets Hot,” “A Brash Young Nation Gets Into Wars and Stuff,” and “The Nation Enters Chapter Eleven”?

5. How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything is the definitive modern classic that helps home cooks discover the simple joys of cooking from scratch. Straight-forward and easy, everything I’ve tried from this ginormous cookbook has been delicious. Bittman is a classic home-taught cook who writes a fabulous New York Times column on food (his blog is one of the few I take time to read.) I cook from this weekly. I like to give this as a wedding gift.

6. Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home, by Holly Becker

As the blogger behind Decor8, Decorate is Holly’s beautiful compilation from a wide spectrum of designers. This intensive book is both beautiful inspiration and nuts-and-bolts how-to for creating visually stunning rooms in everyday homes. I love that this book is real life decor. Gorgeous, but do-able. And 500 photos. Who doesn’t love that?

7. What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

I read What Alice Forgot this summer at the neighborhood pool, and it was so much fun. I love it when I find novels I can’t put down—it grabbed me from page one. Alice is 29-years-old, in love with her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So she’s a bit shocked when she wakes up on the gym floor as a 39-year-old mom of three who’s on the verge of divorce. Fun and fascinating, this novel explores the protagonist’s journey of finding out why she can’t remember the past decade.

8. At Home: A Short History of a Private Life, by Bill Bryson

I love everything by Bill Bryson, but At Home is one of my favorites—such a creative, fascinating take on home life. Bryson walks through each room of his own house, using it as a springboard to dive into the history of all our domestic tools. From pipes to pillows, his curiosity is contagious and his humor is refreshing. Unlike most of his travel memoirs, he never leaves the house but takes us on a crazy fun journey. If you’ve never read anything of his, go to the library and rectify that situation. And also, win this book.

How to win

Simply use the widget below to leave a comment on this post, and you’ll be entered to win! (If you’re reading this via email, please click over to the main post to leave your comment.)

For extra entries, you can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook—simply follow the steps in the widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will end tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 27, and we’ll announce the winners of all the holiday giveaways at the end of the week. I hope you’re one of them!

Check out all of today’s giveaways:

cake pop kitfawn and forestgussy sewsgadankekiwi cratefavorite books

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. I loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

  2. My favorite of all time is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.

  3. One of my all-time favorite classics is Little Women. A more recent favorite is Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.

  4. One of my very favourite novels is Anne of Green Gables. I’d love this wonderful stack…they all look so interesting!

  5. Whether I win or not I am excited to add a few books to my wish list!

  6. My all time favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov by Dosoevsky. I read it in college and I keep coming back to it for inspiration (and for a wake-up call) 🙂

  7. Kristin Lavransdatter

  8. my love for reading and books in general is based on great kids books that I read so many years ago and now read to my little ones as well. Therefor I have to say Astrid Lindgrens The Brothers Lionheart and all her other wonderful stories have had a great impact on me.

  9. One of my favorite books is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

  10. My favorite book of all time is The Great Gatsby, but after reading The Paris Wife last year, it’s giving Fitzgerald a run for his money on my list!

  11. Pride & Prejudice.

  12. Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

  13. So many favorites. Someone mentioned The Red Tent, I agree….great book.

  14. I could never pick a book of all time- but Jane Austen (anything) would be my first choice

  15. I love the Game of Thrones series.

  16. The Shack or any book my children want to read with me.

  17. A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming. A friend sent it to me when I had my firstborn and it is one that I learn more from every time I read it.

  18. I have so many books that I love, but “Another Roadside Attraction” by Tom Robbins and “A Prayer for Owen Meany”by John Irving are probably my two all-time favorites.

  19. How fun! I haven read any of these & would certainly love to!
    One book I really loved reading with my kids is 101 Dalmations, so good! And I enjoy anything by Anne Lamott.

  20. I love all the books by the Thoenes. My favorite series is Zion Covenant.

  21. I’ve read and re-read ‘The Fifth Sacred Thing’ since the mid-90’s. Wonderful book.

  22. I can not think of an all time favorite book, but how about an all time favorite author? Francine Rivers.

  23. I LOVE all of these books. I kept switching over to Amazon to read reviews of them!

  24. So hard to choose. I loved Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.

  25. Right now my fave is The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson…she has become a mentor for me and she helps me with every detail of being the best mama I can be.

  26. I’m always on the look out for interesting, informative, and entertaining reads. Looks like you put together a wonderful list, and I would love to add these to my library…and maybe share them. Maybe.

  27. Heather Myhr says:

    I don’t know what my favorite would be. I really enjoy the Love Inspired Suspense books as my go to for a read to just escape/relax.

  28. I love, love, love reading so it’s really hard to pick a favorite, but one of my top books is “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durell. It’s a memoir of a boy’s summer spent on a Greek island and it goes into great detail on his exploration of the animals and bugs on the island as well as the exploits of his eccentric family.

  29. Christine C says:

    Most anything by Agatha Christie. She’s genius and I never see it coming!!

  30. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I had to read it in high school, and it has been a favorite ever since.

  31. I don’t really have any ”favorites” But right now I am reading Will Ferguson’s Hitching Rides with Buddha. This collection looks great!

  32. Just one? Sophie’s Heart by Lori Wick

  33. So many . . . but I think it has to be the Anne of Green Gables series! 🙂

  34. Yay!! There’s no way I can pick and all-time favorite! A life-changer for me was “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg….

  35. What Alice Forgot is one of my FAVES!!! There are so many interesting books in your selection! Dinner: A Love Story is my newest favorite book for the season. There are so many great recipes and it is wonderfully written for anyone trying to establish a dinner routine! Thanks for the giveaway!

  36. Animal Veegetable Miracle is up there in my favorites. I am rereading it right now actually

  37. The Little House on the Prairie Books 🙂

  38. Just one? Eeeek! To Kill a Mockingbird. NO! Pride and Prejudice! I love so many. 🙂

  39. So many to pick from…but today I would go with East of Eden. Love Steinbeck!

  40. I see the perfect gift for my Mom and my Dad on that list, and one that would make me pretty happy too. Luckily they’re all different ones.

  41. Dean Koontz is my favorite author of all time, I have read every book he has ever written. And I love cookbooks of all kinds.

  42. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

  43. The Hobbit

  44. I’d say that the “Little House” series of books were my favorite, and probably “Little Town on the Prairie” was my favorite of those.

  45. I’m reading “The Three Junes” right now and love it

  46. I guess I’m showing my age, but I still love Harry Potter.

  47. Little House on the Prairie

  48. Oh goodness…I have so many favorite books. What comes to mind is The Kite Runner, 1776, Redeeming Love…

  49. Quarantine by Jim Crace…. I return to it again and again!

  50. Number the Stars.

  51. I’ve read a couple. Good taste in books! Thanks!

  52. Ooh, that’s a really hard question. Over the years I’ve relied on my Cooking Light annual cookbooks to help me plan and cook healthy meals!

  53. Oh, I love to read so much, and have such a hard time choosing a favorite! I’ll say Harry Potter though, because those just blew me away!

  54. My all-time favorite book… that is hard… too many to choose from! If I have to narrow it down, I am going to say Pride and Prejudice. Such a classic!

  55. Since I first read it when I was a teenager, my favourite book has been Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

  56. I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but I really loved The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon. It’s one of the very few books I’ve read and read.

  57. Boy howdy! I’d love to have those! Thanks!

  58. I read the Bible everyday; it feeds my soul. A book that I’ve found is a great accompaniment is Jesus Calling. Thank you for the great giveaways and for the great web site.

  59. My favorite will always be Anne of Green Gables.

  60. I loved Jane Eyre!

  61. Anne of Green Gables 🙂

  62. Brenda Torres says:

    I love books!

  63. Looks great! Thanks.

  64. These all look delightful! I would love to win :). Thank you for such a cool giveaway!

    • Oh, and one of my favorite books? That is tough…. Right now my husband and I are really enjoying reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes aloud together.

  65. We have a new house with a new lovely fireplace. These books would be PERFECT to curl up next to it and snuggle in.

  66. I love Kingsolver, Bean Trees is my favorite.

  67. Laurin Beardsley says:

    I have always loved Michener – The Source had a big impact on my life in college – your choices are so varied and wonderful!! Thank you for offering! Laurin

  68. That is a tough question! But I would say one of my favourite books is We Need to Talk About Kevin. It stayed with me for a long time after I read it.

  69. It’s hard to narrow it down to one book, but I do love to reread books, and I always seem to come back over and over to Little House on the Prairie (and series).

  70. To Kill A Mockingbird

  71. I LOVE books but I really love a good classic. I think my very favorite may be The Old Man & The Sea.

  72. My favorite book of all time is “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” by Dr. Becky Bailey. Best parenting book I have ever read. I love your list of books. Looks like some great reading! Thanks for the giveaway.

  73. Yes, please!

  74. Little Women!

  75. I love so many books, the hunger games, is a recent favorite.

  76. I just recently found some of the Kingsolver books and have really enjoyed them. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was great. I came across The Bean Trees and I enjoyed that one also.

  77. I love Avalon by Stephen Lawhead. It tells the story of the return of King Arthur, which sort of completes the series Lawhead did on King Arthur (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail). I also am very fond of anything by Cynthia Rylant, though I pretend I ask for her books so I can read to my nephew!

  78. I have so many favorites. . . Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird and most recently, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  79. A favourite is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

  80. Kristy Hart says:

    It’s hard for me to pick just one…

  81. Anything- Jenni Allen changed my year and it will remain a favorite for awhile. 🙂

  82. Too Small To Ignore is a favorite. I don’t know what is my all time fave, but that’s up there for sure.

  83. The Lord of the Rings. No matter how many times I’ve read it, there is always a new nuance to enjoy.

  84. The two most useful books to me (and hence my favorites!) are “Getting Things Done” by David Allen and “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez.

  85. It is so hard to pick a favorite….adult literature or children’s? As a homeschooling mama I read a lot of children’s literature… Ok I will pick two-Jane Eyre and Because of Winn Dixie.

  86. My all-time favorite has to be Pride and Prejudice – and it’s one of the few that has a movie that is just as good as the book!

  87. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

  88. Would love to win these books!

  89. Anne of Green Gables. I’ll be 95 and still in love with the entire series.

  90. I loved the help most recently.

  91. Kelly Guerin says:

    One of my favorite books is The Dirty Life 🙂

  92. Hard to pick just one and not cop-out to the Bible or something. Narnia (hard to pick a favorite of one of those), anything by L.M. Montgomery (again, my “favorite” probably depends on my mood and life stage), Gone with the Wind with a Little Women chaser (two sides of the same coin, but I need the sweet of Little Women after a book full of Scarlett’s angst and drama), Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series is a ‘read over and over’ kind of book series as well.

  93. East of Eden!

  94. All time favorite?
    So many!
    Water for Elephants & Hit By A Farm come to mind quickly.

  95. Love this giveaway, what a great selection of books. Hard to pick my favorite book, I love short stories collections, so I would sayl ‘Tunneling to the center of the earth’ by Kevin Wilson.

  96. My favorite book is “Little Women”. I love the time period and the language, I love characters and the purity of the story.

  97. I’m drooling over these books. One of my favorite books is The Secret Garden. It is still a magical story.

  98. One favorite? That’s tough but it would probably be To Kill A Mockingbird or Emma. I also love Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is so challenging and humbling to read.

  99. I love children’s fiction and one of my favorites is Esparanza Rising.

  100. Life of Pi by Martel and The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver (I can’t pick just one)