This month, I thought it would be fun to share a cozy, home-inspired read. It’s a memoir called House Lessons, by Erica Bauermeister, and I think it would make the perfect book club read. Scroll down to find book club questions you can print and share with your friends!
About the book + the author:
You might know Bauermeister from her New York Bestselling novel, The School for Essential Ingredients, which I also highly recommend! That one is a sensory celebration of food and cooking, and the stories that make up the lives of the characters who attend a cooking school. House Lessons, has many of those same sensory qualities, rich storytelling, and descriptions of food that will make your mouth water, but its focus is on the author’s real-life renovation of a home in Port Townsend, Wa.
Why it would make a great book club read:
If you’ve been through a renovation, you will relate to her realization: renovating a house is also the act of renovating a life. I so excited to see a quote from it featured in this month’s issue of Real Simple!
Back to the story: (no spoiler alerts, I promise!)
House Lessons starts when her family returns to Seattle after a few years of living abroad in Italy. The author yearns for that slower Italian way of life. Her family takes a ferry ride and a drive one weekend and end up finding a house that intrigues them. Despite some major risks, they jump in with both feet. Throughout the memoir, Bauermeister scaffolds her personal stories of this rocky and gritty renovation by using the history of home, architecture, and construction (much of it from the Italian tradition) as well as her experience as a real estate agent. The book made me feel cozy and uplifted, even as things went sideways, which is something I need more than ever right now when everything feels so uncertain. With all of us stuck at home so often due to the pandemic, this might just be the perfect book club read. It will make you reflect on what your home means to you and the lessons you’ve learned within its walls. Here are some questions to get your group started!
Book Club Questions on House Lessons:
- Bauermeister starts out describing the way people often fall in love with homes despite their problems. What was it that made her fall in love with this house against her better judgement?
- Share your stories of how you fell in love with your home, or what you’ve come love about it.
- For Bauermeister, the act of renovating her home is also about designing the type of life she would ideally like to live. How would you describe what that is for her? What ideals are conveyed by your home?
- In her book, she talks about how our homes change the way we live. In what ways does your home influence your day to day life or the way you entertain?
- As a stay at home mom and freelance writer, this renovation presents the opportunity for her to claim space in the world once again– away from her family. What does she discover from this experience? How does it change her?
- How does she use the chapter titles and epigraphs to parallel the renovation with her own transformation?
- What surprised you the most in this story?
- How did this book make you reconsider your own home?
- The renovation led her to many of the things she most wanted, including a successful writing career. Which of these was the most satisfying to you as a reader?
- If you could renovate a home, share the where, what, when, and why of how you would do it!
Did you love this book as much as I did? Share your thoughts about it in the comments!