A Working Mom's Survival Guide

shelved under Parenting

I'm a married domestic engineer with two kids, who also has a desk job as an instructional designer. Once I get off work, I'm picking up the kids, cooking dinner, cleaning up, reading bedtime stories, and then relaxing for a few minutes before I wake up and do it all over again. Whew!

I read for a lot of different reasons, which is why I’ve including my favorite cooking books, a great book on child raising, a few of my kid’s favorite reads, and some va-va-va-voom books!


Beer-Can Chicken: And 74 Other Offbeat Recipes for the Grill

by Steven Raichlen

The Father’s Day after we bought our new house, I surprised my husband with a new Holland grill. We quickly fell in love with it, and started grilling at least once a week. Out of all the grilling cookbooks I bought, this one has stood the test of time. Steve Raichlen includes at least ten different variations on beer can chicken, and a great recipe for potato salad. (One word: bacon!) I make a batch of his basic barbecue rub each spring; it is perfect on both chicken and pork.


Betty Crocker's New Cookbook

by Betty Crocker

I have a confession. I love to read cookbooks. Reading recipes makes my mouth water and my head fills with images of beautifully laden tables of food perfectly prepared. Betty Crocker taught me how to cook. From these pages I learned how to make many dishes, ranging from hard candy to Hollandaise sauce. I flip through this book over and over again when I’m stumped on what to cook for dinner.


Pillsbury: Best Chicken Cookbook

by Pillsbury Company

What’s in the freezer? Chicken. Always chicken! I turn to this book when I need a new spin on that kitchen staple.


Big Red Barn

by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Felicia Bond

This is a perfect first bedtime read. I love the rhythm and phrasing in this book as well as the simple, beautiful pictures.


HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

by Tegen Katherine

I bought this treasury for next to nothing, and it is the most read book on the kid’s bookshelf. I bought it for the older classics such as “Caps For Sale,” “Crictor,” and “Harold and the Purple Crayon” caught my eye, but my kids and I discovered a love for all of the stories in this collection. Be sure to read “Leo the Late Bloomer,” and you’ll laugh throughout “Pete’s a Pizza”.


Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Revised Edition: Birth to Age 5

by American Academy Of Pediatrics

If you invite me to your baby shower, I’ll buy this book for you (through Flashlight Worthy’s Amazon link, of course). You’ll thank me once you read it at 2 a.m. when your baby is screaming and you want to find out why. Or you might be a nervous pregnant mommy like I was, and read the entire thing the week the baby is due.


Cold Mountain

by Charles Frazier

Ah... love! Sometimes a girl needs to curl up with a good book- one with passion, friendship, hope, adventure, and of course, two lovers who are separated by a great distance. Don’t watch the movie, read the book instead!


Prodigal Summer

by Barbara Kingsolver

My favorite author is Barbara Kingsolver, so it was difficult to decide which book I wanted to include on this list. Since this is a “Survival Guide,” I picked a great love story. Actually, I believe this novel contains at least three different love stories wrapped up together, as well as a bit of information on pesticides. Don’t let the insects and pesticides deter you; this book is full of passion and will warm your heart.

This book also appears on Mary Bentley Houk's Favorite Books


Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

by Rebecca Wells

Y’all gotta read the Ya-Yas. These four Southern broads will become your best friends once you dive into this book. You may even try sweet tea and start sleeping on your wrap around porch in the summer.


How Stella Got Her Groove Back

by Terry McMillan

Warning: this book is HOTTTTT. I fantasize about the plot of this book on a regular basis. The main character loses her job and decides to go on vacation in the Caribbean — where she meets a hot young thing who doesn’t just kiss well. He wants to stay with her forever. Wait to watch the movie until after you have read this (but you are welcome to picture Taye Diggs when you read it!).


Like Water for Chocolate

by Laura Esquivel

The word “chocolate” is in the title, so you know it has to be good. This book centers around a Mexican family with three daughters, a strong matriarchal mother, and the men, who all take a backseat except for the handsome Pedro. If you haven’t read “magical realism” before, you are in for a treat as well as a mix of exotic recipes and Latin spices!


The Thirteenth Tale

by Diane Setterfield

This is a book that took over my thoughts completely. I couldn’t put it down. For several nights I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning until I finished it (all 400 pages). The premise of this ghostly tale is a young biographer who is capturing the life story of Vida Winter, a successful author. Vida has always fabricated wild stories about her past, but is now ready to reveal all. The author, Diane Setterfield, weaves an intricate story that only reveals a little at a time and keeps you guessing the entire way. A great read!