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FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Eri FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Erica Bauermeister renovates a trash-filled house in eccentric Port Townsend, Washington, and in the process takes readers on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us. A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, as well as a loving tribute to the connections we forge with the homes we care for and live in, this book is designed for anyone who’s ever fallen head over heels for a house. It is also a story of a marriage, of family, and of the kind of roots that settle deep into your heart. Discover what happens when a house has its own lessons to teach in this moving and insightful memoir that ultimately shows us how to make our own homes (and lives) better.


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FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Eri FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR ERICA BAUERMEISTER COMES A MEMOIR ABOUT THE POWER OF HOME AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE ACT OF RESTORING ONE HOUSE IN PARTICULAR.   “I think anyone who saves an old house has to be a caretaker at heart, a believer in underdogs, someone whose imagination is inspired by limitations, not endless options.”   In this mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, Erica Bauermeister renovates a trash-filled house in eccentric Port Townsend, Washington, and in the process takes readers on a journey to discover the ways our spaces subliminally affect us. A personal, accessible, and literary exploration of the psychology of architecture, as well as a loving tribute to the connections we forge with the homes we care for and live in, this book is designed for anyone who’s ever fallen head over heels for a house. It is also a story of a marriage, of family, and of the kind of roots that settle deep into your heart. Discover what happens when a house has its own lessons to teach in this moving and insightful memoir that ultimately shows us how to make our own homes (and lives) better.

30 review for House Lessons: Renovating a Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)

    Do you like to read memoirs? How about home renovation books?⁣ ⁣ You might recognize this authors name. Erica is actually the genius behind one of my favorite books last year, The Scent Keeper. In this memoir - yes, it’s about Erica - but more specifically, one particular point in her life when she purchases and renovates a dilapidated home in Washington.⁣ ⁣ This is ultimately, and uniquely, a memoir about a house.⁣🏠 ⁣ The main “character” is old, and cranky. Stuffed to the gills with trash, it has mo Do you like to read memoirs? How about home renovation books?⁣ ⁣ You might recognize this authors name. Erica is actually the genius behind one of my favorite books last year, The Scent Keeper. In this memoir - yes, it’s about Erica - but more specifically, one particular point in her life when she purchases and renovates a dilapidated home in Washington.⁣ ⁣ This is ultimately, and uniquely, a memoir about a house.⁣🏠 ⁣ The main “character” is old, and cranky. Stuffed to the gills with trash, it has more quirks and eccentricities than one might prefer in a protagonist. And it’s quite dangerous, but not in a thriller-type way. Like actual danger - as in, turn on the water and plan to be electrocuted.⁣⚡️ ⁣ We follow Erica’s journey as her and her family slog through what feels like the longest cleanup and renovation ever, all the while falling in love with this codgey, old house. She beautifully integrates snippets of her life and her own thoughts on identity and foundation, as the house also struggles to find itself. We are taken on a journey of the way a homes can affect us; how a home makes you feel; the connections we form with them; the smell of each ones individual space (yes, of course she talks about the scents!); and tons of unique facts and history, with gorgeous hand drawn illustrations interspersed throughout.⁣ ⁣ I hope you’ll give this one a chance - it’s out today, and is one of the most interesting and beautiful memoirs I’ve ever read.⁣

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I turned to this book about a home renovation as a source of lightness amid a ton of serious antiracist reading, but I didn’t suspect how deep it would be. It hit me in the feels. I thought it would be about the physical space, but the way she wove home and family and the feel/spiritual meaning of a house into this book was lovely. I admire the fact that she wrote this about a huge span of time, with the wisdom and life experience of all that time under her belt. I was thrilled to receive this f I turned to this book about a home renovation as a source of lightness amid a ton of serious antiracist reading, but I didn’t suspect how deep it would be. It hit me in the feels. I thought it would be about the physical space, but the way she wove home and family and the feel/spiritual meaning of a house into this book was lovely. I admire the fact that she wrote this about a huge span of time, with the wisdom and life experience of all that time under her belt. I was thrilled to receive this from a Goodreads giveaway, and so pleased that it was so well done. I deeply wished I could see photos of the house, before/during/after, but I will just have to watch some home reno tv to get that fix!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I was really delighted by this book, probably because the only thing I miss about my few years as a Realtor is the opportunity to look at an endless number of houses. The details about architecture and the ideas about how our living spaces shape us were fascinating to me. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways for the ARC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a free publisher's advance review copy. I’ve always been fascinated by houses, so I snapped this up. You really have to admire this author and her family, because they were not able to get a good look at this derelict property before they bought it. The house had been owned by hoarders and they had to cart away literally dozens of tons of stuff before they could even see what they were dealing with structurally. The house also had a large lot with about a dozen fruit trees, but they we I received a free publisher's advance review copy. I’ve always been fascinated by houses, so I snapped this up. You really have to admire this author and her family, because they were not able to get a good look at this derelict property before they bought it. The house had been owned by hoarders and they had to cart away literally dozens of tons of stuff before they could even see what they were dealing with structurally. The house also had a large lot with about a dozen fruit trees, but they were all completely covered by ivy. Many truckloads of ivy had to be removed before the family could even see what they had in their orchard. The author felt that the house had a living personality—not a good one—when it was derelict and crammed full of stuff, but it began to breathe and transformed itself as it was cleaned out, renovated, and then became a home. It was fascinating to read about that process, the lore of houses, and the lives of the author and her family over the years from the time they first spotted the house to when they moved in and became the caretakers of the house’s history. I’m not one for magical thinking, but I was charmed by the several incidents of coincidence and happenstance that went into the life of the house and this family. I can’t imagine tackling a job as daunting as theirs, but I very much enjoyed reading about their journey.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirstin

    I purchased this book because I love the author's fiction and have read them all. I purchased this book because I love books about houses. I purchased this book from an Independent Bookstore to help them during the loss of business during this pandemic, and to support the author. I purchased this book to read and then donate to my local Library. I kept this book. I wasn't expecting to connect to this book at the level that I did. It was more than a book about renovating an old house...it was also I purchased this book because I love the author's fiction and have read them all. I purchased this book because I love books about houses. I purchased this book from an Independent Bookstore to help them during the loss of business during this pandemic, and to support the author. I purchased this book to read and then donate to my local Library. I kept this book. I wasn't expecting to connect to this book at the level that I did. It was more than a book about renovating an old house...it was also about the bonds of a family and what makes a house a home. It was a thoughtful story with bits of history and insightfulness scattered throughout. I will be keeping this treasure as part of my collection, and I may loan it out, but I won't give it away.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Having met Erica on several occasions, I felt while reading as if we were talking over a cup of tea in her kitchen. She is insightful, sensitive, an observer and most of all she is honest. She is honest about her childhood, her marriage and raising two children. What she isn’t is judgemental, negative or carry a grudge. She puts into words feelings I have felt and never thought to say out loud. This book carries so much on each page, although the book is rather small. There is a beauty in this b Having met Erica on several occasions, I felt while reading as if we were talking over a cup of tea in her kitchen. She is insightful, sensitive, an observer and most of all she is honest. She is honest about her childhood, her marriage and raising two children. What she isn’t is judgemental, negative or carry a grudge. She puts into words feelings I have felt and never thought to say out loud. This book carries so much on each page, although the book is rather small. There is a beauty in this book that is not often found in a memoir. I sincerely recommend reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

    “This is how we move forward-one house, one tradition, one generation at a time. It takes vision and hope and not a little naivete, but in the end, we can make something beautiful. Useful. Strong.” Erica Bauermeister isn’t sure how to describe the reason she was so enamored with the decrepit house on the hill. But she and her husband took the plunge nonetheless and gave themselves to the renovation of the house in Port Townsend - two hours north of their current home in Seattle. Even if you’ve nev “This is how we move forward-one house, one tradition, one generation at a time. It takes vision and hope and not a little naivete, but in the end, we can make something beautiful. Useful. Strong.” Erica Bauermeister isn’t sure how to describe the reason she was so enamored with the decrepit house on the hill. But she and her husband took the plunge nonetheless and gave themselves to the renovation of the house in Port Townsend - two hours north of their current home in Seattle. Even if you’ve never built or remodeled a house, you’ll relish the details of this true story of family and home.

  8. 4 out of 5

    James Hallmark

    I loved this book. I described it my wife as “mellow.” Each chapter is a stage in the purchase and renovation of an old, abandoned house she and her husband purchased and renovated along with their young kids (young when the book started....the book covers many years as it is a long time before they finally moved in). The book is purportedly her memoir, although it is really more a memoir of the house and what she learned along the way. Good self-reflection on life, not overly preachy or overwro I loved this book. I described it my wife as “mellow.” Each chapter is a stage in the purchase and renovation of an old, abandoned house she and her husband purchased and renovated along with their young kids (young when the book started....the book covers many years as it is a long time before they finally moved in). The book is purportedly her memoir, although it is really more a memoir of the house and what she learned along the way. Good self-reflection on life, not overly preachy or overwrought or oversharing, is the heart of each chapter and was just the right level for me, not too much nor too little. No whining. No overwrought angst. Just real life thoughts that real life people have. It is beautifully written (she has a Ph.D in literature from the University of Washington and has a few other NYT best sellers so she is not new to writing). The chapter describing when she finally closes the door on their old home literally had me teary-eyed. Good book. (Again, it is mellow. No emotional outbursts, no sex, no car chases, no affairs or drama. Just a real life and a real family and it is beautiful.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nina Meierding

    Absolutely loved this book. A beautiful memoir about creating a home. The author and her family saw potential in a house that many people would have torn down. They removed tons of trash (literally), completely rebuilt the foundation, and designed a welcoming, sun filled, refuge that reflected both the history and original "bones" of the house, as well as new ideas. The author is refreshingly open and honest about the process of such a massive undertaking and the impact of the joys and trials of Absolutely loved this book. A beautiful memoir about creating a home. The author and her family saw potential in a house that many people would have torn down. They removed tons of trash (literally), completely rebuilt the foundation, and designed a welcoming, sun filled, refuge that reflected both the history and original "bones" of the house, as well as new ideas. The author is refreshingly open and honest about the process of such a massive undertaking and the impact of the joys and trials of home renovation on her family. The reader will also learn a lot of practical and psychological information about design, room placement, and how to make their own space more alive. Erica Bauermeister has written many works of fiction (all of which I loved) and I was therefore curious about her transition to non-fiction. Rest assured, her lyrical, flowing writing style in this book echos what you loved in The School of Essential Ingredients and Joy for Beginners. A must read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Torrie

    A thoughtful, meandering memoir about renovating an old house, about the meaning of home and hearth, and about dealing with changes, particularly in the family unit. I picked this up expecting a light, fluffy read about taking on a fixer upper, but I got a lot more than I expected (which was a good thing). This book made me think--perhaps really deeply for the first time, and even more so now that we are house hunting again--about how much the structure and layout of a house affects the way the A thoughtful, meandering memoir about renovating an old house, about the meaning of home and hearth, and about dealing with changes, particularly in the family unit. I picked this up expecting a light, fluffy read about taking on a fixer upper, but I got a lot more than I expected (which was a good thing). This book made me think--perhaps really deeply for the first time, and even more so now that we are house hunting again--about how much the structure and layout of a house affects the way the inhabitants within live and interact with each other, and about how different structures have different feelings about them for that very reason, among others. I really enjoyed this, though I'm not sure how many others would. It's definitely well written and has just enough of a plot (ish) to keep going, but it's meant to provoke introspection more than it's meant to entertain, which I know isn't everyone's thing, especially for summer reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I should have read the reviews before reading the book. Books about buying old houses and renovating/restoring them are one of my favorite genres. This book, however, is more about the life lessons the author learned along the way. It also veers off into the history of architecture, how to raise children, living in Italy. It was trying to be too many things, none of which I really wanted. I skimmed through most of it because I am sincerely not interested in anything deep and educational right no I should have read the reviews before reading the book. Books about buying old houses and renovating/restoring them are one of my favorite genres. This book, however, is more about the life lessons the author learned along the way. It also veers off into the history of architecture, how to raise children, living in Italy. It was trying to be too many things, none of which I really wanted. I skimmed through most of it because I am sincerely not interested in anything deep and educational right now. Two stars because the author definitely can write but it was far too navel-gazingish and pretentious.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Novelist Erica Bauermeister has written a memoir called “House Lessons”. Set in the early 2000's, it's the story of the house she and her family bought and gutted in Port Townsend, Washington. And how the redoing of a house brought her family closer together, as such projects usually do. It's taken me a while to write this review; I finished the book a few weeks ago. While I enjoyed the book, it didn't really speak to me. I wish it had, because Bauermeister is a good writer. Novelist Erica Bauermeister has written a memoir called “House Lessons”. Set in the early 2000's, it's the story of the house she and her family bought and gutted in Port Townsend, Washington. And how the redoing of a house brought her family closer together, as such projects usually do. It's taken me a while to write this review; I finished the book a few weeks ago. While I enjoyed the book, it didn't really speak to me. I wish it had, because Bauermeister is a good writer.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Finished in one day! Loved it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    One of the best books I've read this year. Erica Bauermeister's memoir of her and her husband's journey of choosing and renovating a house amidst raising two adolescent children and dealing with the reality of the ups and downs of life is lyrical and inspirational. She weaves together interesting facts regarding the history of houses and their styles, as well as, the discoveries and trials they went through in the renovation of their house. Ultimately, this book will be savored by any of us who One of the best books I've read this year. Erica Bauermeister's memoir of her and her husband's journey of choosing and renovating a house amidst raising two adolescent children and dealing with the reality of the ups and downs of life is lyrical and inspirational. She weaves together interesting facts regarding the history of houses and their styles, as well as, the discoveries and trials they went through in the renovation of their house. Ultimately, this book will be savored by any of us who are interested in making a house a home, finding their place, ever had romantic notions of renovating a old home, and building roots for their family. For those who are lucky enough to have renovated a home - it might spur cherished reflections. A book I couldn't put down, flagged many pages for quotes to write down, will buy a copy for a friend and one for my shelf. Thank you to Annie from "The Bookshelf" and "From the Front Porch" podcast for once again recommending a great book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine Hemp

    In this smart, witty, and thoughtful memoir, Erica Bauermeister reveals intimate details about her tumultuous, love-at-first-sight relationship with a dilapidated Edwardian house. But House Lessons isn’t about real estate. Through the ups and downs of nearly 20 years of renovation, Baumeister’s story is told through the lens of desire: her dream for her beloved family, her passion as a writer, and her drive to transform herself. She does end up changed, but in ways she did not expect. And her lo In this smart, witty, and thoughtful memoir, Erica Bauermeister reveals intimate details about her tumultuous, love-at-first-sight relationship with a dilapidated Edwardian house. But House Lessons isn’t about real estate. Through the ups and downs of nearly 20 years of renovation, Baumeister’s story is told through the lens of desire: her dream for her beloved family, her passion as a writer, and her drive to transform herself. She does end up changed, but in ways she did not expect. And her love for detail (the history of plaster, superstitions surrounding foundations, the etymological origins of “housewife”) invites the reader into what it means “to dwell.” As she says, “This is the beauty, the power, of architecture—it exists both outside and inside of us, a dance between structure and self.” A true delight!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    House Lessons is a heartwarming story about a delapitated house the author and her family purchased in Port Townsend, Washington. She detailed their adventures with the home. From trying to purchase the home , to the chore of cleaning out the junk, to the pitfalls and delights of renovation. The author correlated the different phases of the house project with other aspects of her life. Finally, they were able to move into the house, years after it was ready. The part I liked was the emotion she House Lessons is a heartwarming story about a delapitated house the author and her family purchased in Port Townsend, Washington. She detailed their adventures with the home. From trying to purchase the home , to the chore of cleaning out the junk, to the pitfalls and delights of renovation. The author correlated the different phases of the house project with other aspects of her life. Finally, they were able to move into the house, years after it was ready. The part I liked was the emotion she injected into the house, bringing it back to life, happy to have a family residing in it once again. Thanks to NetGalley and Sasquatch Books for the advance read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    There are plenty of thoughtful life lessons in Erica Bauermeister's House Lessons as she artfully interweaves the story of renovating a derelict house with reflections on home, motherhood, marriage, and vocation. Those who've followed their intuition and taken a risk despite facts and logic will find themselves validated in these pages. Those considering such a leap will find encouragement in Bauermeister's example. And anyone who has undergone even a minor home remodel will find a friend to com There are plenty of thoughtful life lessons in Erica Bauermeister's House Lessons as she artfully interweaves the story of renovating a derelict house with reflections on home, motherhood, marriage, and vocation. Those who've followed their intuition and taken a risk despite facts and logic will find themselves validated in these pages. Those considering such a leap will find encouragement in Bauermeister's example. And anyone who has undergone even a minor home remodel will find a friend to commiserate with in House Lessons. A beautifully written, heartfelt and entertaining account of everything that can and did go wrong in the process of making things right,

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jquick99

    Sure wish she’d mention costs. How much was the House? How much to raise the foundation? How much was the architect? For them to even take this “project” on, means that they had to have a huge chunk of funds. So it seems disingenuous each of the many, many times she mentions costs/estimates....and concern over the amount. Reminded me of meeting up with someone who had millions, lived in the most expensive part of Houston (River Oaks), and was complaining about his utility bills. And All Things Ki Sure wish she’d mention costs. How much was the House? How much to raise the foundation? How much was the architect? For them to even take this “project” on, means that they had to have a huge chunk of funds. So it seems disingenuous each of the many, many times she mentions costs/estimates....and concern over the amount. Reminded me of meeting up with someone who had millions, lived in the most expensive part of Houston (River Oaks), and was complaining about his utility bills. And All Things Kids bogged down the story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kimberley

    Simply lovely. Told as only Erica Bauermeister can, the story of renovating a house becomes the story of renovating a life. I loved her honesty about herself and her relationships, and I appreciate her wisdom more than I can say. This book came out right when I needed it. Funny thing is, I didn't know I would need it on the day I ordered it, which was before my husband suddenly approached me about buying another house...and selling the one I already love. But I believe, as Bauermeister does, tha Simply lovely. Told as only Erica Bauermeister can, the story of renovating a house becomes the story of renovating a life. I loved her honesty about herself and her relationships, and I appreciate her wisdom more than I can say. This book came out right when I needed it. Funny thing is, I didn't know I would need it on the day I ordered it, which was before my husband suddenly approached me about buying another house...and selling the one I already love. But I believe, as Bauermeister does, that there is something to be said for timing and sometimes things happen for a reason.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    A beautiful memoir of saving and rehabbing a shambling old hoarder's house in the picturesque Pacific Northwest. Through the lenses of landscape and architecture, history and family, Erica Bauermeister examines what makes a house a home, and how a family survives among wreckage and beauty, duty and love. Usually a writer of lyrical fiction (The School of Essential Ingredients, The Scent Keeper) her beautiful, incisive use of language is pure joy. A beautiful memoir of saving and rehabbing a shambling old hoarder's house in the picturesque Pacific Northwest. Through the lenses of landscape and architecture, history and family, Erica Bauermeister examines what makes a house a home, and how a family survives among wreckage and beauty, duty and love. Usually a writer of lyrical fiction (The School of Essential Ingredients, The Scent Keeper) her beautiful, incisive use of language is pure joy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    William

    Great book. Bauermeister does a fabulous job of blending personal narrative with an academic curiosity about place and home and much more. Read it and you'll be entertained and informed and moved. Highly recommend! Great book. Bauermeister does a fabulous job of blending personal narrative with an academic curiosity about place and home and much more. Read it and you'll be entertained and informed and moved. Highly recommend!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    So beautifully written, a story that's personal and universal, in which I found myself caring very much about a particular house, but also learning about the history of houses as a reflection of our relationship to the world and to each other. It's not long, but it packs in a lot of wisdom, and I found myself underlining many sentences and whole paragraphs. Also, now I want to build a writer's hut. (More.) So beautifully written, a story that's personal and universal, in which I found myself caring very much about a particular house, but also learning about the history of houses as a reflection of our relationship to the world and to each other. It's not long, but it packs in a lot of wisdom, and I found myself underlining many sentences and whole paragraphs. Also, now I want to build a writer's hut. (More.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    When Erica Bauermeister's family comes back to Seattle after living in Italy for two years she finds she wants to recreate the slower-paced closeness their family had in Italy. On a whim she starts looking at houses or property in Port Townsend, a small coastal town about 2 hours away from Seattle. When Erica sees the old abandoned looking house that's not even for sale yet, she knows this is THE HOUSE. After almost two years of wrangling with estate attorneys and inspectors the house is theirs When Erica Bauermeister's family comes back to Seattle after living in Italy for two years she finds she wants to recreate the slower-paced closeness their family had in Italy. On a whim she starts looking at houses or property in Port Townsend, a small coastal town about 2 hours away from Seattle. When Erica sees the old abandoned looking house that's not even for sale yet, she knows this is THE HOUSE. After almost two years of wrangling with estate attorneys and inspectors the house is theirs and they volunteered to clean out all the contents - which turn out to be something out of Hoarders. During the years they spend renovating the house Erica starts to see how the house is doing more for their family than she originally intended. Each family member grows and changes based on the work they do and Erica starts to see things she needs to work on in both her parenting and marriage. Renovating this house helped her see the parts of herself that needed renovating as well. The only thing that was disappointing to me was that just when the house is finished they decide to rent it out. Wait, WHAT?! I can't imagine doing all that work to your "dream house" and then renting it out. They do eventually move into it full time several years later, but I thought that was really odd. At the beginning of the book you're not sure where the house renovation falls into Erica's writing career, then you find out that the house also sparked her first successful novel, The School of Essential Ingredients. Overall, it was an interesting book and a unique look at home renovations and how they can spark personal renovations as well. Some quotes I liked: "When I was a real estate agent, I used to ask my clients how they cooked. They usually thought I was trying to find out what kind of kitchen they wanted - and that was true, in part. But the question was really a way to find out how they approached life. Those who had little interest in cooking generally has even less in home maintenance and remodeling. Chefs who loved the planning of a meal - from researching recipes to finding the right ingredients - often had the temperament to design their own homes, and they could envision stunning remodels. But a fixer-upper requires a different kind of creativity, the kind that you often find in a cook whose mind is awakened by opening a refrigerator to an odd assortment of ingredients, knowing that dinner must come out of it. A cook sees leftovers as a chance to make something new and beautiful, and when someone with this kind of personality sees an old house, they are likely to want to save it." (p. 10) "We'd left Italy, a place which celebrated motherhood, and had moved back to a country where stay-at-home mothers were disregarded at best. The reentry was hard for me. Cooking gave me an identity in the way Ben's job gave him his. I didn't want to share. And yet when we invited people over for dinner, I would always end up incredibly frustrated. Ben would be out in the main part of the house, telling jokes and making sure everyone was having a good time. I was in the kitchen, where I wanted to be - unless, of course, it was where I was expected to be. By the time the food was ready, I was no fun to be around. Once a year, generally in January when the weeks were long and wet and dark, Ben and I would have our annual argument, and the topic was always the same - I wanted a more equal division of labor in our household. It got to the point where the fight even had its own name: Party Boy and Kitchen Girl." (p. 151-52) "So many of us declare that we will not become our parents. But they are the house we are born into. Their lives, their rules, their loves are the walls that surround us, make us. No matter what, we will always be renovations, never a clean slate. The trick, as with any renovation, is keeping the good bones." (p. 160-61)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    If I could give this 10 stars I would. Loved!! Beautiful writing...reminds me of Katrina Kenison. Gorgeous.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Lindsay

    A meditation of space, home, and what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a writer in this transformative memoir. Can a home be cathartic? I think so. Can a home teach us life lessons? Absolutely! I know we're not supposed to fall in love with a book based on it's cover but O.M.G.! I love both the Kindle blueprint-style cover and also the hardcover skeleton-key-on-a-hook-cover...and then, the title is HOUSE LESSONS: Renovating a Life (Sasquatch Books, March 24 2020)... AND it's a memoir? Sol A meditation of space, home, and what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a writer in this transformative memoir. Can a home be cathartic? I think so. Can a home teach us life lessons? Absolutely! I know we're not supposed to fall in love with a book based on it's cover but O.M.G.! I love both the Kindle blueprint-style cover and also the hardcover skeleton-key-on-a-hook-cover...and then, the title is HOUSE LESSONS: Renovating a Life (Sasquatch Books, March 24 2020)... AND it's a memoir? Sold. Erica Bauermeister is the author of mostly recently THE SCENT KEEPER, but has written other books, too. HOUSE LESSONS is her first memoir. This is a tale of love and family, hope and potential, all arising quite literally from a pile of junk. The 1909 American Four Square sat in eccentric Port Townsend, WA, not even for sale with the author and her husband stumbled upon it and knew it was 'the one.' Previously owned by a hoarder, Bauermeister and her family go about purchasing the home and cleaning it out, rebuilding the foundation, and renovating the interior spaces. It's about finding potential in the physical and metaphorical walls of our homes, about marriage and family, roots. Told in a mesmerizing memoir-in-essays, and braided with practical and psychological information about houses, homes, design, room placement, and more, I thoroughly enjoyed the literary exploration of architecture and interiors. Bauermeister's style is easy, lyical and flow-y, much like her fiction. I loved the connections between myth, folklore, superstitions, history, and construction of a home. Also, the interior art/sketches and quotes were my heart. The fact that Bauermeister was a former Realtor also endeared me to the story. It's hard to critique a memoir--we each bring our own unique experiences to the table when reading, which I believe shape the general narrative and response. What I think I wanted was a little more interiority, a little intimacy, because in some ways, I felt a little distanced, as if I were in the yard of this lovely home in Port Townsend peering through the windows. Instead, I wanted to be right there, in the living room. I found some similarities between HOUSE LESSONS and TENEMENTAL (Vikki Warner) meets Lisa Tognola's AS LONG AS IT'S PERFECT with a touch of FIXER-UPPER (TV show). For all my reviews, including author interviews, please see: www.leslielindsay.com|Always with a Book Special thanks to Sasquatch Books and the author for this review copy. All thoughts are my own.

  26. 4 out of 5

    LoneStarWords Deb Coco

    We’ve renovated two very old houses (old measured in centuries) and it's both a daunting and rewarding process; truly a labor of love. I've dreamed of writing a memoir about our adventures many times, but I always love stumbling upon someone who actually did. House Lessons shares the story of the author and her husband falling in love with a dilapidated house in Port Townsend, Washington and their journey bringing it back to life. To her experience with this renovation, Bauermeister adds paralle We’ve renovated two very old houses (old measured in centuries) and it's both a daunting and rewarding process; truly a labor of love. I've dreamed of writing a memoir about our adventures many times, but I always love stumbling upon someone who actually did. House Lessons shares the story of the author and her husband falling in love with a dilapidated house in Port Townsend, Washington and their journey bringing it back to life. To her experience with this renovation, Bauermeister adds parallels on personal identity, architecture, and the craft of designing a livable space. There is depth to this book beyond just the renovation process, and if you enjoy both memoir and reno, this is a great hybrid of the two. The house is the main character, and a metaphor for the unfolding life process. I do feel as though this book was a bit confused as to what it wanted to be because it goes off on multiple tangents. I think that readers might pick this up expecting more of the 'nitty gritty' of restoration, but it is really the author's more personal memoir. This is both a quick read, and a decent palate cleanser.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

    I enjoyed this book. I love reading about architecture and people's homes in general, but this was someone's individual story and I found it much more interesting. The author and husband returned from a year in Italy and she almost immediately felt that they were sliding back into the grind of American life. Longing to find a home for the family where they could reconnect, they eventually purchase a truly run-down house whose owner - an extreme hoarder - recently died. This book is the story of h I enjoyed this book. I love reading about architecture and people's homes in general, but this was someone's individual story and I found it much more interesting. The author and husband returned from a year in Italy and she almost immediately felt that they were sliding back into the grind of American life. Longing to find a home for the family where they could reconnect, they eventually purchase a truly run-down house whose owner - an extreme hoarder - recently died. This book is the story of how they renovated it and made it their own. It's also the story of their family spending time together as it all happened. The writing is good and there are many times when you think they might just give up or go broke, but eventually the house is just as they want it to be. Of course, this is yet another book written by someone who is financially well off enough to do all of this, but I guess there wouldn't be a book if they had not been able to afford to complete the project or even start it in the first place. The descriptive prose is wonderful, and I have to say that once I finished the book, I looked on Google for a photo of the house - it looked almost exactly has I had imagined from reading the book! If you enjoy house stories, if you enjoy learning how people came and went and came back again to the writing life, and if you enjoy reading about families who end up happy and reconnected, I think you will enjoy this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir that spans over 20 years of house love that required extensive renovation, something that I never want to get sucked into, or if I already have, never want to do again. She weaves human interest into the architecture of a home in a way that brings joy to the reader, to this reader at least. Then there's the theme of building family relationships while renovating a 100 year old home in Port Townsend, WA. Of course I also loved reading her descriptions of the Pacif I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir that spans over 20 years of house love that required extensive renovation, something that I never want to get sucked into, or if I already have, never want to do again. She weaves human interest into the architecture of a home in a way that brings joy to the reader, to this reader at least. Then there's the theme of building family relationships while renovating a 100 year old home in Port Townsend, WA. Of course I also loved reading her descriptions of the Pacific Northwest, especially the Washington Ferry rides. The book falls a bit on the woo, woo side. I guess I'm a natural skeptic, but try very hard not to question others' experience in the thin places and trust they won't question mine. Now don't say I didn't warn you, but the awesome bibliography could create serious havoc with your TBR list and your already overcrowded bookcases, windowsills, floors, and ironing boards. I never realized so many fascinating books await on the subject of home architecture.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anika J.

    Erica Bauermeister's memoir-in-essays is a treasure for anyone who, like me, can't resist the intrigue of an open house sign. House Lessons beckons you inside a trash-filled hoarder house in Port Townsend, WA, where a family is determined to transform it into a beautiful, memory-filled home. The project proves to be an undertaking that is easier dreamt than done, and Bauermeister is transparent about the frustrations inherent to the process. This book is in part an education in architecture, inf Erica Bauermeister's memoir-in-essays is a treasure for anyone who, like me, can't resist the intrigue of an open house sign. House Lessons beckons you inside a trash-filled hoarder house in Port Townsend, WA, where a family is determined to transform it into a beautiful, memory-filled home. The project proves to be an undertaking that is easier dreamt than done, and Bauermeister is transparent about the frustrations inherent to the process. This book is in part an education in architecture, informative as well as interesting, and its structure is strong enough to hold this story, with its cast of eccentric real-life characters and stranger-than-fiction moments. Told with loving language and such respect, this was a most enjoyable read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This was a delightful read, and a fun memoir of the author and her families renovation of an old home in Port Townsend, Washington. It is full of wonderful imagery, from the trials and tribulations of construction, myths and superstitions surrounding building, to family unity and fun stories about architects . This is a book that spoke to me, I loved it, as I felt I was there with this family throughout this whole process, wondering what I, would do in certain instances. This is a love song to a This was a delightful read, and a fun memoir of the author and her families renovation of an old home in Port Townsend, Washington. It is full of wonderful imagery, from the trials and tribulations of construction, myths and superstitions surrounding building, to family unity and fun stories about architects . This is a book that spoke to me, I loved it, as I felt I was there with this family throughout this whole process, wondering what I, would do in certain instances. This is a love song to a house and it endless possibilities, so fun to watch this family navigate their relationships, strengths, and dreams. I have read novels by this author before and enjoyed them very much. I would like to thank NetGalley and Sasquatch Books for the ARC of this book.

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