Book Title/Author: Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On!: What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y'all Should Know Too by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson
Publisher/Year Published: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2008
How I got a hold of this book: I bought this book at Amazon.com.
Why I read this book: I am pretty much obsessed with all things Southern, so this seemed like a good book to read. I was even more excited when I found out that recipes were involved. But Shellie's style was the frosting on the cupcake as far as I was concerned.
Rating:5+ stars because I will definitely go back through and pick out some recipes, as well as refer to the lessons and guidelines to live by that Shellie shares on several topics.
I bought this book kind of on a whim, as a part of a 3 books for a bit of a deal on Amazon...and I am so glad that I did! There was something magical about reading this book and being able to say "You too?!" when I read about many of Shellie's experiences.
The South is known the world over for its manners and charms. Our mamas wouldn't have it any other way. Shellie provides the reader a good collection of Southern manners and social graces through her own life story. I'm sure that a work the length of Proust's entire In Search Of Lost Time series would not cover all of the nuances of the Southern code of life. But Shellie does an excellent job of giving the reader a good starting point. The margins of her pages include gems of wisdom from other Southern mamas and their daughters.
While reading this book, I was surprised to learn just how Southern my childhood was. Here I thought my mama just did a good job, but no! she was Southern through and through. Shellie includes chapters about love, having children (which was the last chapter I read because I was a little afraid of what that might entail), budgeting, keeping house, manners, and other pearls of wisdom. At the end of each chapter, she gives a few good old Southern recipes--main dishes, casseroles, soups, desserts, pretty much every course in a good meal. She does all of this with quintessentially Southern wit, charm and humor. Her first person narrative is open and honest. I felt like I was sitting on the front porch, sipping a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade, while Shellie talked to me and me only.
I tried to read this book one chapter a night so that I could really savor and stretch the book and its contents. But I found myself sneaking in multiple chapters a day. I feel I need to reread it (again and again) to see whether I missed any other manners or tips that I could (and should) incorporate into my life. It may sound disingenuous to say that this book was life-changing, but it has definitely made me think about the person I present to the world...and how I represent not only myself, but my mama who raised me as well.
About halfway through this book, I looked up Shellie's website, All Things Southern, and found a new mecca for being Southern. Definitely check it out and subscribe to her blog. I also started following her on Twitter. OK, you've probably noticed that throughout this review I've called her "Shellie" instead of "Tomlinson" or "the author." Well, that's because not only did she follow me back on Twitter, but she's someone I talk with every now and then. She answered all of my many questions when I went to make her Pork Roast Barbecue (which you make in the oven!) for my family's Memorial Day meal. And she was quite helpful when I turned to her for some spiritual advice. I mention all of this because it is so nice to meet a published author who is so accessible. She doesn't take herself too seriously at all and I feel I can count her as one of my friends.
I would recommend this book to women who want to learn more about being Southern, whether or not they come from the South...especially if they love to cook. I feel that this book holds many gems about life and good manners that everyone should follow, regardless of where they are from.