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The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris

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A story about one woman's search for self-love, experienced through food and travel. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman--herself included--wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, A story about one woman's search for self-love, experienced through food and travel. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman--herself included--wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded each moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers: unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. Inspired by the great 20th century female food writer M.F.K. Fisher's works, it was the place Jackie escaped into herself, finding life, peace, comfort, and acceptance. This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey--from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again--to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to joy. Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humour, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses.


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A story about one woman's search for self-love, experienced through food and travel. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman--herself included--wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, A story about one woman's search for self-love, experienced through food and travel. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman--herself included--wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded each moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers: unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. Inspired by the great 20th century female food writer M.F.K. Fisher's works, it was the place Jackie escaped into herself, finding life, peace, comfort, and acceptance. This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey--from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again--to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to joy. Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humour, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses.

30 review for The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin M

    I know I am probably not the target audience for this book. While I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love, I imagine the readership would greatly overlap with this title, and indeed, it was summarized as such by the person who gave it to me. This is a story about a woman going through an unfulfilling marriage, and attempting to change careers while travelling abroad and finding passion in food. Each chapter has a recipe at the end of it (but I can't speak to their quality, didn't try making one of them) I know I am probably not the target audience for this book. While I haven't read Eat, Pray, Love, I imagine the readership would greatly overlap with this title, and indeed, it was summarized as such by the person who gave it to me. This is a story about a woman going through an unfulfilling marriage, and attempting to change careers while travelling abroad and finding passion in food. Each chapter has a recipe at the end of it (but I can't speak to their quality, didn't try making one of them). I don't take issue with her account of depression, because I know it doesn't matter how well off or secure your life is, when you've numbed yourself so as not to feel the bad, you tend to lose the good too. However, this book feels a bit like a vanity project. Setting aside the overly produced format (it is a very pretty book), and the recipes which range from high aspirations to "high" concept (I nearly dislocated my eyes rolling them when I read her recipe for clarity), what's left? It kind of feels like another milestone. Become successful designer; become successful self-employed designer; Travel abroad for half a year; open successful French bakery; publish book. Perhaps I'm wrong, though if I'm not, this would only make it self-congratulatory. No great sin. What I do take issue with is where survivorship bias stumbles awkwardly into frame. A section near the end talking about the hardships and complications of opening a bakery uses a metaphor of trying to fight to stay above water, and then gently "sink[ing] into the water and [her] head stays afloat. ... In that moment, [she] learned to trust life." We are dangerously close to The Secret territory. This is not helpful to anyone in similar straits, and pretty pat and uninteresting to the casual reader. So, what started as a fairly interesting memoir of struggle with confidence and self-identity, ends in some fairly stock metaphors to put a neat bow on what I'm sure were some tough years. (Really, her husband seems like a massive tool. Probably for the best he's only referred to by an initial.) Though I do think there's an interesting story in her life, it feels like she skirts around it, and offers up recipes, quotes, travel reminiscences, and a few painful moments rather than truly lay it bare. She's still hiding the blood in the baking.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melissa T

    *I received a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways* The title of the copy I received is slightly different, and very fittingly "The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris." Throughout the memoir, the author seems absolutely miserable, most of the time. This is told through a series of vignettes that jump forward and backward in time. The jumps were not too unsettling, but I feel that as a whole it would be more powerful if this were in a more sequential order. As a child, sh *I received a copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways* The title of the copy I received is slightly different, and very fittingly "The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris." Throughout the memoir, the author seems absolutely miserable, most of the time. This is told through a series of vignettes that jump forward and backward in time. The jumps were not too unsettling, but I feel that as a whole it would be more powerful if this were in a more sequential order. As a child, she's told she's useless and stupid. Not the greatest foundation, which leads her to being very insecure. She jumps around in her choices of schools, career paths and seems quite unsure of herself in general. The parts of the memoir that deal with her marriage were probably the most difficult for me to read, just because she painted it so bleakly. There's no real explanation of why they're together in the first place, only that he seemed to "get her" so they got married. They fought on their honeymoon, which instantly spelled trouble to me. And he seemed to be a major control freak, not wanting to buy furniture or art for their home, giving her a monthly "allowance" and discouraging her from things that clearly brought her joy, like baking and cooking. So the "Heartbreak" portion is a little hard for me to swallow. Throughout her time in Paris the author painted the picture that her husband didn't even want to be there and I just felt bad that she seemed to be not wasting, but having to be restricted in experiencing what was a once in a lifetime opportunity of being able to live in Paris. The author also discusses a struggle with depression, which I could certainly relate to. I went through a period of deep depression when I moved to BC, and know all t0o well what a gnarly beast that can be. And yet, this too felt too formal, for me to relate on a more emotional level. There didn't seem to be any feeling to the memoir, not a relatable voice that I could empathize with, just a methodical acknowledgement of facts. Another element that bothered me was that each chapter began with various quotes at the top from chefs, philosophers, and others. These are why I chose the label of "trying too hard" because that's exactly what these quotes give the idea of. They are completely uneccessary. The black and white pictures in my copy also gave the element of trying to be chic, but weren't. I did really enjoy the author's passion for food. The descriptions of her enjoyment and love for creating dishes really comes through well. And her adventure for trying new dishes is something I wish I could learn to do. I would have liked an even more in depth section on her time at pastry school in Paris, since that's where she seemed to enjoy herself the most. There are also a few things toward the end of the book that just seem unbelievable to me. Probably because they're told in the same methodical manner as other elements of the memoir, without feeling connected. I won't say exactly what because I don't want to ruin it, but lets just say i had a "what the fuck?" moment when reading these particular scenes. Overall, this just felt more miserable than powerful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I enjoyed the first half of this memoir; the second is a bit loose in terms of structuce and progression. Still, the recipes look interesting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz Laurin

    this was gorgeous and heartbreaking and raw and real and everything in between. it reminds me of cooking memoirs I read when I was young; that were broken up and had recipes. the entire book is stunning with the coloured.pages and photos and I just couldn't get enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    2.5 stars For the first 2 years of our marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment just a few streets over from Beaucoup Bakery. I enjoyed many Saturday morning croissants there and was thrilled to hear the founder, Jackie Kai Ellis, had a memoir coming out. I assumed her memoir would focus primarily on opening the bakery (arguably one of Vancouver’s most popular and successful) but I was wrong. In the preface, Ellis tells readers that her book is a collection of memories written as vignette 2.5 stars For the first 2 years of our marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment just a few streets over from Beaucoup Bakery. I enjoyed many Saturday morning croissants there and was thrilled to hear the founder, Jackie Kai Ellis, had a memoir coming out. I assumed her memoir would focus primarily on opening the bakery (arguably one of Vancouver’s most popular and successful) but I was wrong. In the preface, Ellis tells readers that her book is a collection of memories written as vignettes. I don’t usually mind this format, but it didn’t work for me in this particular book. The vignettes aren’t in chronological order, making the story hard to follow. They’re also random; memories that obviously mean a lot to the author, but don’t necessarily hold the reader’s interest. Her experiences at the Parisian pastry school and her decision to open a bakery in Vancouver are briefly discussed but the focus is really on her struggle with depression and her failing marriage. I found her attempts to weave all of the stories together with food a little heavy-handed ... an entire chapter about how miserable she is in her marriage and then a quick paragraph about how she went out and ate a cookie, followed by a cookie recipe? Really? I’m not sure the comparisons to Eat, Pray, Love are fair ... Gilbert’s book was uplifting and even a little whimsical; Ellis’ book is darker, grittier, heavy on the melancholy. Because of my connection to and fondness for Beaucoup Bakery, I was really hoping this would be a 5 star read for me. Unfortunately, it was just a little too disjointed and awkwardly put together.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Could be the saddest, heaviest, most depressing take on food and Paris possible. My estimate is 80% of the book is spent on detailing an insanely dull and oppressive marital relationship, 3% paris, 3% other travels, and 13% ruminations from a personal journal that would have been better left out. Oh, and 1% recipes no one reading the book will ever try, especially since she actually tries to convince people not to try the croissant recipe (her bakery's signature item) - my guess is the editor to Could be the saddest, heaviest, most depressing take on food and Paris possible. My estimate is 80% of the book is spent on detailing an insanely dull and oppressive marital relationship, 3% paris, 3% other travels, and 13% ruminations from a personal journal that would have been better left out. Oh, and 1% recipes no one reading the book will ever try, especially since she actually tries to convince people not to try the croissant recipe (her bakery's signature item) - my guess is the editor told her it had to be in the book? The writing was not great. I feel the author had some serious mental issues of her own especially considering that she included an anecdote about how she was working so hard at one point, she ended up pooping her pants twice without realizing it. The way she wrote it into the book was so casual that it was shocking. I wouldn't recommend this book or want to re-read it. However, I am happy for this author that she was able to divorce her awful husband and start a successful business.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Reeder

    First of all, let me say that I know that this book doesn't come out for seven months, but I feel like it's my duty to come on Goodreads and rave about how much I loved The Measure of My Powers. Vulnerability is a tricky thing and it's not easy to put some of your darkest thoughts on paper, but lucky for readers, that's what Jackie Kai Ellis has done. She writes of a time when she thought suicide was a better option than living and she shares the insecurities she has with her body. These dark mo First of all, let me say that I know that this book doesn't come out for seven months, but I feel like it's my duty to come on Goodreads and rave about how much I loved The Measure of My Powers. Vulnerability is a tricky thing and it's not easy to put some of your darkest thoughts on paper, but lucky for readers, that's what Jackie Kai Ellis has done. She writes of a time when she thought suicide was a better option than living and she shares the insecurities she has with her body. These dark moments are shared with such description, that you'll start to think you were there next to her. It's through the power of food and her learnings about food in Paris, that Jackie is able to reclaim her voice, her power. If you loved Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert or Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, you'll adore every word in this fantastic debut.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emmkay

    I enjoy reading about both travel (and Paris!) and food, and was also interested to read the author's story of opening her own bakery. She grappled her way out of a difficult marriage and significant depression to achieve success and happiness, which is terrific. However, the episodic format of her story didn't grab me, and I found that her memoir veered between rather generic self-affirmations and overly specific TMI moments.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    "The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris" which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is a moving memoir about a woman raised in an Asian family of academic achievers, with a successful career as a designer and dedicated to a charming but controlling husband who finds herself in the throws of depression; unhappy, unfulfilled, and consumed by feelings of inadequacy. Struggling with her inner darkness and a failing marriage that’s childless and empty, she turns to her love of food "The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris" which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is a moving memoir about a woman raised in an Asian family of academic achievers, with a successful career as a designer and dedicated to a charming but controlling husband who finds herself in the throws of depression; unhappy, unfulfilled, and consumed by feelings of inadequacy. Struggling with her inner darkness and a failing marriage that’s childless and empty, she turns to her love of food which sparks a trip to the pastry school in Paris, the opening of the “Beaucoup”, a successful bakery and to finally finding inner hope, passion, self- acceptance and happiness. In a fascinating journey of renewal, the reader is immersed in Jackie Kai Ellis’s memories as she works through her misery which starts in childhood with her insecurity, shyness and a lack of an academic appetite that her family valued while clinging to her love of cooking which fuels a dream that begins with selling her creations at farmers’ markets and finally to opening her bakery in Vancouver. In her trip to France and Italy the author visually sweeps the reader up in the sights, sounds and tastes of the market in Paris and eating apricots over the Tuscan hills while in the Congo we feel her warmth and excitement watching a silverback in the Congolese bush as her life begins to take on a new dimension. Although I had a problem with the author’s writing style as she skipped between years and monumental events in her life which breaks up the smooth flow of a story, I did enjoy the multiple recipes, humor and wisdom she shares from her experience. Gritty, intimate and honest "The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris” is compelling reading that you can’t put down until finished.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Becky R.

    Ugh. Just too self-indulgent. I like a journey to find oneself, but this was misery. I didn't even feel like celebrating with her when she traveled to all of these amazing places and ate amazing food because everything was a struggle, a lack of gratitude, the total opposite of joy. Sorry, but this wasn't what I expected. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, this is very much like that journey. In both cases, I wanted to see more of them understanding how privileged they are, but that reality just doesn Ugh. Just too self-indulgent. I like a journey to find oneself, but this was misery. I didn't even feel like celebrating with her when she traveled to all of these amazing places and ate amazing food because everything was a struggle, a lack of gratitude, the total opposite of joy. Sorry, but this wasn't what I expected. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, this is very much like that journey. In both cases, I wanted to see more of them understanding how privileged they are, but that reality just doesn't seem to come.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Pillay

    I received an ARC from the publisher- thank you- but this is an honest review. I love food and I love reading about food. That was my favourite part of this book - the descriptions of food were incredibly evocative and left my mouth watering. I didn’t try any of the recipes, so I can’t vouch for them, but they certainly look amazing and there are a couple I would like to try. Of course, it’s not just about the food, it’s about food as her lifeline in despair. I found her descriptions of depressi I received an ARC from the publisher- thank you- but this is an honest review. I love food and I love reading about food. That was my favourite part of this book - the descriptions of food were incredibly evocative and left my mouth watering. I didn’t try any of the recipes, so I can’t vouch for them, but they certainly look amazing and there are a couple I would like to try. Of course, it’s not just about the food, it’s about food as her lifeline in despair. I found her descriptions of depression both accurate (to my experience) and moving. I think if you had never experienced anything like depression, you would understand and feel her misery. Where the book fell down for me was in the second half where I found the timeline confusing and muddled. I was frequently swept away in the descriptions and would end up totally confused about what was going on in her life, which was frustrating for me. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love and Julie and Julia, I really think you should try this book. I wouldn’t put it on quite the same level, but I still greatly enjoyed it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karla Castro

    A great integration of food and the journey of life. Loved the recipes intertwined. The novel tapped into the ebbs and flows of a marriage as well as a bakery business. Loved it all.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jay Chi

    I honestly wasn't super committed to reading this book and it ultimately did kind of fall flat. I am definitely not the target audience for this book; I think the comparison that readers who loved Eat, Pray, Love would like this is pretty appropriate. I found the portions where Jackie discusses her marriage extremely bleak and difficult to read because of how she portrayed its failure (and poorly written). Hearing how she felt alone on her honeymoon is something difficult to stomach. I enjoy tha I honestly wasn't super committed to reading this book and it ultimately did kind of fall flat. I am definitely not the target audience for this book; I think the comparison that readers who loved Eat, Pray, Love would like this is pretty appropriate. I found the portions where Jackie discusses her marriage extremely bleak and difficult to read because of how she portrayed its failure (and poorly written). Hearing how she felt alone on her honeymoon is something difficult to stomach. I enjoy that she provides little snippets and introspective stories of her life interspersed with her favorite recipes, which I think really emphasizes her passion for baking and food. I appreciate how seamless the marriage of her baking and her life story was presented in this book, even if her actual marriage didn't work out as intended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Lindsay

    Loved every moment of reading this book! As someone who has struggled with depression, loneliness and a HUGE life/career change this book really hit home. I too used food to heal me and bring me back to life, I’m a private chef and nutritionist. Although I don’t see myself opening a bakery anytime soon, I related so much to her internal struggle of how happy she was during the process but also how much physically it took from her. So happy she got pushed to put these words on to paper and I can’t Loved every moment of reading this book! As someone who has struggled with depression, loneliness and a HUGE life/career change this book really hit home. I too used food to heal me and bring me back to life, I’m a private chef and nutritionist. Although I don’t see myself opening a bakery anytime soon, I related so much to her internal struggle of how happy she was during the process but also how much physically it took from her. So happy she got pushed to put these words on to paper and I can’t wait to make some of the recipes from the ends of the chapters! Although I don’t think I’ll be attempting the croissants anytime soon....

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    FANTASTIC. I usually don't leave reviews because it's annoying af, but I had to for this book. It's the perfect pace. An easy read. I was looking for something lighter from all the heavy books I've been reading lately and this was perfect. It was more introspective rather than an analyzation or observation from the world around us. It required more self-reflection than studying information. It was great and really touched my heart. An inspiring memoir.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    This is one of those books that you must hold in your hands and read, it is beautiful! The colour pages, the pictures, the quotes, the recipes, I think all of that would get lost on a kindle. I read this book while driving home from Toronto (Yes, I was the passenger) it was a great escape from the boring drive. JKE is honest about her story and takes her readers through her journey.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vinci

    Indulgent, sumptuous, and vulnerable. This memoir was certainly a guilty pleasure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    If you've ever been to Beaucoup Bakery or followed its founder, Jackie Kai Ellis on Instagram, you may have come across The Measure of My Powers. Ellis was doing a book signing last year on Robson St. Canada has one national bookstore chain and it had then opened up a new retail store that's not so much a book store but a place to pick up photo frames, notebooks, candles and the occasional bestseller you could probably order online. I got the book signed by Ellis, as I was curious to learn more If you've ever been to Beaucoup Bakery or followed its founder, Jackie Kai Ellis on Instagram, you may have come across The Measure of My Powers. Ellis was doing a book signing last year on Robson St. Canada has one national bookstore chain and it had then opened up a new retail store that's not so much a book store but a place to pick up photo frames, notebooks, candles and the occasional bestseller you could probably order online. I got the book signed by Ellis, as I was curious to learn more about her after listening to an insightful podcast interview she did. As a memoir, it is a slight one. Ellis says herself: "My book is a collection of memories. I've written them as vignettes, short or long stories strung together with food. They are at times playful, at others painful, and like memories, they are sometimes seemingly unrelated and random." It's a beautiful book too. Different colours for different pages, and excellent food photography. I enjoyed the selection of recipes chosen for the significant meaning behind them, and the memories attached to them, whether it is the croissant from her bakery Ellis painstakingly finetuned over and over again, or a carrot cake recipe she's been using since she was a kid getting into cooking. The highlight of The Measure of My Powers is Ellis' passion for food, geeking out over food and sharing her specialized knowledge about why baking and cooking is so cool. Ellis' relationship with her former husband is also quite compelling. G, how she refers to her former husband, seems to be an unpleasant person to be in a committed relationship with. I was quite surprised to find out later on in the book that she remains on speaking terms with him. I am definitely speculating but G either never had a long-term girlfriend before Ellis, or he did and because of that isolated experience, he could not meet Ellis halfway and budge from his relationship dealbreakers. I don't know about you but putting your partner on a $225 monthly allowance when you guys own your own business, not allowing your partner to have any decorations in a suffocatingly boring minimal apartment, and not calling her beautiful Because Philosophy Principles - just wow. I couldn't even bother with G after Ellis noted how he judged her for liking her food "too much" in a performative manner in Paris. Grr, what does it matter to you if she wants to? Lighten up, dude... Anyways. The message of the memoir may not be anything new but it is a healthy reminder to have the courage and compassion to be kind to yourself. To be full of joy, to live for yourself and to not let others take away your light. I do agree with some of the GoodReads reviews that the quotes for each chapter are a little much, but overall, it's a good read if you are interested in Vancouver celebrity bakers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Don’t read this book when you’re hungry. The descriptions of food are so vivid that I could almost see and taste the croissants, eggplant, or apricots. This memoir is presented as a series of vignettes, generally progressing over time but not necessarily in chronological order. Early on, I wasn’t sure that I was interested in continuing to read this book. Jackie Kai Ellis was depressed and depressing, low on self esteem, and stuck in a poor marriage. She had been warned not to marry this man, an Don’t read this book when you’re hungry. The descriptions of food are so vivid that I could almost see and taste the croissants, eggplant, or apricots. This memoir is presented as a series of vignettes, generally progressing over time but not necessarily in chronological order. Early on, I wasn’t sure that I was interested in continuing to read this book. Jackie Kai Ellis was depressed and depressing, low on self esteem, and stuck in a poor marriage. She had been warned not to marry this man, and it seems that her inability to believe in herself kept her from leaving him. But their decision to live in Paris saved her life and this book. She finally learned to open herself up to the possibility that she could be her own self. She has always had a deep appreciation for good food and started teaching herself to bake at about the age of 8. While in Paris she went to baking school, and eventually realized her dream of opening a bakery. Along the way, while sharing her life story, Jackie also shares some very appealing recipes. I’ve flagged some of those pages in my copy of the book and I’m looking forward to trying some double-baked almond croissants and eggplant bharta. I just hope that they live up to the descriptions in the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annie Taal

    (4.5 ⭐) Thoroughly enjoyed the personal memoir of Jackie Kai Ellis. I appreciate that she opened talking about how so many had asked her to write a memoir and this is what she came up with. I appreciate that the story was a little messy and disjointed with snippets of story and time crossing over, it seemed to match the overall tone. It also was the most beautifully artistic book I have ever read. You can tell she used her skills from her previous life as a designer to enhance the experience of t (4.5 ⭐) Thoroughly enjoyed the personal memoir of Jackie Kai Ellis. I appreciate that she opened talking about how so many had asked her to write a memoir and this is what she came up with. I appreciate that the story was a little messy and disjointed with snippets of story and time crossing over, it seemed to match the overall tone. It also was the most beautifully artistic book I have ever read. You can tell she used her skills from her previous life as a designer to enhance the experience of this book! *Summer Reading Challenge Book 20/20 Good For The Gram - A book you found on #bookstagram*

  21. 5 out of 5

    R

    Ugh. Just too self-indulgent. I like a journey to find oneself, but this was misery. I didn't even feel like celebrating with her when she traveled to all of these amazing places and ate amazing food because everything was a struggle, a lack of gratitude, the total opposite of joy. Sorry, but this wasn't what I expected. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, this is very much like that journey. In both cases, I wanted to see more of them understanding how privileged they are, but that reality just doesn Ugh. Just too self-indulgent. I like a journey to find oneself, but this was misery. I didn't even feel like celebrating with her when she traveled to all of these amazing places and ate amazing food because everything was a struggle, a lack of gratitude, the total opposite of joy. Sorry, but this wasn't what I expected. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, this is very much like that journey. In both cases, I wanted to see more of them understanding how privileged they are, but that reality just doesn't seem to come.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    I enjoyed this memoir of Jackie Kai Ellis and the struggles she went through to find herself through the medium of food. I found the format a bit confusing as she picked bits and pieces of her life to share, but I did love the recipes included. Thanks to Goodreads for the giveaway.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Noelle Walsh

    This memoir was an enjoyable one. It was easy to read and the recipes included sound really good. I think the author does a good job of relating the journey she was going through in this book and anyone who likes memoirs might like this one. *won as a GoodReads Giveaway*

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    A beautifully designed, structured, and written book, that somehow never really became more than the sum of its parts for me. Jackie Kai Ellis is clearly a brave and remarkable woman, but I think a more chronological narrative might have served her better here.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ameema Saeed

    3.5 - 4 stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karlee

    This memoir was incredibly beautiful, vulnerable, and deeply moving. I want to read it again and again until every word is engrained in my memory.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I like a food memoir but that was intense.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    OH BOY. Do I have some thoughts on The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris. This book is a RIOT. First: the actual book. It is pretty, looking like it came out of a store that specializes in potpourri. Some pages are randomly coloured in varying hues of pastel. Staged photos and dramatic. pages. that. are. completely. black. separate each chapter of this food memoir. If you want to know what it would look like if the Easter Bunny puked, it would be this book. When I look at i OH BOY. Do I have some thoughts on The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery and Paris. This book is a RIOT. First: the actual book. It is pretty, looking like it came out of a store that specializes in potpourri. Some pages are randomly coloured in varying hues of pastel. Staged photos and dramatic. pages. that. are. completely. black. separate each chapter of this food memoir. If you want to know what it would look like if the Easter Bunny puked, it would be this book. When I look at it, it radiates the aura of a high school project put together with the contents of the Michael's scrapbooking aisle. Complete with quotes as chapter headers from Lao-Tzu, Confucius, and Maya Angelou. I could have sworn that that Gandhi quote was also a chapter lead-in, but flipping back through it looks like the author avoided cliche there... shockingly... Second: the content. She starts the book out recounting when someone said she should write a memoir. Her initial reaction was, "No way!" ... but then she wrote this. LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS! The gist of the book is her ripping her ex-husband a new one (rightfully so), finding herself through cooking (if you're going to do this, do it differently than it has been done before), and finally being happy. You know it's going to end this way with the roses and peaches and stuff on the cover. But seriously, her use of "Misery" in the subtitle is not misplaced. She is truly truly truly miserable throughout the seven years with her husband. And then guess what? SHE THANKS HIM IN THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND SAYS SHE WOULDN'T CHANGE A THING. Jackie, did you actually write the book I just read??! By your account, he sucked and basically zapped all happiness from about 10% of your life! Tell the other women stuck in shitty marriages to get out of there and move to Paris and be Julia Child and live their lives! Don't THANK HIM! Send him an email, but don't punctuate your entire frickin book with that line. Third: I have no doubt that Jackie Kai Ellis is a good cook and baker. Each chapter ends with a recipe that I skimmed over, but in general they look great. The recipes are also written with such flowery language that I cannot imagine how her kitchen looks. It is one aspect of the book that I thought worked great - although she talks about a really great sounding cherry pie in one chapter and then it ends with a recipe for salted caramel sauce. (???) The author is such a character. In my rage as I read, I began to love her even more. I want her to have her own reality show. Fourth: DO NOT LET THIS REVIEW DETER YOU FROM READING THIS BOOK. I will reiterate: it is a RIOT. It is so, so incredibly earnest that you cannot help but laugh. I loved picturing this incredibly successful, rich, now happy woman sipping her latte on her balcony in Paris or in her garden in Vancouver tapping away on her MacBook Air recounting her life with such solemnity. She calls her editor and has serious, serious conversations about the contents of the book... this disjointed, floaty account of her life. Music from Amélie playing in the background as she edits. Don't tell me I'm wrong, Jackie! I know you were listening to it!! So many gems in this food biography. She even (view spoiler)[shits herself (hide spoiler)] at one point but a chapter shortly follows with her final "recipe for seeing beauty": (view spoiler)[a rose in a jar of water (hide spoiler)] . Do you see how I am both gagging and gagging at the same time? Ok. This is my longest review ever and it is getting out of control. But I leave you with a final image of Jackie Kai Ellis writing this book... Honestly, can't wait for the sequel.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ana Calabresi

    I went once to Beaucoup and their croissants are really amazing! It was nice to read the story behind the bakery.

  30. 5 out of 5

    TraceyL

    This is a less interesting version of Eat, Pray, Love. The writing style was actually very engaging and kept me reading, but nothing interesting ever happened. The author is definitely a privileged middle class woman with a perfectly comfortable life struggling to "find herself." Marriage falling apart? Fly to Paris! Bored with your job? Open a restaurant! She talked about having suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder, but instead of being heartfelt, she came across as whiny. There are many be This is a less interesting version of Eat, Pray, Love. The writing style was actually very engaging and kept me reading, but nothing interesting ever happened. The author is definitely a privileged middle class woman with a perfectly comfortable life struggling to "find herself." Marriage falling apart? Fly to Paris! Bored with your job? Open a restaurant! She talked about having suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder, but instead of being heartfelt, she came across as whiny. There are many better food and travel memoirs out there to read instead of this one.

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