The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino. Thomas Nelson. 208 pages. 2016
This book tells the fascinating story of Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s popular Fixer Upper television series, now in its third season, and how God has worked in that story. The book is written by both of them, with Joanna taking the lead. The audiobook version is well-read by the authors.
The book begins with the incredible story of how they got their television series to start with. We also hear how God worked in their lives to get the property for Joanna’s first store in Waco, Texas, an unexpected loan of $100,000 from a friend when they were literally broke, as well as how they got the 40-acre farm they live on with their four children as well as the old cotton mill where their new Magnolia Market is located.
Both Chip and Joanna go back and give us a glimpse of their lives growing up. Chip was an entrepreneur. He was known as the “Mayor of 3rd Street” in Waco, about a mile from the Baylor University campus. He was a star athlete in high school and would go on to play baseball in college. Joanna’s mother is Korean, and she writes of some difficult times she endured in high school because she looked different from the other girls. Chip and Joanna are opposites in many ways, but write of how they have used their individual strengths to be good together.
The authors write openly of their faith and how God has led them along their journeys, oftentimes referring to His still, small voice leading them.
Joanna writes about being inspired by visits to boutiques she visited in New York City, eventually leading to the opening of her own shop (The Magnolia Shop), which she closed in 2006 to concentrate on her family. But other businesses would follow, a home furnishing brand and Magnolia Homes, which really took off after their first shop closed.
Life changed significantly for the Gaines when the pilot of Fixer Upper aired in 2013 and with the show’s first season in 2014. Joanna would later feel led by God to open Magnolia Market, bringing in her father to assist with the business.
We read that the Gaines have never had a television in their home in the thirteen years they’ve been married, and that they do better as a couple the more time they spend together.
Joanna shares some of her thoughts about design and decorating as well as philosophies about life, such as:
- Thrive, don’t just survive
- Focus on thankfulness and contentment
- Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you are happy
- Don’t worry about always keeping the house clean
This is a quick and enjoyable read, especially for those fans of the TV show Fixer Upper.
Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Henry Holt and Co. 336 pages. 2016
This is the sixth book in Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing series, with previous volumes on Lincoln, Kennedy, Jesus, Patton and Reagan. Next to the book on Lincoln, this book, which addresses the events leading up to the end of World War II, has had the most impact on me. As with the other books, this one provides day-by-day, and at times hour-by-hour accounts of the events leading up to the end of the war. The central character in the book, in my opinion, is not a person, but the atomic bomb.