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House Lessons: Renovating a Life

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  142 reviews
“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
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Sasquatch Books
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Kate Vocke (bookapotamus)
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Maine Colonial
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 was also
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
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 ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“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
James Hallmark
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nina Meierding
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jill Meyer
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Finished in one day! Loved it.
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 ...more
Christine Hemp
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Janilyn Kocher
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
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 ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.) ...more
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this 10 stars I would. Loved!! Beautiful writing...reminds me of Katrina Kenison. Gorgeous.
Leslie Lindsay
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
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
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Anika J.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
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
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Erica Bauermeister is the NYT bestselling author of four novels -- The Scent Keeper (a Reese's Book Club pick), The School of Essential Ingredients,, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. Her memoir, House Lessons, will be published by Sasquatch March 24th, 2020. She is also the co-author of 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Re ...more

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