“Make Your Own Rules Cookbook: More Than 100 Simple, Healthy Recipes Inspired by Family and Friends Around the World” authored by Tara Stiles
I honestly don’t know how to feel about this one. I’ve never been a huge fan of Tara Stiles in the first place (super crunchy white yogini, and all that)… But this book is… The best word I can think of to describe it is confusing; overall, there is just too much going on here.
Firstly, there are more pictures than are necessary; Savor did the combination of food and artistic photography incredibly well, but Make Your Own Rules pales drastically by comparison. It’s distracting when almost every other page is just picture after picture after picture– many times with multiples stuck alongside one another on a vibrant, textured background that ultimately detracts from the images. Furthermore, the overall design- while it looks good if you don’t actually want to read anything- is busy and overwhelming; there’s too much texture, too many pictures, too many things going on from start to finish.
In particular, I am especially not at all a fan of mixed matched fonts, font sizes, or any such thing- which this book has in metric tons; Make Your Own Rules looks like a “How Not to Design 101” course threw up among its page. Looking at it, I feel like one of those Comic Sans Posters (you know the ones), and it makes the Graphic Designer in me want to cry and beg for mercy; you have one page with super large font and a bright background immediately followed by a plain background continuation in “normal” font… Honestly, I can’t even imagine what her designer and / or layout editor was thinking.
I also don’t understand why Meditations are included. I’m definitely not surprised given the author… But they felt like unnecessary and irrelevant additions to the book, mostly provided to bulk it up. In fact, that’s how much of the text felt within the book; the focus seems to be less on the food and more about her: Her stories, her thoughts, her reasons, her beliefs, her Yoga, her methods, and on and on and on. And when reading a recipe book I’m not really interested in any of that unless it adds to the book in a positive manner. But in Stiles’ book it just detracted from it; I found myself skim reading and wound up having lost practically all interest in the content by the time I even got to the recipes at all.
That being said, if you can get past the sheer strangeness of certain areas, it does have decent information in it in a few areas- most notably the areas concerning how to clean out your kitchen and prep meals. However, the recipes (once I trudged through the mostly irrelevant and predominantly annoying stuff to find them) are not things that I would personally want to eat. Some certainly sound good, but you can tell that they cater to a very specific type of person- and I am certainly not that person. As a result, I can’t say whether or not any of them are actually good or worth buying this book for when it’s released.
Overall, it is a strange and almost uncomfortable mashup of spirituality, sustainable food culture, crunchy – granola lifestyle, white yoga, veg*ism, and more. As a result, in some areas it falls into many of the same traps as books like Savor does. But where Savor knew where to draw a line and was elegant in its simplicity… Make Your Own Rules kind of just bulldozes over every boundary imaginable; it’s less about truly making your own rules and more about… Hell by the end of the book I actually couldn’t tell you. But what I do know is that I legitimately can’t understand why this is titled as Make Your Own Rules.
The book comes across as self centered and preachy in some of the most annoying ways. And if I’m being honest, it sets me on edge for some reason- though I can’t figure out exactly why; all in all, I’m not a fan. However, if you’re into the kind of stuff like Raw and Clean Eating, (nonexistent) Superfoods and “Detoxing”, and your typical rich white american yoga stuff… It might be right up your alley. Personally, though, I’ll stick with my Good Housekeeping Cookbook– or just re-read Savor.