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In Conversation with Exceptional Women

We’re all trying to innovate at a mile a minute these days, aren’t we? Sometimes, when I look at how quickly the world is whizzing by, I feel like I’d be happy just to breathe at a mile a minute. I keep having to stop myself from asking my friends with good organizational skills (and, you know, post-graduate degrees and stuff) whether any of them would like to be my wildly overqualified personal assistant so my girls don’t arrive at school with their tights on backwards and I don’t arrive back home at my desk with my head on backwards. It’s a good thing I haven’t taken a nap since May, 2011 (no, that’s a lie, but let’s say), because I might have slept through the end of the Space Shuttle program or the Iraq war or even my Pinterest invitation. And if I weren’t on Pinterest, how would I know what I wish my life were like?

Trying to make sense of a world like this, and maybe even draw some inspiration from it once in a while, is a challenge. Ideally we would each have a standing Friday morning coffee date with the best and the brightest in our field, where we could ask them purposeful but slightly intimate questions and get candid, lucid, sometimes even poetic answers. That would be super-great, and if I had a wildly overqualified personal assistant, maybe I would’ve made more than exactly zero headway on setting that up by now.

Luckily I have got my hands on what truly may be the next-best thing. Monica Bhide, the much-lauded food writer and cookbook author, recently published the e-book In Conversation with Exceptional Women: Seeds of inspiration to help you bloom where you are planted. In it she chats with more than 50 visionary women in food, writing, and media — from Ruth Reichl to Padma Lakshmi to Susan Orlean — to learn how they define success and how they’ve crafted their lives and careers to achieve it. (Also, what they eat late at night. Word to the wise: eat toast at 11 p.m. like Melissa Clark, and you, too, may soon be publishing your 31st cookbook.)

This book is light, breezy reading peppered with little bursts of profundity and resonance. It combines a touch of voyeurism with a touch of self-help in a charming and socially acceptable package. It’s mildly addictive, because if you read just one more conversation, and then just one more after that, you might find that one inspired secret to carry with you for the rest of your life. I was surprised by where the sparks flew for me, and I bet you will be too.

Ringing in at less than five dollars, In Conversation is a whole lot of inspiration per unit price, so I’d suggest you head on over to Amazon without giving it a second thought and pick it up today. But because the only thing better than a whole lot of inspiration is a whole lot of free inspiration, Umami Girl is giving away five copies of In Conversation with Exceptional Women. Just leave a comment on this post before noon Eastern time on Friday, March 2 that answers the question: What is your definition of success? I’ll choose five winners from the list of qualified responses. Good luck!

P.S. I’m also currently obsessing over a terrific podcast of a similar nature, called We’re About to be Friends, where the always entertaining Joy the Baker interviews successful food-media women she’d like to know better. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s voyeuristic/self-helpy/socially acceptable. Check it!

P.P.S. Speaking of excitement and inspiration, I’m hard at work on a major Umami Girl blog redesign. Watch this space….


Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.

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