Book Review: The Magnolia Story

I don’t actually watch too many home flipping and fixing shows because we don’t get HGTV on our main TV, connected to Tivo (though we do get it on the TVs in my mother-in-law’s room and our bedroom, which aren’t connected to Tivo). But we watched a few through Netflix. last summer when nothing else was on. I enjoyed them, but some of the renovations were too sleek and modern for my tastes. Then I found “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I liked the warmth of the show and Joanna’s style. So, even though I’d only seen a handful of episodes, I was excited to see that they were coming out with a book, The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna with Mark Dagostino.

magnoliaThe book starts with the offer they received to have someone come out and do some filming with the idea of developing a reality show, how it almost bombed out before it even got going, and what turned the tide. Then they backtrack to how they first met, their backgrounds, what led to their business and the TV offer, and then shoot ahead to how they got to where they are today.

The book is written in a conversational style with different fonts for the two of them.

They’re a definite case of opposites attracting, but they’ve learned to work with each other’s differences and draw out the best in each other.

Chip seems always to have had a bent toward entrepreneurship. Joanna was actually a communications major with no background in design, but while doing an internship in New York City, she came across some warm and cozy little shops and wanted to start a similar one in Waco, TX. That led to helping customers find just the right accents for their homes, and eventually she got involved in Chip’s house-flipping business. They both learned along the  way by doing, and the success they’ve had indicates they’ve obviously learned well.

They talk candidly about their faith, though they don’t really define it or tell how they came to it. Joanna mentioned her faith becoming more personal while in college. But they do credit God with guiding and providing for them.

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

It seemed as if every homeless guy in Waco knew Chip Gaines. On the flip side, every baker in Waco knew Chip, too. And he talked to those very different groups of people exactly the same way (p. 19).

I realized that my determination to make things perfect meant I was chasing an empty obsession all day long. Nothing was ever going to be perfect the way I had envisioned it in the past. Did I want to keep spending my energy on that effort, or did I want to step out of that obsession and to enjoy my kids, maybe allowing myself to get messy right along with them in the process? I chose the latter – and that made all the difference.

It’s up to us to choose contentment and thankfulness now—and to stop imagining that we have to have everything perfect before we’ll be happy.

Most people think that you start off not thriving. Then you get a TV show or some other amazing opportunity, you get fame, you get fortune, and then you thrive…I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good (pp. 167-168).

They share why they use the magnolia as a symbol, what landed Chip in jail once, the business venture that almost ruined them, how they got their farm, and pictures!

I very much enjoyed reading their story.

Genre: Non-fiction
Objectionable elements: None
My rating: 9 out of 10

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Carole’s Books You Loved)

Books you loved 4





12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magnolia Story

  1. I listened to this book read by Chip and Joanna. I think it’s the perfect book to experience as an audio book, even if you don’t especially like audio books typically. My only complaint was Joanna’s speedy reading.

    You captured the way they talk about their faith exactly as I perceived it. Not very specific, but if you know where they’re coming from, you fill in the blanks. For someone who isn’t already a Christian, the book doesn’t give the reader much content to consider regarding Christianity other than a personal description of a relationship with God. That might be enough to get a curious reader to investigate more.

  2. I’ve never seen their TV show, but I have heard really good things about them as a couple. The book sounds really interesting. Chip definitely sounds as if he treats everyone the same…and what a blessing that is this day and age. Thank you so much, Barbara, for sharing about the book.

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  8. Well, honestly, sounds like chip didn’t look at the marriage as a union. He pretty much did what he pleased as far as making decisions without including Joanna. Sorry, but there’s no excuse for that. I guess and I hope now that they’re rich, he’s smart enough to treat Joanna as his equal. Sorry but I had to voice my perspective. I love Joanna’s style and appreciate her talent. Love y’all.

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