It’s no secret that I love reading and writing about people’s stories. I’ve recently gone through three top-notch autobiographies from some of my favorite people in the entertainment industry. If you like them on-screen or on the radio, don’t hesitate to pick up or download a copy of their book. Enjoy!

The Magnolia Story (Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino)

Aren’t they the cutest? This book rewinds to the beginning of Chip and JoJo’s love story, which is just as sappy-sweet and comical as you would imagine. Both innovators at heart, Chip and Joanna take readers through the ups and downs of how they launched their one-of-a-kind careers, all while beautifully giving credit to God and His sovereign plan for their lives.

One of my favorite parts? The story of how Chip surprised JoJo by spending their extra money on a decrepit houseboat. This disastrous move on Chip’s part is what actually landed them a reality TV pilot.

Talking As Fast As I Can (Lauren Graham)

It sounds impossible, but I propose that you’ll walk away from this book loving Lauren Graham herself even more than the beloved Lorelai Gilmore or Sarah Braverman. Lauren is smart, witty, classy, down-to-earth, clean, funny, and oh so entertaining. You feel like she’s your best friend. (We ARE best friends, right, LG?) You’ll relish Lauren’s hilarious tales about skipping kindergarten, living on a houseboat, working in The Theatah (no thea-teeeer), being single (and why that’s okay), and of course, making Gilmore Girls and Parenthood.

One of my favorite parts? Advice from Old Lady Jackson. Lauren writes,

“Old Lady Jackson is a character I made up when I started catching myself giving advice–initially to Mae and Miles on the Parenthood set–that sounded like it came from your grayhaired grandma who spends her days in a rocking chair knitting your scratchy socks you pretend to love at Christmas. By creating this character, who was obviously very, very, very far away from myself, I hoped to confuse Mae and Miles, among others, into thinking that while I might sometimes seem to offer suggestions that could be considered a tad ‘old-timey,’ they weren’t actually coming from me…”

I think I have a little bit of “Old Lady Jackson” in myself, so this chapter was particularly comical to me. (Again, because Lauren and I are besties. Right?)

When God Doesn’t Fix It (Laura Story with Jennifer Schuchmann)

In contrast to the other two books I mentioned earlier, this autobiography carries a serious tone and many difficult truths. You might recognize the artist Laura Story from her radio hits like “Blessings” and “What a Savior,” but you probably don’t know about her personal hardships.

Laura began an unexpected journey only one year into her marriage, when her husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. What initially seemed to be a “next surgery will fix it” situation turned into a realization that Laura’s husband would likely have serious memory issues for the rest of his life.

One of my favorite parts? Laura concludes each chapter with a myth and a truth. My favorite is, “MYTH: God can only use my story when there is a happy ending. TRUTH: God can use my story when I trust him in the journey.”

Laura tackles the topic of our “happily ever after” mindset, sharing how she learned to praise God in the midst of grievous trials.

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There you have it, friends! As always, I love to hear your thoughts on these books and on YOUR favorite biographies. Happy reading!

FAVORITE GILMORE GIRLS MEMORIES

Alright friends, we’re only 1 WEEK away from our beloved Gilmore Girls revival! As a way to celebrate, I want to share a few of my favorite Gilmore memories as we look back on the past 7 seasons. BUT, I need your help too! I’m asking you to share your favorite scenes or episodes by commenting on Facebook, reposting this article or tweeting @1RachelSinclair with your favorites… whatever you can do to spread the Gilmore love. I can’t wait to see your responses! 

1. Lorelai and Emily’s Fashion Show

You know Emily will do just about anything to ensure Rory’s bright future at Chilton, including going all out in the Booster Club’s fashion show that Lorelai somehow ended up hosting. Although horrified at first, Lorelai eventually lightened up and even smiled as she and Emily struck a final pose on the runway.

2. Rory’s Graduation Speech

“My ultimate inspiration comes from my best friend, the dazzling woman from whom I received my name and my life’s blood, Lorelai Gilmore. My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be.  She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith.  As she guided me through these incredible eighteen years, I don’t know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her.  Thank you, Mom: you are my guidepost for everything.”

Bring out the tissues, please!

3. Luke and Lorelai’s First Kiss

IT’S ABOUT TIME!!! This might just be my favorite scene of the entire series. And you have to love Kirk. He’s the cherry on top to make this a scene of perfection! #LukeandLorelaiForever.

4. Lane’s Baby Shower

Sweet little Lane… on bedrest with TWINS! The whole town (including Lorelai and the feisty Mrs. Kim) comes together for an epic baby shower for Lane, Zach and their twin boys. Lane is only able to attend the party because of her friends and family who wheel her across the town square to Miss Patty’s studio. 

5. Rory’s Graduation/Going Away Party

 

Good ole’ Luke pulled off the surprise party of the century. He stays up all night cooking hot dogs and sewing together tarps because of how much he cares for Rory! (And the townspeople, and… maybe Lorelai too?) Everyone from Stars Hollow comes to bid Rory farewell. Richard and Emily even make an appearance AND tell Lorelai that Rory’s incredible character and success is a testament to her parenting. What a sweet moment!

I’ve shared some of my favorite Gilmore memories, and now it’s time for you to share yours! Tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and spread the #GilmoreLove! And stay tuned for my upcoming #celebsitdown interview with one of the Gilmore Girls cast members!

If you missed part 1, read it here!

One of the best parts about talking with Atticus was hearing him share about his family. The Middle is all about family dynamics, and I loved hearing just how important family is to Atticus in real life.

You might be surprised to learn that Atticus didn’t grow up on the streets of Hollywood, but on a farm! From an early age, Atticus worked with his parents and older brother to take care of their land and farm animals.

“I come from a very hardworking, blue-collar family,” Atticus said. “Nothing has ever been handed to us, ever.”

His mom wanted her children to understand where food came from–whether from livestock or from the ground. “You have to work to get your food,” Atticus recalls his mother saying. “This is what the pioneers had to do when they first came here.”

So how does Atticus balance living on a farm and working in the film industry? He says that he avoids getting caught up in the glitz and glam of Hollywood through what he calls a “bologna-dar.”

“As I’m growing older… I’m very good at seeing ‘bologna,’” Atticus said with a laugh. “Typically, I have a ‘bologna-dar,’ like a radar for bologna. And as soon as that thing starts pinging, I’m walking away!”

My favorite part of the interview was when Atticus shared about his faith in God.  Atticus is open about being a Christian, and he said that he’s increasingly aware of how the Lord is working in his life.

“My faith has definitely kept my head above water, and it has kept me down to earth,” Atticus said. “I know I could not do this without the Lord, without these perfectly guided steps that led me from one thing to another to another.”

Atticus recalled a recent conversation he had with one of the crew members of The Middle who is also a Christian. They talked about how trials and hardships can ultimately draw believers closer to God.

“It’s amazing how there are opportunities to trust in God,” he said. “You may not understand it, you wish that it didn’t have to happen, whatever the case may be. But you have the opportunity to trust him.”

Atticus is thankful that he can use his experience to point others to God. “This is a blessing, this is amazing work I have with amazing benefits. I get to be a role model [and] meet all of these different people. This is kind of a form of ministry, and here we are.”

Before Atticus had to go, I wanted to ask him a question that I’ve been wondering for years: Where did Brick get his name?

“When Brick was born, Frankie and Mike were trying to think of a name,” Atticus said. “They read somewhere that if your child has an interesting name, they will inherently be interesting. So they came up with the name of Brick, and it’s from the name of a character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Atticus said this background information was explained in the series’s original pilot, in which every character was recast except for Brick. Atticus was thankful to return for the second pilot, which is the pilot that aired on ABC.

Lastly, I asked Atticus if he could give us any sneak peaks from season 8.

“I can bring up this,” Atticus said after careful consideration. “Brick, because he’s older now, is going to be turning 15 this season. He is going into high school, and that’s bringing up a whole slew of new problems for him to handle… I’m really excited to have people see how he handles his newfound high school issues and how well he actually handles them.”

 

And that’s a wrap for this #celebsitdown! Keep up with Atticus on Twitter, and catch The Middle on Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

Friends, I am SO excited to introduce you to one of my favorite TV actors–Atticus Shaffer! You know him as “Brick Heck,” youngest child of the hilarious and dysfunctional Heck family on ABC’s The Middle. Atticus has captured the hearts of Americans since the show premiered in 2009 through his quirky and endearing character. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when he offered to speak with me a few weeks ago during the filming of season eight.

Atticus said he’s amazed at the new laughs and fresh comedy that come with every episode. “This season is probably one of the best seasons we’ve had where consistently, every week, the episodes are making me, my family and all of the people on set laugh out loud,” Atticus said. “Since we’ve been on [air] for so long, you wonder if stuff will ever get old or stale. But nope! Our writers are good!”

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One of the reasons my family and I love watching The Middle is because each character is so relatable in one way or another. We laugh when my mom has a “Frankie Moment” and forgets the snack bag, or when I do the “Sue Heck Dance” after receiving good news. I was curious to ask Atticus which actor’s real-life personality was most consistent with that of their character.

“Probably me,” Atticus said. “Not because I’m into fonts or I whisper to myself, but it’s mainly because Brick and I both follow the beat to our own drummer… I am who I am, and I’m accepting of that. Brick hasn’t necessarily articulated that, but it’s the backbone of who he is. He is smart, he is quick, and he says, ‘this is me.’”

Atticus said that one of his favorite episodes was “Halloween” from season two, where Brick dresses up as Sergeant Charles MacKenzie, a Scottish World War I hero. “I loved it because I’m a huge military history nerd,” Atticus said. “I got to wear a kilt for a week!”

Fans of the show often tell Atticus how they admire Brick’s self-confidence and enthusiasm. “I get people all the time who say, ‘We love your show, and we think your character is a role model,’” Atticus said. “I get to be a character that’s a role model and that your kids look up to? That’s insane. That’s so amazing.”

Atticus himself is an inspiration to others, as he continues to thrive in the television and film industry while overcoming the challenges of living with osteogenesis imperfecta. This genetic bone condition affects the collagen of his bone cells and increases bones fragility.

Atticus said he prefers to use the term “condition” rather than “disability.”

“My condition in no way disables me. And that’s really my message: if you have a challenge, a condition, or whatever, it’s nothing that can disable you… you work around your challenge,” Atticus said, adding, “You don’t focus on the can’t; you focus on the can.”

Atticus said his mom had a huge influence on him by encouraging him to find a way to overcome his physical difficulties. “If you can’t get through it, you work over it, under it, around it or whatever way you can. That’s what my mom taught me ever since I was little. She made the conscious decision that whatever I couldn’t get to, she would bring it to me if it was worth it. And she brought the world to me. Growing up, and even now, she brought the world to me.”

PART 2 of this article discusses Atticus’s family, faith and the story of how Brick got his name. Keep up with #celebsitdown by following @1RachelSinclair!