Friday, March 26, 2010

: book club post # 1 :

as a young child, i was never prodigetic. i wasn't fiddling my fingers into dust. or solving calculus equations. or speaking foreign languages. i was a kid-- riding in on the coat-tails of a generation that still played outside till dusk. ran through sprinklers. road bicycles to the "third house on the left". dipped their fingers in paint. and spent endless hours occupied with only a few plastic dolls.

however, perhaps i was unusual in that i had an obsession with the written word. by first grade i had jubilantly conquered the ever-exhilarating "chapter book". i would rush to the back of the classroom each day in order to obtain first dibs on the bookshelf. when given the option to go anywhere i wished, i would normally choose the library. it was land-marked by a magical fountain out front. and was laden inside with decades upon decades of books. (as well as a life-size stuffed gorilla that you could snuggle with while you read.) simply put-- it was my sanctuary.

this love and passion has continued to blossom as i have grown. which is why, when i discovered this virtual book club, i was eager to join. combining my insane reading obsession with my love for all things "kitchen-y" and edible, joining the "foodie book club" was a bit like coming home.

and when i arrived, i got straight to work. upon ordering and receiving the first 2 selections, i dug into the book assigned for march:

armed with a pen and a mug of coffee, i settled into bourdain's engaging prose, conscious-less honesty, and hilarious anecdotes. having never read his previous works, i was unsure what to expect of him. however, i found myself continually surprised at how talented a writer he actually was.

while occasionally repetitive, the book is a collection of stories bourdain had written for various magazines around the globe. they highlight his travels. childhood. early kitchen years. and new-found "celebrity chef-dom". at many turns laugh-out-loud funny (which did garner a few eyebrows at the nurses station at work), the book is filled with many delicious morsels for kitchen-lovers -- contrary to the name.

as i mentioned, i read each page with a pen in hand. i scribbled notes in the margins. underlined key phrases. pages. paragraphs. words that i thought i could work into this post. but at the end of each story, i kept returning to the initial passage that struck me. the words at the very beginning of the book that clued me in to the author's real talent. and passion. tucked away at the closing thought of the preface, bourdain muses about a day spent with a hard-working family of inuit hunters. his beautiful descriptions of the events shocked me-- as i had anticipated the read would be filled with lots of raw, outspoken humor, and little substance.
at the end of his visit, he realizes that there is no better way to describe what he's seen. what's he's done-- both there with that family, and throughout his life in general. his final realizations were words i could adopt as my own. he said:

"for a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you've been and what's happened. in the end, you're just happy you were there-- with your eyes open-- and lived to see it."

why, yes. yes, i am.


  1. i love how you described the library as your sanctuary. i so relate...

    p.s. LOVE your new header. the old books are gorgeous.

  2. I wish I had read more as a child, but I am definitely becoming more of a reader as an adult - better late than never, right?

    Anthony Bourdain's show is wonderful and I've been wanting to read his books. We've seen him in discussions with David Chang - hilarious. Thanks for sharing your review!

  3. I read his first book (the prequel if you will to this one): Kitchen Confidential. It was an enjoyable read for sure if you've ever worked in a kitchen. Bourdain has such a way with words. When I read his writing I can hear him talking in my head, but maybe that is just because I watch his show No Reservations on the travel channel, lol.

    I will have to dig into this book now too! Thanks.

    Bre @

  4. anthony bourdain is one of my top ten favorite people on this planet. so snarky, smart, and fearless. great post!

  5. wonderful writeup! and what a great passage. thanks for being a part of the book club <3