Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (unabridged audiobook read by the author; 8 hours on MP3): The tagline for this book is something like “sex, drugs, and haute cuisine,” and that about sums it up. Bourdain takes the reader on a journey through his culinary days, from dishwasher to head chef. This is not a good book for vegetarians, those offended by crude language, or anyone grossed out by frank descriptions of animal flesh. I found, in general, that these autobiographical essays entertained me thoroughly but also convinced me that I’d rather not experience such things first hand. Bourdain’s average day makes me tired just thinking about it. While I appreciated the advice about restaurants and tips for would-be chefs, my favorite parts were unquestionably the anecdotes and adventures. Bourdain’s cynical but generally amused and appreciative view of the crazy characters he’s encountered never failed to make me smile. Sure, these are not people I’d want to associate with in person but they’re fun to get to know vicariously. I will definitely have to pick up some of Bourdain’s other books.
A note on the audio: I had to get used to Bourdain’s swift reading, but having enjoyed him on No Reservations for ages, it didn’t take long for me to adapt to his brisk cadence.