CGG Book Club: Sweetbitter
Hey hey! Welcome to another edition of my book club, where I fill you in on some of the latest reads to hit my pile.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
First up, I dove into the nonfiction world this past month with this insightful, dense little book (it’s under 300 pages, but every page counts!) The gist of the book’s theory is that anyone can be a Steve Jobs-esque ‘original’, you just have to learn how to stimulate original thinking, applying it in appropriate situations, and as a leader, instil a culture of originality.
The book’s greatest strength is the range of applications and examples it draws on – from how a dogged CIA employee pursued an intranet strategy for well over a decade, to how The Lion King finally resonate when it was pitched as a Shakesperian tale, to how birth order theory may impact our lives – if we choose to let it. There’s a great range of people that I could see digging this one, including teachers, leaders, and even parents!
And for this week’s main course (a pun, trust me), a look at Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, which literally just hit shelves this weeks!
What’s The Buzz?: This is a debut novel by an author that earned herself a rather hefty book deal – the type of high six figure book deal that makes headlines. It’s a bit of a roman a clef, only instead of focusing on famous people, it’s focusing on a famous restaurant in New York, the Union Square Cafe, where author Stephanie Danler worked for a year. While working at another restaurant, she mentioned to a publishing exec that she had been working on a novel. When it made its way to his hands, the editors quickly fell in love with this part coming-of-age, part foodie paradise novel about a 22-year-old waitress that gets caught up in the big city life.
What’s The Plot?: Sweetbitter centers on Tess, a girl from middle of nowhere USA that moves to New York with less than $200 in her pocket and dreams of “starting her life”, even if she doesn’t quite know what that means. She nabs a job at a high end, if not exactly trendy, restaurant and is quickly swept up in the lifestyle; alternately taking lessons from an entrancing senior server with an endless knowledge of food and wine while partying with her coworkers after hours, and yes, falling in hard lust for a dreamy, enigmatic bartender. She may become wiser in the ways of the restaurant world, but Tess succumbs to many other weaknesses along her yearlong journey.
What Should I Know?: Yes yes, the book as I described it above is a relatively straightforward slice of life / coming of age novel…but what hooked the editors and will likely make you gobble it up (more puns) is the way Stephanie Danler paints an intimate picture of what life is like as a server. They say write what you know – the world here, however self-contained, is expertly described down to the finest detail. From the casual shorthand of the kitchen staff to the not-so-invisible hierarchy of employees to the mouthwatering descriptions of sampling oysters and perfumed cheeses and endless bottles of wine, it’s a treat for more than one sense.
Who Should Read This Book?: I’ve never been a server, but I imagine that people who have will relate even moreso to this tantalizing read – and for those of us that haven’t worked in restaurants, Sweetbitter offers many morsels of insights behind those delicious bites you’re taking (I can’t stop with the food puns, sorry!) It’s also a fab read for any foodie or wine lover in your life, as the author has earned mad props for her ability to write about food. Is a nonfiction foodie tome on the horizon? I’d certainly read it!
I’m excited to have not one, but three copies of Sweetbitter to give away! Want to read this scrumptious book? Here’s how to enter:
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by June 16, 2016 – why are you interested in reading Sweetbitter?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around May 27, 2016 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this book! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
5) Bonus Entry #2: Follow Penguin Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this book! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
6) Bonus Entry #3: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below in a separate comment to earn yourself another bonus entry.