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 by Adam Grant
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.


52 Responses to “CGG Book Club: Sweetbitter”
  1. aketch says:

    Sounds interesting. My son is a server and I am visiting NYC right now! lol

  2. Need a break from renovation stress and this book looks like the perfect antidote

  3. katydidit21 says:

    I am looking for a good summer read.

  4. Margaret Palmer says:

    While I have never worked in the food industry (unless you count 3 months at McDonald’s as a teenager), reading a great book allows us to enter worlds we have never inhabited in our real lives and that is why this book interests me.

  5. Aimee says:

    This sounds like a good read for camping next month. I am a subscriber.

  6. Heather Swanson says:

    Would be a great read when out on the veranda

  7. Kay Burke says:

    Now this one I want to win for sure. I love books, I love NYC, I love food & you have made the premise seem very enticing. Thanks

  8. corkrose says:

    I follow Penguin Canada & Random House & have tagged you also 🙂

  9. corkrose says:

    @PenguinCanada (@cdngiftguide) I want to read this & also BItter Sweet as recommended by @CdnGiftGuide – love NYC, love Food & love reading

  10. cookie3 says:

    what’s not to like, romance, slice of life, and foodie bits. Sounds pretty interesting to me.

  11. Rhonda B. says:

    I always like to read new authors. This sounds like a good one.

  12. Lindsey says:

    Sweetbitter sounds great and I am always looking for new books to read!

  13. Joan G. says:

    I enjoy reading real life stories as told by interesting authors.

  14. Stacey M. says:

    This looks like the perfect summer read for lounging at the lake and soaking up some sun!

  15. janicour says:

    Being a foodie and loving my wine, I can’t wait to read this one!!

  16. Janice Lewis says:

    I have been looking for a new book to read and this one sounds perfect. It sounds like a light but fun read.

  17. bkick1 says:

    I am always looking for a good read and Sweetbitter sounds like it will fit the bill.

  18. Giselle says:

    While never a waitress, I have worked in restaurants and could probably relate! Sounds interesting!

  19. Audrey Skinner says:

    I love the storyline so would love to read this summer.

  20. marla says:

    i would love to read this because I love food LOL

  21. AliKira says:

    I love food, but I also love coming of age stories so this might be perfect!

  22. Chantelle says:

    I’m always interested in reading everything, I always have 2 or 3 books on the go

  23. aly3360 says:

    I’m actually not that interested in reading it, BUT it sounds like a book my sister in law would really enjoy. I love gifting books on birthday and during holidays.

  24. Susan says:

    I love to read a variety of books and the world of a server in NYC sounds interesting!

  25. intensev5 says:

    I would love to read this! I love coming of age novels.

  26. Debbie Petch says:

    I would love to read Sweetbitter since I used to be a server for many years.

  27. Debbie Petch says:

    I would love to read the Originals. I always think outside the box and would like to get some tips on my ideas.

  28. AnnieP says:

    I love finding new authors!

  29. Anne Derkat says:

    Sounds like it would be along the line of The Devil Wore Prada only about food instead of fashion. I’m intrigued.

  30. Dreena says:

    I’d like to read this book; it sounds like a story I would enjoy, plus I love NYC!

  31. CL Chin says:

    I’m interested because of your description of how it describes a young woman transplanted in a big city and also that she is part of the restaurant scene. I’d like to find out what happens to the main character and get to know her point of view.

  32. CL Chin says:

    I’m most interested in trying the Vetiver & Cardamom scent.

  33. CL Chin says:

  34. CL Chin says:

  35. Jennifer Kelsie says:

    I’d like to read Sweetbitter. Sounds good…would like to see how she makes out!

  36. cheryl mclellan says:

    It looks like a good read!

  37. aketch says:

    Sounds intriguing and I love the cover!

  38. Audrey Skinner says:

    I love the storyline.

  39. Wanda Bergman says:

    I am a subscriber. I would love to read this because the author is new to me.

  40. Deb Philippon says:

    My son studied Hospitality Management, and he finds books that are set in the field interesting.

  41. Kim K says:

    Sounds like an interesting summer read!

  42. Leah E says:

    I’d love to read this book. It sounds like a great beach read. I also just finished and enjoyed reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest–another foodie book so I’m craving more!

  43. Leah E says:

    I tweeted!

  44. Jessica says:

    I need to change my way of thinking…

  45. Gemma says:

    I am looking for a book to read over summer…this could be it.

  46. aarone mawdsley says:

    sounds great

  47. alexa says:

    More reading material 😮

  48. Kavita says:

    It sounds like a really interesting summer read!

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