Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

“I thought that once I got to this city nothing could ever catch up with me because I could remake my life daily. Once that had made me feel infinite. Now I was certain I would never learn. Being remade was the same thing as being constantly undone.”

—Stephanie Danler

I’m a multi-book reader. I don’t even know how you one-at-a-time book readers do it. You just—choose—a single book? And read only that book? No other books? And then you finish it? And then start another book? And that’s it?


I am a sucker for good writing about food.

I am also a sucker for good food any food, really. Though I certainly have my favorites. Bitter things—yes. All of them. Give them to me.

“BITTER: always a bit unanticipated. Coffee, chocolate, rosemary, citrus rinds, wine. Once, when we were wild, it told us about poison. The mouth still hesitates at each new encounter. We urge it forward, say, Adapt. Now, enjoy it.”

Does the mouth still hesitate? I don’t know…

This book is all about a new-to-New-York girl who gets the fancy restaurant job and is completely overwhelmed and naïve. Slowly and painfully she learns what she needs to learn, some of it predictably and most of it having nothing to do with food. But the food is part of the story and I like both the food parts and the story and the writing.

“How impossible it is to forget the stories we tell ourselves, even when the truth should supersede them.”

It’s good and character-driven which is apparently definitely my thing when it comes to books. If you like food and characters and coming-of-age stories without sentimentality you also might like this book.

Also there is lots of drinking. And sex. And some doing of the drugs. I feel like that goes without saying in a book about restaurant life.

And I meant to send this out earlier, morning, but got distracted (snow day! kids at home! Imagine not getting distracted. Hilarious) so here it is now, right in time for dinner or for your after-dinner drink if you’re one of those weirdos who eats dinner at 4:30pm. Not that I’m judging, but I am. I still love you though.