Anthony Bourdain's favorite books

  • True Grit

    True Grit

    Charles Portis
    Fiction

    There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down and avenge her father's murder.

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    a masterpiece. Don't settle for seeing the film versions.

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • Between Meals

    Food writing' at its very, very best. Never surpassed. What all writing about eating should be.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Under the Volcano

    Under the Volcano

    Malcolm Lowry
    A Novel
    Fiction

    Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. His debilitating malaise is drinking, an activity that has overshadowed his life. On the most fateful day of the consul's life—the Day of the Dead, 1938—his wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac, inspired by a vision of life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. She is determined to rescue Firmin and their failing marriage, but her mission is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul's half brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one significant day unfold against an unforgettable backdrop of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical. Under the Volcano remains one of literature's most powerful and lyrical statements on the human condition, and a brilliant portrayal of one man's constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him.

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    One of the truly great books.

    Dec 18, 2013 — Source

  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle

    The best, most realistic crime novel ever. Best dialogue in a crime novel ever

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Hunter S. Thompson
    A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
    Biography & Autobiography

    This cult classic of gonzo journalism is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken. Now a major motion picture from Universal, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

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    The book that probably influenced me more than any other. A prose stylist and a personality who changed my life.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • How to Live

    How to Live

    Sarah Bakewell
    Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer
    Biography & Autobiography

    Originally published: London: Chatto & Windus, 2010.

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    a book I love.

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • The White Album

    The White Album

    Joan Didion
    Essays
    Literary Collections

    New York Times Bestseller: An “elegant” mosaic of trenchant observations on the late sixties and seventies from the author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem (The New Yorker). In this landmark essay collection, Joan Didion brilliantly interweaves her own “bad dreams” with those of a nation confronting the dark underside of 1960s counterculture. From a jailhouse visit to Black Panther Party cofounder Huey Newton to witnessing First Lady of California Nancy Reagan pretend to pick flowers for the benefit of news cameras, Didion captures the paranoia and absurdity of the era with her signature blend of irony and insight. She takes readers to the “giddily splendid” Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the cool mountains of Bogotá, and the Jordanian Desert, where Bishop James Pike went to walk in Jesus’s footsteps—and died not far from his rented Ford Cortina. She anatomizes the culture of shopping malls—“toy garden cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes”—and exposes the contradictions and compromises of the women’s movement. In the iconic title essay, she documents her uneasy state of mind during the years leading up to and following the Manson murders—a terrifying crime that, in her memory, surprised no one. Written in “a voice like no other in contemporary journalism,” The White Album is a masterpiece of literary reportage and a fearless work of autobiography by the National Book Award–winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking (The New York Times Book Review). Its power to electrify and inform remains undiminished nearly forty years after it was first published.

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    I wish I could write like Joan Didion.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • The Quiet American

    The Quiet American

    Graham Greene
    Fiction

    A “masterful . . . brilliantly constructed novel” of love and chaos in 1950s Vietnam (Zadie Smith, The Guardian). It’s 1955 and British journalist Thomas Fowler has been in Vietnam for two years covering the insurgency against French colonial rule. But it’s not just a political tangle that’s kept him tethered to the country. There’s also his lover, Phuong, a young Vietnamese woman who clings to Fowler for protection. Then comes Alden Pyle, an idealistic American working in service of the CIA. Devotedly, disastrously patriotic, he believes neither communism nor colonialism is what’s best for Southeast Asia, but rather a “Third Force”: American democracy by any means necessary. His ideas of conquest include Phuong, to whom he promises a sweet life in the states. But as Pyle’s blind moral conviction wreaks havoc upon innocent lives, it’s ultimately his romantic compulsions that will play a role in his own undoing. Although criticized upon publication as anti-American, Graham Greene’s “complex but compelling story of intrigue and counter-intrigue” would, in a few short years, prove prescient in its own condemnation of American interventionism (The New York Times).

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    Drama, romance, tragic history in SE Asia? I'm there! I re-read it frequently.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Ripley's Game

    Ripley's Game

    Patricia Highsmith
    Fiction

    Scorned at an elegant gala, debonair art connoisseur, millionaire, and sociopath Tom Ripley comes up with an ingenious and subtle way to exact his revenge for the insult. Reprint.

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    Elegant, deliciously immoral entry in series of sociopath as hero.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • The Rogue's March

    The Rogue's March

    Peter F. Stevens
    John Riley and the St. Patrick's Battalion
    History

    For decades, the U.S. Army hid from the American public the embarrassing defection, while Mexico, to this day, celebrates the "San Patricios" as national heroes."--BOOK JACKET.

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    I particularly like

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • A Brief History of Seven Killings

    A Brief History of Seven Killings

    Marlon James
    A Novel
    Fiction

    A tale inspired by the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley spans decades and continents to explore the experiences of journalists, drug dealers, killers and ghosts against a backdrop of period social and political turmoil. By the award-winning author of The Book of Night Women. 25,000 first printing.

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    incredible.

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • The Man Who Lost the War

    The Man Who Lost the War

    W. T. Tyler
    Fiction

    Set in post-war Berlin, a disillusioned former CIA operative and a Russian spy cross paths in their search for an elusive double agent.

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    I particularly like

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • The Devil All the Time

    The Devil All the Time

    Donald Ray Pollock
    A Novel
    Fiction

    Presents a dark tale set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia between World War II and the 1960s that follows the experiences of tormented and violent individuals whose struggles culminate in the adult patterns of an orphaned son.

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    A revelation when I first read

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • The Wind in the Willows

    The Wind in the Willows

    Kenneth Grahame
    Juvenile Fiction

    Mole and Rat have a pleasant life by the river, where they talk, boat and wile away the days. The wise and private Mr Badger lives sedately in the Wild Woods, content in his solitude. Then there's Mr Toad - wealthy, impulsive and utterly obsessed with motor cars, he's always getting into scrapes and can't survive without the help of his friends. One of the most celebrated works of classic literature for children, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame remains a timeless tale of camaraderie, loyalty and bravery more than a hundred years after its first publication. With sixteen gorgeous colour illustrations by the celebrated Arthur Rackham, and an afterword by author David Stuart Davies.

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    a classic I loved as a child.

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • Prune

    Prune

    Gabrielle Hamilton
    A Cookbook
    Cooking

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER From Gabrielle Hamilton, bestselling author of Blood, Bones & Butter, comes her eagerly anticipated cookbook debut filled with signature recipes from her celebrated New York City restaurant Prune. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE SEASON BY Time • O: The Oprah Magazine • Bon Appétit • Eater A self-trained cook turned James Beard Award–winning chef, Gabrielle Hamilton opened Prune on New York’s Lower East Side fifteen years ago to great acclaim and lines down the block, both of which continue today. A deeply personal and gracious restaurant, in both menu and philosophy, Prune uses the elements of home cooking and elevates them in unexpected ways. The result is delicious food that satisfies on many levels. Highly original in concept, execution, look, and feel, the Prune cookbook is an inspired replica of the restaurant’s kitchen binders. It is written to Gabrielle’s cooks in her distinctive voice, with as much instruction, encouragement, information, and scolding as you would find if you actually came to work at Prune as a line cook. The recipes have been tried, tasted, and tested dozens if not hundreds of times. Intended for the home cook as well as the kitchen professional, the instructions offer a range of signals for cooks—a head’s up on when you have gone too far, things to watch out for that could trip you up, suggestions on how to traverse certain uncomfortable parts of the journey to ultimately help get you to the final destination, an amazing dish. Complete with more than with more than 250 recipes and 250 color photographs, home cooks will find Prune’s most requested recipes—Grilled Head-on Shrimp with Anchovy Butter, Bread Heels and Pan Drippings Salad, Tongue and Octopus with Salsa Verde and Mimosa’d Egg, Roasted Capon on Garlic Crouton, Prune’s famous Bloody Mary (and all 10 variations). Plus, among other items, a chapter entitled “Garbage”—smart ways to repurpose foods that might have hit the garbage or stockpot in other restaurant kitchens but are turned into appetizing bites and notions at Prune. Featured here are the recipes, approach, philosophy, evolution, and nuances that make them distinctively Prune’s. Unconventional and honest, in both tone and content, this book is a welcome expression of the cookbook as we know it. Praise for Prune “Fresh, fascinating . . . entirely pleasurable . . . Since 1999, when the chef Gabrielle Hamilton put Triscuits and canned sardines on the first menu of her East Village bistro, Prune, she has nonchalantly broken countless rules of the food world. The rule that a successful restaurant must breed an empire. The rule that chefs who happen to be women should unconditionally support one another. The rule that great chefs don’t make great writers (with her memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter). And now, the rule that restaurant food has to be simplified and prettied up for home cooks in order to produce a useful, irresistible cookbook. . . . [Prune] is the closest thing to the bulging loose-leaf binder, stuck in a corner of almost every restaurant kitchen, ever to be printed and bound between cloth covers. (These happen to be a beautiful deep, dark magenta.)”—The New York Times “One of the most brilliantly minimalist cookbooks in recent memory . . . at once conveys the thrill of restaurant cooking and the wisdom of the author, while making for a charged reading experience.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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    Indeed, a fucking masterpiece

    Nov 19, 2014 — Source

  • Thrown

    Thrown

    Kerry Howley
    Social Science

    A woman’s “masterful . . . involving and page-turning” venture into the violent world of mixed martial arts (Gary Shteyngart). A provocative question is asked in this “knockout of a nonfiction debut” (O, The Oprah Magazine) and New York Times Book Review, NPR, Slate, and Time magazine best book of the year: “Who can explain what draws a young brilliant writer—and a woman no less—to be mesmerized by the sight of a young man being pummeled in the ring? But out of this passion—maybe obsession—comes a great American story about overlooked heroes, the nature of violence, hope, love and nearly everything else that matters” (Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men). In this “dark and funny” (The Washington Post) work of literary nonfiction, a young female philosophy student insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fighters—one a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows, blow-by-blow, these men for three years through the bloody world of mixed martial arts as they starve themselves, break bones, fail their families and form new ones in the quest to rise from remote Midwestern fairgrounds to packed Vegas arenas. With its penetrating intelligence and wry humor, Howley’s “compulsively readable, informative, hilarious . . . [and] ferocious dissection of the essence of the spectator” exposes the profundities and absurdities of this American subculture. Welcome to the Octagon (The New York Times Book Review).

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    an absolutely wonderful exploration of the poorly understood sport of MMA

    Jan 10, 2017 — Source

  • Total Chaos

    This book is everything.

    Dec 1, 2016 — Source

  • Naked Lunch

    Naked Lunch

    William S. Burroughs
    The Restored Text
    Alienation (Social psychology)

    'I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves' Nightmarish and fiercely funny, William Burroughs' virtuoso, taboo-breaking masterpiece Naked Lunch follows Bill Lee through Interzone: a surreal, orgiastic wasteland of drugs, depravity, political plots, paranoia, sadistic medical experiments and endless, gnawing addiction. One of the most shocking novels ever written, Naked Lunch is a cultural landmark, now in a restored edition incorporating Burroughs' notes on the text, alternate drafts and outtakes from the original. 'A masterpiece. A cry from hell, a brutal, terrifying, and savagely funny book that swings between uncontrolled hallucination and fierce, exact satire.' Newsweek 'Naked Lunch is a banquet you will never forget.' J. G. Ballard Edited by James Grauerholz and Barry Miles

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    Filthy, dangerous, depraved groundbreaking. And funny as Hell.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Crash

    Crash

    J. G. Ballard
    A Novel
    Fiction

    Two young men become obsessed with sexual fantasies involving automobiles, accidents, injuries, and wounds, in a new edition of the underground classic. Reprint.

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    Violent. Twisted. Hilarious and beautiful.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Essays

    Essays

    Plutarch
    History

    Plutarch of Chaeronea, suggests Ian Kidd in his introduction to this superb selection, "has a strong claim to be regarded as the best essayist of the Graeco-Roman world." Born at the very heart of Greece - between Athens and Apollo's shrine at Delphi - in the mid-40s of the first century AD, Plutarch combined an intense love of his locality and family with a cosmopolitan outlook that embraced the whole Roman Empire. His enclyclopaedic writings form a treasure trove of ancient wisdom, yet his strong religious feelings and deeply humanist temper give them all a compelling and individual voice. Whether he is offering abstract speculation or practical ethics, fresh and arresting reflections on anger and flattery, military versus intellectual glory or the reasoning powers of animals, Plutarch's personality and charm constantly shine through. Above all, concludes Kidd, his essays remain magnificently readable, works that "can still entertain, instruct, stimulate and educate us and also introduce us to one of the most attractive characters in classical literature."

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    The font of all wisdom. Orwell is right about nearly everything.

    Jul 24, 2013 — Source

  • Adios, Motherfucker

    Adios, Motherfucker

    Michael Ruffino
    A Gentleman's Progress Through Rock and Roll
    Biography & Autobiography

    A blend of This Is Spinal Tap and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the cult classic confessions of a debauched rock ’n’ roller and his adventures in excess on the ’80s hair-metal nostalgia tour through Middle America, now in a revised and updated edition. Once upon a time at the start of the new century, the unheard-of Unband got a chance to drink, fight, and play loud music with ’80s metal bands like Dio and Def Leppard. To the mix they brought illegal pyrotechnics, a giant red inflatable hand with movable digits, a roadie dubiously named Safety Bear, a high tolerance for liver damage, and an infectious love of rock & roll and everything it represents. Unband bassist Michael Ruffino takes us on an epic joyride across a surrealistic American landscape where we meet mute Christian groupies, crack-smoking Girl Scouts, beer-drinking chimps, and thousands of head-bangers who cannot accept that hair metal is dead. Here, too, are uncensored portraits of Ronnie James Dio, Anthrax, Sebastian Bach, Lemmy of Motorhead, and others. Adios, Motherfucker is gonzo rock storytelling at its finest—excessive, incendiary, intelligent, hilarious, and utterly original.

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    the last book that made [Anthony] laugh

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • Agents of Innocence

    very, very good.

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source

  • Ways of Escape

    Ways of Escape

    Graham Greene
    11030 - fiction in English - p1030 - Greene
    Graham - 60030 - biographies

    This autobiographical essay is a sequel to "A Sort of Life". It describes the conception, the writing and the publishing of each of Greene's books - interspersed with accounts of his travels in Kenya and Vietnam, and the portraits of a few of his closest friends.

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    Is a book I've read many times

    Nov 22, 2017 — Source