Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#2. Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl was the longstanding editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine until it shut down. She also does all kinds of cool food-related stuff for PBS and Modern Library and has written a bunch of books, all of which were on my to-read list for way, way, way too long before I finally got my hands on one.

Don't be a silly like me. If you like good food writing and honest, unpretentious memoirs, just go out and get the damn books.

Now because I am, as previously mentioned, a silly, it turns out I picked up Reichl's second memoir, Comfort Me with Apples, not her first, Tender at the Bone. Given the fact that I enjoyed it tremendously, I'm going to hazard the statement that you don't necessarily need to read these memoirs in order.

This book is everything my first read of the year was not: fresh, heartfelt, funny, poignant. Reichl writes about being a newly married young adult in a dead-end-ish job and a dead-end-ish relationship, and the age-old struggle to figure out what the hell she wants to do with her life.

It would be easy to say something like "by recognizing and staying true to her passion for food, Reichl finds her path", but her writing is too honest for pat statements. Sure, ultimately her love for food and writing does help her get her feet under herself, but she also acknowledges all the indecision and mistakes and crippling self-doubt that happened along the way, and I think that's the real strength of this memoir. Too often, I find that, as people get older -- and if those people are successful -- they can develop overly simplistic hindsight about how they got to where they are. These people want to dole out wisdom to their youngers, but it's pretty much ineffectual because they edit out all the humbling bits that make their experiences useful or relatable.

I'll be the first person to admit that in many ways I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Reading Reichl's book made me feel a lot better about that.

*You may be wondering why I no longer link to booksellers to buy the books I talk about. I decided to stop doing this because, to be honest, it felt kind of bossy. Buy books wherever you want. Personally, I've been trying to get all my books as either ebooks, or through my local independently owned new and used book stores, but that's my kick. YMMV.

2 comments:

Nicole said...

It has been awhile since I read this book, but I remember enjoying it as well. Glad you liked it. Happy reading!

Trasherati said...

I hope you'll read Tender At The Bone, too. I actually enjoyed it more than Apples. I especially love how frank she is about everything, including the story of how she met her husband.