Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mini Reviews: Brain on Fire and Medium Raw

As I neared the end of 2013, there were a few books left hanging out there, unreviewed. They definitely deserve to be discussed, so let's get on with this non-fiction feast!


In her memoir, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Cahalan chronicles some crazy shit. She's a smart, savvy journalist working for the New York Post when her health takes a drastic downturn. Erratic behavior, seizures, paralysis, and a host of other psychiatric and physical symptoms take her coherence and daily life to a place she never imagined.

If there's a book to feed your hypochondria, this is it! While her doctors were able to (finally) discover the nature of her illness, no one knows how it started. Cahalan makes some of her own observations and conjectures in this book, but not a soul can tell WHY.

This book was incredibly interesting and quick to read, and I admire Cahalan for her honesty. It's also fascinating and terrifying  to think that she became something of an unreliable narrator to her own life. She wrote this memoir by piecing together surveillance video, medical charts, interviews with her family and doctors, and any other scraps of info she could gather about the time she doesn't remember. 

If you need some non-fiction in your life, you need this book. 

Pub. Date: August 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781451621389
Source: Bought it!


And y'all know I love me some Anthony Bourdain! I put off reading this book for-e-ver because I was afraid it couldn't live up to the books of his I've loved before. I enjoyed Kitchen Confidential for its snark and irreverence. I loved A Cook's Tour for the thoughtful writing and cultural reverence. And I adore Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and People Who Cook for its wisdom and honesty. And snark and irreverence. :)

The reader can tell Anthony Bourdain has grown and changed since that first  book. Kitchen Confidential was full of piss and vinegar, and there's plenty of that still readily apparent in Medium Raw, but Bourdain can also look back and reflect on those days with some distance and many a life change...a healthy marriage, a growing daughter, a lot more fame. 

If you love Bourdain, this one is just as good, if not better, than that book he's most famous for. Truly a treat. 

Pub. Date: May 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9780061718953
Source: Bought it!

If you're interested in more thoughts on Medium Raw, check out my video below!







21 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you liked Brain on Fire. I could not put it down when i read it and it was the same for my non-reader husband. And Medium Raw was the book that got me hooked on Bourdain.

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    1. Looooved it! It was so involving right from the start. And I'm so glad Medium Raw got you hooked! Have you read his other stuff? I can't remember. A Cook's Tour is still my fave.

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  2. I remember reading an awesome review of Brain on Fire from a blogger friend years ago and thinking, holy crap, that sounds amazing/crazy/insane, and I've thought about picking it up a few times since . . . but honestly, as you mention, I have a feeling it would completely freak me out and feed my hypochondria to an insane degree! So glad to hear you liked it, though!

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    1. Meg, it would freak you right on out. Soooo creepy to think terrible things like that can just HAPPEN. Out of nowhere! Ugh!

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  3. Oh yeah, Brain on Fire will make you think there's something wrong with you. It scared the crap out of me! I really want to read one of Bourdain's books.

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    1. LOL, definitely, Kathy. And Bourdain is so fun! Definitely try him out.

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  4. Yep. I totally had Brain on Fire and gave it away because I had to purge when we moved. I hate book purges. I wind up getting some of them back down the road...

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    1. Nooooo! Ack. I do that too, though. Always purge something I end up wanting/needing.

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  5. Brain on Fire sounds like a truly terrifying read. I think reading books like that can be so much scarier than reading horror stories, since they are about real life!

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    1. It really is. Less so because it worked out OK, but yes, real life issues that CAN HAPPEN are far scarier than fiction.

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  6. Not quite sure I need more things to worry about in the health department, thank you very much! :) As to Anthony, I've loved even the little snippets I've caught on the Taste show. Except the thing I hate about that show? Is that nobody watching gets even a sample!

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    1. LOL, I know!!! Samples for everyone should be the cardinal rule. ;)

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  7. This is where I make a resolution to read some Bourdain this year. I absolutely love him on TV, I need to get to his books!

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    1. Shannon, you will LOVE him. Swearsies!

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  8. Yay Bourdain! Did you see he's working on opening an International Market in New York that supposedly will feature all kinds of International Street Food? Makes me want to go to New York!!

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  9. I really need to read Brain on Fire. Plus the Bourdain. As someone who's never read Bourdain before, which book of his should I start with first?

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  10. I'm with you on Brain on Fire -- so good! I loved the way she had to reconstruct her own story... totally terrifying.

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  11. Brain on Fire sounds like it would be awesome... But probably not a great idea for my mental health... Maybe I'll save it for summer when I'm slightly less prone to the crazies...

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  12. I need to do this too! I still have some books from last year that have gotten left behind. I'm glad you made time to review these, because they both sound awesome. And really, who doesn't need some non-fiction in their lives? :)

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  13. I have Brain On Fire - and it is time for a non-fiction read. I only hope I don't start thinking every unexplained ache and pain is the start of a trip down the rabbit hole.

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  14. I thought Brain on Fire was SO fascinating. I couldn't put the thing down. And I loved Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, so I'll probably get to Medium Raw at some point.

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