By Laurie Woolever
Image of the cover of Bourdain by Laurie Woolever. Wesley Donehue's book reviews and recommendations.

I don’t know how to write this review because the life, or rather the death, of Anthony Bourdain says so much about our world and life in general.

On the day Bourdain died I asked on Facebook “what does it say about the meaning of life when the person you most envy kills themselves?”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Bourdain’s death shook me. It still does. I was obsessed with the man. I often respond with the cheesy line “I’m living the dream” when asked how I’m doing. Bourdain literally did. Or so I thought. And that’s what I wanted.

I look back at past social posts and I see that I used to always travel in Bourdain’s footsteps. I’ve watched every episode of A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown multiple times. Kitchen Confidential is one of my top ten favorite books. My posts show that I’ve visited London, Paris, Istanbul, Lisbon, New York, San Francisco, Austin, New York, and Nashville all through his stops and those are just the ones I posted about.

I’ve long said that I shouldn’t be chasing money. I should be chasing experiences. But if the man who had all the best experiences hates his life, what does that say about my aspirations? What does it say about my definition of cool or success?

This book, more than anything, showed me that it’s in our definition of experience. The experience isn’t just about traveling to awesome places and eating amazing food. The experience isn’t even about an individual day or trip. The experience is life and not just a part of life. It’s everything.

Sure, it’s visiting amazing places but it’s also about relationships and family. It’s about people. Perhaps the more Bourdain traveled the more he realized how empty his life really was. What does it mean to see everything if you see it alone?

This review is my most unsatisfactory one yet because I want to write an entire essay on this topic and don’t have the time or space now. I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone who is as obsessed with Anthony Bourdain as I have been. It’s not written like a traditional biography. It is an oral history so each story comes from multiple voices. I enjoyed that even more.

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