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Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater Hardcover – August 20, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; First Edition edition (August 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202315
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: How a man with a lifelong battle of the bulge landed the job as the restaurant critic for the New York Times, the most influential job in the food world, is only half the story (more like a third, really) in Frank Bruni's brave, brutally honest, often hilarious, and truly endearing memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater.

Bruni struggled with over-eating since he was a boy growing up in a food-focused family in White Plains, NY. From adolescence through adulthood, Bruni was on the losing side of maintaining a healthy relationship with food, and eventually his inability to control his hunger--manifested in bulimia, convenience store binges, and bouts of sleep eating--defined his life. There aren't many books out there dealing with what it's like to be a man with an eating disorder. While Bruni's story is peppered with humor, his disgust at himself as he yo-yo's up to size 42 khakis at the Gap and endures years-long patches of celibacy leaves the reader aching in empathy.

Self-doubt about his appearance causes him to sabotage any chances at happiness as he makes lame excuses to postpone dates in the hopes that he'll drop those few extra pounds before he might have to reveal himself. And throughout the book he's banking on being slimmer in the future--whether it's a few days, weeks, or months--and sacrifices truly appreciating the present, even when he's holding prestigious jobs at Newsweek and the New York Times.

"I was in retreat, my weight a reason not to reach out or take risks. I'd deal with my love life once I got thinner.... Fatness simplified life and lessened the stakes. It put life on hiatus, making the present a larded limbo between a past normalcy and a future one. It argued against bold initiatives.... But while I wasn't trying to make things happen, they nonetheless happened to me."


There's a very funny account of how he worked with a photographer friend to digitally manipulate his author photo for Ambling into History in an attempt "to transform the round into the oblong, chubby into chiseled, gone-to-seed to come-to-Papa." When he saw the results of the final photo (the one that would be taped behind the reservation stand of many New York restaurants) his friend wondered: "When was the last time anyone at the publishing house saw you?"

And when he gets the tap to become restaurant critic and leaves his gig as the Times's Rome bureau chief, he begins a preparatory world-tour of eating research before entering an exhausting career of eating out seven nights a week, juggling multiple dining identities (with matching AmEx cards), and becoming one of "the most loved and hated tastemakers in New York." --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Outgoing New York Times restaurant critic Bruni admits he was even a baby bulimic in his extraordinary memoir about a lifelong battle with weight problems. To his Southern Italian paternal grandmother, food equaled love. Cooking and parenting from Old World traditions, she passed these maternal and culinary principles on to her WASP daughter-in-law, whose own weight struggles her son eventually inherited. Through adolescence, puberty and into college, Bruni oscillated from gluttonous binges to adult bulimia, including laxative abuse. Vocationally, journalism called, first through the college paper, then a progression of internships and staff positions in Detroit and New York, including his stints as a Bush campaign reporter in 2000 and as the Times Rome correspondent. In tandem, Bruni's powerlessness over his appetite developed from cafeteria meals to Chinese delivery binges to sleep eating. While Bruni includes such entertaining bits as the campaign trail seen through Weight Watcher lens and ample meals from his years as the Times restaurant critic, in the end, his is a powerful, honest book about desire, shame, identity and self-image. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

All in all, I found this book to be an entertaining, fast read.
CJFCL
Most of this book is a biographical sketch of Mr. Bruni's life, as he states it, "Born Round".
David Zampino
The last chapters of the book felt pointless and the ending very boring.
kayeffect

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Maeri VINE VOICE on August 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've always enjoyed reading Frank Bruni's down-to-earth restaurant reviews in the New York Times and his memoir, Born Round is written in the same easy-going and engaging style. Bruni writes about his food-centered Italian-American upbringing and his lifelong struggle to keep his weight under control. As a female reader, it was interesting to read about weight control from a male perspective. But what I really enjoyed most about the book were the portraits of his mother and Italian grandmother. He obviously loved them dearly and his portrayal of them is, to me, the heart of the book. Bruni is an open-hearted and accessible writer. Highly recommended!
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For many of us this will at last be a book to identify with. It seems most fight with addictions to something which can range from the most thought of - alcohol and drugs to physical exercise and what so many are fighting today - the addiction to food. This book is an excursion through Frank Bruni's ages of food - his love and pure joy of it engulfs and overwhelms his child hood and about the first 100 pages of his story, then falls into his growing battle with weight gain.
His descriptions of food loved and memories of childhood foods and his Italian family can make you laugh in pure pleasure and remembrance. His ability to draw you into his feelings and life are readily apparent from the first page to the last; including his marvelous description as the middle child caught between the charismatic and confident older brother and the younger space cadet. Ah yes, but Frank can out eat any one and so begins his war with his body and proceeds with his narratives of what he's thinking and the food obsessions as he goes through his high school, college and professional years.
So many of us can identify with dates postponed, old friends put off because weight has been gained and the diets that will start Monday with a binge before the diet and failure by Wednesday.
This book is an interesting read, but could just as well be used as psychological study, one that can explain the lure of food to those who just don't understand. It can also be a cathartic read for those of us that struggle - you aren't the only one out there - recognize the cop outs we use: it must be the weight ...I'm not getting dates, not getting invited to parties, not getting promoted. This can allow you to see yourself or someone you care about.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Black on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are those people who can eat a buffet-table full of food and not gain an ounce. You know them... heck, you may be one of them. For some of us, this is sadly not always the case. Frank Bruni's brutally honest memoir stands out as an accounting of a life where this may be true. Food isn't just food, it becomes a habit. A lifestyle. A ghost in your life that everything else revolves around. This is the story of his struggles and exaltations regarding it.

Bruni is a great writer. This book is engulfing. It's a, forgive the phrase, entertaining melancholy, of sorts. It's no small task to write an autobiography that is always interesting, and for the most part, this book is. Most often, I skip the "childhood chapters" in such books, but here I found myself engrossed, and reading them. Perhaps it was because I've had to fight this struggle, myself.

The transformation from being a slave to food, to liberated under it... truly, Mr. Bruni has conquered so much. We all must find peace with our ways of life, and this is not a tale about a struggle with food (well it is, of course) but so much the story of a man who has conquered his inner demons to fulfill his potential. It's inspiring and encouraging to read.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The problem with writing about your weight problems is that they loom so very large in your own mind, but really aren't quite as interesting to those around you. Frank Bruni is at his best when he is discussing the overwhelming love of his family and how it centers around massive amounts of elaborate food. While the reader may identify with Bruni's obsession with his yo-yoing weight, after awhile it gets old to read about. Never does he stop to question whether or not he really is only as valuable as he is thin. "Born Round" is fascinating as a chronicle of food in an Italian-American family, and as a memoir of Bruni's career in journalism, it is far less fascinating as a tale of triumph over eating issues.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By *rose* on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The book has some wonderful parts to it. I loved reading and learning about his family and the foods his mother, grandmother and aunts created and served. The abundance of food served at family gatherings along with the sweet game of 'I'm going to serve much more food than any one else in the family!' that the ladies in the family partake in are things that mirror the happenings in my own family. Some parts made me laugh out loud with familiarity while others made me grimace and groan with understanding. These parts were my favorite parts of the book.

The rest of the book, the yo-yo dieting, the struggle with weight that Frank Bruni went through got less and less interesting to me. Page after page and chapter after chapter... I struggled along with Frank just trying to get through the book.

It's worth reading if you are interested in what someone might go through to keep their weight at a level which they are happy with. And some of the ways he tried to do that were indeed fascinating to read. But, for me, the parts of the book that really shine include his family and food.
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