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Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater
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Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  4,330 ratings  ·  628 reviews
The New York Times restaurant critic's heartbreaking and hilarious account of how he learned to love food just enough

Frank Bruni was born round. Round as in stout, chubby, and always hungry. His relationship with eating was difficult and his struggle with it began early. When named the restaurant critic for The New York Times in 2004, he knew he would be performing one
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 20th 2009 by Penguin Press (first published July 21st 2009)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
117th out of 703 books — 1,349 voters
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New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009
40th out of 100 books — 119 voters

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Community Reviews

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Andrew Bailey
I first saw this book and was interested because of a desire to find a fellow childhood-chubster with whom I might have shared some embarrassingly painful life experiences growing up. I was sold on the glowing reviews by the New York Times, David Sedaris, Washington Post, etc. extolling the honesty and profundity of Frank Bruni's memoir on his struggle with his weight and being a New York Times food critic. I was looking for a companion to commiserate with and instead found a foppish food critic ...more
Glenn Sumi
This poignant, funny and brutally honest memoir about the author’s love/hate relationship with food really spoke to me. Like Bruni, a New York Times op-ed writer and its former restaurant critic, I grew up one of three boys in an ethnic family that loves food. I’m also a journalist, single and gay. My weight’s fluctuated over my lifetime, and I often eat for emotional reasons.

Unlike Bruni, however, I didn’t embark on a series of unhealthy diets when I was a teenager. Nor did I take up bulimia –
Former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni just published this book on his lifelong destructive and complex relationship towards food. Given my lifelong destructive and complex relationship towards The New York Times, I thought I'd check it out.

Perhaps I might not be the best source to comment here, as I have limited exposure to eating or addiction memoirs, so I can't begin to properly weigh Born Round's merits to similar memoirs. However, what really works strongest in this book isn't its m
I couldn't decide between three stars for the sincerity and good writing, or two stars for the irritation I felt while reading a 400 page book about one man's obsession with his friggin' belt size. (Spoiler alert: he ends up at a 34.) For most of the book he's completely freaked out about being five or ten pounds overweight; at one point he does balloon up into unhealthy territory, but easily works it off (with his $70 an hour trainer). I've never read an autobiography with so many pictures of t ...more
The Hook - When Frank Bruni, a man who clearly has a love/hate relationship with food, is recruited by the New York Times for the job of restaurant critic, I had to pull my chair up to the table.

The Line – Bruni talks about his spirited 8 month old niece in regards to his mother’s death…

Whenever I stepped back from the side of Mom’s bed, I found myself plucking little Leslie, eight months old and unaware of what was happening, from Harry’s or Sylvia’s arms. I pressed her lips against my forehea
Nov 25, 2009 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: Susan Orlean/NY Times
Here is a minor "personality," an accomplished journalist and a foodie celebrity, who has chosen to reveal some of his most vulnerable and intimate moments in what feels like a very, very long Facebook post. The forced barfing, the familial food orgies, the runs through Central Park and run-ins with NYC's most celebrated chefs, the battle of the bands (waistbands, that is- 34, 36, 38...40+): much of it seems to fall into the category of navel-gazing TMI (too much information).

And yet. And yet.
This book was not at all what I thought it was going to be. Frank Bruni became the restaurant critic for The New York Times in 2004 and I expected something more along the lines of a food memoir. And while the book jacket description calls Bruni's relationship with eating "tricky," what it did not prepare me for was that this is really the story of Bruni's lifelong eating disorders, complete with graphic descriptions of what happens when you take four times the recommended dosage of Ex-Lax in or ...more
As someone who has struggled with her weight since before birth (over 9 pounds at birth with no hope of ever being tall), the title of this book drew me in. The first part of the book was quite funny, especially when Bruni describes his Outward Bound experience (reminiscent of Bill Bryson's books). Yet once the story shifts to his college years, the entire tone of the book changes and becomes a disturbing tale of an individual with a serious eating disorder. To Bruni, his "ideal" physique was a ...more
Frank Bruni was a looming presence in a book published in 2007 chronicling the Manhattan restaurant Per Se's hopes for a four-star review from the New York Times tough-ass food critic. The writer, Phoebe Damrosch, was a hostess-turned-server, and one of her story's central conflicts and obsessions was spotting Bruni when he came into the restaurant, and making sure he had the best possible experience. That crumbs were swept up correctly; plates were pretty; the check presented to the correct din ...more
I sometimes forget that I don't really like memoirs, unless they're written by someone like Mother Teresa. So I try to read example after example of the genre, because they're so popular and sometimes their premises do grab me. But I almost always stop reading them after the first chapter, and this one, about a successful food critic's struggles with his weight, was no exception. Bruni is a good writer, much less self-absorbed than a lot of modern memoirists (Eat Pray Love, I'm talkin' about you ...more
I strongly disliked this book, and later its author, starting about a quarter of the way in. About halfway through, I found myself asking whether there was an app that would allow me to listen to the audiobook in double-time because it was so tiresome. I stuck with (an accelerated version of) it because I'd read other reviews saying that the second half (about Bruni's work as a food critic) was more interesting than the first half (long descriptions of food, seemingly endless angst about the flu ...more
i enjoyed this book a lot because i thought it was witty & well-written. but it's not quite what i expected. i was anticipating a memoir about a person actually struggling to control or come to terms with serious & significant weight issues. what i got instead was a memoir about a person struggling with some pretty extreme body dysmorphia. bruni claims that he was extra-chubby from infanthood, & he details the extremes he would go to even as a toddler beyond the reaches of logic to s ...more
Jordana Horn Gordon
I loved this book. It's rare (no pun intended) to have a memoir that combines the most essential elements of such a work: being well-written, interesting and compelling. My one complaint was that the ending was a little flat compared to the rest of the book, but the rest of the book -- particularly, actually, the parts about Bruni's family and his learning to equate food with love and vice versa -- were riveting. Bruni has the gift of being able to write so that you never 'see him there' - his p ...more
I must be strangely drawn to books by New York Times food critics. I've enjoyed all of Ruth Reichl's book, and I enjoyed this one immensely too. Frank Bruni talks candidly about his battles with food and his weight. I've thought the same thoughts that he describes, and his book made me feel that I wasn't the only one who has rationalized eating more than I should, or the only one who has backslid once and then given up.
Bruni's honesty is refreshing, and his vignettes about his big Italian-Ameri
I found this book completely fascinating. It was a remarkable glimpse into Frank Bruni's lifelong struggle with his weight which made his acceptance of the position as the NY Times food critic absolutely shocking - esp since I, like so many others, had no idea!

Interesting, totally heartbreaking, and very funny. Plus, I got to meet him at Strand books and he signed my copy which was awesome. The more I read about him, the more in awe of him I became. I was already a fan of his, but now, moreso! I
Bruni, the former New York Times restaurant critic (and before that political and papal reporter), takes us through the ups and down, as well as his ever expanding and decreasing pants sizes of his life. The title is no joke, Bruni has a serious problem with food, sometimes gorging, sometimes starving, sometimes taking diet pills, etc. etc. I wanted to take him into a big bear hug and say, "Frankie, you need therapy--now!!" But he doesn't go, and regrettably, the reader is lead into his world of ...more
Larry Hoffer
When I make a list of dream jobs, restaurant critic is always near the top. For a foodie like me, to be able to eat at some of the best restaurants in a city (and not have to take out a second mortgage to afford the meals) would be a pretty amazing opportunity. But since no one is beating down my door offering me that chance, it was fun to live vicariously through Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic.

Interestingly enough, this book hit home for me in more ways than I imagined. Wh
No surprise, my favorite part of Frank Bruni's memoir was the final, as my Kindle told me, 26% of the books, when he begins his seven-year stint as the restaurant critic for the New York Times. Totally my never-to-be-obtained dream job, and he let me live it, mostly through stories of the crazy logistics of the whole thing: basically, how to eat around ten dinners a week, in restaurants all over town, sampling the entire menu at each place, trying to remain anonymous even on his third and fourth ...more
Allison Floyd
Well. As void spackle goes, it was alright, although if you ask me, there could have been more general iridescence lurking in the white clumps.

What I mean to say is that this was a heartfelt, entertaining--moving, even--read that somehow didn't quite fully do it for me. I suspect this has to do with the fact that the bulk of the book is dedicated to the author's painstaking dissection of his early life, which, like most, was largely unremarkable. While his doing so was clearly necessary to set t
I'm a big fan of Mr. Bruni's op-ed columns in the NYT, so I looked forward to reading more about him. I recognized a lot of my own childhood (Clean your plate! Eat more because I made it for you!) and my own insecurities about weight (If I only lost these five pounds, I'd be 50 times more attractive). It's heartening that he seems to have found balance in his life, and I found his journey to be really inspiring. I also enjoyed learning about his family and his stint as a restaurant reviewer. Goo ...more
Tony Noland
"Born Round" is Frank Bruni's honest, heartfelt look at his struggles with his weight. Going beyond just the number on the scale or the tightness of his pants, he talks about what it means to grow up in a family where the size of the meal offered is a measure of the love expressed, and where the number of servings consumed is a measure of the love returned. For all the bombast and proclamations of familial affection in a loud Italian clan, it's the interpretation of actions around eating that ar ...more
Still one of my favorite memoirs ever written. Immediately relatable to anyone reading, Bruni is charismatic and lovable from the very first page. To anyone who has ever dealt with issues of weight, of loss, of self doubt and self judgement, Bruni is a guide sent from the future, where everything really is better.
Really 3.5 stars, but Frank Bruni is so likeable and seemingly lovely that I will round up to 4. Well-written, entertaining book with interesting insight into the professional life of a restaurant critic. Some of the dieting details got a little tedious, but in fairness, it's the theme of the book.
Anne Green
I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. Not that my expectations were particularly low, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered, but I guess I thought it would be a fairly straightforward memoir about a guy who got lucky in the food media industry, focused primarily on his time as restaurant critic for the New York Times. It was far more than that, however. Frank Bruni has battled his weight all his life and much of the book is devoted to his personal journey in dealing with (and not dealing ...more
For some reason, I have a strange fascination with the NY restaurant scene as well as the behind-the-scenes of the critical reviews. I really enjoyed Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires, and Anthony Bourdain's books have been some of my all-time favorites. So when I walked past this book on the Clearance aisle at Barnes, I picked it up, even though I had 2 other books in line to be read. I immediately started reading.

I hadn't read any reviews on the book, so in my head it was going to be a little
I can not believe how much I enjoyed this book. I give it 4.25 stars.

I struggle with my relationship with food. So, initially, when I saw the cover of this book, I was intrigued, but thought, "Why in the world would I want to add someone else's food problems to my own?" It was the same reason I never watched an episode of Bridezilla when I was a stressed out wedding planner.

Then, my mom brought the book over and somewhat insisted I read it. Not so much because of the subject matter, but because
Ashland Mystery Oregon
Bruni's last restaurant review for the New York Times was in 2009, but he's still writing for the paper. In fact, this weekend Bruni had a feature about Christmas holidays with his large, noisy Italian family. Having just finished Born Round, I felt I knew all of them - Mark, Adelle, Harry and the legion of nieces and nephews.

As some autobiographies are, Born Round is self conscious and narcissistic. Bruni's insecurity and lack of self esteem are reiterated frequently, directly related to his c
The author of this book is the current food critic for the NY Times. However, he has had a long and difficult relationship with food. I loved this book, because I feel like I too have had a long and difficult relationship with food.

I saw so much of myself in him, in his writing, and in his feelings towards self image. There's a part about how he meets someone and they ask him out, and then he puts off the date for weeks because he always wants to lose a "few pounds" or fit into those one pair of
2 1/2 stars. “The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater” was, for the most part, interesting and well-written. The reason I didn't rate it more highly is because I got tired of the almost constant whining about lack of good boyfriends, the bad decisions (we all make them but we are supposed to learn from them) and the seeming lack of insight into why that was.

Mr. Bruni's romantic life seemed totally dependent on how fat or slim he was at any given moment, and he even avoided people to whom he was
Holly Morrow
I loved this book - NYT restaurant critic Frank Bruni's memoirs about his lifelong tortured relationship with food - which is at turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny. Heartbreaking: Anyone who has ever had a compulsive or neurotic approach to eating or any other aspect of vanity will recognize all the pathos and even many of the specific details he describes. Food is his great joy and his greatest source of pain and fear. The man is completely consumed with it and his obsession with his ...more
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The Backlot Gay B...: Frank Bruni, Born Round 1 11 Jul 14, 2013 08:16PM  
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Frank Bruni was named restaurant critic for The New York Times in April 2004.

Before that, Mr. Bruni had been the Rome bureau chief from July 2002 until March 2004, a post he took after working as a reporter in the Washington D.C. bureau from December 1998 until May 2002. While in Washington, he was among the journalists assigned to Capitol Hill and Congress until August 1999, when he was assigned
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