Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,830 ratings  ·  591 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 o...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Penguin Books (first published July 21st 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Born Round, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Born Round

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Aaron
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...more
Julie
Nov 25, 2009 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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....more
Melissa
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
Terzah
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
Nette
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
Rachel
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
christa
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
Jacqie
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...more
Christina
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...more
Scott
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
Ciara
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
Allison
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...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
Zoe
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.
Apcretul
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...more
Leslie
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...more
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...more
Alicia
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...more
Chris
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
Susan
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...more
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
Nicole
I have the feeling that if this were written by a woman, it would have never been published. True, he has lead a very interesting life as a writer for the New York Times, including following the Bush campaign and now as a food critic. He came from a large family, so there's always lots of drama associated with that. He's homosexual, so that gets some mileage. But the stuff about his weight - the bulk of the book - just came off as shallow and narcissistic (as people obsessed about themselves oft...more
Tod Companion
I read this book after Mr. Bruni started writing for the NYTimes op-ed page. His forthright discussion of gay rights, and the gay marriage issue intrigued me. His blog led me to his biography, which I greatly enjoyed. How could a story about a 'fat kid' who battles with weight - climaxing as he becomes restaurant critic for the NYTimes - not be fascinating.

Mr. Bruni writes with great love about his large and vibrant family - especially the women in his life - his grandmother, his mother, his si...more
Kaitlyn Barrett
Glorious. Easy. Skilled. Practiced. Clearly this man writes for a living.

However, it’s all very polished and presentable. I suspect that the real Frank is funnier, wittier, crasser and more spiteful than this book allows. While this writing is so adult and presentable and Emily Post, I wish for a little more spice.

But maybe he has the best of both worlds? He writes for other people in a way that pleases them, he makes a living and it doesn’t affect his real life. His real life and writing don’...more
Jana
The first half is his story of growing up in a gluttonous family and years of binge eating, obsessing about his shape (accentuated by being a gay man in a culture even more focused on appearance than what women go through), and dieting, throwing up, abusing laxatives and getting fatter and fatter. He somehow manages to get it all under control with a good personal trainer and exercise and then when he's hired to be a food critic, learning how to just take a few tastes of things instead of eating...more
Judith
This is a delightful book by a restaurant critic for the New York Times. There is so much to like about this book, but don't read it on an empty stomach or you will run to raid your refrigerator. Frank Bruni was raised by a loving, large Italian family who made eating a competition sport. The descriptions of the foods made by his grandmother will have your mouth watering. I loved the stories of how the families competed with each other to serve the most lavish banquets for each holiday. I loved...more
Avigail
While I sometimes tired of the endless descriptions of food (which, as a foodie, I found remarkable), I never tired of reading about Frank Bruni. Partly, Bruni is the person I've always wanted to be--from a big Italian family, a gentleman and a scholar, and a well respected journalist and intellectual. I found his relationship with food to be an interesting narrative, especially his discussion of bulimia, which I think is a much more rampant problem among men than anyone would believe. I finishe...more
Catherine
Nov 17, 2009 Catherine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies, Anyone who has ever been on a diet
Recommended to Catherine by: Gail
Shelves: book-club
Bruni writes of his obsession with food, details numerous attempts at various eating plans, his weight gains and losses, and ironically, ultimately being the restaurant reviewer for the New York Times.

As a lifelong dieter and craving wrangler myself, I found many aspects--though thankfully not all--of his stories relatable.

His recollections of family, particularly his relationship with his mother and grandmother, were touching and poignant.

The only slight criticism I have of the book (and I hesi...more
Michelle Juergen
I loved this book for an important reason: I understood Frank and his struggle with food and weight and the way both those things can take over your mentality about healthiness and your appearance. Though obviously well-written, this book isn't the most amazing piece of literature I've ever read. Sometimes it drags a bit, with too much family background or work detail, although it is important to understand what's going in the background of Frank's life to see how his food mindset changes. I lik...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Backlot Gay B...: Frank Bruni, Born Round 1 10 Jul 14, 2013 08:16PM  
  • Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life
  • Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
  • Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat
  • Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times
  • Man with a Pan
  • Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
  • The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner
  • Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life
  • Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter
  • The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation
  • The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food
  • 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
  • The Man Who Ate Everything
  • Cheesemonger
  • Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen
  • Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef
  • Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman's Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker
  • As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto: Food, Friendship, and the Making of a Masterpiece
13090
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...more
More about Frank Bruni...
Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church Consumer Terrorism: How to Get Satisfaction When You're Being Ripped Off Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania Consumer Terrorism: How to Wage War Against Bad Products and Worse Service

Share This Book

“I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live.” 22 likes
“Books are personal, passionate. They stir emotions and spark thoughts in a manner all their own, and I'm convinced that the shattered world has less hope for repair if reading becomes an ever smaller part of it.” 0 likes
More quotes…