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Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  3,412 ratings  ·  457 reviews

For more than twenty years, the Hermes Birkin bag has been the iconic symbol of fashion, luxury, and wealth. With a fabled waiting list of more than two years to purchase one, the average fashionista has a better chance of climbing Mount Everest in Prada pumps than of possessing this coveted carryall. Unless, of course, she happens to know Michael Tonello. . . .

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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by William Morrow
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,412 ratings  ·  457 reviews

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Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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This was gossipy and fun, and proof that someone doesn't have to seem "likable" to write a good memoir. Michael Tonello made a living for a while as a "reseller" of the rare Birkin bags, named after Jane Birkin and coveted by highly materialistic, conspicuous consumers everywhere. During one year, he spent $1,600,000 on Hermes merchandise for resale. That's more money than most of us will ever see at once, and it's ridiculous to imagine it
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

So are you familiar already with what's known as the Birkin bag? It's the product of Hermés, one of those European "designer boutiques" that exists for no other reason than to severely overcharge rich people with self-esteem issues; you know, one of those places that sells hundred-dollar handkerchiefs
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition

Starred Review
In a funny, whip-smart memoir sure to be a sensation among Vogue and W devotees, erstwhile hair and makeup artist Tonello (now a columnist for chronicles a surprising (even to him!) trans-Atlantic move from Provincetown, R.I. to a city he’d fallen in love with on a short trip: Barcelona, where he knows no one and doesn’t speak the language. Tonello’s initial euphoria dissolves when his new job fails to materialize. To stay afloat, Tonello starts
Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Michael Tonello never planned to start a business selling Hermès on eBay; he stumbled into it when he began offloading his own designer duds to raise cash after he found himself jobless in Barcelona. This memoir about how his personal closet-cleaning lead to a lucrative career procuring and reselling Hermès' elusive Birkin bag is a highly entertaining, funny, and unexpectedly exciting read.

Though the book got off to something of a slow start for me, by the time he got to writing about sticker s
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I assumed it would be poorly written and mildly entertaining (if at all). Instead, it was surprisingly well-written and generally very funny. I read it in five hours on a quiet Saturday afternoon (it's definitely a quick read). Michael Tonello details his adventures as a "re-seller" of Hermes products, namely crocodile Birkin bags (around US$30,000 a piece for those not in the know). The whole story is a little surreal--clearly you need money to make mone ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair travellers, fashionistas and people who want a funny, light read
Recommended to Paula by: new title buying
Shelves: 2008-reads
I have an ARC of this and so far (27 chapters in) it's made me giggle at least once per chapter. Some chapters it's been so hilarious I can't help sharing it.

It's light, funny, and the story draws you along. The characterisations are fantastic - it's easy to view people and scenes in your mind's eye (important to me!). Michael Tonello doesn't take himself too seriously and better still, knew when to give it all up.

It's going on the shelf as a re-read. A keeper - for at least a while, and I'm off
Well my goodness that was an interesting book. I have always known what Hermes was and their scarves, but had no idea what a Birkin was. The lives of the very rich have never particularly interested me. This is the true story of Michael Tonello who bought and sold Birkin's to such people over the course of about five years. Again, book clubs have me reading books I didn't even know existed. Back to the real world for me...
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't know why this book was so much fun but it was. Pure junk food entertainment. I was on vacation and it was perfect.
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book appealed to me because of a horrible addiction I have: handbags. Bringing Home the Birkin tells the story of Michael, a light-hearted gent off in search of some adventure. He finds himself moving to Spain on a whim, quickly burning through his cash reserves as he does so. Financial difficulties lead him to sell his designer clothing on e-bay, where a chance email changes his life. He soon goes from selling his clothes, to becoming a talented finder of the world's most elusive handbags: ...more
Elizabeth Prochazka
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was such a fun peek into the life of a reseller!
Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like to dip my toe into shallower literary waters from time to time, so dipping into this frothy literary confection was a treat. I'm a sucker for anyone stumbling into entrepreneurial success, and what's flukier than bringing home a self-employed salary of high-six figures just for finding and marking up overpriced, hard-to-find handbags? I personally think anyone who'd pay $30,000 for a handbag has far too much time and money on their hands. I wouldn't pay that much for a bag made out of the ...more
Feb 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Girly-girls and people who like humorous memoirs
Recommended to Clackamas by: Goodreads
**Reread Dec, 2012. This review still stands but I'm upgrading my rating to 4 stars because it still makes me giggle. I don't know why I was so hard on it the first time.**

This was a cute story (I'm sure the author will cringe at my use of the word "cute", but that's how I felt about it). I'm not one for chick-lit and would not have thought to read this if it hadn't been given to me, but I'm glad I did.

This story was quite anecdotal in parts. It didn't feel forced at all or take itself too seri
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
The biggest surprise in this book is not that some people have too much money and spend it on stupid crap like insanely overpriced purses - it's how enthralling the author's story was! I really didn't think I'd enjoy this as much as I ultimately did. The author can be a little irritating from time to time - for example, he keeps trying to point out how much he's not like "them" (his customers), but catalogues each and every luxury meal and makes sure we know he ordered the right wine etc. - but ...more
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Mary Reed
This book is a perfect example of how you can live vicariously through someone else by reading their stories. Michael Tonello stumbled onto a career that allowed him to live the high life in Europe while also working from home in his PJs - all in pursuit of this bag called the Birkin. I'd heard of it before, but didn't fully realize the whole Hermes culture. The bags go for thousands of dollars and wait lists are over two years. Can you imagine?!

Tonello, however, came up with a "formula" to byp
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fashionistas, arm chair travelers and anyone looking for a fun book to read
Shelves: nonfiction-shelf
If the sight of orange Hermes boxes makes your heart go pitter-patter, this will be a page turner. Even if you're not familiar with the Parisian luxury goods maker, it's still a fun (and funny!) sneak peak into that world. The author, Michael Tonnello, is openly gay and writes with an acerbic, gay man's humor that is quite enjoyable without being overly campy.

I'd also recommend it if you're interested in traveling to Europe just because it gives an American's insight into being dumped into land
Donna Lehtonen
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting a fun and light hearted book to escape into.
I loved this book! I could not put it down,and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it.

I love the authors writing style and storytelling talent. This book is fun and funny, interesting and international.

This is a book that only comes around once in a lifetime!

Michael Tonello went where no man had dared to go. He was the first and the last maverick
in the history of Hermes;to round up such a herd of hides.

Oh, and the cover of the book is too wonderful to hide on a shelf!
Jun 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who shops (whether they like to or not!)
Read the whole thing in one sitting- really couldn't put it down. A very amusing story, and I laughed and cheered the author on his quests. The descriptions of the cities he stayed in and his travels were a wonderful counterpoint to the business driven plot. This was so great to read, with a surprising amount of heart. It wasn't just about a brand-name; far from it. Highly entertaining, made more so by the fact that the events actually happened.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone loving the fashion chicl-lit genre.
Loved this book. Honestly, when I first picked it up I had no idea 1. it was written by a man and 2. it was considered non-fiction! Both of these revelations made me enjoy this book even more. Reads like a chick-lit Bergdorf Blonde behind the scenes delicious tell all! Who knew? So sorry Hermès, you lose.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved it as this was a very refreshing storyline! I don't think anyone would even think about writing about the Birkin. What's more, this is written based on a true story so it made it even sweeter. Moreover, I'm a huge fan of travel literature and I guess this satisfied the travel literature component somewhat? This book was indeed a fitting and light summer read.
Oct 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
You know a book is good when the premise is selling Birkins, and you really have no idea what a Birkin is, yet are riveted to the storyline from the very first chapter. This book is very entertaining, well-written, and has some depth to it...Loved it. Definitely a great vacation or beach read. And I even searched for Birkins on eBay to capture the thrill of it all, lol. Really fun.
Erika McClain
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is a style guide travel book business manual memoir of an accidental businessman. I loved every page of it. And the book itself is adorable. The hardcover looks like a Birkin bag and the inside is dotted wit great illustrations.
Mary Louise
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh, dear. I didn't want to finish this one because it's so much fun to read and the narrator is so likeable. You'll want to buy several copies to give your friends and relatives as gifts. It's a perfect summer read, take it to the beach or on vacation.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Given I will likely never own a Birkin this book was a fun little glimpse into the lux life of Hermes buyers. Loved it!
Tiffany Mercer
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating! So funny and I learned a ton about Capri and fashion. I wish this author had more books!
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
In spite of the ridiculous premise of this memoir, I found myself enjoying this author's sense of humor and sense of himself.

Michael Tonello tells of his life as a Hermes luxury items re-seller. Yes - he traveled the world in search of Hermes stores, talked his way into purchasing many thousands of dollars of handbags, scarves, bracelets and other high-end items, then turned around and sold them on eBay. Or to clients who couldn't get enough of them, especially the Birken bag (which could sell a
Tracy Lee
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book far more than I should have, perhaps. Maybe because I have a unique hobby and collection, I could appreciate the sort of madness that comes with finding that certain item that industry makes so unnecessarily hard to get in order to drive market demand to the point of absurdity. We all know it is nuts, and we all just desire it and pay a bunch of money for it anyway despite knowing better. Now, my hobby is not Birkin bag expensive, but it has its quirks and I just LOVED how th ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Tonello’s recounting of how he entered, dominated and ultimately exited his lucrative life as a reseller of Hermès’ Birkin bags. The tone volleyed from luxe sarcasm to transparent honesty, humor and even tenderness.
As a business person, I completely admire his entrepreneurial instincts. As a lover of food/wine, fashion and European travel, I relished every detail he shared. Reading this book was like buying a companion ticket to go along for the ride. Thank you!
Auderoy Lin
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it

Life was too short for list making and excuses.

I was going to handle this like a man. I called my mother.

I loved clothes, sure, but clothes are... clothes. And books... well, they're more like friends.

Nothing convinces you so thoroughly that you truly belong to a place as when your heart beats faster at the thought of being back on its familiar ground once more.

I had the ability to perform a trick that was much better than pulling rabbits out of hats--I knew how to pull Birkins out of
Rick Faby
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great read about business, greed, fashion, love, profits and ingenuity. Michael conveys his feelings and drive for work, winning, gourmet food, wine and passion for friends, family and travel so elegantly. Loved the story and would highly recommend it to my business friends and travel gourmands. Enjoyed it- Thanks Michael and my love, Lauren, for giving the book to me.
Kwang Wei Long
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good recount of someone who stumbled into the world of selling of luxurious goods starting from scarfs and went on to dominate the world's most coveted bag, the birkins.

Highly entertaining read! Will recommend for people looking for a light read and people who might be interested in his accidental entrepreneur journey.
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I grew up in Massachusetts. I traveled the world as a makeup artist and hairdresser until a chance job assignment in Spain proved fateful, and I resettled in Barcelona. Pressed to find a profession that did not necessitate working papers, I became a lucrative eBay luxury reseller of all things Hermes. I am a columnist for and live in Barcelona with my partner, Juan, and our two ...more
“Nothing convinces you so thoroughly that you truly belong to a place as when your heart beats faster at the thought of being back on its familiar ground once more.” 1 likes
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