Anthony Bourdain

The unconventional chef and author gives us a confidential list of his three favorite books.

The chef, writer, and television star has to take some of the credit—or blame—for a generation of young amateur cooks, proud of their knife skills and their adventurous palates. Yet Kitchen Confidential was steeped in the unglamorous reality of restaurant food, and his recent follow-up, Medium Raw, takes an iconoclastic stance in relation to the ongoing revolution in cooking. Anthony Bourdain’s three favorite books are as arresting and thought-provoking as his take on cuisine.

Books by Anthony Bourdain

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

By Hunter S. Thompson

“This book changed my young life. Its mixture of passion, cynicism, hyperbole, and diatribe—and its take on the failures of the ’60s—mirrored my own worldview. Thompson’s language, his sentences, his lurid, violent, evocative prose inspired me—and clearly influenced my own work.”

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

By George V. Higgins

“The perfect crime novel. Told almost entirely through dialogue—and with spare description—it was the first crime novel where crooks really talked like crooks. . . . Uncompromising, brutally realistic, funny, and frightening—it’s the truest of its genre.”


By Vladimir Nabokov

“Simply the great American novel, and the most precise use of the English language ever. Beautiful sentences, difficult material, razor-sharp satire—and a romantic tragedy by a master at the peak of his powers.”