Push aside the bad-boy tales of drugs, drink, and other excesses, get beyond the raunchy language, and Anthony Bourdain's hilarious tell-all about the restaurant industry, Kitchen Confidential, offers wisdom applicable to virtually any workplace. New to our list (it's this month's No. 6 paperback), the book has reflections on dealing with co-workers, intelligence-gathering, loyalty, and dedication. Witness rule No. 6: "Never call in sick. Except in cases of dismemberment, arterial bleeding, sucking chest wounds, or death of an immediate family member. Granny died? Bury her on your day off."
Bourdain exposes restaurant cooking for the backbreaking and often thankless work it is: Blisters, knife wounds, burns, and perpetually aching feet are the norm. But he clearly loves the peculiar challenges and rewards of the job. And while his revelations blast away any lingering, romanticized view of chefdom, he's only telling it like it is.
By Karin Pekarchik