Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust (William Alexander)

Image found here.

Title: 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust (Web site)
Author: William Alexander (Web site)
Publisher: Algonquin Books, 2010
Notes: I found this book at the library. It appealed to me because I've always been interested in baking my own bread, and the cover jacket had an excellent, humorous summary.

A brief summary: William Alexander once tasted delicious peasant bread and committed himself to replicating it. Dedicating himself to one loaf per week in the calendar year, Alexander aims to bake his peasant loaf from scratch. This includes growing wheat, harvesting it, and milling it. It takes him to Morocco and to France. He breaks two ovens.

My thoughts: This book definitely makes me want to get back in the kitchen and attempt making bread again. Alexander's memoir is utterly hilarious—the true example of laugh-out-loud funny. (There were times I dropped the book, laughing.) I can't give any hints as to what entertained me so much without giving away crucial points of Alexander's journey. Part of the humor lay in his ability to set his life so open to us readers, as well as his relationship with his wife. But it's not all simple laughter and humor in this book; Alexander's experiences at Abbaye Saint-Wandrille left me feeling peaceful and recharged, much like the film Die große Stille left me.

I did select a quote to share with you, from the end of the book. It appropriately and accurately conveys, I think, Alexander's mindset as to this entire journey:
"Choose one thing you care about and resolve to do it well. Whether you succeed or not, you will be better for the effort." —323

I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for an excellent summer read. It's a well-written, funny food memoir that also encompasses the meaning of long-term commitment and persistence. Make sure you have some delicious bread nearby, as you will most likely feel munchy as you read!

Rating: 5 stars


  1. Love me some food memoirs! I'll have to check it out if it comes so highly recommended by you!

  2. I really think you'd like it! It's so funny, and wonderful too. I would recommend it if you're going on vacation or looking for a rainy day kind of book.

  3. I never pictured myself reading a book about bread, but this one looks interesting so might have to give it a try.

    Oh....found you via the Book Blogger Hop :o)

  4. Marty, it's definitely worth a look! You'll find yourself with a new set of vocabulary—levain? poolish?—and enjoying Alexander's candor, hopefully. Thanks for stopping by!