First let’s agree that brunch at Busboys and Poets is a delight.

That established, Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party (Little, Brown, and Co. $25.00), the newest book from hilarious hosts of The Dinner Party Download Brendan Francis Newman and Rico Gagliano, is certain to put “I will host more dinner parties” at the top of your 2018 New Year’s Resolution list. Why?

Because this book upholds the dinner party as Brendan and Rico put it “as the sanctuary of friendship” and do we need to explain why friendship and civility matter in our society these days? With ample scoops of both charm and snark, Brendan and Rico serve up research, recipes and steps needed to plan and enjoy your own successful dinner party. And they even give you the play lists and cheesy jokes to make it easy and fun even for the most reluctant host (the hippie joke is my favorite).

For fans of David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell, Brunch is Hell will be your new go to gift book to amuse your reading pals with the added benefit of possibly securing you more classy, snail mailed dinner party invitations! And if your hosts follow the Who to Invite advice provided in Brunch is Hell, your fellow dinner party guests probably won’t share all of your opinions on politics or your ideas for the best vacation spot or your dietary preferences – which is GOOD!

With that in mind, a caution to vegans, Brendan’s Stuffed Fried Olives on page 92 contain veal (eww Brendan! Veal = yuck), so feel free to skip the olives and go straight to page 94 for Rico’s Peperonata. (A note from the reviewer:  that was me practicing the art of the potentially controversial guest comment that sparks a quality dinner party conversation as encouraged by the authors. Remember as emphasized in the book, an added benefit of a true dinner party is that you are in the comfort of a private home with other adults you are interested in – you may voice opinions with gusto, demonstrate your new dance moves freely and laugh full throttle!)

The format of the book makes it a quick read and easy to reference. Simple lists, funny celebrity quotes and a “YES, anyone can pull off a dinner party” confidence throughout will inspire readers to send the invites, plan the menu and clean the bathroom – it’s dinner party time!

And hey, if you’re waiting in line for brunch at Busboys the morning after your dinner party let’s talk about the book some more as I’d love to hear all the stories from your amazing dinner party!


This review was provided courtesy of Shirlington Busboys and Poets Bookseller Kenlynn Nelson. Be sure to catch Brendan and Rico at our upcoming event “Brunch is Hell with Busboys and Poets Books” on December 6 at 14th and V.

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