Book Review: American English Italian Chocolate by Rick Bailey


Book Review American English Italian Chocolate by Rick Bailey

A slice-of-life memoir of a professor that penned down interesting musings through multiple phases of life and culture.


TL/DR a.k.a. the Summary

American English Italian Chocolate is the collected musings and memoir of Rick Bailey. From his curiosities as a kid, enjoying his life with his wife’s culture, to his observations being a professor, father, and an adult son watching his parents.

The Full Review

What I Expect From The Book Cover

Small anecdotes. Finer details of the small things that usually happen in the background. Pleasantly, the cover doesn’t lie. What you’ll feel looking at the cover design foretold the experience you’ll have reading it: warm, laidback, and quirky.

The cover of Rick Bailey's memoir, American English Italian Chocolate.
The cover of Rick Bailey’s memoir, American English Italian Chocolate.

What I Get From Reading It

Do termites mate for life? That’s the first conundrum the book made me muse (turns out only the male king though. The queen usually mates up to 5-10 kings in her lifetime)

The Experience

This book is best enjoyed while enjoying a cup of warm coffee, waiting for your date to come. It’s akin to meeting an old friend, listening to his anecdotes, having a lighthearted laugh, or sitting in a quaint Italian café and approached by a welcoming stranger

What Sticks With Me

Some of the memorable stories that stuck in my thoughts after finishing it were the gleeful serial killing of bees, why are wisdom teeth called wisdom teeth despite being unneeded and having no wisdom at all, and frog legs can be cooked and taste well. As he watched his mother slowly succumb to dementia, that part of his story particularly touches me.

Nonetheless, it’s a wholesome break from all the hustle and a nostalgic walk down another person’s memory lane. . If you are taking a vacation and a break from everything, this is the book to bring while waiting to board the plane, while getting your big breakfast, and the day before you go back to work. I did have a pleasant time reading this.

What I Wish It Could Be

While it is good, for as a reader, it lacks…something. I felt no compelling urge to finish the book (but I did,okay). Additionally, the narration of the stories is not connected. It might be if the storytelling were like Sheherazade’s Arabian Nights, where she weaved one cliffhanger, be it a trinket, a character, or a situation, that connects to the next story ( in her attempt to live another day without being killed by the sultan). Or it was arranged in a way where we follow the narrator from a boy until he grew up. The story covers the multiple phases of his life in a nonlinear narrative.

And more, more Italian chocolates. There will never be enough Italian chocolates.

Reading Suggestions.

While I have read other memoirs, they differ from this. I can’t think of anything similar yet. However, others suggested The Enjoy Agenda: At Home and Abroad, also written by the same author.

How Did I Discover This Book?

This book was recommended to me by BookTaster via Twitter.

Read It If You Like

  • Memoirs of a simple, laidback person.
  • Light-hearted, warm slice-of-life stories.
  • Something to read in between heavy activities.
  • Viewing a different perspective or another person’s life through their eyes.
  • Good for non-native English to brush up on their American English.

Don’t Read It If You Dislike

  • Books with no main/linear/continuous plot
  • Curse words (pretty mild, but I understand for some who lean on conservative or religious may find it uncomfortable.)
  • Slow, slice-of-life stories
  • Mentions of bodily functions.

Other Facts About The Book

  • It has around 177–222 pages (stated in Goodreads as 222, the copy I had was 177)
  • Published on July 1, 2017, by University of Nebraska Press.

Where Can You Get The Book?

You can get it from:

Support The Author

If you love this book and would love to read more of Rick Bailey’s writings, you can follow him on his blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, and Instagram.

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