Books ‘n’ Breakfast: Bennison’s with a side of Bukowski

There’s nothing like having a great cup of coffee with (insert favorite breakfast food here) and a good book, to start your day. Granted, I don’t actually get to do that unless it’s the weekend or I’m on vacation, but I fully plan on doing so everyday when I retire in like 40 years. During the week my breakfast mostly consists of overnight oats and the most readily available coffee. But, being the coffee fiend and breakfast food lover I am, I try to checkout new coffee shops and brunch spots on the regular. Since I have a backlog of books read, and visit new breakfast spots every week, I’ll be able to get up to date and hopefully make Books ‘n’ Breakfast a staple on The Apathetic Alien! To start: Bennison’s Bakery and Post Office by Charles Bukowski. (Are you over my extensive use of alliterations yet?)

Bennison’s Bakery – Evanston: While I’m a full supporter of healthy breakfasts, I also love donuts. Sometimes you go to treat yourself. One of my all time favorite bakeries is Bennison’s Bakery, located in down town Evanston. When I lived and worked up there, I would visit Bennison’s whenever I was having a bad day, or just needed a pick-me-up. My frequency increased exponentially in the fall when they started making their pumpkin donuts again. Benni’s pumpkin donuts are, by far, the best pumpkin donuts around – trust me I’ve been around the pumpkin donut block. It’s like they mashed up a pumpkin, added cinnamon and sugar and flour (I don’t know anything about how donuts are made), cooked it, then mashed up another pumpkin, added sugar, and put it on top. The point is, they taste like they have real pumpkin in them, not the overly processed fumpkin (fake + pumpkin) you find at Dunkin. I basically got a twitter account just so I could follow Bennison’s and would know the exact day they were serving them again. It’s that serious.

Aside from the pumpkin donuts, what’s really cool about Benni’s is it has been in Evanston forever and a day (since 1938 to be exact), and it’s a family owned business. Though families have changed slightly through the years, the heart of the bakery remains the same – creating quality baked goods with “cream, real butter, fresh buttermilk , and freshly cracked eggs”. It serves hundreds of other pastries as well, and is the perfect place for special events, whether for a birthday, anniversary, holiday (Easter – cough cough), or just a treat yourself day. The coffee is also surprisingly great. If you find yourself on the North Shore, check it out! Bennison’s Bakery

Post Office by Charles Bukowski: I went out with this guy once and we got into a deep book discussion (as I do) and he started telling me all about Charles Bulkowski. How Bukowski was notorious for being a “low-life” writer and dirty old man whose writing upset the stiff literary culture of the time. He told me that I might not like his writing because I’m a feminist, and Bukowski was a bit of a chauvinist. It always makes me laugh when someone makes a statement like that as if feminists just close their eyes to anything not supporting the “feminist agenda”. Anyway, the guy didn’t last, but Charles stuck in the back of my mind, until I came across Post Office at the bookstore and scooped it up. I loved it (in spite of the misogynistic undertones; in my opinion Bukowski was a product of his time and upbringing).

Post OfficeBukowski manages to fit almost 20 years in just 200 pages, without feeling like anything was left out. It’s semi-autobiographical, covering much of Bukowski’s life as a post man in L.A.; his days spent trudging in the SoCal heat, and his nights with a string of women, and a persistent flow of booze. What was so different about Post Office was that it was the story of the common man, the story of the mundane, and the “lower class”. In the 1970’s, his writing was very relevant to the day-to-day lives of most Americans, but something that was rarely written about. It’s a short book, and though it’s about the mundane aspects of Bukowski’s life, the novel is anything but. It’s worth the read. If you have an issue with harsh language, sex, and heavy drinking, there is a fair amount of that in this novel.