I can finally check The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn off my reading list and (if you haven't read it already) I highly recommend putting it on yours.
The book chronicles the author's time earning a diploma at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and her personal growth along the way. It is not only funny, heart warming, and educational, but it also inspires the reader to do what they love and to not waste precious life being stuck in a rut.
I have casually toyed with the idea of going to culinary school, but after reading this book I am thoroughly convinced that I would go for pastry only. Pastry does not involve scaling, gutting, killing, or chopping the head off of anything. If I was wincing just reading about those things, there's no way I could physically accomplish them. The author claims that she was eventually desensitized, but I can't see myself ever getting to that point.
One aspect of the book that I can relate to is that cooking is personal. The author's food gets verbally bashed by one of the head chefs at one part of the story when her sauce was really no worse than anyone else's. Cooking for others involves putting your heart (and ego) on the line. If someone doesn't like your food, its kind of like a part of you is insulted. There's the cliche "secret ingredient" of love that gets put into every meal so maybe that's why it feels so personal. That's why I relish getting complimented on my cooking (even if I've made it a thousand times) and I always try to genuinely compliment something when I eat someone else's food. I understand that it's more than a common courtesy.
There's much more that I can say about this wonderful book, but I'd rather you just read it and experience it for yourself!