Bringing Home the Birkin - Michael Tonello (2008)

In this hilarious memoir, American hairstylist/make-up artist Michael Tonello moves to Barcelona after a fateful work trip sees him fall in love with the Spanish city. Offered a lucrative job by a friend, he decides to make the trans-Atlantic move but once in Barcelona, the job falls through. Michael starts to panic - he's in a foreign country, with a five-year lease on an apartment and no money to pay for it. That's when an idea hits him: Why not sell some of his things on eBay? When he sells an old Hermes scarf for much more than its original value, and buyers start sending him Hermes wish lists, Michael comes up with a new business plan: to become a reseller of all things Hermes. Starting out with scarfs, he soon moves on to the outrageously expensive and hard-to-find Birkin handbag. Learning that there is a two-year waiting list for the most coveted handbag in the world, Michael needs to figure out a way to get these bags for his super-rich clients. Soon he figures out a "formula" to get a Birkin at almost every Hermes store, which leads him all across Europe on buying excursions. While it is crazy to pay $22,000 for a purse, the outrageous price people are willing to pay for a Birkin actually adds a nice element to the story. For anyone who thinks it's impossible to write a book about one silly little handbag, read this excellent memoir and think again. (AS)

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