Fill your plate with these books about food, ranging from memoir, fiction, and history!
It’s a combination of two great passions: reading and cooking (or just eating!). Whatever your appetite, we’ve compiled this list of books about food. Savor these picks of great fiction, memoir, and history and cultural studies. Some of them feature recipes, while all explore the joy and community that can be found in the kitchen. Pair them with your favorite dish, and enjoy a good reading and discussion around the table!
by Elizabeth Bard
In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman — and never went home again. Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pavé au poivre? Lunch in Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs — her new beau and French cuisine.
by Barbara Lynch
The celebrated chef describes her remarkable process of self-invention, from her upbringing in tough, poor “Southie” to becoming the founder of Boston’s epitome of modern haute cuisine, including her encounters with colorful characters of the food world. Her story is also a love letter to South Boston and its vanishing culture, governed by Irish Catholic mothers and its own code of honor.
by Ann Hood
In this warm collection of personal essays and recipes, bestselling author Ann Hood nourishes both our bodies and our souls. From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal.
by Kwame Onwuachi
By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi (winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year) had opened–and closed–one of the most talked about restaurants in America. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age.
by Karen Babine
When her mother is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Karen Babine—a cook, collector of thrifted vintage cast iron, and fiercely devoted daughter, sister, and aunt—can’t help but wonder: feed a fever, starve a cold, but what do we do for cancer? In these essays, Babine ponders the intimate connections between food, family, and illness.
by Bill Buford
Baffled by the language, but convinced that he can master the art of French cooking–or at least get to the bottom of why it is so revered– Buford begins what becomes a five-year odyssey shadowing the esteemed French chef Michel Richard in Washington, D.C. and then moving — with his wife and twin sons in tow — to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France.
by Robin Sloan
Lois codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to two brothers who run a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. But when the shop closes, they have one last delivery: the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive—feed it daily and learn to bake with it. So begins the novel by the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.
by Ruth Reichl
A lonely job at a food magazine becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room, Billie Breslin finds a cache of letters written during World War II by a plucky twelve-year-old to the legendary chef James Beard. The letters inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.
By J. Ryan Stradal
When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine–and a dashing sommelier–he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter–starting with puréed pork shoulder. Quirky and hilarious, each chapter in this startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character.
History and Cultural Studies
By Sarah Lohman
The United States boasts a culturally and ethnically diverse population, but a young historical gastronomist discovers that eight flavors unite American food: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. She sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.
By Michael W Twitty
A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry–both black and white–through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.
By Amanda Little
There’s bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don’t have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. Bestselling author Chris Crutcher’s controversial and acclaimed novel follows a group of outcasts as they take on inequality and injustice in their high school.