10 books like Bangkok

By Leela Punyaratabandhu,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Bangkok. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Food of Life

By Najmieh Batmanglij,

Book cover of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies

Over the last four years, I have been cooking my way through my mother-in-law’s canon of Persian dishes, from ghormeh sabzi herb and braised meat stew to countless pots of the crispy-bottomed saffron rice called tadiq. When a family recipe is lacking in key details (like measurements or timing), I always refer to Najmieh Batmanglij’s book, which is considered the bible of Iranian cooking. Her recipes offer elevated versions of all the classics, along with a number of more obscure regional specialties, and explanations of Iranian traditions and customs. If you are only going to have one Persian cookbook on your shelf, this should be it.

Food of Life

By Najmieh Batmanglij,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Food of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Completely redesigned for today's generation of cooks and food enthusiasts, the 25th Anniversary Edition of Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij provides a treasure trove of recipes, along with an immersive cultural experience for those seeking to understand this ancient and timeless cuisine. This edition is a more user-friendly edition of the award-winning and critically acclaimed cookbook series which began in 1986. Food of Life provides 330 classical and regional Iranian recipes as well as an introduction to Persian art, history, and culture. The book's hundreds of full color photographs are intertwined…


Ethiopia

By Yohanis Gebreyesus,

Book cover of Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa

Long intimidated by the unfamiliar ingredients, cooking methods, and, most of all, the fermented dough required to make classic injera bread, it was with trepidation that I opened Yohanis Gebreyesus’ new cookbook. What I found were straightforward and inviting explanations of cooking techniques, ingredients, customs, and flavors alongside incredibly easy-to-follow recipes that made me wonder why I’d waited so long to begin exploring this comforting cuisine. The pumpkin stew, perfumed with a complex, floral spice blend that’s savory, sweet, and slightly spicy, has become a favorite I return to over and over again. If you want a friend to take you by the hand and introduce you to Ethiopian culture and cuisine, Yohanis Gebreyesus is your man.

Ethiopia

By Yohanis Gebreyesus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ethiopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of a 2020 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the International category

Ethiopia stands as a land apart: never colonised, the country celebrates and preserves ancient traditions. The fascinating cuisine is enriched with the different religious influences of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - a combination unique to Africa. The delicious dishes featured are Doro Wat, chicken slowly stewed with berbere spice, Yeassa Alichia, curried fish stew, and Siga Tibs, flashfried beef cubes, as well as a wealth of vegetarian dishes such as Gomen, minced collard greens with ginger and garlic and Azifa, green lentil salad.

Chef Yohanis takes the…


Delights from the Garden of Eden

By Nawal Nasrallah,

Book cover of Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine

When I want a truly traditional recipe for an Iraqi dish, or any classic Middle Eastern food, I reach for Nawal Nasrallah’s tome. As a culinary historian, she spares no detail when describing the origins of the food of her homeland, and interspersed with recipes are folkloric tales, cultural tidbits, and bite-sized histories. What you come away with is a deep appreciation of the complex, ancient culinary traditions of the fertile crescent, as well as recipes for the best falafels you’ve ever made (spoiler: use both fava beans and chickpeas for heartier flavor).

Delights from the Garden of Eden

By Nawal Nasrallah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Delights from the Garden of Eden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a concise version of the award-winning and highly acclaimed second edition published in 2013. It is luxuriously illustrated throughout with colour photos, paintings, medieval miniatures and sketches and displays the diversity of the region's traditional culinary practices, delicious and enduring. This edition book contains 300 of the original 400 recipes, all tested and easy to follow, and covers all food categories with ample choice for both vegetarians and meat lovers, and many that will satisfy a sweet tooth. Ingredients and cooking techniques indigenous to the region are fully explained.

Unlike the majority of cookbooks, the book uniquely traces…


Kachka

By Bonnie Frumkin Morales, Deena Prichep,

Book cover of Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking

Want a visual primer to all things Russian from the items found at the cured meat and fish counter to helpful phrases when grocery shopping? How about recipes for infused vodkas ranging from tarragon to cranberry and an entire chapter devoted to dishes wrapped in dough? Kachka is a cookbook that will not only teach you to cook Russian food, it will teach you how to eat, drink, and entertain like a Russian in a way that’s quirky, highly visual, and as fun as it is authoritative.

Kachka

By Bonnie Frumkin Morales, Deena Prichep,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kachka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celebrated Portland chef Bonnie Frumkin Morales brings her acclaimed Portland restaurant Kachka into your home kitchen with a debut cookbook enlivening Russian cuisine with an emphasis on vibrant, locally sourced ingredients.

"With Kachka, Bonnie Morales has done something amazing: thoroughly update and modernize Russian cuisine while steadfastly holding to its traditions and spirit. Thank you comrade!"
-Alton Brown

From bright pickles to pillowy dumplings, ingenious vodka infusions to traditional homestyle dishes, and varied zakuski to satisfying sweets, Kachka the cookbook covers the vivid world of Russian cuisine. More than 100 recipes show how easy it is to eat, drink, and…


Hawker Fare

By James Syhabout, John Birdsall,

Book cover of Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef's Isan Thai & Lao Roots

Many children of Lao refugees, who fled the communist take-over in the ’70s, are now coming of age and sharing their take on Lao cooking across the globe. Hawkers Fare details the story of James Syhabout who earned his spurs as a chef at hallowed restaurants such as The Fat Duck and El Bulli before opening his own Commis in Oakland and gaining two Michelin stars of his own.

Though known for fine dining this book is a homage to his Lao roots and his journey of discovery into his origins as the son of refugees who came to the US with nothing but their ability to work hard. He tells their story and returns to Laos himself where he picks up the flavours of his mother’s homeland with the scrupulous nose of a super-chef. It includes recipes that are both authentic but, unusually, measured out with pinpoint accuracy in…

Hawker Fare

By James Syhabout, John Birdsall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hawker Fare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From chef James Syhabout of two–Michelin-star restaurant Commis, an Asian-American cookbook like no other—simple recipes for cooking home-style Thai and Lao dishes

James Syhabout’s hugely popular Hawker Fare restaurant in San Francisco is the product of his unique family history and diverse career experience. Born into two distinct but related Asian cultures—from his mother’s ancestral village in Isan, Thailand’s northeast region, and his father’s home in Pakse, Laos—he and his family landed in Oakland in 1981 in a community of other refugees from the Vietnam War. Syhabout at first turned away from the food of his heritage to work in…


Thai Home Cooking from Kamolmal's Kitchen

By William Crawford, Kamolmal Pootaraksa,

Book cover of Thai Home Cooking from Kamolmal's Kitchen

Written 35 years ago by a UCLA professor and a Bangkok-born female chef who owned a highly lauded restaurant near LA, this photo-less book explains Thai cuisine well, as well as the culture of food in Thailand, and its recipes never miss the mark and generally are short. This book is in no small part responsible for the success of Veggie Planet, a pizza restaurant I owned in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for 6 years. One of the most popular pizzas was called “Red Curry” pizza and was layered with coconut rice, broccoli, pan-fried tofu, and this book’s Red Curry Peanut Sauce. Never again will you use a curry sauce from a can. It’s been through 9 printings, and you’ll have to buy a used copy.

Thai Home Cooking from Kamolmal's Kitchen

By William Crawford, Kamolmal Pootaraksa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thai Home Cooking from Kamolmal's Kitchen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rich, unusual flavors and hot and spicy combinations have made Thai cooking the newest exotic cuisine that is sweeping the country. Now 157 classic dishes from the authentic Thai restaurant Kamolmal have been collected and re-created into easy-to-follow recipes for American cooks.


Very Thai

By Philip Cornwel-Smith, John Goss (photographer),

Book cover of Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

A brilliant reference book on all aspects (and yes, this book is very thorough) of Thai popular culture. Concise chapters on anything from spirit tattoos to meat on a stick illuminate the far corners of contemporary Thai society, illustrated by hundreds of great photographs. This is a standard work for anyone interested in how Thai society ticks. Cornwel-Smith has served up a second title recently – Very Bangkok – which offers a similarly thorough picture of the Thai capital. 

Very Thai

By Philip Cornwel-Smith, John Goss (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Very Thai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This pioneering insight into contemporary Thai folk culture delves beyond the traditional Thai icons to reveal the casual, everyday expressions of Thainess that so delight and puzzle. From floral truck bolts and taxi altars to buffalo cart furniture and drinks in a bag, the same exquisite care, craft and improvisation resounds through home and street, bar and wardrobe. Never colonised, Thai culture retains nuanced ancient meaning in the most mundane things. The days are colour coded, lucky numbers dictate prices, window grilles become guardian angels, tattoos entrance the wearer. Philip Cornwel-Smith scoured each region to show how indigenous wisdom both…


Traveling Below the Speed Limit

By Janet Brown,

Book cover of Traveling Below the Speed Limit

Always eloquent, insightful and at times, funny...such as how a mispronounced word in the tonal languages of the region might end in shared hilarity or bloodshed, Janet Brown describes her travels in Thailand and other SE Asian countries with warmth and joy. Her slow pace exudes sympathy, understanding, and enjoyment of the people and their lifestyles.

She said she learned from great travel writers that 'curiosity and observation can make a walk around the block become a journey', and I felt I was right by her side, enjoying the mood, the people, and especially, the food.

Traveling Below the Speed Limit

By Janet Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Traveling Below the Speed Limit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everyone has their favorite way to travel, from cruise ship voyagers to vagabonds on the open road. It’s an all-consuming addiction--but what happens when age begins to slow a traveler down?

Traveling Below the Speed Limit describes different ways of travel and exploration: living in a foreign city, exploring familiar turf, venturing into the unknown territory of aging. A bus pass can serve as a passport; a city of residence can offer undiscovered experiences; a distant metropolis can become home for a month--or a year. And growing old, as that indomitable traveler Martha Gellhorn discovered, can be the last great…


The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Book cover of The Windup Girl

Paolo Bacigalupi’s biopunk science fiction novel explores a 23rd-century post-food crash Thailand after global warming has raised sea levels and depleted carbon fuel sources. The main character, Emiko, is a ‘windup,’ a modified human who is vilified and abused by humanity, despite her abilities. I was struck by how well this work of ‘mundane science fiction’ used Emiko as an avatar for a trickster Nature after abuse by humanity through the disrespect of reckless gene-hacking, greedy corporate espionage, and arbitrary foreign takeovers. I cheered Emiko’s breakaway from her oppressors as she emerged from a cloak of obedience and embraced her survival in this changing world of unintended consequences—only realizing later that I was cheering for that changing world and the optimism it promised. 

The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Windup Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE HUGO, NEBULA, LOCUS, JOHN W. CAMPBELL AND COMPTON CROOK AWARDS

The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of…


Nexus

By Ramez Naam,

Book cover of Nexus: Install

Nexus explores the idea of collective consciousness via technology in a way that has similarities to my own writing and ideas. For one, people use drugs to modify their brains, which I find is the most likely way to get people to accept biotech. Surgery is fraught with perils, but pills are easy to swallow. The plot features plenty of action, geeks, and technology, all of which I love, and the story incorporates elements of eastern philosophy that crop up in my own work, as well.

Nexus

By Ramez Naam,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nexus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link human together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he's thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage - for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Bangkok, Thailand, and Southeast Asia?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Bangkok, Thailand, and Southeast Asia.

Bangkok Explore 9 books about Bangkok
Thailand Explore 26 books about Thailand
Southeast Asia Explore 30 books about Southeast Asia