100 books like Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

Here are 100 books that Kitchen Confidential fans have personally recommended if you like Kitchen Confidential. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Blue Highways

By William Least Heat-Moon,

Book cover of Blue Highways

Kayla Anderson Author Of Moon Northern California Road Trip: Drives along the Coast, Redwoods, and Mountains with the Best Stops along the Way

From the list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Northern California, right on the banks of the Sacramento River. While I didn’t realize it growing up, it was an epicenter for outdoor adventures. Along with skiing, snowboarding, hiking, wakeboarding, and camping, I always read a lot. My dad was worried that I would have no sense of direction because I was always in the back of our van or RV reading a book. That led to writing…and I had my first article published in a wakeboarding magazine when I was 15 years old. Traveling always took a backburner to reading, but now it’s front and center of my writing. 

Kayla's book list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair

Why did Kayla love this book?

This is classic literature in the realm of American travel.

I had no idea that “blue highways” existed, and even though Heat-Moon went cross-country back in the 1970s in his van equipped with his igloo cooler and makeshift bed (not like the $100k fancy campers you find today), the type of people you meet and experiences you have in this amazing country are still relevant today.

In Blue Highways Revisited, I was shocked to read how long it took for this book to get published and the stacks of printed-out drafts he had of it (I think it was like four feet high). If there are any travel writing classes taught as part of a creative writing program, then Blue Highways better be on the list. 

By William Least Heat-Moon,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Blue Highways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads.
William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map -- if they get on at all -- only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi."
His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation…


The Cooking Gene

By Michael W. Twitty,

Book cover of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Elijah Douresseau Author Of The Long Takeout: Short Stories for the Hungry Sojourner

From the list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading.

Who am I?

Food has always been my existential retreat from the world. Whether eating solo or with people, countless meals have been the best hyperbolic time chambers for strengthening relationships with others and with myself. And I’ve always wanted to write, to participate in ageless forums of subject and technique in this great literary tradition of ours. I guess these two art forms and obsessions were bound to lock horns in my aesthetic makeup. In my world, good reading is good eating. It’s that simple. No other qualifications are needed. I inhaled the following books and was made full every time – to eventually take a stab at a couple of recipes also.

Elijah's book list on food fiction to inspire eating and reading

Why did Elijah love this book?

There is a reason my book starts with a quote from this very book. It’s the collection’s rallying cry!

Twitty took me on such a journey of history and identity through food. The deeply historical and regional cooking and agricultural methods of the enslaved detailed in this work were the intersections and the canvas for revisiting historical timelines.

This is a nonfiction book, but it embodied my aspirations for making food in literature a forefront topic. I’ve never done any serious ancestry profile surveys, but this may be my favorite version – as a child of Jamaican immigrants wholly descended from the African/slave diaspora. A food writing master class.

By Michael W. Twitty,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cooking Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018

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.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our…


Crying in H Mart

By Michelle Zauner,

Book cover of Crying in H Mart

Candace Wade Author Of Adrift on a Sea of Grief: (With a Quart of Ice Cream and a Fifth of Gin)

From the list on life rafts from loss – with a shot of gin.

Who am I?

My husband of 35 glorious years died of Pancreatic cancer in 2020. In two months, as COVID slammed, we had to put our beloved dog down, my husband’s lesson horse went hooves up, my husband died, I replaced two HVAC units and a water heater. I am a writer/journalist whose style is conversational. Writing about my grief maelstrom as if telling a friend focused me on the dark humor. My book Horse Sluts and articles in Horse Nation and other equine and/or mature-focused magazines are written in the same, “I’m no expert, but this is my experience” POV. I know the tone that helps.

Candace's book list on life rafts from loss – with a shot of gin

Why did Candace love this book?

I’m not a fan of memoirs – especially grief journeys, but the infusion of the life preserver of childhood Korean food poked the core of me – the memories of the joy of food in my own home. The journey through the horrors of dignity-robbing cancer and the universal search for a new identity forged from loss was a mirror for me.

I recognized the trials of caretaking – the longing to prepare tempting food for her mother, who couldn’t eat it. Zaumer shares that H Mart is where “parachute” kids went to find the type of noodle that reminded them of home. Food, loss, and emotional survival are deliciously woven into Crying at H Mart. I cried at Kroger. I still do.

By Michelle Zauner,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Crying in H Mart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2021

The New York Times bestseller from the Grammy-nominated indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity in the wake of her loss.

'As good as everyone says it is and, yes, it will have you in tears. An essential read for anybody who has lost a loved one, as well as those who haven't' - Marie-Claire

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer,…


Blood, Bones & Butter

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Book cover of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

Brianne Moore Author Of All Stirred Up

From the list on mouthwatering reads for foodies.

Who am I?

I grew up in a family of chefs and restaurant owners, so it’s probably no surprise that food plays a major role in my debut novel, All Stirred Up. (The two main characters are, in fact, chefs and restaurant owners. You write what you know!) Cooking plays a major part in my life as well—I’m always making something for family and loved ones. It’s probably no surprise that I love a good food book as well, whether it be fiction, memoir, or history. On my list are just five of my favourites.

Brianne's book list on mouthwatering reads for foodies

Why did Brianne love this book?

Gabrielle Hamilton isn’t just a ‘reluctant chef’ (in her own words), she’s also an absolutely exquisite writer (her MFA really paid off!). Her memoir traces her life and love of food from her New Jersey childhood, through her many professional ups and downs and international travels (I especially love the parts where she’s staying at her Italian mother-in-law’s home, describing the incredible produce she was able to get. Oh, the tomatoes!) Did I extra love this because she grew up in the same small town I was born in? Maybe, but it’s a wonderful book no matter where you’re from.

By Gabrielle Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Blood, Bones & Butter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Magnificent' Anthony Bourdain

A sharply crafted and unflinchingly honest memoir. This is a rollicking, passionate story of food, purpose and family.

Blood, Bones & Butter follows the chef Gabrielle Hamilton's extraordinary journey through the places she has inhabited over the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; and the kitchen of her beloved Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton's idyllic past and her…


Climbing the Mango Trees

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Book cover of Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Leslie Karst Author Of Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG

From the list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys.

Who am I?

Since childhood, when my best friend and I would experiment together with recipes from the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook series and then gorge on the delectable results, I’ve been enamored of food and cooking, a love which eventually led me to pursue a degree in culinary arts (while simultaneously spending my days as a research and appellate attorney). In addition to Justice is Served, I also write the Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 

Leslie's book list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys

Why did Leslie love this book?

Madhur Jaffrey—the actress/author/celebrity chef whose cookbooks opened up to an entire generation of Brits and Americans the wonders of Indian cuisine—taught me to cook Indian food. And then this beautiful memoir taught me to appreciate the history and culture from whence her recipes spring. A heartfelt and vivid tale of growing up in northern India under the shadow of the coming world war, Climbing the Mango Trees is the story of family, spicy cauliflower (and yes, mangos, too!), and the ability of food to evoke memory and unite us all. 

By Madhur Jaffrey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Climbing the Mango Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I was born in a sprawling house by the Yamuna River in Delhi. When I was a few minutes old, Grandmother welcomed me into the world by writing 'Om', which means 'I am' in Sanskrit, on my tongue with a little finger dipped in honey. When the family priest arrived to draw up my horoscope, he scribbled astrological symbols on a long scroll and set down a name for me, Indrani, or 'queen of the heavens'. My father ignored him completely and proclaimed my name was to be Madhur ('sweet as honey').' So begins Madhur Jaffrey's enchanting memoir of her…


Heavy

By Kiese Laymon,

Book cover of Heavy: An American Memoir

Amanda Stern Author Of Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life

From the list on mental anguish from inside a body in distress.

Who am I?

I’m the author of The Long Haul and Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life and eleven books for children written under the pseudonyms AJ Stern and Fiona Rosenbloom. I publish a newsletter called “How to Live” where I simplify complex theories from psychology and offer ideas for their practical applications. My work explores the complexities of emotion, addiction, neglect, and issues surrounding mental health. I am prone to write from inside the body, to capture the visceral resonance of the somatic experience and consciousness.

Amanda's book list on mental anguish from inside a body in distress

Why did Amanda love this book?

This wildly important book is about what it takes to become a fully realized black man in racist white America. On top of that already monumental struggle are more struggles: anorexia, sexual violence, abuse, obesity, gambling, the construction of identity, and excavating the self and others, to get at the truth. I’d say that this is perhaps one of the best books on trauma that I’ve read. The sentences themselves, the rhythmic syntax of their musicality, is just one emotional heartbeat of this stunning, painfully honest, and vulnerable work of art. 

By Kiese Laymon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Heavy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son…


Chaos

By Tom O'Neill, Dan Piepenbring,

Book cover of Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties

Nick Allen Brown Author Of Grainger County Tomatoes

From the list on drawing you into another world.

Who am I?

A book has the ability to change who you are as a person. The first time I read Charlotte's Web my perspective on death changed from something horrible to something that's a part of life. I still search for books that draw me into a world and when the book ends, a piece of me feels empty, but in a good way. The good news is that there are thousands of books that we can live in. My favorite quote of all time – “It is the reader that lives a thousand lives.” I've completed more than 80 book signings across the US, and I enjoy helping other writers achieve their goals.

Nick's book list on drawing you into another world

Why did Nick love this book?

What if I told you that Charles Manson was part of a United States CIA project that was directly responsible for the death of many people? This book will show you how author Tom O’Neil gathered government documents and testimonies about the link between the CIA and Charles Manson. See how The Beach Boys and Hollywood movie stars were pawns in a game controlled by several government programs and this book has the evidence to back up these outrageous claims. I used to have a very different point of view of Manson before this book, and now I see him very differently.

By Tom O'Neill, Dan Piepenbring,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Chaos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As featured on The Joe Rogan Experience
______________________________
A journalist's twenty-year obsession with the Manson murders leads to shocking new conspiracy theories about the FBI's involvement in this fascinating re-evaluation of one of the most infamous cases in American history.

Twenty years ago, reporting for a routine magazine piece about the infamous Manson murders, journalist Tom O'Neill didn't expect to find anything new. But the discovery of horrifying new evidence kick-started an obsession and his life's work. What had he unearthed and what did it mean: why was there surveillance by intelligence agents? Why did the police make these particular…


The Omnivore's Dilemma

By Michael Pollan,

Book cover of The Omnivore's Dilemma

A. Whitney Sanford Author Of Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence

From the list on the industrialization of and fight for the future of food.

Who am I?

I became fascinated by the intersection of food, sustainable agriculture, and culture when I moved to Iowa. I had long been an environmentalist, but moving to the land of big corn forced me to rethink food production. I wrote a book that explored agricultural narratives in India (Growing Stores from India) and developed a class on Religion and Food. I then became curious about how people and communities translate their values of sustainability into practice. For example, how do you decide what to eat, and who gets to decide? These books helped me think about links between food, sustainability, and culture and the power to decide what to eat.

A. Whitney's book list on the industrialization of and fight for the future of food

Why did A. Whitney love this book?

What should we eat, and how do we choose? Where does our food come from?

In Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan traces the origins of four meals to help answer this question. Each of these meals represents a food production system, big organic, industrial agriculture, for example. He takes us from a McDonald’s meal (hint: it’s corn) to a hunt.

In reading this book, I especially loved his investigative journalism, how he explored the environmental, social, and economic ramifications of each food and its system of production. 

By Michael Pollan,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Omnivore's Dilemma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller that's changing America's diet is now perfect for younger readers

"What's for dinner?" seemed like a simple question-until journalist and supermarket detective Michael Pollan delved behind the scenes. From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers' adaptation of Pollan's famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.

In a smart, compelling format with updated facts, plenty of photos, graphs, and visuals, as well as a new afterword and backmatter, The Omnivore's Dilemma serves up a bold message…


The Quiche of Death

By M.C. Beaton,

Book cover of The Quiche of Death

Dana Mentink Author Of Pint of No Return

From the list on hungry armchair sleuths who love their snackies.

Who am I?

Maybe it’s due to my Cuban heritage, but I was raised to appreciate a delicious meal. Beans and rice, roasted pork, plantains, my mouth waters at the thought. When I launched into the writing business twenty five years and fifty books ago, I managed to sprinkle my novels with plenty of tasty treats. Diving into the culinary mystery world allowed me to combine my fancy for food and fiction into one glorious place. The best kind of mystery novels are the ones that tickle your taste buds while they tweak your little grey cells, don’t you think?

Dana's book list on hungry armchair sleuths who love their snackies

Why did Dana love this book?

It takes guts to write a protagonist who’s hard to like. Agatha Raisin, a tough businesswoman who retires to the tiny village of Carsley, is so beautifully flawed she’s impossible to ignore. She’s somewhat of a bully, prone to conniving, and deeply competitive, which is why she buys her quiche at a shop and enters it as her own creation. Of course, someone drops dead after eating it. This crusty woman of a certain age just bulldozes her way through the investigation and her flaws are so funny and refreshing that you wind up rooting for her. She’s a breath of fresh air in the cozy mystery world.

By M.C. Beaton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Quiche of Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Every new Agatha Raisin escapade is a total joy' ASHLEY JENSEN

'No wonder she's been crowned Queen of Cosy Crime' MAIL ON SUNDAY

'A Beaton novel is like The Archers on speed' DAILY MAIL

The first Agatha Raisin mystery from bestselling author M. C. Beaton

__________________________

Revenge is a dish best served warm...

High-flying public relations supremo Agatha Raisin has decided to take early retirement. She's off to make a new life in a picture-perfect Cotswold village. To make friends, she enters the local quiche-making competition - and to make quite sure of first prize she secretly pays a visit…


Sphere

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of Sphere

Nick Allen Brown Author Of Grainger County Tomatoes

From the list on drawing you into another world.

Who am I?

A book has the ability to change who you are as a person. The first time I read Charlotte's Web my perspective on death changed from something horrible to something that's a part of life. I still search for books that draw me into a world and when the book ends, a piece of me feels empty, but in a good way. The good news is that there are thousands of books that we can live in. My favorite quote of all time – “It is the reader that lives a thousand lives.” I've completed more than 80 book signings across the US, and I enjoy helping other writers achieve their goals.

Nick's book list on drawing you into another world

Why did Nick love this book?

The setup of this story is captivating. A psychologist, a marine biologist, an astrophysicist, and a mathematician are called to a crash site in the middle of the ocean. What unfolds gives you, the reader, a chance to live in an underwater habitat as the crash site happens to be a spacecraft at the bottom of the ocean. I love the sense of claustrophobia this book gives me as it is both unsettling and comforting at times.

While the movies I watch tell me that an extra-terrestrial encounter would include little green men, this story gives us an alternative to that. Instead of a being, humanity is instead confronted with an entity. I felt genuine fear while reading this book.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sphere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Ingenious and beguiling.”
—Time

“Crichton keeps us guessing at every turn in his best work since The Andromeda Strain.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Sphere may be Crichton’s best novel, but even if it ranked only second or third, it would be a must for suspense fans.”
—Miami Herald

A classic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, Sphere is a bravura demonstration of what he does better than anyone: riveting storytelling that combines frighteningly plausible, cutting edge science and technology with pulse-pounding action and serious chills. The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the…


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