100 books like My Life in France

By Julia Child, Alex Prud'homme,

Here are 100 books that My Life in France fans have personally recommended if you like My Life in France. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Kayla Anderson Why did Kayla love this book?

Anyone who has ever worked in the food or hospitality industry—as a cook, a waitress, a hostess, a barista, or otherwisecan identify with this book.

The restaurant business is a different beast, and Anthony Bourdain took a huge risk in writing this and burning bridges with his bosses and coworkers. But in doing so, he unlocked the universal hidden language that food and hospitality workers share.

As a former hostess/waitress myself who spent most of her college years with a part-time job at IHOP and the Golden Waffle, I could relate to a lot of what Bourdain experienced working in NYC, especially with minority groups and how they were treated during that time. He was a huge inspiration to a lot of people, including me. 

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


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 my list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Leslie Karst 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. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

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…


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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

A. Whitney Sanford 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. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

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…


Book cover of Born Round: A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite

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

From my list on food memoirs about transformative personal journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Leslie Karst Why did Leslie love this book?

Possessing an insatiable appetite even as a toddler, Frank Bruni has long had a complicated relationship with food. Body shame—made all the worse by being a single gay man trying to conform to an impossible standard—drove him from fad diets, to manic exercise, and even bulimia. Nevertheless, in 2004, he accepted the position as restaurant critic for The New York Times. Having spent the better part of my own life acutely conscious of my caloric intake, I found Born Round to be a moving account of the struggle so many of us face regarding body image, and how coming to terms with our own limits and the compromises we need to make can provide a path to self-love and happiness. 

By Frank Bruni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times restaurant critic's heartbreaking and hilarious account of how he learned to love food just enough

Frank Bruni was born round. Round as in stout, chubby, and always hungry. His relationship with eating was difficult and his struggle with it began early. When named the restaurant critic for The New York Times in 2004, he knew he would be performing one of the most watched tasks in the epicurean universe. And with food his friend and enemy both, his jitters focused primarily on whether he'd finally made some sense of that relationship. A captivating story of his…


Book cover of L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home

Michelle Facos Author Of An American in Pandemic Paris: A Coming-of-Retirement-Age Memoir

From my list on Paris for foodies and historians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began writing about Paris at age 7. It figured as the central location for my uncompleted novel (4 chapters), Mystry (sic) at Oak Hall Manor, undoubtedly inspired by public television’s French language program that aired daily at noon when I was a child and by tales told by my French Alsatian grandmother and her siblings. Paris was my primary destination on my first trip to Europe, and I’ve spent many extended stays for art history research (who can write about 19th-century French art without privileging Paris?), lecturing, and writing, as well as for hanging with friends, swing dancing, and just being in, for me, the world’s most wonderful city.

Michelle's book list on Paris for foodies and historians

Michelle Facos Why did Michelle love this book?

After more than a decade as pastry chef at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley, DL relocated to Paris in 2004. His blog and books have become the source of culinary advice for savvy American expats and tourists visiting the City of Light. Appart (French slang for apartment) is the adventure-filled story of DL as he establishes himself as a Parisian, an experience recounted with hilarity, insight, and, naturally, delicious recipes. Anyone entertaining the idea of moving to Paris (or wondering what that might be like) must read this delightful memoir.

By David Lebovitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bestselling author and world-renowned chef David Lebovitz continues to mine the rich subject of his evolving ex-Pat life in Paris, using his perplexing experiences in apartment renovation as a launching point for stories about French culture, food, and what it means to revamp one's life. Includes dozens of new recipes.
 
When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with perplexing work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner Romain, peppering this…


Book cover of The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

This is the heartwarming and inspiring story of the journey a great chef took from serving as a lowly apprentice to becoming a leader in establishing new food traditions in America. I especially enjoyed the many funny stories about Pepin and his family. Warning: the book includes many of his favorite recipes that will cause hunger pangs as you read the book. 

By Jacques Pépin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this captivating memoir, the man whom Julia Child has called “the best chef in America” tells the story of his rise from a frightened apprentice in an exacting Old World kitchen to an Emmy Award–winning superstar who taught millions of Americans how to cook and shaped the nation’s tastes in the bargain.

We see young Jacques as a homesick six-year-old boy in war-ravaged France, working on a farm in exchange for food, dodging bombs, and bearing witness as German soldiers capture his father, a fighter in the Resistance. Soon Jacques is caught up in the hurly-burly action of his…


Book cover of Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking

Catherine Zabinski Author Of Amber Waves: The Extraordinary Biography of Wheat, from Wild Grass to World Megacrop

From my list on to contemplate food systems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a plant and soil ecologist, and have spent my working life researching and teaching within the university system. I am also a reader of poetry and literature, and particularly drawn to authors who write so well that you are pulled into a topic that you didn’t know was of interest. I wrote a biography of wheat because I really like plants, and I thought that writing about one of our crop plants could attract readers who like to eat. Along the way, I got fascinated by the layered complexities of our food system. Reading about it is another way to reflect on our relationship with the planet. 

Catherine's book list on to contemplate food systems

Catherine Zabinski Why did Catherine love this book?

Buford recounts his story of what originally was supposed to be a year in France, learning to cook, French style, through an apprenticeship in Lyon. While the whole story is engaging, maybe the most interesting part for me was the tale that runs throughout about Bob, the boulanger, and his quest to make bread from the flour with a specific terroir, because the soils and climate were essential to the quality of his baguettes. 

By Bill Buford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“You can almost taste the food in Bill Buford’s Dirt, an engrossing, beautifully written memoir about his life as a cook in France.” —The Wall Street Journal

What does it take to master French cooking? This is the question that drives Bill Buford to abandon his perfectly happy life in New York City and pack up and (with a wife and three-year-old twin sons in tow) move to Lyon, the so-called gastronomic capital of France. But what was meant to be six months in a new and very foreign city turns into a wild five-year digression from normal life, as…


Book cover of The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine

Mark Spivak Author Of Friend of the Devil

From my list on human obsession.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, it became obvious there were two types of people in the world. There were those who played it safe, who sold life insurance or worked for the government, who took their kids to soccer games and dutifully hosted Thanksgiving dinner. Then there were those who were haunted and driven by inner forces they couldn’t begin to understand. After realizing that I fell into the second category, I discovered many kindred spirits who had written books. While some of them sugar-coated their stories into “page-turners” or “beach reads,” the core of human obsession was unmistakable. I resolved to explore the outer edge of that obsession.

Mark's book list on human obsession

Mark Spivak Why did Mark love this book?

Think Friend of the Devil is merely fiction? Consider this: Bernard Loiseau rose from obscurity to the pinnacle of his profession, earning the ultimate accolade of three stars in the Michelin Guide for his restaurant La Côte d’Or in Saulieu, France. Yet in 2003, immediately after the lunch service, this acclaimed chef blew his brains out with a shotgun. The Perfectionist traces his life, obsessions, and insecurities to give us a chilling portrait of why attaining your dreams might be the most dangerous situation of all.

By Rudolph Chelminski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unforgettable portrait of France’s legendary chef, and the sophisticated, unforgiving world of French gastronomy

Bernard Loiseau was one of only twenty-five French chefs to hold Europe’s highest culinary award, three stars in the Michelin Red Guide, and only the second chef to be personally awarded the Legion of Honor by a head of state. Despite such triumphs, he shocked the culinary world by taking his own life in February 2003. TheGaultMillau guidebook had recently dropped its ratings of Loiseau’s restaurant, and rumors swirled that he was on the verge of losing a Michelin star (a prediction that proved to…


Book cover of Cheffes de Cuisine: Women and Work in the Professional French Kitchen

David E. Sutton Author Of Bigger Fish to Fry: A Theory of Cooking as Risk, with Greek Examples

From my list on scholarly reads about cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in food, even as young as 3 years old I remember wanting to taste everything, and I found the process of cooking fascinating. But I really got interested in food as a topic for research during my time studying Greek culture for my PhD thesis. People on the island of Kalymnos, where I’ve conducted research for 30 years, made a strong connection between food and memory, but it was a connection that few scholars have written about until recently. So I’ve been excited to participate in a new field reflected by all of these books, and hope you will be as well.

David's book list on scholarly reads about cooking

David E. Sutton Why did David love this book?

Cheffes explores the lives and the challenges facing female chefs and chefs-in-training in Lyon, France.

It also provides compelling first-hand experiences of the author who went through training while pregnant as well. Black’s account of the tribulations of professional female "cheffes" against a background of prejudice and harassment seemed very relevant to our contemporary discussions.

But what really stood out for me about this is that she contextualizes the story within the history of Lyon, famous both for its cuisine and for its legendary female cheffes. Black ties together past and present beautifully in her account, giving a real sense of continuity and change in the food world.

By Rachel E. Black,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Works of Distinction, LDEI M.F.K. Fisher Prize for Excellence in Culinary Media Content, 2022

A rare woman's-eye-view of working in the professional French kitchen

Though women enter France's culinary professions at higher rates than ever, men still receive the lion's share of the major awards and Michelin stars. Rachel E. Black looks at the experiences of women in Lyon to examine issues of gender inequality in France's culinary industry. Known for its female-led kitchens, Lyon provides a unique setting for understanding the gender divide, as Lyonnais women have played a major role in maintaining the city's culinary heritage and its…


Book cover of Five Quarters of the Orange

Lyn Farrell Author Of One Dog Too Many

From my list on stories of survival in WWII beyond the battlefield.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifelong reader who has always been interested in the period of WWII. Stories of courage under fire are my favorites. As a little girl, I attended a one-room school without a library. Luckily, my enlightened teacher contracted with a Bookmobile, a travelling library. The first time I got inside the Bookmobile, I decided I’d like to live there and was only removed forcibly by the bus driver. I'm an educator turned author who worked for thirty-five years at the medical school at Michigan State University. Luckily, my circle of family and friends includes doctors, lawyers, and police officers who are consulted regularly for advice on my mysteries.

Lyn's book list on stories of survival in WWII beyond the battlefield

Lyn Farrell Why did Lyn love this book?

This book is powerful to me because of the intense mother/daughter conflict she relates. My mother was lovely, well-read, and held an important position at our state university. However, she was also extremely critical of her children. Because I never rebelled against my mother, I was entranced with Joanne Harris’ young character, Framboise, who plans and carries out a rebellion against her mother that is worthy of the French resistance. Many years later, when Framboise Simon returns to a small village on the banks of the Loire, the locals do not recognize her as the daughter of the infamous woman they hold responsible for a tragedy during the German occupation.

The past and present are inextricably entwined in a scrapbook of recipes and memories that Framboise inherited from her now-deceased mother. The journal contains the key to the tragedy that indelibly marked that summer of her ninth year. The mother…

By Joanne Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Five Quarters of the Orange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping page-turner set in occupied France from international multi-million copy seller Joanne Harris. With the sensuous writing we come to expect from her, this book has a darker core. Perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Fiona Valpy, Maggie O'Farrell and Rachel Joyce, this fascinating and vivid journey through human cruelty and kindness is a gripping and compelling read.

'Her strongest writing yet: as tangy and sometimes bitter as Chocolat was smooth' -- Independent
'Harris indulges her love of rich and mouthwatering descriptive passages, appealing to the senses... Thoroughly enjoyable' -- Observer
'Outstanding...beautifully written' -- Daily Mail
'Very thought provoking.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, French cuisine, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, French cuisine, and presidential biography.

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