The most recommended books by food writers

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to food writers, and here are their favorite food writer books.
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Book cover of My Place At The Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris

Janet Hubbard Author Of Champagne

From my list on modern day France containing food and wine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went to Paris the first time when I was nineteen. I was sitting in a cheap restaurant when a man entered carrying a burlap sack filled with escargots, and put some on my plate (all very unsanitary) for me to taste. Delicious! I was in France in the 1970s when Robert Parker was discovering French wine. (We didn’t meet then, but did after my series was published many years later.)  Subsequent stays in Paris and other areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy) afforded me a food and wine sensibility that over decades has permeated my lifestyle, my friendships—and my writing.

Janet's book list on modern day France containing food and wine

Janet Hubbard Why did Janet love this book?

This was a gift from a friend, and I absolutely love it. From the jacket copy: “It is the riveting portrait of a gay man struggling to overcome the reverberating shame and guilt of a long-buried childhood secret.” On the very first page he includes his ode to a sandwich, written when he was a child. It starts: "The BLT is the most perfect sandwich. The bacon brings it salt and the rich taste of pork. The tomato is sweet and juicy…”  Labrano eventually became a famous food critic, and his memoir is peppered with fabulous descriptions of food and wine. His description of a dinner in Val-les-Bains in the Ardèche region of France is downright inspiring. A great read!

By Alexander Lobrano,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this debut memoir, a James Beard Award-winning writer, whose childhood idea of fine dining was Howard Johnson's, tells how he became one of Paris's most influential food critics

Until Alec Lobrano landed a job in the glamorous Paris office of Women's Wear Daily, his main experience of French cuisine was the occasional supermarket eclair. An interview with the owner of a renowned cheese shop for his first article nearly proves a disaster because he speaks no French. As he goes on to cover celebrities and couturiers and improves his mastery of the language, he gradually learns what it means…


Book cover of Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir

Emmanuel Laroche Author Of Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door: 50 American Chefs Chart Today’s Food Culture

From my list on food lovers and anyone passionate about food culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

The passion I have for food was born during my childhood in France when I learned how to cook and bake with my mother, and it never faded away. I still continue to explore, and I have the chance to participate in more than sixty tastings a year. When traveling, I always prepare my trips by searching the web for unique restaurants, coffee roasters, breweries, and local bakeries. When I interview culinary leaders, I am curious about their innovation and their creative process. Chef Elizabeth Falkner wrote in my book foreword, “Emmanuel genuinely seems like he is trying to solve a puzzle, which is why his book is an important piece of writing.”

Emmanuel's book list on food lovers and anyone passionate about food culture

Emmanuel Laroche Why did Emmanuel love this book?

I love Ruth Reichl's writing style. I read through this book like tasting a fine wine, one phrase at a time. I picked up a copy at a tiny bookstore on Cape Cod, when I was writing my own book. I loved Reichl’s way of telling stories. Her book is the story of the behind-the-scenes look at the famous Gourmet magazine and its transformation into a cutting-edge publication under Reichl’s leadership. Reichl was the restaurant critic for The New York Times when Conde Nast recruited her to be the editor-in-chief of Gourmet. In her book, Reichl shares vivid anecdotes of people she’s encountered during the golden age of magazine publishing before the internet turned the magazine world upside down. A must for any food lover.

By Ruth Reichl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Save Me the Plums as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl took the job (and the risk) of a lifetime when she entered the high-stakes world of magazine publishing. Now, for the first time, she chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet.

“A must for any food lover . . . Reichl is a warm, intimate writer. She peels back the curtain to a glamorous time of magazine-making. You’ll tear through this memoir.”—Refinery29

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Real Simple • Good Housekeeping • Town & Country

When Condé…


Book cover of A Certain Hunger

Scott Brooks Author Of And There We Were and Here We Are

From Scott's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Theatre lover New Yorker Dad Playwright Reader

Scott's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Scott Brooks Why did Scott love this book?

A friend who I share books with all the time and who has directed plays I wrote, handed me this book and said, "YOU would love this." Always curious how people perceive my tastes, I opened to the first sentence, and here's what I got: "They all look the same, hotel bars, even when they don't."

Yep, I'm in.

Chelsea Summers' protagonist is telling her story from prison where she will live out her life for the multiple murders of her lovers. The thing is, she also ate some of them. But Dorothy Daniels is not your everyday cannibal. She is a deviously smart self-aware sociopath, culinary master and food critic.

The author has created a hilarious, perverted and gruesome anti-hero here, and every page drips with horror and brilliance. Yeah, I said perverted. This book is bawdy and raunchy as things get, so I wouldn't be recommending this one…

By Chelsea G. Summers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of Vanity Fair's Books That Will Get You Through This Winter
“One of the most uniquely fun and campily gory books in my recent memory... A Certain Hunger has the voice of a hard-boiled detective novel, as if metaphor-happy Raymond Chandler handed the reins over to the sexed-up femme fatale and really let her fly." ―The New York Times

Food critic Dorothy Daniels loves what she does. Discerning, meticulous, and very, very smart, Dorothy’s clear mastery of the culinary arts make it likely that she could, on any given night, whip up a more inspired dish than any one…


Book cover of Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Ma Thanegi Author Of Nor Iron Bars a Cage

From my list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a painter and a writer from Myanmar. The former profession is what I chose when I was 15 and began at 21, featured in a group exhibition of modern art and the only woman among several men. Since then I have exhibited in several group shows and have had seven solos. In the early 2000s by chance - and financial need - I became the Contributing Editor for the Myanmar Times weekly and a travel magazine until they closed down. Since then I have written around 20 books on food, culture, and travels and it kept me so busy that my art was put on hoId, but I hope to resume one day soon.

Ma's book list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food

Ma Thanegi Why did Ma love this book?

Among the many genres of literature that I enjoy from Harry Potter to The Brothers Karamazov, I like best those that are about food and people with vibrant personalities. This book hits the jackpot: its all about haute cuisine of mouth-watering fusion of tastes with elegant plating and, the best of it, the glamorous and sexy or quirky or snooty individuals enjoying an excellent. .... or not....meal. The author already has one bombshell of a personality and the many identities she assumed to remain incognito in her job as a food critic for the New York Times all came alive. I wish I could have been right at their table.

By Ruth Reichl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Author of Save Me the Plums Ruth Reichl’s iconic, bestselling memoir of her time as an undercover restaurant critic for The New York Times

"Expansive and funny." —Entertainment Weekly

Ruth Reichl, world-renowned food critic and former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, knows a thing or two about food. She also knows that as the most important food critic in the country, you need to be anonymous when reviewing some of the most high-profile establishments in the biggest restaurant town in the world—a charge she took very seriously, taking on the guise of a series of eccentric personalities. In Garlic…


Book cover of Hungry

Dawn Goodwin Author Of When We Were Young

From my list on escapism on a rainy Autumn evening.

Why am I passionate about this?

I may be a writer of psychological dramas, but I am first and foremost an avid reader who is addicted to books. My go-to genre is the psychological thriller, but I also love any books that use light and shade, balancing humour and darkness, inverting stereotypes, and generally keeping me guessing on plot twists and turns. All of the books I have recommended would keep you warm and cosy – and certainly distracted – on an autumnal evening when the nights are long and cold. 

Dawn's book list on escapism on a rainy Autumn evening

Dawn Goodwin Why did Dawn love this book?

This is a memoir that took me straight back to those beige culinary days of my Geordie upbringing, when the best thing about Autumn was rice pudding and the comfort food of the eighties. Grace writes with charm and wit, interspersing her career highs and lows with some wonderfully warm moments of nostalgia. Very moving and will make you reach for a can of Heinz tomato soup.

By Grace Dent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE FORTNUM & MASON DEBUT FOOD BOOK AWARD 2021
WINNER OF 2021 LAKELAND BOOK OF THE YEAR

'Extraordinary. Vivid, irreverent, heartbreaking.' NIGEL SLATER

'So funny and so delicious. I could eat it.' DAWN O'PORTER

'Delicious.' THE OBSERVER

From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better.

Hungry traces her story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of Britain's best-loved food writers. It's also everyone's story - from cheese and pineapple hedgehogs and treats with your nan, to…


Book cover of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

Delise Torres Author Of One Tough Cookie

From my list on foodie businesses that will leave you hungry.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a food scientist, I’ve always been interested in the processing of food and developing new recipes. Foodie fiction can take us into that process, showing us the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to run a foodie business and how to create dishes that people will love, even if you can only taste them through your imagination. And food and books just go together! Or am I the only one reading while eating?

Delise's book list on foodie businesses that will leave you hungry

Delise Torres Why did Delise love this book?

This is a cute story about finding your path and being true to yourself. I love coconut cake, so the cover really grabbed me (and the author includes a recipe in the book!).

Lou owns a French restaurant because she thought it would help her establish herself and get a steady clientele when, in reality, she would’ve preferred a more intimate restaurant featuring the comfort food she learned to cook from her grandmother. When a food critic gives her a scathing review, and she’s forced to close the restaurant, she hones in on what she actually wants and connects to her authentic self.

The book also explores the foodie scene in Wisconsin, which was a great addition and really makes you want to visit and taste the food.

Book cover of Heartburn

Rachel Dodes and Lauren Mechling Author Of The Memo

From my list on summer books for a breezy day at the beach.

Why are we passionate about this?

Ever since we were kids, we associated the summer with voracious reading. We loved competing in those Summer Reading Challenges to see who could read the most while school was out. (Lauren often won; Rachel was a slower but equally enthusiastic reader.) As we grew up, we realized that a specific type of book exists that aligns with the summer mood–like a bikini, but make it literature. Summer reads can be emotional but not too heavy and contain moments of sadness without dragging us into the abyss. (For winter, we recommend the collected works of the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic novelist Halldór Laxness.) 

Rachel and Lauren's book list on summer books for a breezy day at the beach

Rachel Dodes and Lauren Mechling Why did Rachel and Lauren love this book?

Even though it came out more than 40 years ago, we had to include this one, the perfect chef’s kiss of a summer read, complete with recipes. The romcom master’s first novel is based on her breakup with her husband Carl Bernstein, the renowned Washington Post Watergate reporter, who had an affair when Ephron was several months pregnant. Instead of moping around, Ephron spun her tragedy into gold: a hilarious novel with a triumphant ending.

As the main character, Rachel tells her therapist (who has asked her why she always turns everything into an amusing story): “Because if I tell the story, I control the version. If I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get…

By Nora Ephron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma ... I picked up the pie, thanked God for linoleum floor, and threw it'
Rachel Samstat is smart, successful, married to a high-flying Washington journalist... and devastated. She has discovered that her husband is having an affair with Thelma Rice, 'a fairly tall person with a neck as long…


Book cover of Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love

Ellie Alexander Author Of Muffin But the Truth

From my list on heartwarming foodies to cozy up with this winter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote my first mystery in second grade, thinking I was writing a page-turning thriller when in reality I penned a sweet, little cozy where everything turns out okay in the end and everyone always has a cup of hot chocolate and a vanilla cookie in hand. Somehow, I’ve managed to turn my love of baking and writing into a long-term career. With over 30 mysteries and counting I’m not sure if I’m going to run out of recipes or ways to kill someone off first. 

Ellie's book list on heartwarming foodies to cozy up with this winter

Ellie Alexander Why did Ellie love this book?

This sweet gem is like a salve for any food-loving reader’s soul. I devoured it on a stormy weekend, curled up on my couch with a cup of tea and it has stayed with me ever since. The story is set in the 1960s and written entirely in letters between an aspiring food writer in LA and a food columnist in the Puget Sound. Who knew that you couldn’t find garlic in the grocery store back in the 60s or that a simple gift of saffron would lead to a lasting friendship. Love & Saffron is a tender novel about friendship and how food connects us. I have literally given this book to all of my friends. It will warm your heart and leave you hungry for more. 

By Kim Fay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Instant National Bestseller and #1 Indie Next Pick

In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter--as well as a gift of saffron--to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for…


Book cover of Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World

Emmanuel Laroche Author Of Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door: 50 American Chefs Chart Today’s Food Culture

From my list on food lovers and anyone passionate about food culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

The passion I have for food was born during my childhood in France when I learned how to cook and bake with my mother, and it never faded away. I still continue to explore, and I have the chance to participate in more than sixty tastings a year. When traveling, I always prepare my trips by searching the web for unique restaurants, coffee roasters, breweries, and local bakeries. When I interview culinary leaders, I am curious about their innovation and their creative process. Chef Elizabeth Falkner wrote in my book foreword, “Emmanuel genuinely seems like he is trying to solve a puzzle, which is why his book is an important piece of writing.”

Emmanuel's book list on food lovers and anyone passionate about food culture

Emmanuel Laroche Why did Emmanuel love this book?

Chef Rene Redzepi from the three-Michelin star restaurant Noma in Copenhagen is internationally recognized for his unique reinterpretation of Scandinavian cuisine and for using locally sourced ingredients. Redzepi also focuses on fermentation and experimenting with using as much of the plants, meat, and fish as possible. Jeff Gordiner spent four years spent traveling with René Redzepi and Hungry takes us along on their journey from Mexico to Australia, to Norway, and Denmark, and offers a glimpse into the mind of this amazing and complex chef who has changed the way we look at fine dining. This is a must-read to better understand the creative process in modern restaurant culture.

By Jeff Gordinier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A food critic chronicles four years spent traveling with René Redzepi, the renowned chef of Noma, in search of the most tantalizing flavors the world has to offer.
 
“If you want to understand modern restaurant culture, you need to read this book.”—Ruth Reichl, author of Save Me the Plums
 
Hungry is a book about not only the hunger for food, but for risk, for reinvention, for creative breakthroughs, and for connection. Feeling stuck in his work and home life, writer Jeff Gordinier happened into a fateful meeting with Danish chef René Redzepi, whose restaurant, Noma, has been called the best…


Book cover of Long Ago in France: The Years in Dijon

Sharon Farmer Author Of Surviving Poverty in Medieval Paris: Gender, Ideology, and the Daily Lives of the Poor

From my list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started out as a religion major in college, but soon became frustrated with the abstract thoughts of privileged white males. I wanted to understand the passions and struggles of ordinary people, and soon became convinced that the examination of the distant past sheds important light on the present. It’s not that I don’t care about the world around me right now. Rather, I am convinced that those who look only at this decade, this century, or even the last century fail to recognize some of the most powerful cultural forces that have shaped our most fundamental understandings of gender, wealth, poverty, work, and so much more.

Sharon's book list on the culture of France and medieval modern poverty

Sharon Farmer Why did Sharon love this book?

Looking back across six decades, MFK Fisher, one of the most astute and evocative travel and gastronomical authors ever to put pen to paper, recalls the year when everything for her was new: France, Europe, marriage, food, culture. Based in provincial Dijon, Mary studied French, shopped in the open markets, learned to cook, and jotted down astute observations concerning everyone she met, while her husband wrote his dissertation. My first encounter with Tours, in 1979, reminds me of Fisher’s encounter with Dijon in 1929. Like her, I was warmed by the joy of discovery, the sense that every stone and leaf, every living thing that I encountered had layers upon layers of meaning, and it was my job to uncover some of them, revealing meanings that no one had seen before. 

By M.F.K. Fisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Long Ago in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1929, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher arrived in Dijon, the provincial capital of Burgundy and the gastronomical capital of France, there to be initiated into the ways of love and life.

Long Ago in France is Fisher's exquisitely evocative, deliciously candid memoir of her three-year stay in Dijon. It is a delightful journey backward - in the grandest of company - into a voluptuous, genteel world that has vanished forever.