The most recommended books about restaurants

Who picked these books? Meet our 34 experts.

34 authors created a book list connected to restaurants, and here are their favorite restaurant books.
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What type of restaurant book?


Book cover of Five Quarters of the Orange

Lyn Farrell Author Of One Dog Too Many

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

Who am I?

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

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.…

Made in Chicago

By Monica Eng, David Hammond,

Book cover of Made in Chicago: Stories Behind 30 Great Hometown Bites

Amelia Levin Author Of The Chicago Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Windy City

From the list on the magic of Chicago cuisine and food lore.

Who am I?

I’m a longtime food writer, magazine editor, cookbook author, and certified chef (through Kendall College, also in Chicago of course!). I was born in Chicago, raised in the Northern suburbs, and came back right after graduating from the University of Michigan in the early 2000s. For two decades, I lived in various parts of the city and wrote about the food scene for local and national outlets. The first edition of The Chicago Chef’s Table came out in 2012. Even though I moved to the suburbs a few years ago with my growing family, we still get down to the city often to enjoy the hottest new spots. My love for Chicago will never subside!

Amelia's book list on the magic of Chicago cuisine and food lore

Why did Amelia love this book?

David is a fellow food writer and friend of mine and we’ve enjoyed many dinners and events out at local restaurants.

Many years ago he started an online forum for the food-obsessed in Chicago, and that was before “blogs” and Substacks and even social media. Monica is a longtime local food writer and NPR contributor. They both are true authorities on the dining scene here so their stories about the history and lore of various beloved Chicago/Midwestern dishes (beyond deep dish and Italian beef sandwiches) are really exciting to read. 

By Monica Eng, David Hammond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A BookRiot Most Anticipated Travel Book of 2023

Italian beef and hot dogs get the headlines. Cutting-edge cuisine and big-name chefs get the Michelin stars. But Chicago food shows its true depth in classic dishes conceived in the kitchens of immigrant innovators, neighborhood entrepreneurs, and mom-and-pop visionaries.

Monica Eng and David Hammond draw on decades of exploring the city's food landscape to serve up thirty can't-miss eats found in all corners of Chicago. From Mild Sauce to the Jibarito and from Taffy Grapes to Steak and Lemonade, Eng and Hammond present stories of the people and places behind each dish…

Book cover of The Surprise Restaurant Manager

Jacqueline Jeynes Author Of Managing Health & Safety in a Small Business

From the list on managing a small business, including risks and boring bits.

Who am I?

Mentioning health and safety is a great turn-off at parties when someone asks what you do for a living! Starting my training company 30 years ago, and later representing UK small business, it also became clear that we needed a practical, hands-on approach not a theoretical framework to ensure the safety and health of workers. Having five sons of my own (yes, really) gave even more reason to ensure people understood risk assessment, so my first book was published. Twenty years later, I am still writing non-fiction books and passionate about health and safety.

Jacqueline's book list on managing a small business, including risks and boring bits

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

I couldn’t resist recommending this book, mainly because it is such a clever title! How can you suddenly, unexpectedly, become a restaurant manager? It is a brilliant story that lots of readers can identify with, the way you might suddenly find yourself in a role that you did not plan to take on. 

As well as telling a personal story, it outlines all the pitfalls of working out how to be the best manager you can be, and the lessons in how to deal with staff and customers in order to be a successful restaurant manager. Lots of tips, questions, and suggested rules to help you along the way.  

By Ken McGarrie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Surprise - you're in charge now!

Steady money and new opportunities awaited as you moved up from server or bartender to front-of-house manager. But too often, restaurant management find themselves leading with minimal training, a ton of responsibilities, and no clue how to improve. You've run the Friday night rush, you've juggled expectations of staff and guests-but have you figured out how to improve while keeping the business profitable?

In The Surprise Restaurant Manager, learn from Ken McGarrie, a restaurant operator who has helped launched dozens of successful restaurants, as he gives you the power to master the unexpected challenges…

The Maison Premiere Almanac

By Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, Jordan Mackay, William Elliott

Book cover of The Maison Premiere Almanac: Cocktails, Oysters, Absinthe, and Other Essential Nutrients for the Sensualist, Aesthete, and Flaneur: A Cocktail Recipe Book

Frank Caiafa Author Of The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

From Frank's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Curious Taster Historian Educator Barman

Frank's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Frank love this book?

A cocktail book from one of my favorite long-standing neighborhood Brooklyn bars.

Their appreciation of New Orleans and more importantly great food, drinks, and service is now compiled into one concise ‘almanac’ with an extraordinary section on oysters that is a must-read for any lover of these briny bivalves. I also appreciate that a fair amount of the recipes are classic in nature and fairly easy to replicate for the home user, all while explaining the origin stories of the most endearing concoctions.

By Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, Jordan Mackay, William Elliott

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A delightful, imaginative, and thoroughly original cocktail compendium and bartending manual with 90 drink recipes from the popular and influential Brooklyn bar and restaurant.

A major player in both the craft cocktail revival and the bar and restaurant renaissance, Maison Premiere offers an immersive experience that channels a time when cocktails were not merely a pleasure but an essential part of daily life in late-nineteenth-century New York, New Orleans, and Paris.

As captivating as the bar itself, The Maison Premiere Almanac is both a visual delight—drawing on photography, illustration, and graphic design—and a detailed guide to the rarefied subjects that…

The Cafe by the Sea

By Jenny Colgan,

Book cover of The Cafe by the Sea

Mary Karlik Author Of Hickville Crossroads

From the list on contemporary romances with a Scottish accent.

Who am I?

I love everything Scottish. My grandfather was Scottish. I never met him, but mom passed the pride of her heritage and culture to me. Mom used to throw out an occasional phrase or poem that I thought was Gaelic. (I later learned it was Scotts but that’s another story.) I decided I wanted to learn the language and found a short course at a small college on the Isle of Skye and it changed my life. After that short course I committed to learning the language and enrolled in the distance learning program. I travel to Skye for the short courses between my semesters and have made lifelong friends.  

Mary's book list on contemporary romances with a Scottish accent

Why did Mary love this book?

First, let me say, I love every book she’s written, and I’ve read them all! It is hard for me to choose just one. I picked this one because it’s the “gateway” book on the fictional island of Mure. (Incidentally, Muir is the Gaelic word for sea. Coincidence?) Ms. Colgan creates a world rich with the culture and beauty of the island people. Although at its heart, this story is a romance, there are several storylines of potential romance and a little mystery. With every book in the series, you delve a little deeper into the lives of the people. It’s like visiting old friends and I’m never quite ready to say goodbye.

By Jenny Colgan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The beloved author of The Bookshop on the Corner returns with a sparkling, sunny, soulful new novel perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand.

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life…

Out With the Stars

By Jim Heimann,

Book cover of Out With the Stars: Hollywood Nightlife in the Golden Era

Shawn Levy Author Of The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont

From the list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze.

Who am I?

Shawn Levy is the author of 11 books of biography and pop culture history, including The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont, Paul Newman: A Life, Rat Pack Confidential, and Ready, Steady, Go! The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London. He was the longtime film critic of The Oregonian newspaper and KGW-TV in his beloved home city of Portland. He has written a history of the women pioneers of standup comedy which will be published by Doubleday in 2022 and at work on a podcast about the dark connections of politics and show business.

Shawn's book list on Hollywood glamour and sleaze

Why did Shawn love this book?

It doesn't matter that it was patently phony: The glamour that was Tinseltown in Hollywood's golden age was impossibly romantic and utterly irresistible. Much of it had to do with the social lives of movie stars, and in particular the shenanigans they got up to in swanky nightclubs where they danced, courted, and made merry. Jim Heimann is a superb chronicler of Los Angeles's architectural and cultural past, and this beautifully illustrated book is crammed with images of the likes of Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall patronizing such swell spots as Mocambo, the Trocadero, Ciro's, the Coconut Grove, the Player's Club, and many others. They're all gone now, but this collection of hundreds of photos of the clubs, inside and out, and the patrons, dressed as if for a royal wedding, brings them back to vibrant life.

By Jim Heimann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Out With the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Describes the Hollywood bars, restaurants, and nightclubs frequented by celebrities and movie stars from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Book cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Audrey Ingram Author Of The River Runs South

From the list on strong Southern women.

Who am I?

I grew up in Alabama studying a curriculum full of Twain and Faulkner. I’ll never forget opening To Kill a Mockingbird and reading about a girl from Alabama written by a woman from Alabama. I wanted to be Scout Finch and write like Harper Lee. That’s the power of a good story – creating relatable characters that let readers imagine a different version of their lives. The books listed here feature strong, southern female characters written by talented, female writers. I feel inspired by their journeys and heartbroken by their struggles. I only wish they were real people so that we could share a pitcher of sweet tea and chat like old friends.  

Audrey's book list on strong Southern women

Why did Audrey love this book?

There’s so much to love in this story about female friendship. 

Romance, murder, small towns, racism, ageism, and bar-b-que. I flew through the pages wanting more and more of the story, while also feeling my heart break at the journey these women experience. Flagg is masterful at tackling serious topics with addictive storytelling.

By Fannie Flagg,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Folksy and fresh, endearing and affecting, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is a now-classic novel about two women: Evelyn, who’s in the sad slump of middle age, and gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode, who’s telling her life story. Her tale includes two more women—the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth—who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering good coffee, southern barbecue, and all kinds of love and laughter—even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present will never be quite the same again.
Praise for Fried Green Tomatoes at…

Kitchen Confidential

By Anthony Bourdain,

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 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?

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;…

A Culinary History of Taipei

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Book cover of A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

From the list on Taiwan’s history.

Who am I?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink).

John's book list on Taiwan’s history

Why did John love this book?

Despite the title, this is a history of the food of Taiwan, not just Taipei. The “ponlai” in the subtitle refers to a strain of rice developed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period, stickier and quicker maturing than the indica rice cultivated previously; and this specificity gives a good indication of the admirable depth the book goes into. There’s great breadth too, the authors covering almost everything you might be curious about, whether aboriginal crops or traditional banquet culture, religious food offerings, food folklore and prohibitions, the evolution of basic ingredients, and the origin stories of iconic dishes.

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Culinary History of Taipei as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a compelling story behind Taiwan's recent emergence as a food destination of international significance. A Culinary History of Taipei is the first comprehensive English-language examination of what Taiwan's people eat and why they eat those foods, as well as the role and perception of particular foods.

Distinctive culinary traditions have not merely survived the travails of recent centuries, but grown more complex and enticing. Taipei is a city where people still buy fresh produce almost every morning of the year; where weddings are celebrated with streetside bando banquets; and where baristas craft cups of world-class coffee. Wherever there…

Bailey's Cafe

By Gloria Naylor,

Book cover of Bailey's Cafe

Deborah L. King Author Of Glory Bishop

From the list on Black women by Black women.

Who am I?

I’ve been a Black woman for almost 40 years, and I’ve been writing about Black women almost as long. I grew up reading children’s books with brown faces and great stories, but the authors never interested me. Until I read Peaches, I had no idea that wholly relatable authors and stories existed. I began seeking them out. From authors like Virginia Hamilton and James Baldwin to Langston Hughes and even Donald Goines, I found stories of people with lives I recognized. I am far from an expert on Black literature. I am just grateful that during my formative years, I was exposed to some great Black authors. 

Deborah's book list on Black women by Black women

Why did Deborah love this book?

An eclectic group of people regularly visit Bailey’s Cafe.

The owner believes the cafe is magical and he tells the stories of each of its patrons finding their way to a local boarding house and ultimately finding themselves. From the opening tale of the cafe owner to Sadie, and Eve, and Jessie Bell, and others, the stories are excellently told, each in a distinct voice.

Author Gloria Naylor has explained that the themes are relating to female sexuality and femaleness. I will note there are some pretty rough scenes, but the characters and their stories are unforgettable.

By Gloria Naylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “moving and memorable” novel about a cafe where everyone has a story to tell from the award-winning author of The Women of Brewster Place (The Boston Globe).

In post–World War II Brooklyn, on a quiet backstreet, there’s a little place that draws people from all over—not for the food, and definitely not for the coffee. An in-between place that’s only there when you need it, Bailey’s Cafe is a crossroads where patrons stay for a while before making a choice: Move on or check out?
In this novel, National Book Award–winning author Gloria Naylor’s expertly crafted characters experience a…

The Blue Bistro

By Elin Hilderbrand,

Book cover of The Blue Bistro

Rachel Cullen Author Of Summer on Dune Road

From the list on reads while sipping a piña colada.

Who am I?

I’ve been an avid reader since childhood. I read almost all genres, but my favorite type of book has always been the kind that you associate with a beach bag and a lazy day of reading in the sun (and maybe even a beverage nearby with a tiny umbrella). I love books that provide a realistic escape, where I can lose myself in the descriptions of picturesque scenery and flawed but lovable characters. Not surprisingly, these are also the types of books I’ve chosen to write. I want to give readers the same joy of sitting back on a chaise lounge with a piña colada (perhaps metaphorically) and disappearing into the fictional world I’ve created.

Rachel's book list on reads while sipping a piña colada

Why did Rachel love this book?

The Blue Bistro is one of Hilderbrand’s earlier books, and like almost all of her work, it is set on the island of Nantucket. I thoroughly enjoy reading all of Hilderbrand’s novels because of the incredible imagery she uses to describe the settings. I feel like I know the beaches, restaurants, hotels, and streets of Nantucket from reading her books almost better than I could from vacationing there. The Blue Bistro is especially compelling because it is set in a unique upscale restaurant and weaves distressing personal drama with mouthwatering menu descriptions. If you like good food and good gossip, you’ll love The Blue Bistro.

By Elin Hilderbrand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elin Hilderbrand, author of the enchanting Summer People and The Beach Club, invites you to experience the perfect getaway with her sparkling novel, The Blue Bistro.

Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket's hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course…

Stay with Me

By Paul Griffin,

Book cover of Stay with Me

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From the list on for fearless readers.

Who am I?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Why did Paul love this book?

Griffin is an incredibly sensitive and revealing writer who touches raw emotions. This is my favorite title of his. It's an urban romance between two teens who seemingly don't belong together, bolstered by an incredible bond with a dog. Read it. Love it. Then find yourself wondering what other gems Griffin has penned.

By Paul Griffin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking urban romance from award-winning author Paul Griffin

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until Mack makes a horrible mistake, and suddenly the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.

You Sexy Thing

By Cat Rambo,

Book cover of You Sexy Thing

Charley Marsh Author Of A Desperate Gamble

From the list on sci-fi for visiting alien worlds.

Who am I?

In 1966, I traveled to brave new worlds with the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Star Trek immediately became my lodestone, the focal point of my ten-year-old self, and I never missed an episode. A few years later I found Dune, and my love for the SF genre was cemented. I freely admit that I am not a hard science writer. I like to have fun with my stories, to play with ideas. I write first to entertain myself, and hopefully a reader or two along the way. I am a philosopher, a reader, and a writer.

Charley's book list on sci-fi for visiting alien worlds

Why did Charley love this book?

I couldn’t imagine what this book could be about with a title like this, but I enjoy Cat’s short stories so I took a leap of faith. I’m glad I did.

You Sexy Thing is the name of a sentient bioship that believes it is being stolen. Fast-paced and action-packed with great characters, You Sexy Thing also has depth–found family, personal ethics, and a pirate king bent on revenge. Immensely entertaining.

By Cat Rambo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Farscape meets The Great British Bake Off in this fantastic space opera You Sexy Thing from former SFWA President, Cat Rambo.

Just when they thought they were out…

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can’t ever be escaped,…

Empire Falls

By Richard Russo,

Book cover of Empire Falls

Shannon Bowring Author Of The Road to Dalton

From the list on capturing the Maine experience.

Who am I?

As a born and bred Mainer, there are dozens of great books I could recommend set in the Pine Tree State. But the five I’ve curated capture, for me, the diversity of the Maine culture, from the long-gone loggers who made their living from the woods to the often-overlooked Indigenous communities to the mill towns struggling to survive. When a non-Mainer thinks of our state, what usually comes to mind are quaint coastal villages, lighthouses, lobster… And while those things are part of what makes Maine the place it is, there exists, both on and off the page, plenty of other experiences and histories to discover here. 

Shannon's book list on capturing the Maine experience

Why did Shannon love this book?

When I think of Maine, I think of mill towns. When I think of mill towns, I think of Empire Falls. And to consider Russo’s titular town is to consider what happens to a community when its once-lucrative mills are abandoned.

I have witnessed it repeatedly through the years, all around the state of Maine—first our mills go out of business, then the towns that grew around those mills gradually, inexorably decline. Russo captures this struggle, creating characters as real as the millworkers I grew up with.

He also emphasizes a strange thing that happens in these blue-collar communities: even though the people who live there know their town will never be as it once was, most of them still can’t bring themselves to leave. 

By Richard Russo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • The bestselling author of Nobody's Fool and Straight Man delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

“Rich, humorous ... Mr. Russo’s most seductive book thus far.” —The New York Times

Welcome to Empire Falls, a blue-collar town full of abandoned mills whose citizens surround themselves with the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors and who find humor and hope in the most unlikely places, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo.

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at…

Nacho's Nachos

By Sandra Nickel, Oliver Dominguez (illustrator),

Book cover of Nacho's Nachos: The Story Behind the World's Favorite Snack

Natascha Biebow Author Of The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons

From the list on inventors.

Who am I?

I love to get kids fired up about true stories, using their imaginations and believing in themselves as future innovators, inventors, and creators. Crayola crayons inventor Edwin Binney's story is a fabulous springboard for exploring nature, color and creativity. I love to draw and make stuff just like Binney, so his story resonated with me. The more I researched, the more I admired how he listened to what people needed and looked to nature for inspiration. I am intrigued by the origins of everyday objects. Here are some books that inspired me when I was writing, and that have that fascinating a-ha moment that spurs on innovation.

Natascha's book list on inventors

Why did Natascha love this book?

Who doesn’t like to eat something yummy? But do you ever think about how this food came about? The serendipitous events that led to the creation of a favourite snack – nachos – begin with a Mexican boy, Ignacio Anaya. He loved to eat and cook and was nicknamed . . . Nacho. One day, when asked to create a snack at short notice at a restaurant, Ignacio used whatever he had to hand – corn tortillas, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño peppers. His creation soon became a favourite, and now global, snack – nachos. This delicious true story will inspire young readers to create spontaneously with whatever ingredients are available, and to discover how being inventive in the kitchen, just like this young chef, can be heaps of fun!

By Sandra Nickel, Oliver Dominguez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrating 80 Years of Nachos with NACHO'S NACHOS! In Nacho's Nachos, Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez introduce young readers to Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya and tell the true story of how he invented the world's most beloved snack in a moment of culinary inspiration.

A Waiter in Paris

By Edward Chisholm,

Book cover of A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City

Steve Haberman Author Of Where the Bones Lie

From Steve's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Inquisitive Resourceful Sarcastic as times Funny, at times At bit of an outsider

Steve's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Steve love this book?

It's a superbly written tale about a Brit waiter in the City of Light.

The author, Edward Chisholm, is, frankly, much, much better at the craft of writing than many hyped fiction authors. I also like his vivid showing—in the manner of Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London—a grim, truthful side of Paris beneath the glamour.

Frankly, I don't understand how he survived his brutal ordeal as a Parisian server. Maybe the resiliency of youth.

By Edward Chisholm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Waiter in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'This astonishing book describes a cruel, feral existence and is worthy of standing on the shelf next to George Orwell's Down And Out In Paris And London (1933) as another classic about human exploitation.' - Daily Mail

'Chisholm's story is immersive and often thrilling ... He's a fine writer.' - WSJ

'Kitchen Confidential for Generation Z' - Fortune

'An English waiters riveting account of working in Paris' - Daily Mail

'Visceral and unbelievably compelling' - Emerald Fennell

'Vividly written and merciless in its detail' - Edward Stourton

'An excellent book' -…

The Sol Majestic

By Ferrett Steinmetz,

Book cover of The Sol Majestic

Khan Wong Author Of The Circus Infinite

From the list on how art is more than art.

Who am I?

Creative expression has been one of my most cherished values since childhood. I've always had a creative hobby of some kind since I was a kid. Not sure how that happened – my parents were tolerant of my interests at best. I made my day job career in the arts, fostering the creativity of community members and supporting the work of artists. Art (in the general sense of all forms of creative expression) is, to me, a defining characteristic of humanity, it makes life worth living, and the way it’s devalued under Capitalism both saddens and inspires me as a creator myself. I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I write about creative people.

Khan's book list on how art is more than art

Why did Khan love this book?

One of the main characters in this book, the love interest actually, is on a quest to make the perfect chicken broth. Not art, exactly, but an act of creation. The multiple iterations and the constant tweaking of the recipe comprise a deep dive into an artist’s process as they strive to make the most perfect version of the thing in their head. That thing could be a painting, or a novel, or in this case, broth. This isn’t the main storyline, but it’s a significant side story and an indication of the author’s off-kilter take on space opera. All set in an imaginative world and the creative crucible of a high-end restaurant. Bonus points for the found family and community elements.

By Ferrett Steinmetz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sol Majestic is a big-hearted and delightful intergalactic hopepunk adventure for fans of Becky Chambers and The Good Place

"A feast of a book.”—Hugo Award-winning author Seanan McGuire

Kenna, an aspirational teen guru, wanders destitute across the stars as he tries to achieve his parents' ambition to advise the celestial elite.

Everything changes when Kenna wins a free dinner at The Sol Majestic, the galaxy's most renowned restaurant, giving him access to the cosmos's one-percent. His dream is jeopardized, however, when he learns his highly-publicized "free meal" risks putting The Sol Majestic into financial ruin. Kenna and a motley…

A PHO Love Story

By Loan Le,

Book cover of A PHO Love Story

Zoë Markham Author Of Under My Skin

From the list on YA retellings of the classics.

Who am I?

In my previous role as a teacher, I often encountered teens who never, ever read outside of school – and hated having to read in school. Finding YA retellings of the classics became an indispensable tool for me in terms of not only linking the past with the present for the young adults in my classes, but also in terms of helping them see themselves in fiction, finding representation there, and discovering their own importance. It opened up whole worlds for all of us, and offered a pathway to a love of reading that I hope they will never forget!

Zoë's book list on YA retellings of the classics

Why did Zoë love this book?

Romeo & Juliet retellings are, in my opinion, the absolute hardest ones to bring anything new to, but Le’s own voices portrayal of Vietnamese culture smashed all my preconceptions and turned what’s often a dry, predictable format into something so insightful and compelling it genuinely took my breath away. With real, authentic teenage protags facing real, contemporary issues, we get an insight into the turmoil of the lives of ‘ordinary’ teens far removed from the ‘glossy’ veneers we’re often presented in YA fiction. A Pho Love Story speaks a unique, powerful truth – and brings a breath of fresh air not only to the original but also to the genre as a whole. (Caution: parts of this book will make you extremely hungry!)

By Loan Le,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A PHO Love Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All's fair in love, war and noodles! This delicious debut is perfect for fans of teen romcoms such as When Dimple Met Rishi and Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

What if Romeo and Juliet was set in a Vietnamese restaurant?

Linh and Bao like each other. A lot. The only problem? Their families own rival pho restaurants and hate each other's guts, so they have to keep their relationship a secret.

But they can only steal kisses in dark alleys and the art room at school for so long. Can their love transcend an age-old feud…

Monday Mourning

By Kathy Reichs,

Book cover of Monday Mourning

Colin Cotterill Author Of The Coroner's Lunch

From the list on reads whilst awaiting radiology and/or death.

Who am I?

When you write a book, it’s natural to put yourself in it. You’re the avenger, the rookie agent, the hard-drinking detective. But how many of us volunteer to be the corpse? I sit here every day in the cancer unit at a public Thai hospital and smile at folks who won’t be around much longer. I wrote fifteen books in a series about a coroner. I painted the victims colorfully when they were still alive but how much respect did I show them once they were chunks of slowly decaying meat? From now on my treatment of the souls that smile back at me will take on a new life.

Colin's book list on reads whilst awaiting radiology and/or death

Why did Colin love this book?

I’m cheating here a bit. I know Kathy and I like her a lot. Unlike me, she is a genius. I don’t need to tell any of her readers that. She is a well-respected forensic anthropologist who goes out of her way to uncover the secrets that the remains conceal. She writes about bones with the same affection we usually reserve for loved ones. I would be delighted to have her run her massive intellect over my skeleton when I’m gone.

By Kathy Reichs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping Temperance Brennan novel from world-class forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, the international no. 1 bestselling crime thriller writer and the inspiration behind the hit TV series Bones.

Three skeletons are found in a Montreal basement.

The building is old, and the homicide detective in charge dismisses the remains as historic. Not his case. Not his concern.

Forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is not so sure. Something about the bones of these three young women suggests a different message: murder.

Soon she finds herself drawn ever deeper into a web of evil from which there may be no escape.…

Skinny Legs and All

By Tom Robbins,

Book cover of Skinny Legs and All

Debby Dodds Author Of Amish Guys Don't Call

From the list on serious subjects that are also hilariously funny.

Who am I?

In my first career as an actress, I often got cast as the “comic relief” in more serious films and plays. I cut my acting chops on improv comedy before getting my BFA in drama from NYU and performing in everything from Shakespeare to Seinfeld. I wrote and performed in stage shows at Disneyland and Disney World and screamed myself hoarse in B-horror films. As an author, I like to write about serious topics but I just can’t help being funny. I received my MFA from Antioch University and have had over 30 short stories and essays published. While I read voraciously (and genre-indiscriminately), my favorite books are often “darkly comedic” or “funny yet poignant.”

Debby's book list on serious subjects that are also hilariously funny

Why did Debby love this book?

Another author that I found it hard to choose which book to feature is Mr. Robbins. While Jitterbug Perfume and Another Roadside Attraction are tied for my favorite novel of his and Still Life with Woodpecker was my first (coincidentally it was recommended by my first serious boyfriend), I chose this one because it fit the theme of my list so well. How can you make an examination of prejudices, war, politics, religion, art, and the impending end of the world funny? The answer lies in Robbins’ brilliant mind.

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Arab and a Jew open a restaurant together across the street from the United Nations....

It sounds like the beginning of an ethnic joke, but it's the axis around which this gutsy, fun-loving, and alarmingly provocative novel spins, in which a bean can philosophizes, a dessert spoon mystifies, a young waitress takes on the New York art world, and a rowdy redneck welder discovers the lost god of Palestine-while the illusions that obscure humanity's view of the true universe fall away, one by one, like Salome's veils.

Skinny Legs and All deals with today's most sensitive issues: race, politics,…