The most recommended books about spices

Who picked these books? Meet our 10 experts.

10 authors created a book list connected to spices, and here are their favorite spice books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of spice book?

Loading...

Book cover of Food Made in Shetland

Manju Malhi BEM Author Of Easy Indian Cookbook: Over 70 Deliciously Simple Recipes

From my list on easy peasy cooking with easy to find ingredients.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up as an Asian girl in the UK has its ups and downs. I was bullied at school but sought solace in cooking and learning from my mother about Indian cuisine. Now in my adult life, I’ve been awarded the British Empire Medal for cooking services to the community during the pandemic. A straightforward approach to cuisine has won me fans globally and a TV series broadcast to over 80 million viewers cooking British dishes for an Indian audience. After writing 6 books on the subject of easy cooking, I hope you like the choices on my very personal list which are dog-eared and spice stained with overuse and love. 

Manju's book list on easy peasy cooking with easy to find ingredients

Manju Malhi BEM Why did Manju love this book?

After spending a week in beautiful Shetland, I was lucky enough to savour the flavours of Shetland and the warm and wonderful hospitality of Marian Armitage who has written this personal yet informative book about the produce of Shetland with recipes that are adaptable and can be turned into delicious meals at home. Beautifully photographed, my favourite is the Bunny Chow which reflects diverse and global communities that are living in this unique place and how the dish can be rustled up with everyday ingredients and store cupboard spices. 

By Marian Armitage,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination

Andrew Jotischky Author Of A Hermit's Cookbook: Monks, Food and Fasting in the Middle Ages

From my list on food and drink in the Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in medieval food and cookery combines two of my great passions in life, but I first started to become seriously interested in the combination when researching religious dietary ideas and practices. I am fascinated by the symbolic role played by food and drink in religious life, and by fasting and self-denial as part of a religious tradition, but also in the ways in which medieval communities feasted and how tastes in food and drink developed through trade and cultural exchange. I teach an undergraduate course on Feast, Fast, and Famine in the Middle Ages because questions about production, consumption, and sustainability are crucially important for us all.  

Andrew's book list on food and drink in the Middle Ages

Andrew Jotischky Why did Andrew love this book?

This is one of the books I wish I had written! Although it is a scholarly book based on the author’s research, it reads like a compellingly told story. It’s full of imaginative and vivid detail. Paul Freedman asks why there was such a high demand for spices in medieval Europe, examines the practicalities of trade and travel that enabled Europeans to acquire them, the ways they used them as commodities and the cultural meanings of taste and what changes in taste tell us about societal development. 

By Paul Freedman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How medieval Europe's infatuation with expensive, fragrant, and exotic spices led to an era of colonial expansion and the discovery of new worlds

The demand for spices in medieval Europe was extravagant and was reflected in the pursuit of fashion, the formation of taste, and the growth of luxury trade. It inspired geographical and commercial exploration ,as traders pursued such common spices as pepper and cinnamon and rarer aromatic products, including ambergris and musk. Ultimately, the spice quest led to imperial missions that were to change world history.

This engaging book explores the demand for spices: why were they so…


Book cover of The Mistress of Spices

Jennifer J. Chow Author Of Ill-Fated Fortune: A Magical Fortune Cookie Novel

From my list on books that combine food and magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a foodie at heart and grew up working in a family restaurant. I currently live in Los Angeles, where I’m delighted to have access to all sorts of edible goodies. As a writer, I insert food into my books, specifically in my culinary cozy mysteries, which have murder—and recipes! I also adore the idea of the fantastical; as a kid, I often created entire imaginary worlds during playtime. I’m happy to combine both loves in my newest series, the Magical Fortune Cookie books.  

Jennifer's book list on books that combine food and magic

Jennifer J. Chow Why did Jennifer love this book?

My friend recommended this book to me since I wanted to learn more about the Indian culture. I enjoyed discovering the different spices tied to each chapter.

In the beginning, there was a beautiful mythological backstory to becoming a Spice Mistress, which I found both inventive and fascinating. I also related to the emotional heart of Tilo, who flaunted the rules of her magic by helping those around her (including an exciting love interest).

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic work of magical realism, this bestselling novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni tells the story of Tilo, a young woman from another time who has a gift for the mystical art of spices.

Now immortal, and living in the gnarled and arthritic body of an old woman, Tilo has set up shop in Oakland, California, where she administers curatives to her customers.  But when she's surprised by an unexpected romance with a handsome stranger, she must choose between everlasting life and the vicissitudes of modern society.  Spellbinding and hypnotizing, The Mistress of Spices is a tale of joy, sorrow,…


Book cover of One Savage Knight

J.D. Astra Author Of The Chimera Bounty

From my list on dark romantasy with winged book boyfriends.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a smut connoisseur for many years, as well as a lover of well-done sci-fi/fantasy worlds that feel real. I would list my qualifications as a smut connoisseur, but it’s probably not appropriate for this site 😉. I have a number of books under my belt that include sweeping fantasy world building that’ll make you hallucinate vividly. After resisting deeper romance plots in my writing for so long, I finally surrendered. I’m just starting my journey as a dark romantasy smut peddler but can’t wait to share all my winged book boyfriends with you!

J.D.'s book list on dark romantasy with winged book boyfriends

J.D. Astra Why did J.D. love this book?

This is a first world post-apocalyptic dark romantasy that is the fluffiest of the bunch.

It’s not going to make you think too hard, but it’s loaded with spice, fun action scenes against a horde of demons, and heartwarming character growth.

You’ll definitely be able to relate to the FMC’s struggles with this huge hunk flaring his wings and unaliving everyone who touches her.

By Holly Roberds,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Science of Spice: Understand Flavor Connections and Revolutionize Your Cooking

Eleanor Ford Author Of The Nutmeg Trail: Recipes and Stories Along the Ancient Spice Routes

From my list on to spice up your shelves.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing, food is a means to explore culture and understand the world. I’ve been described as a ‘culinary detective’. I collect and create eclectic, evocative recipes from around the globe so I can travel from my kitchen when I'm back home in London. The Nutmeg Trail follows my multi-award-winning books, Fire Islands and Samarkand.

Eleanor's book list on to spice up your shelves

Eleanor Ford Why did Eleanor love this book?

Farimond offers a unique way of looking at the chemistry behind the ingredients, arranging spices in a periodic table based on their dominant flavour compound. I love the pages comparing flavour profiles of different world cuisines. Curious cooks can learn how to choose, use, and pair spices to bring out their full potency.

By Stuart Farrimond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Transform your dishes from bland and boring to punchy and flavorsome with this definitive guide to spices.

It's time to spice up your home cooking!

Taking the periodic table of spices as a starting point, this adventurous recipe book explores the science behind the art of making incredible spice blends to help you release the flavor in your dishes. Discover a spice book like no other from TV personality, food scientist and bestselling author, Dr Stuart Farrimond.

Sure to get your tastebuds tingling, you can explore:

- 52 exciting recipes from around the world which showcase each spice blend
-…


Book cover of Spice: The History of a Temptation

Eleanor Ford Author Of The Nutmeg Trail: Recipes and Stories Along the Ancient Spice Routes

From my list on to spice up your shelves.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing, food is a means to explore culture and understand the world. I’ve been described as a ‘culinary detective’. I collect and create eclectic, evocative recipes from around the globe so I can travel from my kitchen when I'm back home in London. The Nutmeg Trail follows my multi-award-winning books, Fire Islands and Samarkand.

Eleanor's book list on to spice up your shelves

Eleanor Ford Why did Eleanor love this book?

A compelling exploration by Turner into what made spices so fashionable and so dangerous. “For their sake, fortunes have been made and lost, empires built and destroyed, and new worlds discovered” all to sate human infatuation with these ingredients. I was swept away by Turner’s erudite approach to spice history and his work has been an inspiration to me.

By Jack Turner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this brilliant, engrossing work, Jack Turner explores an era—from ancient times through the Renaissance—when what we now consider common condiments were valued in gold and blood.

Spices made sour medieval wines palatable, camouflaged the smell of corpses, and served as wedding night aphrodisiacs. Indispensible for cooking, medicine, worship, and the arts of love, they were thought to have magical properties and were so valuable that they were often kept under lock and key. For some, spices represented Paradise, for others, the road to perdition, but they were potent symbols of wealth and power, and the wish to possess them…


Book cover of It Happened One Summer

Julie Navickas Author Of I Loved You Yesterday: Book One in the Trading Heartbeats Trilogy

From my list on romance that will both shatter and stitch your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching soap operas and swapping novels with my grandma and mom. Romantic stories have been a part of who I am ever since I was old enough to get my hands on Nora Roberts! Now, thanks to my love for the books that inspire love, I’m a romance novelist myself, having penned the Trading Heartbeats trilogy. Each novel is a recipient of a first place BookFest award and has been traditionally published by Inkspell Publishing. I write with raw emotion and work to really shatter hearts of readers—only to repair them on the final pages. I have dual master’s degrees in organizational communication and English studies from Illinois State University. 

Julie's book list on romance that will both shatter and stitch your heart

Julie Navickas Why did Julie love this book?

Sometimes you just need an unsuspecting steamy read!

It Happened One Summer was one of the hottest books on #BookTok in 2022 and let me tell you… the hype is worth it! Main character Piper is as flawed as they come, but that leaves room for one of the most beautiful characters arcs I’ve ever read.

And honestly, just take my money because any character Tessa Bailey writes is one I want to read. Brendan is book-boyfriend-worthy! 

By Tessa Bailey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked It Happened One Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first in a spicy and unforgettable rom-com duology from #1 New York Times bestseller and tik tok favorite Tessa Bailey, in which a Hollywood "It Girl" is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town... where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn't belong.

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts…


Book cover of The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

Peggy Paul Casella Author Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Cookbook

From my list on making pizza from scratch.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a cookbook author, editor, local food enthusiast, and the creator of the blog Thursday Night Pizza, where I share weekly recipes and de-snobbify the process of from-scratch pizza for home cooks of all skill levels. When I’m not in the kitchen or behind my computer, I enjoy gardening, working on house projects, tending to my Little Free Library, and roaming my city of Philadelphia with my husband and son.

Peggy's book list on making pizza from scratch

Peggy Paul Casella Why did Peggy love this book?

Once you master a good pizza dough recipe, the next step is experimenting with different combinations of toppings. Whenever I need some pairing inspiration for seasonal produce or meats or a special type of cheese, this is the first book I reach for. 

By Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to creating "deliciousness" in any dish.

Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular flavor combinations. Readers will learn to work more intuitively and effectively with ingredients; experiment with temperature and texture; excite the nose and palate with herbs, spices, and other seasonings; and balance the sensual, emotional, and spiritual elements…


Book cover of Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants

Erica Hannickel Author Of Empire of Vines: Wine Culture in America

From my list on the history of booze.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at Northland College (WI) and an American environmental historian with specialties in wine, food, and horticulture. I mostly write on alcohol, garden history, botany, and orchids. The history of alcohol is wild, fraught, and charged with power—I’ll never tire of learning about it.

Erica's book list on the history of booze

Erica Hannickel Why did Erica love this book?

A sensual cultural history mixed with economic history, specifically the rise of capitalism, Schivelbusch launches an interesting argument—that one particular substance, or taste, has often defined the zeitgeist of whole nations for definitive periods. This book is wide-ranging and general in its treatment of alcohol, as well as several other drinks and spices. There are excellent imaginative connections made, and the book invites thinkers to think deeply and broadly about the meaning of intoxicants in history and in their own lives.

By Wolfgang Schivelbusch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the extravagant use of pepper in the Middle Ages to the Protestant bourgeoisie's love of coffee to the reason why fashionable Europeans stopped sniffing tobacco and starting smoking it, Schivelbusch looks at how the appetite for pleasure transformed the social structure of the Old World. Illustrations.


Book cover of Pepper

Eleanor Ford Author Of The Nutmeg Trail: Recipes and Stories Along the Ancient Spice Routes

From my list on to spice up your shelves.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my writing, food is a means to explore culture and understand the world. I’ve been described as a ‘culinary detective’. I collect and create eclectic, evocative recipes from around the globe so I can travel from my kitchen when I'm back home in London. The Nutmeg Trail follows my multi-award-winning books, Fire Islands and Samarkand.

Eleanor's book list on to spice up your shelves

Eleanor Ford Why did Eleanor love this book?

McFadden zooms in on a single spice. She has researched the subject in-depth, exploring the history, botany, and culinary potential of peppercorns and their spicy relatives. Half the book features peppery recipes (do try the fresh green peppercorn pickle) and, for me, the peppercorn tasting notes are a particular pleasure. 

By Christine McFadden,

Why should I read it?

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