Books about food (our favorite genre of books) come in all shapes and sizes. From behind-the-scenes glimpses into the inner workings of a famous restaurant to novels about techies who bake bread, these food-focused books will pique your attention if you love food, even just a little bit. You’ll start these books with a hunger to learn… and finish them just plain hungry.
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
You don’t have to be a strict food lover to feel captivated by Lois’ journey from reclusive Silicon Valley software engineer to burgeoning baker and premiere bread purveyor of the Bay Area. As the story progresses, you’ll find your spirits rising… just like Lois’ sourdough starter.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
You can’t start a discussion about food-centric books without mentioning Sweetbitter, in which twenty-two year old Tess joins the ranks of the “best restaurant in New York City,” and learns a lot about the restaurant industry, wine, oysters, and of course, herself. You’ll want to read this novel with a glass of Burgundy and a comfy chair, because once you start, you won’t want to put it down.
Generation Chef by Karen Stabiner
Ever wonder what it takes to open your own restaurant in New York City? Well, you can stop imagining, because Karen Stabiner’s fast-paced narrative takes us inside one now-successful NYC restaurant’s (Huertas) roller-coaster first year, providing insight into the challenging world young chefs face today: the intense financial pressures, the overcrowded field of aspiring cooks, and the impact of reviews and social media, which can dictate who survives.
Coming to My Senses by Alice Waters
Anyone who loves to cook, eat, or just think about food is familiar with the legendary Berkeley-based culinary icon, Alice Waters. The story of how Chez Panisse transformed itself from a tiny, out-of-the-way French restaurant into a world-renowned epicurean and cultural destination is fascinating. What’s even more inspiring, though, is Waters’ description of finding her culinary voice, coming of age in the 1960s, and how this time period influenced her cooking style and the culture of California cuisine for decades to come.
Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
There’s nothing more intimate than reading someone’s diary, which is why it feels so indulgent to be able to take a peak into writer Nigel Slater’s life in the form of this 12 month culinary diary. This book will teach you about how to cook according to season, mood, occasion, and weather, all in Slater’s passionate, earnest voice.
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
If you’ve ever dreamed of shadowing a famous chef to discover how they became the food genius they are today, this is the book for you. Blood, Bones & Butter follows Gabrielle Hamilton (the owner of Prune in NYC’s East Village) from halcyon memories of her childhood kitchen to fast-paced, late nights at Prune…and everywhere in between.
What She Ate by Laura Shapiro
If you consider yourself too serious to read a food lover’s diary, or a memoir about starting a restaurant, you may find Laura Shapiro’s sociological and historical exploration of six renowned women’s relationships with food more appealing. From Dorothy Wordsworth to Eleanor Roosevelt, this book reveals how our relationship to food is about more than just eating—it’s also an expression of our values, relationships, and worldview.
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Chefs and restaurant owners aren’t the only foodies with interesting stories to tell, though Ruth Reichl has been both. Reichl has worn many hats over her career, from magazine editor, restaurant critic, television producer, café owner, and more. She has a treasure trove of food-focused books, all written in her signature witty, candid voice, from memoirs about her life as a food critic like Comfort Me with Apples to her debut novel, Delicious!. We might love Tender at the Bone the best, though.