Nothing pairs better with food than a good story (OK yes, wine works well, too). From classic fiction, to memoirs, and everything in between, this book list is just as scrumptious as the cuisine it features.
Make room on your shelves…and in the fridge. These titles are sure to inspire rendezvous with your kitchen appliances and trips to the library.
Combine the South of France with some culinary virtuosos, and what do you get? Provence 1970. Julia Child, Simone Beck, Judith Jones, James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, and Richard Olney found themselves facing the Provence winter with good food, good company — if at times argumentative — and good wine. New dishes were always up for discussion, yet the clan didn’t realize it was actually influencing the way Americans eat. Luke Barr, M.F.K. Fisher’s great-nephew, discovered her letters recounting these get-togethers, and thus decided to create this page-turner. Buy it here.
Ah, the classic coming-of-age trope. Danler completely masters the theme with the help of her protagonist, Tess. The 22-year-old heads to New York, lands a job at a prestigious downtown restaurant, and quickly becomes wrapped up in the city’s elite food scene — the good, the bad, and the tumultuous. Buy it here.
Tia Monroe’s new opportunity is certainly leaving her with a bitter aftertaste. Though her coveted internship fell through, she is soon presented with what she thinks is a deal of a lifetime: writing for The New York Times. When a well-known food critic reveals to Tia that he’s lost his taste, she soon steps in to help, taking a liking to all of the delicious meals and the extravagance that goes along with them. But what will happen when she’s had enough of ghostwriting? Buy it here.
Lou tries to keep her restaurant afloat but gets a tiny bit distracted when she catches her fiancé with his intern. Al, a no-nonsense, pseudonymous food critic, happens to stumble upon her French restaurant the day Lou discovers her partner’s infidelity. Naturally, this didn’t bode well when it came time for the review. When the two meet in real life — and promise not to discuss work — will a new relationship arise, or will things turn sour when Lou discovers the truth? It’s the food lover’s version of Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox, You’ve Got Mail fans. Buy it here.
Molly always knew her composer husband Brandon wanted to open a pizzeria…but that didn’t mean he’d actually do it, right? It turns out she should’ve taken him at his word. When Delancey opens, the pizza is hot, but the two find their marriage is cooling. How will they respond to new responsibilities and new emotions? Buy it here.
Lila and her husband Sam move to Philly, where he pursues a career as a food critic. He wants to remain anonymous, and soon that completely takes over both of their lives. Lila is left questioning if it’s really worth it to be the restaurant critic’s wife. Buy it here.
A lovely chocolatier leaves a French neighborhood completely entranced and totally distracted from the Lenten season. It just so happens her infectious treats are accompanied by her surprising cure for customers’ woes, though it’s puzzling to figure out how she has come to these conclusions in the first place. Obviously chocolate is required when reading this one. Buy it here.
Part romance and historical fiction, this tale follows French chef Auguste Escoffier who was tossed between his wife and another woman. The chef always had food on the brain, yet oddly enough, rarely felt hungry. Travel back in time with Auguste and enjoy a cocktail while you do. Buy it here.
Julia Child, the chef who’s synonymous with French cooking, chronicles her experiences studying at Cordon Bleu, trying to put together a cookbook, and assimilating into the French culinary scene with her American husband. Bon appetit! Buy it here.
A cookbook chef takes a crack at fiction with a debut that focuses on a pastry chef named Claire “Neely” O’Neil. Neely isn’t like other chefs; she can taste colors and associate them with particular emotions, adding a therapeutic spin to her craft. Though she returns to her hometown to open a bakery, her unusual gift leads to the realization that a buried story needs to resurface. Plus, she needs a bit of time to help herself, too. Buy it here.
What reading list is complete without Nora Ephron? In the acclaimed author’s novel, a cookbook writer Rachel tries winning back her husband all while satiating the difficult time in her love life with food (much to a reader’s delight). Buy it here.
The blog-turned-book-turned-movie focuses on a writer in Queens who tries all 500-plus of Julia Child’s recipes in one year — no easy feat in a New York City kitchen. How does Julia make it look so easy? Buy it here.
A humorous look into the life of a Vogue food writer, Steingarten’s stories take us to all ends of the earth to try different foods most of us will never even taste. Is there room to dislike certain meals when you’re a food writer? Grab Steingarten’s hysterical book to find out. Buy it here.
— Head photo: Angshuman Das for Ploughshares.