My neighborhood pool opens this weekend. After this past winter – because of both severe weather and some intense work/life obligations – I’m looking forward to grabbing a lounge chair and reading for fun even more than usual this time of year. While I'm interested in reading Dan Barber's newly released "The Third Plate" about sustainability and the future of food, it's not what I consider beach-reading material.
Like last year, my list is one of to-be-reads instead of books I’ve read and can whole-heartedly recommend (you can thank those intense work/life obligations for that). Here is what is on my summer to-read list.
“Delicious!” by Ruth Reichl – I usually choose only non-fiction for my summer reads list, but anyone who loves to read about food knows Reichl’s previous food memoirs bring readers intimately into the world of food with the stories she weaves about her experiences as a restaurant reviewer and editor of Gourmet Magazine. (I included her first food memoir, “Tender at the Bone” in my 2012 list). This is Reichl’s first work of fiction. Her main character is a young woman who goes to work at a food magazine and becomes fully immersed in New York City’s food scene. I’m about a quarter of the way through the book (got a bit of an early jump on my summer reading last weekend), and so far it is definitely light-summer-reading-for-a-foodie material.
“How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto” by Eric Asimov – This book has been sitting on my shelf since March when a friend gave it to me. It’s first on the list after I’m done with “Delicious!” Asimov is the New York Times wine critic, and the book chronicles how he started as a high school beer reviewer and eventually got the prestigious job for NYT. According to Amazon, Asimov “evaluates the current wine culture, discussing trends both interesting and alarming, and celebrates the extraordinary pleasures of wine while, at the same time, questioning the conventional wisdom about wine.”
“Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites” by Kate Christensen – This is a recommendation from my friend Marisa from Food in Jars. She says this food memoir “is gorgeously written and succeeded in making me hungry with every page.” Booklist says “Christensen tracks her food and literary adventures from California to Arizona, France, upstate New York, Oregon, Iowa, New York City, and New England, through tumultuous relationships and jobs as varied as short-order cook and corporate secretary.”
“The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese” by Kathe Lison – Each year my choices include at least one French food memoir. I just can’t help it. I still have yet to get to France, and I live vicariously through other people’s stories of their food adventures there. This memoir follows Lison as she travels from one French province to the next exploring the various cheeses of France and “celebrates the farmers, dairymen, and cheese makers who have established France’s cheeses as still the world’s standard.” Yum.
“Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes” by Shauna Niequest – This one is a collection of essays, which is great if you want to be able to start and finish a selection in one sitting. Amazon says this book is “the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table.” That would be me, and I suspect many of you reading this list right now. The description also compares her writing to Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers and inspirations. That’s one serious comparison, and I’m intrigued.
And, please take a look at my recommendations from the past four years. Altogether, you have 30 books for food lovers to choose from this summer.
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