When summer heats up, there’s only one thing to do: pack your cooler, grab a good book and hit the beach. Even when we step out of the kitchen, our minds never wander far from delicious dishes, and we like our literature the way we like our pantry: overflowing with mouthwatering food. These are the books you’ll find in our beach bags this summer.
The World on a Plate by Mina Holland
If you’re looking for a book to double as an imaginary culinary vacation, The World on a Plate is the book for your beach bag. It won Best Culinary Travel Book in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, and it’s easy to see why. Holland’s writing is open and engaging, and she teases your appetite, one country’s specialty dishes at a time. The food dances to life through history and cultural context. Once you read it, you’ll never again be able to peruse your pantry without seeing the storied histories and secret lives of some of your favorite ingredients — right down to the cinnamon and sugar in your favorite cookies. It’s a culinary and historical tour of world cuisine that includes everything from the most-prevalent flavor profiles and pantry staples to each cuisine’s signature recipes. The World on a Plate is the perfect summer read for the soul that has a serious (and seriously hungry) case of wanderlust. Order your copy here.
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl is renowned for her ability to capture the magic of exceptional food with the written word, and though Delicious! is her debut work of fiction, it delivers Reichl’s signature charm and wit. It’s the perfect summer read for anyone who enjoys fiction with a heady balance of history, humor, adventure and romance. The characters, from the leading lady to the quirky ensemble cast, will capture your heart and imagination while Reichl’s descriptions of food will whet your appetite. Order your copy here.
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Get lost in the poetry of Hamilton’s prose as she walks you through her life as it relates to food. Blood, Bones & Butter is vibrant, honest, full of sharp humor and scintillating food. It’s the perfect beach read if you’re looking to find inspiration in the story of a culinary titan while tickling your appetite for food that feeds your body and your soul. Check out more from Hamilton in this Q & A from Healthy Eats about her latest cookbook, Prune, and order your copy of Blood, Bones & Butter here.
Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
Kathleen Flinn sparkles brighter than ever in Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good. This is the perfect summer beach read for the family-minded foodie, taking you through Flinn’s delightful family story one anecdote and recipe at a time. This book will resonate with any reader who has a family full of larger-than-life lore, personalities, love and appetites. If you grew up laughing and cooking and eating as a family, you’ll feel right at home in Flinn’s pages. And if that’s something you always wanted for yourself but didn’t have, Flinn’s warm world and wonderful family open themselves to welcome you. Order your copy here.
Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney
If you’ve ever flirted with the idea of going to culinary school or working in a professional kitchen, Sous Chef is the summer read for you. Gibney takes you straight onto the line with writing that buzzes with the hum and energy of a professional kitchen right from page one. Sous Chef marries character and an undefeatable work ethic, both of which you’ll find in any kitchen staff worth its salt. Gibney’s easy-to-read, enjoyable writing style make the book a likely favorite for anyone who wants to feel the heat of life in the kitchen without starting as a dishwasher. In fact, what better way to read about one of the most taxing and demanding jobs out there than from the comfort of your beach towel? Order your copy here.
Bonus Book: Voracious by Cara Nicoletti
Out later this summer (just in time for those last lingering beach weekends), Voracious overflows with both heart and soul. Cracking the spine is the equivalent of having Nicoletti offer you a chair at her family’s dinner table and invite you to stay through dessert. Voracious features a mix of personal essays about growing up and the books that shaped Nicoletti as a young reader (and eater). Any reader who suffered through an awkward phase, a broken heart or the challenge of finding herself will instantly connect with Nicoletti’s honest and humorous observations on life, especially as they pertain to the books and dishes that saw her through. The food from literature shines vibrantly not only through Nicoletti’s lovely use of language, but also through her carefully constructed homage recipes. Food and literature weave themselves into the tapestry of our lives, and Nicoletti’s prose captures the special place both carve out in our hearts. Voracious is available August 18. Preorder your copy here.