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Great Summer Reads for Foodies

Summer is reading season, and now’s the time for those who love to read to hone their summer reading list, and stock up on books to take to the cottage or cabin, or to pile beside the hammock in the back yard. I love to read cookbooks myself, but there are an increasing number of books that incorporate storytelling and other narrative along with recipes, great food-related essays and novels based on culinary experiences. Here are some of my favourites – old and new – that I think are worth a read if you like to eat.

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  • An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler 1 of 9
    An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler
    This is my current favorite book — as soon as I finished, I started at the beginning again. In An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler revives the art of home cooking through a series of insightful essays, addressing issues everyone can relate to in a wonderfully engaging voice. Adler inspires home cooks to draw from their own knowledge and experience, to boil vegetables with reckless abandon, and to intentionally create leftovers. It will change the way you approach mealtimes.
  • A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg 2 of 9
    A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, by Molly Wizenberg
    One of my personal favorites, A Homemade Life is like Molly's well-loved blog, Orangette, only in book form. It's a perfect marriage of recipe and narrative, a collection of short stories that reflect each dish - one of the pioneers of this new trend toward marrying story lines with recipes. The short stories are perfect for hammock reading - or those times when you need short stories - nibbles here and there - rather than submerge yourself in a novel. It's a good read — and good eats — all in one.
  • Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, by Ruth Reichl 3 of 9
    Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, by Ruth Reichl
    A classic among food writers, Comfort Me with Apples follows the life of food icon (and author) Ruth Reichl, who while living in a '70s Berkeley commune, gets her first real job as a restaurant reviewer. Her new path allows her to meet food luminaries such as Wolfgang Puck, M.F.K. Fisher and Alice Waters, among others. The storyline documents a trip to China, the destruction of her first marriage and evolution of her career as she falls in love with her second husband. A great read - with recipes!
  • The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn 4 of 9
    The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, by Kathleen Flinn
    The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry is the entertaining account of Kathleen Flinn's journey as she quits her corporate job, cashes in her savings and moves to Paris to fulfil her lifelong dream of attending the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. There is self-discovery. There is transformation. There is butchering. All with a romantic subplot for those who like a little love in their story.
  • Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes, by Amanda Hesser 5 of 9
    Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes, by Amanda Hesser
    Another classic must-read among foodies, Amanda Hesser's book Cooking for Mr. Latte documents the events of meeting -and falling in love with- her husband. From her first (almost disastrous) date, the storyline follows their courtship, along with friends, family, feasting, moving and marriage. It's a super summer read, especially for those drawn into real-life romances.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver 6 of 9
    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver
    Since its release in May 2007, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has helped shape North American's attitudes toward food, how it's grown and produced, and where it comes from. The book documents a year in the life of a locavore family, who were strict in living off the land at their farm in Southern Appalachia. Best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver and her coauthors reveal the secret lives of vegetables and get to know local growers and producers on a first-name basis. Along with her husband, Steven Hopp, Kingsolver learns about the science and politics behind food, as well as how to cook what's available, and store it for those times of year when produce isn't as abundant. The book is entertaining as well as informative and educational, yet brings back the dinner table as the focal point of family life.
  • The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones 7 of 9
    The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
    In The Last Chinese Chef, best-selling author Nicole Mones takes readers on an exotic trip to China, where characters live and work and compete in China's Olympic culinary competition by planning the banquet of a lifetime. It's a well-written look at the art of Chinese cuisine, its role in well-steeped tradition and the history of Chinese civilization, and how it reflects the human condition.
  • A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle 8 of 9
    A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle
    Want to spend the summer in the south of France? This is the quickest, easiest route - author Peter Mayle sweeps you away with wit and candour in A Year in Provence, the story of "his own foray into Provençal domesticity".
  • Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl 9 of 9
    Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl
    Ever wonder what happens when restaurant critics are recognized? Author Ruth Reichl addresses this issue as the new restaurant critic at the New York Times. In Garlic and Sapphires, her attempts at anonymity include elaborate costumes and alter-egos, and her treatment at some of New York's best restaurants as herself vs her temporary personalities makes for a great read. With intriguing and sometimes sad subplots, it's a fantastic read for anyone who likes to dine out - or even just eat.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/shmeljov

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