Top Ten Food Books

I am in Hong Kong at the moment eating my body weight in dim sum (more to come on that later) but as my travels come to an end I thought I would share with you how I have been keeping myself entertained on long plane journeys, lonely Himalayan villages and crowded Indian trains.  It has all come down to my Kindle.

My Kindle – with a nice hot pink leather cover

I was very anti Kindle to begin with.  I love books and I love to own them.  To see the covers of old favourites sitting on my book shelf and to physically hold them in my hands are both simple pleasures that I enjoy.  However, travelling for three months meant lugging around half a backpack filled with reading material or biting the bullet and going electronic.  MTV kindly bought me a Kindle for my birthday and I haven’t looked back since.  I love being able to discover new books to read and buy them instantly through Amazon’s (highly dangerous) one click purchasing system.  I’ve even got used to the feel of the Kindle once I bought a nice leather cover for it to make it look a little more like a real book.

I’m tearing through books on the Kindle on my holiday and I have particularly enjoyed reading a few foodie novels which have been on my wish list for a while.  These are some of my favourite books for cooks.  The list is in no particular order as it is hard to rank books.

I have just finished reading Blood, Bones and Butter which was published this year.

1. Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl.  Memoirs of Reichl’s time as restaurant critic for the New York Times when she used to dress up in disguise to review the restaurants.

2. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell.   An all time classic.

3. Blood Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton.  I have just finished reading this memoir which was written by the chef from New York restaurant Prune and it is fantastic.  Gabrielle Hamilton can cook and she can also write brilliantly.  Highly recommended.

4. Toast, Nigel Slater.  England’s favourite food writer recounts his traumatic childhood and love for food in this poignant memoir.  There is a very moving TV series of this book as well.

5. My Life in France, Julia Child.  For any francophile or foodie this is the perfect cook and makes you immediately want to move to France and do the Cordon Bleu.  

6. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain.  This book will change what you order and the way you think about restaurants.

7. A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg.  I love Molly’s blog Orangette so could not resist her book which adopts the same style of anecdotes from Molly’s life interspersed with great recipes.

8. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser.  Made me never eat McDonalds again.  Except when I am really, really hungover.

9. Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, Fuschia Dunlop.  Memoirs of travels in China that I found very inspiring for my Hong Kong eatathon.

10. Julie and Julia, Julie Powell.  Admittedly the main character (and author) of this book can come across as very unlikeable but as a blogger I found this a fascinating read.  The movie is also very good as it stars the brilliant Meryl Streep.

You can buy all these books and more from my Book Club which also includes my favourite cook books (I do not recommend buying cook books on a Kindle – for a cook book I think you need the actual hard cover book to make notes on and dog ear the pages and splash sauce).  Also the new Kindle is out and it is even cheaper and better than my old version (isn’t that always the way?).  Currently £89 on Amazon.

What have I missed out? Recommendations for a good read always welcome… 


  1. Felt just the same when first getting an e-book as adore the physicality of books and love to own them.

    Our purchase (we bought two identical Sony e-readers) were also prompted by travel – we went to the Falkland Islands for a month, with very limited luggage allowance and nothing to do in the down times (when weather was too bad to go outside or during the evenings).

    We quickly grew to love them and recently, after our Sonys were getting a little worn, we switched to Kindles instead.

  2. Great post. I tried cooking from a book on the Kindle once and yep – it got floured and splashed so wasn’t a great idea. I loved reading Fast Food Nation – it really opens your eyes as to what goes on (or at least used to go on) in the fast food industry doesn’t it? I’m going to go check out some of the other books you mentioned – just in time for my Christmas list!

  3. hey,
    some of these books were mentioned in Stylist last week, as it was a highly food based edition edited by Nigella.
    I was going to get Garlic and Sapphires!
    which should i read first?

  4. I think Kindles are a brilliant idea for travelling, but I’m still too in love with actual books to make the switch. Home Cooking by Laurie Colwyn which Nigella mentioned in Stylist is also a really warm and underrated food memoir/cookbook. Heartily echo Toast, Garlic and Sapphires and A Homemade Life and Kitchen Confidential – the world is a better place for having these books in it. Great post x

  5. I’m sorry you spent over £50 on a case for your Kindle?

  6. I’ll bookmark them all, and maybe maybe I might convert to a Kindle as well.

  7. I love having books at home too, but for travelling, a kindle is a beautiful thing! I’m very keen to check out A Homemade Life… it’s a title that speaks to me and the kind of thing I could imagine relaxing into over the Christmas holidays.

    So happy to *meet* your lovely blog!

    Catherine @ The Spring (in Brisbane)

  8. I don’t have a kindle but the people I know who do have one, now can’t live without it. I think my favourite on that list would have to Julia Child’s book. She was so ahead of her time.

  9. I had the same relationship with you as well with a Kindle but with travelling and moving countries it plain = wow 🙂

    And i still HAVE to read Garlic and Sapphires.

  10. Kavey – Interesting that you made the switch from Sony to the Kindle as I considered a sony for a while as well.

    Jo Romero – Yes very thought provoking. Let me know how you get on with the others.

    Caviar Girl – I miss Stylist now I am not in London – sounds like a good issue. Go with Blood, Bones and Butter.

    Katy Salter- Thanks for the tips they are going on my Christmas list

    Anon – Well it was a present but I think it was worth it as a friend bought a cheaper cover and it did not hold the Kindle very well and got very tatty looking quickly as it was not leather. It depends how you are going to treat your kindle I suppose and if you are travelling a lot a cover is worth it.

    Matarkivit – I hope you enjoy them.

    Catherine – Thanks your blog is beautiful as well.

    Hotly Spiced- I agree it is an all time classic

    Tom – With all your moving around I assume it is a lifesaver. Highly recommend Garlic and Sapphire and Ruth Reichl’s other books are also excellent.

  11. My holiday book is My life in France by J Childs glad to see it on your list. Hope all is well x

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