Delicious Reads: 50 Fabulous Food Novels

If you’re a real foodie and want to indulge your palate without touching your wallet or your waistline, a novel can be a great place to start. These 50 books will help to educate and inspire you, whether you’re a college student or a chef, with tales of culinary prowess. So check out a few of these reads to feed your brain and whet your appetite for great food tales.

Food Literature

Read through these books to get a culinary and literary education all in one.

  1. The Passionate Epicure by Marcel Rouff: This story introduces a character whose great loves include wine, women and food.
  2. The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola: In this classic novel, Zola blends politics and a love of food to create a story that will be hard for readers to put down.
  3. Chef: A Novel by Jaspreet Singh: Set in Kashmir, the no man’s land between Pakistan and India, this novel follows a young man who learns to embrace food under the tutelage of a military chef.
  4. The Flounder by Gunter Grass: If you’ve ever found yourself having a strange and profound relationship with your food, check out this book by famous author Grass.
  5. Mistress of Spices by Chitra Divakaruni: Full of mythology and whimsy, this novel exposes a spice merchant for who she really is– the mistress of spices.
  6. Kitchen by Bannan Yoshimoto: This best-selling novel blends a coming of age story with thrilling descriptions of contemporary Japan and of course, food.
  7. High Bonnet: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures by Idwal Jones: This novel follows Jean-Marie Gallois as he works his way up from saucier to chef de cuisine.
  8. Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barberry: Meet France’s premier restaurant critic M. Pierre Arthens as he lies on his deathbed and remembers the great meals of his life in this food-focused novel.
  9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg: While many may be familiar with this book from the movie made of it, the story it tells is filled with Southern charm, wit, heartbreak and life centered around a small cafe.

Popular Literature

These books are fun, interesting and filled with food.

  1. Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray: In this story, a mom’s ability to bake delicious treats is one of the few things that keeps her sane when dealing with a chaotic family.
  2. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister: The characters in this story join to take a cooking class, but as the novel progresses it becomes clear that they’re all looking for something more than just good food.
  3. St. Burl’s Obituary by Daniel Akst: Check out this book for the tale of an overweight obit writer who gets caught up in a mob killing at the restaurant he co-owns.
  4. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki: Through this novel, readers will learn about the American meat industry through the story of a Japanese reporter doing work to promote beef consumption.
  5. The Book of Salt by Monique Truong: In this fictional memoir, a Vietnamese cook must decide to stay in his own country, travel to France, or journey to America with his former employers.
  6. The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie: Follow along as a young Spaniard travels through time and shares and learns about chocolate throughout history, all the while longing for the love he lost.
  7. The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler: Check out this book about a young girl whose life starts to change when she works in her mother’s cupcake shop.
  8. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris: In this book, a woman now in her sixties looks back on her life in Nazi-occupied France, sharing stories of heartbreak and the simple pleasures of food alike.
  9. In the Kitchen: A Novel by Monica Ali: Get a glimpse into what a kitchen is really like, from the long hours to the sometimes cruel conditions to which immigrant workers are subjected in this novel.
  10. Mangoes and Quince by Carol Field: Cookbook author Carol Field weaves her love of food into this novel, sharing the tale of a family transplanted to Amsterdam and struggling to find their places there.
  11. Liquor: A Novel by Poppy Brite: Read this story about a pair of friends who attempt to open a restaurant in New Orleans with a menu based on liquor.
  12. Blue Plate Special: A Novel of Love, Loss, and Food by Frances Norris: Read through this novel to find a tale of a food stylist struggling to find a place for herself in the world.
  13. World of Pies by Karen Stolz: The chapters of this charming book end with dessert recipes, and follow nearly 30 years in the life of Roxanne Milner.
  14. Chocolat by Joanna Harris: Focused on a sumptuous chocolate shop in a small town, this novel pits the sinful delights of chocolate against the will of the church.
  15. Bone In the Throat by Anthony Bourdain: Better known for his work hosting travel shows, many don’t know that Bourdain has actually written a couple novels. This, one of his first, blends culinary delights with mafia violence and intimidation.

Romance

Food proves to be the way to the heart in these romantic tales.

  1. Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch: This tender love story is told through a love of food, in this case the delightful cheeses of Ireland.
  2. Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber: This novel focuses on a young Iraqi-American as she cooks in a Lebanese restaurant, struggles with family and finds love.
  3. La Cucina by Lily Prior: After losing her love, this protagonist of this novel pours her passions into cooking, leading a lonely life until she happens to meet an English chef and writer.
  4. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones: Smarting from the death of her husband and news of his infidelities, food writer Maggie finds solace in the food of a Chinese chef.
  5. Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah: Read about love, starting over and some pretty delicious Chinese meals in this novel.
  6. Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks: In this novel, a woman finds solace in bread making as her life falls apart and falls together all at once.

With Recipes

If you’d like to cook along with your reading, check out these books.

  1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: Forced to prepare the wedding dinner for the marriage of the man she loves to her sister, this poignant tale will keep you reading and hungry until the end.
  2. The Cuttlefish by Maryline Desbiolles: Each chapter begins with a recipe for cuttlefish, as the narrator cooks dinner for friends and looks back over her life.
  3. Pomegranate Soup: A Novel by Marsha Mehran: As three Iranian sisters attempt to set up shop and bake in a small Irish village, a personal and cultural battle takes place. Readers can cook along with the book with the recipes included.
  4. Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester: Check out this sensuous book for recipes and nearly erotic descriptions of the pleasures of eating and food.
  5. Heartburn by Nora Ephron: With recipes sprinkled throughout, this novel tells about the heartbreak of a cookbook writer when she discovers her husband is having an affair while she is seven months pregnant, based on Ephron’s real-life marriage breakup.

Mystery

These novels create a mystery around food, dining and cooking.

  1. A Toast to Murder: A Wine Lover’s Mystery by Michele Scott: This fun book mixes wine, murder and mystery at a winery.
  2. A Body to Die For by G. A. McKevett: In this installment of PI Savannah Reid’s adventures, she is on the hunt for the killer of a philandering husband with a diet guru at the main suspect.
  3. Death in Two Courses by Claudia Bishop: This book brings together two mystery stories, one dealing with a murder mystery related to a mall and the other with the wedding rehearsal dinner of a senator.
  4. Dead in the Dregs by Peter Lewis: Wine lovers will appreciate this tale of intrigue involving a wine critic gone missing.
  5. Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke: Protagonist Hannah Swensen must go on a diet due to the treats she’s been eating at her bakery, but when she joins a local gym she finds much more than weight loss.
  6. Chocolate to Die For by JoAnna Carl: Follow along as a chocoholic tries to solve mysteries in this set of two novels.
  7. The Grave Gourmet by Alexander Campeon: Food poisoning turns into homicide in this novel filled with international espionage and intrigue.
  8. Butter Safe Than Sorry by Tamar Myers: Set in an Amish town, this story follows an innkeeper as she attempts to track down a group of robbers.
  9. The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle: Mayle is known for his tales of life in Provence, and while this tale begins in LA, it will take readers on a trip to some of the greatest wine regions of France in search of the stolen wine.

Non-Fiction

These books are fun reads about the culinary world.

  1. Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant edited by Jenni Farrari-Adler: This book collects essays from a wide range of authors writing about creating a meal for one.
  2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover: In this book, readers can hear about novelist Kingslover’s experiments with growing organic food in her own backyard.
  3. Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch: Ever wanted to know what it’s like to work in a restaurant? This book dishes on all the little secrets.
  4. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell: In this autobiographical work, Orwell disguises himself as the working poor, getting jobs in kitchens, hospitals and other place across France and England.
  5. The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten: The food critic of Vogue, Steingarten brings together fun and entertaining essays in this great book.
  6. Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser: In this modern dating story, you’ll hear about the real life romance between Hesser and writer Tad Friend.