2014 Gift Guide, Day Thirty

December 23, 2014

Books to Cook By

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to stand cooking in the kitchen, surrounded by wonderful aromas, listening to a good book.

If you know someone who's rather be in the kitchen than anywhere else, why not give them a good book to listen to?  A subscription to audible.com is an instant gift – and it will give your friend hours of cooking pleasure.

Here are some of the books I've cooked to this year.  (I've just realized that they're all by women; not sure what that means.)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman living in America goes in to get her hair braided, and in the course of one long day recalls how she got here – and where she's going. Beautifully written, it's about love and politics, race – and well, everything. It stays with me.



Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. Read by the author, who puts the emphasis on all the right places. Offill has a unique voice; she describes a marriage in shopping lists, in snatches of conversation, in notes and asides.  Somehow she makes you know these people; I often found myself putting down my knife, just to listen.

 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. What if, one day, you went to mail a letter and just kept going?  Harold walks across England on a mission to see a dying friend, collecting friends, enemies and adventures along the way.  It's a quirky book, and utterly unforgettable.


The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, who we all know is really JK Rowling. Pure fun. Cormoran Strike is a fantastic character; when this one ends you'll want to hear the other Galbraith book, and then you'll find yourself hoping Ms. Rawlings writes the third installment very quickly. She sure knows how to tell a story.



People of the book, by Geraldine Brooks.  I've loved every book Geraldine Brooks has written, but this literary mystery, which takes place across six centuries, is my favorite.  The adventure begins with a modern love story and then goes back through time, tracing the origin of a rare Haggadah.  


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Some books are better listened to than read; having consumed Mantel's books with both eyes and ears, I'd argue that this is one of them. Read by Simon Vance, this will have you dreaming up new dishes to cook, just to keep listening.  And when it's done, you still have the pleasure of Bring Up the Bodies ahead of you.

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1 Comment

  • Thank you for this book list. I just finished listening to Delicious! and yes I listened while cooking and baking. I’m a big fan of yours, I’ve read all of your books and I use your holiday gift guides for inspiration – I just wish I had seen the spice grinder before I sent my brother’s present off to him.