Dorie Greenspan's Recommendations for Your Summer Reading

August 27, 2014

We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else. 

Today: Not sure what to read on the beach this summer? (Or the French Riviera?) Turn to Dorie.

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In anticipation of our all-staff vacation this week (picture us like this), we called up some of our favorite food writers to cull some book recommendations (see part one here, and stay tuned for part two later this week).

The ever-lovely Dorie Greenspan -- author of many books herself, including the forthcoming Baking Chez Moi, and creator of world peace -- sent us such a thorough and thoughtful response that we wanted to share the whole thing with you.

More: Remember that time Dorie made cookies with Amanda and Merrill?

So says Dorie:

"At the top of the pile would be As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon. Julia and Avis are such great company -- smart and funny and caring, committed, talented, and wonderfully good writers -- that when I finished the book, I knew I was going to miss them...and I did. The letters can be read as a coming-of-age story of two extraordinary women, already middle-aged, but on the verge of coming into their own as professionals; as the journal of a friendship; as a detailed look at the writer at work; or, as Julia might say, 'a jolly good read.'

As Always, Julia  

I’d want to read Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace in a hammock, close to a town that has a really good farmers market. Adler’s writing is lyrical and her ideas about food are inspiring.

I’m waiting for a stretched-out moment to read Dan Barber’s The Third Plate from cover to cover (I’ve just been dipping in and out of it) and a summer vacation would be that moment. We all know that Dan is an amazing chef, a powerhouse in the push to make food better for all Americans, and a terrific speaker (if you haven’t seen his TED Talk, you should). With The Third Plate, we discover that he’s a first-class writer -- a reason to love him even more. 

More: Learn how The Third Plate has changed the way that Dan Barber cooks.

Including The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of The World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace means there’s no need to pack a thriller. But you might need an antidote to the dishonesty this book portrays, and so you should also have a copy of Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on The Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France. Little is more honest than Lynch’s opinions on wine, winemakers, wine sellers, and wine drinkers. The book, originally published 25 years ago, has just been re-issued and it’s as fresh today as it was decades ago. Read it and you might think, as I did, that the wine world is only just catching up to Lynch.

Unless you’re going away for a long time or you’re a very fast reader, this should be enough to make for a sweet vacation. However, I’ve got one more pack-along -- an unexpected one. I recently worked with a friend, a professional organizer, to thin out and arrange my cookbook collection, and we made a separate section for food writing. Just yesterday, I walked past those shelves and noticed that a Laurie Colwin book was there: not one of her food books, but an early novel, Happy All the Time. I fell in love with Laurie Colwin’s writing after reading her debut book, a collection of short stories, Passion and Affect. Looking back, I can see that there were glimpses of the food writer Colwin would become in almost all of the stories. Happy All the Time grew out of one of the short stories (of the same title) and, while it’s not food writing, it’s very good writing, and very good writing on any subject is a gift to be treasured."

Now sit with the feeling of wanting to hug Dorie Greenspan for a few minutes, then make some space in your suitcase for a few more books.

What books would you be reading right now if you had access to a hammock and some free time? We want to hear about them in the comments!

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



ChefJune August 27, 2014
What a lovely piece! I've already read several of Dorie's suggestions, and am also looking forward to reading Dan Barber's book. Got a great chortle out of your photo link, Marian. But I can't imagine you are old enough to ever have seen one of these water shows in person. :D
suecd August 27, 2014
I was delighted to read this, not just because I have the Julia Child and Tamar Adler books already on my shelves but also because I am a Laurie Colwin devotee of very long standing. There was a stretch of time (a decade, even) during which I re-read Happy All the Time every year, for comfort and for sustenance. I still miss her too.
drbabs August 27, 2014
Love this! I also discovered Lorrie Colwin's novels and short stories before I discovered her food writing. I miss her. When I was teaching, I would give her novels to my residents at the end of the semester. Everyone needs a good novel when they're studying for finals or boards.