Charlotte Druckman's Recommendations for Your Summer Reading

August 28, 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: Charlotte Druckman spills what's in her (food and non-food) book pile.

Charlotte Druckman

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Much of the writing advice you read will tell you to read, and then read some more. Good writers are voracious readers, they say. So we turned to one of our favorite food writers -- and Piglet co-founder and generator of endless ideas and always-willing Twitter conversationalist -- Charlotte Druckman. In episode three of our "what are they reading?" series (here are parts one and two), we asked her for some summer reading recommendations. As with Dorie, her response was so thorough that it warranted its own article. So says Charlotte:

"So, first off, because I write about food for a living and, as a consequence, read quite a bit about food, I can't say that my first choice of vacation reading would necessarily be culinary literature. When I'm reading for sheer pleasure's sake, I'm more inclined to get lost in a novel. (Recent examples would be Edward St. Aubyn's The Patrick Melrose Novels; Emily Gould's Friendship, and Lev Grossman's The Magicians. And I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Rene Steinke's Friendswood: A Novel.) But, even if the reading were obligatory to some extent, there have been a few examples of food writing I'd happily recommend to other people (whose daily grind does not entail being immersed in such things).

  • Mimi Sheraton's memoir Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life. It didn't feel like homework in the slightest and I tore through it with great pleasure.
  • Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, which is -- hooray! -- fiction; I've gone on and on about how much I love it before.
  • Calvin Trillin's The Tummy Trilogy. If you haven't read Trillin, period, you should remedy that, immediately; if you haven't read Trillin on food, your life is a little less good than it could be.
  • Agnes Jekyll's Kitchen Essays. Before there was Laurie Colwin (and you should put both of her tomes on food on your list, too), there was Agnes Jekyll, and she was British, and she wrote these essays in the 1920s, and they are delightful.
  • Kate Christensen's Blue Plate Special. Christensen is one of my favorite novelists, but she is equally brilliant on food (in the kitchen and on the page); this is her life, as told through her culinary experiences.
  • Ruth Reichl's Delicious! I love anything that involves Reichl's describing food; if it's a novel, and it's set in New York City, in the magazine world, all the better.

More: Check out Ruth Reichl on the cover of the recent Cherry Bombe.

Kitchen Essays  Delicious

I have a pile of food-related books that I am looking forward to reading myself, so I am going to list these for you as well, even though I can't entirely vouch for them:

Finally: Does a cookbook count as summer vacation reading? I do not know.

And I don't care. Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts: The Recipes of Del Posto’s James Beard Award–Winning Pastry Chef is a cookbook, yes; it's also the best thing I've read this summer. I don't want to ruin it for you. All I'm going to say is that it's nothing like any cookbook you've ever read (and you will want to READ it) or seen. In short, it's the tits. Only thing, it doesn't come out 'til October. I guess that means you can save it for winter vacation?"

What books are on your nightstand at the moment? Tell us all about them in the comments!

Photo by Melanie Dunea

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Amanda H. August 29, 2014
Charlotte, could you have a cuter photo? It captures you so perfectly!
chardrucks August 29, 2014
Thanks, AH! Melanie Dunea shot it! For Cherry Bombe. Best photo of me that has been or ever will be taken. xo
amysarah August 28, 2014
Not yet on my nightstand, but on hold at the library - Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War, by Annia Ciezadlo, which looks wonderful. Otherwise, lots of fiction, as always.
AntoniaJames August 28, 2014
On my nightstand? Two quite different but equally fascinating memoirs: The great Pulitzer Prize winning poet Phyllis McGinley's "Sixpense in her Shoe," (which may surprise people who know me and what I do when I'm not in the kitchen), and Laura Cunningham's "A Place in the Country." (I could not put down "Sleeping Arrangements.") In the queue: Frances Mayes' "Under Magnolia" - I'm coming off of a six-month fiction binge, interspersed with 3 male writers' memoirs: "A River Runs Through It" (yes, I know there's fiction mixed in), "Where the Rivers Change Direction," and "This House of Sky." I don't need a hammock to read good stuff; I've organized my life to be able to finish 6 - 8 good books a month, long-reads included . . . . ;o)
AntoniaJames August 28, 2014
That should be "Sixpence." Sorry. ;o)
mcs3000 August 28, 2014
Charlotte Druckman is the best!
chardrucks August 30, 2014
Hm, Mary Schaefer... Thanks, but I'm going to have to disagree with you there. You're way more awesome than I, so, I think that means YOU are the best! Related--sorta: Everyone needs to see