Food52 Life

Summer Must-Reads from the Food52 Team—No Cookbooks Allowed

June 28, 2017

Summer is unmistakably here and with it comes all of its wonderful trappings: longer days, warmer nights, outdoor dining, rosé-fueled conversations, and ostensibly, more leisure time to tackle the stack of books that’s steadily been growing over the course of the year.

For those looking for summer reading inspiration beyond cookbooks (yes, we read more than just cookbooks!) look no further than the Food52 team, who has heaps of recommendations below. Fruity umbrella drink, optional.

Master and Commander, Patrick O'Brian: The greatest work of historical fiction I've ever read (and The New York Times agrees with me), the first installment of the 20-book Aubrey-Maturin series introduces us to some of my all-time favorite characters in literature. I try and re-read as many of these books as possible each and every summer. Oh—and there's an entire companion book, Lobcouse and Spotted Dog, dedicated to the food of the series. —Sam Stahl, Chief Revenue Officer

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid: I love, love this recent release because it's full of colorful and sumptuous descriptions that pull you right into the story. I'll be sitting on the New York Subway and suddenly be transported to Evelyn Hugo's living room feeling the soft carpet under my feet. It's so captivating that I almost missed my stop this morning! —Veronica Thompson, Software Engineer

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Top Comment:
“My daughter and I are reading and particularly enjoyed the first, Murder in the Marais, as that's a neighbourhood we know well. My daughter lived there in the sweetest studio apartment ever for 2 years while studying. And we're meeting in Paris for 3 weeks in August! It's such fun to read books set in places you are familiar with. Ian Rankin is another favourite, set in Edinburgh. ”
— Maureen P.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, Mackenzi Lee: This is the big, gay, 18th-century road trip novel you didn't know you needed until now. —Margot Wood, Director of Social Media & Content Marketing

The Last Kid Left, Rosecrans Baldwin: It's a total page-turner, as it starts with the discovery of a double murder, but uses that as a way to explore relationships in the time of social media and hyper-connectivity. At a book reading, the author mentioned that some of the heavy research he had to do was reading tweets of people in various professions, to get an idea of how they communicate. Here's an example: "Surgery Friday: 3 hammertoes, 1 radio frequency neuroma, 5 nails, 2 surgery centers, 1 office. & now art class. #Tired #Podiatrist." —Nikkitha Bakshani, Associate Editor

The Answers, Catherine Lacey: Mary is sick. Super sick. And in a quest to figure out why, she turns to a very expensive holistic treatment that necessitates a second job: an Emotional Girlfriend in the “Girlfriend Experiment,” one man's quest to solve the problem of how to build and maintain the perfect romantic relationship. I'm fascinated by the idea that one partner should be your everything and am excited to see what answer Catherine Lacey shares through Mary. —Katie Macdonald, Assistant Editor

You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney: I really enjoy reading about why people think/act the way they do. This book is a collection of comparisons between what we think we're doing/thinking, and what's often really going on. One of my favorites: confabulation. It says that we think we know when we're lying to ourselves, but in reality, we're often totally unaware of our motivations and will create fictional stories to explain the decisions we make without even realizing it. —Micki Balder, Software Engineer

Wine. All the Time.: The Casual Guide to Confident Drinking, Marissa A. Ross: Mindy Kaling's former writer talks about wine? Yes, please. Got through the intro and was already refreshed by author Marissa Ross's candor, and somehow she made a glossary of wine terms entertaining by way of profanities and just plain useful info. Feels like Marissa wrote this for me—someone utterly fascinated by wine but completely incapable of describing, buying, or pronouncing it. —Kelsey Burrow, PR Manager

Goodbye, Vitamin, Rachel Khong: The first novel from writer (and friend!) Rachel Khong, Goodbye, Vitamin is the smart and charming story of a 30-year-old woman returning home to her parents. Rachel's writing sparkles and is so captivating that I couldn't put it down (seriously, I read it in one sitting). It's not available until July 11, but I can't recommend pre-ordering this book more. —Joanna Sciarrino, Managing Editor

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy: Like the rest of the world, I've been waiting for Arundhati Roy's follow-up to her Booker Prize-winning The God of Small Things (1997) for what feels like my entire life. She is an upsettingly gifted stylist. Though I've read many of her nonfiction essays in Indian publications in recent years, I'm excited to read Roy's fiction again. I'll try my best not to judge this new book in comparison to The God of Small Things—that's a tough act for anyone to follow. —Mayukh Sen, Staff Writer

The Mothers, Brit Bennett: Brit Bennett’s debut novel strikes the precarious balance of being incredibly readable without feeling at all like a throwaway—you can (and will) devour it on planes, trains, and beach chairs without feeling like you're unable to absorb what's going on, yet it's thought-provoking enough to stick with you once you've reached your destination (or returned to reality). —Sarah Jampel, Special Projects Editor & Stylist

The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir, Ariel Levy: Ariel Levy's new memoir, based on her heartbreaking New Yorker essay “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” follows the author's miscarriage and marriage dissolution. While the subject matter does not suggest an easy, breezy summer read, Levy's life-happens-and-you-deal-with-it attitude makes it bearable. Pack a snack and read it outside, the sunshine helps with the heavy subject matter and you're likely to end up reading it in one sitting it is so gripping. —Kaitlin Bray, Senior Social Media Manager

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo: The Japanese lifestyle guru that is Marie Kondo is out with her latest book, a delightful graphic novel featuring the fictional tale of Chiaki, a 29-year-old Tokyoite struggling to find (and keep) love while balancing a messy home life. Fans of Kondo’s runaway hit, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, will recognize tenets of her cleaning philosophy, woven through a classic manga-style read. Decluttering tips paired with a potential love story? I gobbled this up in a day. —Hana Asbrink, Home & Design Editor (Hi, that's me!)

What's on your summer reading list? Share them with us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Victoria Carr
    Victoria Carr
  • Maureen Potter
    Maureen Potter
  • creamtea
  • Suzanne
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Victoria C. July 29, 2017
I would add A Gentleman in Moscow and The Essex Serpent to this list. I loved them both.
Maureen P. July 27, 2017
Discovered Cara Black and her murder series based in Paris earlier this summer through a FB friend I met on CBJ. 👍 My daughter and I are reading and particularly enjoyed the first, Murder in the Marais, as that's a neighbourhood we know well. My daughter lived there in the sweetest studio apartment ever for 2 years while studying. And we're meeting in Paris for 3 weeks in August! It's such fun to read books set in places you are familiar with. Ian Rankin is another favourite, set in Edinburgh.
creamtea July 2, 2017
Live the Patrick O'Brian series.
creamtea July 2, 2017
Suzanne June 28, 2017
I have been very much looking forward to "Goodbye, Vitamin"