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Let's Talk Books: Fiction for Foodies

by Beth

Fiction for Foodies are books where food in plays a central part. Books with a character who is a professional chef or restaurant owner, or an amature baker or just a foodie. Or books set in bakeries, restaurants, or someone’s kitchen books with food in them are just our cup of tea!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Let's Talk Books: Fiction for Foodies discussion. If you missed it, not a problem! Here's the list of the books we talked about.

To find the upcoming Let's Talk Books events check out https://www.icpl.org/events/ages/adults

Catering to nobody

Diane Mott Davidson

MYSTERY Davidson, Diane Mott
Fiction, Mystery

Even though working a wake isn’t Goldy Bear’s idea of fun, the Colorado caterer throws herself into preparing a savory feast featuring Poached Salmon and Strawberry Shortcake Buffet designed to soothe forty mourners. Her culinary efforts seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered . . . until her former father-in-law, gynecologist Fritz Korman, is struck down—and Goldy is accused of adding poison to the menu. Now, with the Department of Health impounding her leftovers, her ex-husband trashing her name, and her business close to being shut down, Goldy knows she can’t wait for the police to serve up answers. She soon uncovers more than one skeleton in the closet, along with a veritable slew of unpalatable secrets—the kind that could make Goldy the main course in an unsavory killer’s next murder

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The first book in the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series.
- Beth

The chef

James Patterson

MYSTERY Patterson, James
Mystery, Fiction

In the Carnival days leading up Mardi Gras, Detective Caleb Rooney comes under investigation for a murder he is accused of committing in the line of duty -- as a Major Crimes detective for the New Orleans Police Department. Has his sideline at the Killer Chef food truck given him a taste for murder? While fighting the charges against him, Rooney makes a pair of unthinkable discoveries: His beloved city is under threat of attack . . . and these would-be terrorists may be local. As crowds of revelers gather, Rooney follows a fearsome trail of clues, racing from outlying districts into city center. He has no idea what -- or whom -- he'll face in defense of his beloved hometown, only that innocent lives are at stake.

Chocolat

Joanne Harris

FICTION Harris, Joanne
Fiction

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat's every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It's a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

Kitchens of the great Midwest

J. Ryan Stradal

FICTION Stradal J. Ryan
Fiction

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience. Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life—its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.

With the fire on high

Elizabeth Acevedo

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Acevedo Elizabet
Young Adult

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Last call at the Nightshade Lounge : a novel of magic and mixology

Paul Krueger

SCIENCE FICTION Krueger Paul
Science Fiction

Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons? This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

When in doubt, add butter

Elizabeth M Harbison

FICTION Harbison Elizabet
Fiction

As far as Gemma is concerned, her days of dating are over. In fact, it's her job to cater other peoples' dates, and that's just fine by her. At thirty-seven, she has her own business, working as a private chef, and her life feels full and secure. She's got six steady clients that keep her hands full. There's Lex, the fussy but fabulous department store owner who loves Oysters Rockefeller and retro party food; Willa, who needs to lose weight under doctor's orders but still believes butter makes everything better; a colorful family who may or may not be part of the Russian mob; an überwealthy Georgetown family; the picture-perfect Van Houghtens, whose matriarch is "allergic to everything"; and finally, a man she calls "Mr. Tuesday," whom she has never met but to whom she feels a magnetic attraction, in part, due to his taste for full-on comfort food. For Gemma, cooking is predictable. Recipes are certain. Use good ingredients, follow the directions, and you are assured success. Life, on the other hand, is full of variables. So when Gemma's takes an unexpected turn on a road she always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and move on in ways she never would have imagined. Because sometimes in life, all you need is a little hope, a lot of courage, and---oh yes---butter.

The kitchen front

Jennifer (Novelist) author Ryan

FICTION Ryan Jennifer
Fiction

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest--and the grand prize is a job as the program's first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives. For a young widow, it's a chance to pay off her husband's debts and keep a roof over her children's heads. For a kitchen maid, it's a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it's a chance to escape her wealthy husband's increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it's a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession. These four women are giving the competition their all--even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart?

Dearie : the remarkable life of Julia Child

Bob Spitz

BIOGRAPHY Child, Julia
Biographies

Draws on the iconic culinary figure's personal diaries and letters to present a one-hundredth birthday commemoration that offers insight into her role in shaping women's views and influencing American approaches to cooking.

Julie and Julia : my year of cooking dangerously

Julie Powell

641.509 /Powell
Nonfiction, Cookbooks

Nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, Julie Powell resolved to reclaim her life by cooking, in a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's 1961 classic, Mastering the art of French cooking. Her unexpected reward, a new life lived with gusto.

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This book was the basis of the move "Julie & Julia" directed by Nora Ephron.
- Beth

Act your age, Eve Brown

Talia Hibbert

FICTION Hibbert Talia
Fiction

"Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong--so she's given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It's time for Eve to grow up and prove herself even though she's not entirely sure how. Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner is on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car supposedly by accident. Yeah, right. Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she's infiltrated his work, his kitchen and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore and it's melting Jacob's frosty exterior."--

Eat joy : stories & comfort food from 31 celebrated writers

641.013 /Eat
Cookbooks

"This collection of intimate, illustrated essays by some of America's most well-regarded literary writers explores how comfort food can help us cope with dark times--be it the loss of a parent, the loneliness of a move, or the pain of heartache"--Amazon.

Garlic and sapphires - the secret life of a critic in disguise

Ruth Reichl

BIOGRAPHY Reichl, Ruth
Biographies

The editor-in-chief of "Gourmet," a former restaurant critic at the The New York times, recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into the differences in her dining experiences.

World travel : an irreverent guide

Anthony Bourdain

910.202 /Bourdain
Travel

"A guide to some of the world's most fascinating places, as seen and experienced by writer, television host, and relentlessly curious traveler Anthony Bourdain"--

The particular sadness of lemon cake

Aimee Bender

FICTION Bender, Aimee
Fiction

Being able to taste people's emotions in food may at first be horrifying. But young, unassuming Rose Edelstein grows up learning to harness her gift as she becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

Rosaline Palmer takes the cake

Alexis J. Hall

FICTION Hall Alexis
Fiction

"Rosaline Palmer is just barely holding her life together. Her paycheck might as well be parchment paper, her house is falling apart, and help from her parents is always served with a generous slice of disappointment and judgment. And the cherry on top? Now her daughter's school is charging all sorts of outlandish extra fees for trips that Rosaline can't afford. But where there's a whisk there's a way. . . and Rosaline has just landed a place on the nation's favorite baking show. Winning the prize money could change everything, but more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory. Charming and suave Alain Pope is just the type of person her parents planned for her to marry, and better yet, her fellow contestant is doing his best to sweep her off her feet. Yet while he says and bakes all the right things, it's friendly, down-to-earth electrician Harry Dobson who Rosaline finds as tempting as a midnight ice-cream sundae with salted caramel . . . and just as hard to resist. But as the competition -- and the ovens -- heat up, Rosaline starts to realize the most delicious recipes come about when you don't follow the recipe."--

The art of baking blind : a novel

Sarah Vaughan

FICTION Vaughan, Sarah
Fiction

"There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved. In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There's Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife's death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it's like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn't slip. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants' problems. For they will learn--as as Mrs. Eaden did before them--that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life"--

Relish: my life in the kitchen

Lucy Knisley

641.5092 /Knisley
Cookbooks, Biographies

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe-- many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.

Sourdough

Robin Sloan

FICTION Sloan Robin
Fiction

A software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions, Lois Clary codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. When the brothers have Visa issues, they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her-- and learn to bake with it. Soon Lois is providing loaves to the General Dexterity cafeteria, then the farmer's market, and a whole new world opens up-- including a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology.

Chocolate chip cookie murder

Joanne Fluke

MYSTERY Fluke, Joanne
Mystery

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother's attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota's most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can't get any worse....

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The first book in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mystery series, which in up to 29 books.
- Beth

All stirred up : suffrage cookbooks, food, and the battle for women's right to vote

Laura (Food writer) Kumin

324.623 /Kumin
History, Cookbooks

Ever courageous and creative, suffragists carried their radical message into America's homes wrapped in food wisdom. Cookbooks, which ingenuously packaged political strategy into already existent social communities, gave suffragists a chance to reach out to women on their own terms, in nonthreatening and accessible ways. Cooking together, feeding people, and using social situations to put people at ease were pioneering grassroots tactics that leveraged the domestic knowledge these women already had. Kumin shows us how these women brilliantly wove charm and wit into their message. Her book is filled with actual historic recipes that evoke the spirited flavor of feminism and food movements. -- adapted from jacket

The cookbook collector

Allegra Goodman

FICTION Goodman, Allegra
Fiction

Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, twenty-three-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily's boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess's boyfriends, not so much, as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.

Kingdom of the blind

Louise Penny

MYSTERY Penny Louise
Mystery

When a peculiar letter arrives inviting Armand Gamache to an abandoned farmhouse, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him one of the executors of her will. Still on suspension, and frankly curious, Gamache accepts and soon learns that the other two executors are Myrna Landers, the bookseller from Three Pines, and a young builder. None of them had ever met the elderly woman. The will is so odd and includes bequests that are so wildly unlikely that Gamache and the others suspect the woman must have been delusional. But what if, Gamache begins to ask himself, she was perfectly sane? When a body is found, the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem less peculiar and far more menacing. But it isn't the only menace Gamache is facing. The investigation into what happened six months ago--the events that led to his suspension--has dragged on, into the dead of winter. And while most of the opioids he allowed to slip through his hands, in order to bring down the cartels, have been retrieved, there is one devastating exception. Enough narcotic to kill thousands has disappeared into inner city Montreal. With the deadly drug about to hit the streets, Gamache races for answers. As he uses increasingly audacious, even desperate, measures to retrieve the drug, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots. And the terrible things hiding there.

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First in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. Currently there are 17 books in the series.
- Beth