We’ve all got them: reading pet peeves. Whether you hate love triangles with your whole being or you want to groan in despair every time someone smirks, we’ve all got at least one reading pet peeve that makes us want to throw our books at a wall. Mostly figuratively, but sometimes literally. My friend has recently started noting every time one of my characters takes a shower because it’s become a little much, but I’ve got two pretty major pet peeves when it comes to books.
We have all of these months-long revolutions, and no one eats or takes care of basic hygiene. And I get it. We don’t need to read about someone washing their hands for twenty seconds all the time (too soon?), but like? Every character ever has starved to death long before the war even begins, and it’s driving me up a wall. Thus, a lot of my books are stuffed full of food, baths, and tea. And I want to spotlight ten books that also feature food because y’all are doing the devil’s work over here!
Did I read With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo just so I could include it on this list? I mean, maybe a little, but look at that cover! And then take the dust jacket off and cry even more about the beauty of its hardback! Not only does this book heavily feature food just for general meals, but there are recipes before the sections and the MCs are taking a culinary arts class. AND they go to Spain to do more cooking! I mean, seriously, this book is top of the list because of the alphabet, but would also be top of the list no matter what.
Take a shot of tea every time someone talks about drinking chai or making roti in The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad, and you’ll be wired. The amount of Arabic food in this just made me SO GODDAMN HUNGRY the entire time, and I know that my American chai is sooooo not the same, but every time the MC drank it, I just badly wanted to run to my favorite cafe and read this here while drinking a nice, foamy chai.
I know, I can’t believe Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is on a list other than “books that ruined my life,” but here we are! There is surprisingly A LOT of food in this book, and not just the kind that poisons people. Although, the descriptions of the decadent food and what ways they’ve been poisoned is pretty awesome. But there’s always some kind of feast happening with one of the three MCs, and my mouth was constantly watering.
I mean, duh? Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi literally features a MC who bakes. Sam’s baking revolves around his mood, and I actually recently talked about the aesthetic of his Instagram, which Penny 100% takes over so that she can showcase how beautiful his donuts are. Sam is me when it comes to baking. Normally, we’re like “nah bro it’s all good,” but then the/our world is in a state of chaos, and it’s like “GREAT TIME TO FIGURE OUT CROISSANTS.”
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody is an amazing book for a lot of reasons, but the fair food is one of my favorites. There’s so much food, too, and so many different types of dishes that I never would have thought of, but that make total sense for fair food, and I just wanted some fried dough so bad when I was through with this.
Okay, besides With the Fire on High, The Paper Magician by Charlie N Holmberg is my favorite food book on this list. Ceony’s creations are not only delightful sounding, but they keep Emery alive because he’s constantly forgetting to feed himself (#cannotrelate). All of her meals are super British and adorable, but not only do we get the food themselves, Holmberg usually writes about Ceony preparing the dish, from prepping the ingredients all the way to the finished product, and I am here for it.
I’m bad at remembering what happens in contemporaries, but one of the things I do remember vividly from Frankie by Shivaun Plozza is the food. The MC works in a food shop (I can’t remember what kind, but I do remember that they do weird things that wouldn’t normally be done; is it hot dogs??), and a solid portion of the scenes take place in the main area of that shop, whether Frankie’s busing tables, making food, or just hanging with her friends.
You know when you’re mad because you never talk about a book, and then suddenly you’re talking about it in every post? That’s what’s happening to me and Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović recently. We chatted about this duology at the beginning of the month, with my favorite purple prose books, which of course means that the food descriptions are long-winded, decadent, and just absurd. This whole book is so pretty, and the food is definitely high on the list.
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux seems like a weird one to include on this list, I know, but it’s a really, really excellent example of how people still need to eat even when in crisis. Despite the fact that Louisa is literally being hunted by terrifying shadow creatures and the Devil is her actual boss now and she may or may not be permanently trapped in Coldthistle House, she does not forget to eat. Breakfast is almost always accounted for, and little snacks pop up along the way. And tea! I just really appreciate that this book remembers food even when the world is tipped upside down.
The only reason Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor didn’t show up in the second slot on this list is because of the alphabet, but it’s probably one of my top favorite food books, and that’s 50% because of Poison Kitchen and 50% because of the scrounged meals they eat while on the road in Akiva’s world and in the desert. Karou is always trying to use food as a way to bring community together, which is, hands down, one of the easiest ways to make people shut up and coexist. Honestly, I could probably find a reason to include this book on every list ever, but this is another example, like House of Furies, of maintaining basic human functions while fighting a war.