If you’re looking for books for foodies, you’ll love reading these fiction books about food!
It’s no secret that I love to eat. I look forward to every single meal and am often thinking about dinner and desserts at breakfast. So, you can imagine one of my favorite niches is books about food. Fiction food books feature either a setting, occupation, hobby, or character trait that centers around food.
Since I have a serious sweet tooth, in my opinion the best books about food are those with bakers, desserts, or bakeries. However, I won’t discriminate against food books set in restaurants or featuring home cooked meals!
With such a wide variety of books about food available to read I’m breaking them down by genre. This way you can choose the best food book for you!
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Fiction Food Books for Foodies
General Fiction Food Books for Foodies
Quentins by Maeve Binchy
Maeve Binchy is a prolific Irish writer who’s books often showcased small-town life in Ireland. One of her books is even featured on my list of books set in Ireland! Quentins is the perfect choice to kick off my list of books for foodies.
The novel is a history of an iconic fictional restaurant in Dublin that is referenced in her other works. Ella Brady wants to create a documentary telling the story of Quentins and it’s impact on the city. As she uncovers more and more of its past, she starts to wonder if some stories are better left untold.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
A cross generational novel about four Chinese women and their American born daughters. The four women are immigrants from China who form the “Joy Luck Club” in 1949 in San Francisco. They gather to eat dim sum, play mahjong and share stories.
Their story continues forty years later when one of the daughters takes her mother’s place. Since visiting China and experiencing part of the culture through food, I’m excited to read what dishes they prepare and eat during these meetings. One of the classic books for foodies.
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
Reichl is best known for her memoirs about food. Delicious! is her first foray into the world of fiction and I think it’s a decent addition to foodie fiction. The main character takes a job in NYC working for an iconic food magazine. She is immediately swept into the delicious world of NYC foodies.
When the magazine is shut down, she stays on to answer customer calls. Ultimately, that role leads to a discovery of a fascinating history involving James Beard and WWII. The historical connection made this a four star for me, since it offered a unique take on the WWII era. Overall though, this food book will be a delight for foodies.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C Morais
A war between a traditional upscale French restaurant and a vibrant inexpensive Indian restaurant in a small town. Hassan learns everything he knows about cooking from his Indian family, but eventually convinces the snooty French owner to become his mentor.
The rich descriptions of both the Indian and French dishes waft off the page. I loved the in depth look behind the scenes at everything involved in owning a restaurant too.
The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses
A charming tale about learning to find joy in a simpler life. Ellen is an attorney in NYC who returns to her small hometown to deliver a letter from her late grandmother. A quick trip turns into an extended stay after she’s unexpectedly rescued by a local carpenter. Plus, she discovers more about her grandmother than she ever expected to find. Be prepared – you’re going to want to have a blueberry muffin close by when you read this!
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J Ryan Stradal
Ok technically not a food book per se, but beer is made of ingredients and an excellent addition to a meal. When their father leaves his farm and entire inheritance to younger sister, Helen, that leaves Edith to fend for herself. She gets by making pies, but always wonders how life would have been different with some extra help.
Helen meanwhile builds up an extremely successful light beer business. The family has a chance to reunite when Edith’s grandmother decides to take a shot at making IPAs. Beer lovers in particular should give this book a try!
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
If you’d like to look behind the scenes in a NYC restaurant, Sweetbitter is your best choice. This book for foodies is about a young woman’s experience learning the ropes of restaurant life. It’s part coming of age novel, part expose on the high intensity nature of working at a restaurant.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
Although technically fiction, Nora draws heavily on her own life experiences for Heartburn. Seven month pregnant Rachel discovers her husband is in love with someone else. As a cookbook writer, she turns to her recipes and creations to help cope. Despite the difficult subject matter, this novel is often lauded for it’s sidesplitting humor. If you love food books with recipes, you’ll find plenty here!
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal
I read this years and years ago, but still recall the sweet way that baking brings stability to a young girl’s troubled life. Ramona is struggling to keep her bakery in business. Suddenly, more trouble arrives when she becomes temporary guardian of her step granddaughter.
Tess is a 13 year old who feels heartbroken and left behind by everyone in her life. The two slowly make a connection through baking and Ramona learns to open her heart to more than one person.
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan
A rare historical fiction option of books for foodies! Set on the Normandy coast during WW2, this powerful novel follows a baker’s apprentice as she fights back against the Germans with bread. Using extra rations to bake loaves for hungry villagers, Emma helps encourage hope and faith that the Allies will win.
I just ordered this from Barnes and Noble and can’t wait to dive in. WW2 historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so it should be an interesting read combined with books about food.
Chick Lit / Romance / Women’s Fiction Books For Foodies
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
I absolutely adored this book!! It has loads of country charm, delicious desserts, and an endearing love story. Olivia escapes to her best friend’s small town in Vermont after her career goes up in flames, literally. Livvy accepts a stint as the pastry chef at a local inn and moves in to a small property nearby. She quickly realizes she’s there to help the owner reclaim the blue ribbon at the apple pie contest.
Through various twists and turns and a chance at love, Livvy discovers how much she loves the country life.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
Sign me up for a Pride and Prejudice adaptation any day! In this unique take on the classic story of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, with gender swapped roles. Trisha comes from a family of Indian royalty who settled in San Francisco. DJ Caine is a chef hired to work on the family who doesn’t have time for Trisha’s arrogance.
It’s currently a Kindle deal for only $2! Grab this one if you can’t resist a Pride and Prejudice retelling.
Meet Me At the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me declaring my love for Jenny Colgan’s books. They’re always the perfect mix of spunky female, cute love story, small town charm, and often a delicious foodie connection.
It’s hard to pick favorites, but I’m partial to Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. Issy leaves her desk job to pursue her love of baking. However, starting a new business isn’t a piece of cake (ha ha get it??) Various struggles, successes, and unexpected relationships ensue.
Plus, it was recently re-released with this gorgeous new cover!
Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
I couldn’t resist adding a second Jenny Colgan to my list of best books for foodies. This one has my all-time favorite sidekick – Neil the Puffin! Polly escapes to a remote seaside town after a failed business and rough breakup. She decides to use the experience from her favorite hobby to open a bakery offering fresh bread.
Since she now has plenty of free time to experiment, and honey from the cute local beekeeper, she creates breads and pastries like nothing the islanders have ever seen. As usual though, there are always a few huddles to overcome.
P.S. Many of Jenny’s novels include second or third books featuring the same characters, often at Christmas or with babies 🙂
The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
My very first Elin Hilderbrand novel and still my favorite! Elin is the queen of summer beach reads and The Blue Bistro is a quintessential summer food book. As usual, the setting is Nantucket, MA. This time her book revolves around the hottest Nantucket restaurant, The Blue Bistro.
Despite no restaurant experience, Adrienne lands a job there under the tutelage of the cute owner, Thatcher. Over the course of the summer, she tries to both learn the ropes and uncover why the restaurant is unexpectedly closing. The detailed, behind the scenes insights into the restaurant business kept me enthralled from start to finish.
Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer
Meddling mothers sometimes have the chance to redeem themselves. Years ago, Betty took matters into her own hands and ended the relationship between her daughter and the older neighborhood hearthrob. But she’s starting to wonder if she made a mistake.
Twenty years later Betty sets up the two of them at a dessert class. Will the sweet connection be enough to make them fall for each other once again?
Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
An adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility! Jane, Celia, and younger sister Margot move to Austin after they’re forced out of their San Francisco tea shop business. As they try to rebuild their lives and their livelihood, a rift begins between the sisters. Meanwhile, Jane falls quickly for a charming local musician Sean. The only one who doesn’t seem to approve is grumpy military man Callum.
This is a great option for fans of Jane Austen retellings. It’s loosely based, but the modern setting and the fact that it’s a book about food make it a fun read.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert
Is it ridiculous that I haven’t read this yet because I don’t like coconut?? I mean, that’s gotta be up there as one of the dumbest reasons not to read a book haha. Honestly though, this one sounds adorable!
A chef on her worst day crosses paths with a restaurant critic who just wrote a scathing critic. They agree to explore their city without ever revealing their careers or discussing work. A classic trope of mistaken identities and misunderstandings along the lines of You’ve Got Mail!
Magical Realism Books About Food
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
One of the quintessential magical realism novels. Set in turn of the century Mexico, little Tita grows up surrounded by food. She ultimately becomes a chef and shares her food and recipes to express herself.
The novel is told in twelve installments, each a different month of the year. The beginning of each section features a Mexican recipe, so you’ll find lots of inspiration for your own kitchen here!
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber
One of the more recent additions to the books for foodies niche! This sweet debut just came out in 2019 and was a pleasant surprise. A woman takes a quick trip to close her late grandmother’s cafe and settle her estate. Naturally, that quick trip turns into a longer stay as she takes over running the cafe and baking the magical pies.
I loved the supporting cast and adorable love stories in this one. I would have like to see more of the “magical realism” piece, but the story by itself is worth reading!
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Like Jenny Colgan is the queen of foodie chick lit, Sarah Addison Allen is the best of the best in magical realism for foodies. Her books combine a hint of magic with entrancing family stories. In Garden Spells, the Waverley family is known for their curious abilities. Claire Waverley weaves emotions into the food of her catering business and quietly enjoys her life in their hometown.
When her sister suddenly returns with a young daughter in tow, they toss Claire’s life upside down. She’s forced to reopen her heart in more ways than one as they struggle to fit together as a new family. This is one of my all-time favorite stories. It has just the right touch of the magical, family drama, and quirky characters.
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Young Josey gets through life in her mom’s house by relying on her secret stockpile of sweets that she eats in her closet. She unexpectedly discovers Della Lee, a local waitress, in just that spot one night and from then on her life blooms open. Through Della Lee’s tough love, she starts to interact with the world and even befriends Chloe Finley, who’s got a connection to Josey’s crush.
Once again, Sarah’s signature touch of unique magic is present throughout! I have this loaded on my Kindle and am hoping to read it soon.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
A deeply satisfying novel about finding acceptance and changing lives in a hardhearted town. Unmarried Vianne and her daughter cause quite a scene when they open up a chocolate shop in the tiny French town of Lansquenet. The townsfolk grapple with their Lenten devotion, but can’t seem to stay away from the temptation of chocolate.
With her uncanny ability to cure the devotees’ problems, rumors of witch start to fly. Vianne soon finds herself battling with the town priest over something as simple as chocolate.
A luscious and captivating read! This is a rare instance where the movie adaptation is just as good as the book too!
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
A software engineer becomes the sole guardian of a precious sourdough starter. She’s instructed to keep it alive, bake with it, and ensure the legacy lives on. Before she knows it, she’s more valuable providing bread to her company than engineering.
I haven’t read this one myself yet, but I hear it’s a bit out there. It’s not exactly at the top of my list, but I think it’d be a unique read for anyone particularly interested in bread baking.
Young Adult Books for Foodies
The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
I first discovered Heather Hepler while randomly browsing my library’s bookshelves. I immediately devoured the two books they had! In The Cupcake Queen, Penny’s mom owns a cupcake bakery where she’s forced to help out. She recently moved to her mom’s town and her dad stayed behind. Plus, the new school’s mean girl has it out for her.
This is a super cute young adult novel with all the expected friendship drama, parent drama, and relationship drama. It’s a quick read and will inspire you to bake some cupcakes of your own!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
The first book in one of my favorite young adult series. Lara Jean prefers to write letters to her boy crushes rather than actually share her feelings. Her worst nightmare comes true when the five letters she’s written over the years are delivered. Since her older sister, Margot, is at college and her younger sister Kitty, needs to be mothered, she’s on her own dealing with the fallout.
She ends up teaming up with Peter to create a fake relationship that will help out them both. Naturally, real, confusing feelings start to develop so she must step away from her romance books and face a real potential relationship.
Lara Jean is such a sweet, authentic protagonist. I love her baking to release stress habit and her relationship with her sisters and Dad.
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Get ready for another YA book featuring cupcakes! Hudson had her life planned out, until a betrayal forced her to rethink everything and take refuge baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner.
Just as she’s about to get back to her dreams, a cute boy enters her life and she’s left once again grappling with taking a chance on love.
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
You’re pretty much guaranteed to find a book by Sarah Dessen on any YA book list. Luckily, I found one that fits into the books for foodies category!
McClean’s dad is a restaurant consultant. After her parent’s relationship implodes, she hits the road with him on a series of restaurant overhauls. In each new city and town, she creates a new identity.
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