You know how you can like a book just fine, but if you love a book, you’ll tell a friend about it? I told my friend Craig about all of these books. Craig has a facile brain and big heart and a sometimes crusty manner—which makes me like him extra. One night the end of December we got to drinking and talking and I kept tossing out book titles I wanted him to read because I think they are great and I think he will like them, too. I also wanted him to read them so we can talk about them, because I like talking to Craig about ideas and characters and like that. Also, he is a chef and makes delicious homemade pasta and I am a sucker for that… so I want to give him good book suggestions in return. He feeds me and I want to feed his brain, at least a little. I fear he will always be holding the short end of the stick with me—his pasta is really fine. (He makes lots of delicious food—follow him on Instagram @thedreadchefclifton—to see food and beach life and such.) You all don’t make me pasta—alas—but I want to give you good book suggestions, too. So, here’s my list for Craig, and for all of you ducklings.
- From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I want everyone to read this book. I’ve been reading it since I was ten.
- How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher
I want everyone who is a chef—professional like Craig or not—to read this book.
- Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert
Sublime poetry and you don’t have to be a “poetry person” to love this plain talk. “If babies are not starving someplace they are starving somewhere else.”
- The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist
Required reading. REQUIRED.
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I’m not entirely sure if I actually recommended this to Craig… or if I just meant to. But again, required reading.
…and, not books, but I also recommend the films Big Night—a great film—and The Hundred Foot Journey—not a great film. Both have a lot to say about why we cook for others and what there is to love in that and what it all means, to sweat in a kitchen all day to feed others, to make and serve excellent food, to see your passion come alive on the plate, on the tongue, in the gut… and to have your meals sear the hearts of others.
Support your favorite independent bookseller or shop:
Original logo art by Esme Blegvad.