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Six Inspiring Non-Fiction Books about Food and Eating

I really love food and I really love books, so it’s probably not an enormous surprise that I adore books about food too.

Over the last few years, I’ve read many non-fiction food books that have inspired me, convinced me to change some of our eating habits, and plain entertained me (and just about all of them made me hungry).

Here are six of my very favorites, ranging from memoirs to call-to-action non-fiction:

Books about Food

Written by: Janssen Bradshaw of Everyday Reading

1. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink

My husband was out of town while I was reading this book and when he’d call each night, I’d spend twenty minutes recounting stories from this book or reading him huge passages of it. This is just such an interesting book, I couldn’t stop talk about it.

Wansink does hundreds of fascinating studies about how much external things contribute to how much we eat, no matter how in-control of our diet we think we are.

Participants in a study who had soup bowls that secretly refilled themselves ate 73% more than those at the table who had regular bowls – but when they were surveyed about how much soup they ate, they were convinced they’d eaten no more than anyone else at the table. They didn’t even feel like they’d eaten a particularly large bowl of soup.

I laughed my way through the whole book, and then I resolved to make changes that would keep me from eating mindlessly.

2. Dinner, A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach

I picked this book up on a whim, and then spent an entire precious naptime last fall reading every last page.

Jenny Rosenstrach, who oversaw the food section of Real Simple for years, writes a fabulous book about why family dinners are important, how to make them happen even when your family is very busy, and how to deal with picky eaters.

Her writing is charming, her recipes are mouth-watering, and her ideas for making family dinner happen are useful and realistic. Don’t skip this one!

3. Lunch Wars: How to Start a School Food Revolution and Win the Battle for Our Children’s Health by Amy Kalafa

The average American child eats around 4,000 school lunches during their public school experience, so the meals they are fed there matter a lot for their growing bodies. And, as you probably know, most of the time it’s pretty lousy food that’s being served.

This book describes the problems with the food system in schools and then gives lots of ideas of how to improve things, whether you want to just make small changes or are willing to go all out.

It’s so inspiring to see how other parents have made enormous changes in their schools and benefited hundreds and thousands of children.

4. Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby Love Good Food by  Tracey Murkett and Gill Rapley

When my older daughter was just getting to the age where we might introduce solid foods, someone recommended this book to me and I read the whole thing in one evening.

This method advises skipping the rice cereal and letting your baby eat real foods from the beginning to help them develop their palate, be comfortable feeding themselves, and be part of family meals from the very beginning.

I felt like our experiment with it was wildly successful, and we’ll certainly be doing it with our second daughter.

5. My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme

I think we can all agree that Julia Child is one of the original food writers. My book club read this a few years ago, and you can only imagine the spread the women in charge of refreshments that month brought. This is a perfect combination of history, travel, and food.

6. Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

Most of the other food books focus on the food we eat at home, but this one is a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant industry. I expected it to be a tell-all sort of book, making you never want to eat outside your own home again.

It’s really more about all the training high-class restaurants do, the interactions between guests and servers, how a restaurant runs smoothly from the back of the kitchen to the front door, and the restaurant reviewers who are trying to stay undercover and the servers who are trying to figure out who is there to review.

Funny and interesting, and the descriptions of some of the dishes will make you want to go out for dinner somewhere fancy tonight.

Any food books you’d recommend – fiction or non-fiction? My library is pretty amazing at stocking them, so I’m always certain I’m missing great ones because the selection is just so huge!

65 Winter Comfort Food Recipes
65 Winter Comfort Food Recipes
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Thursday 28th of February 2013

I love books about food. I read Baby Led Weaning. I'd love to read the first one on your list about mindless eating.

Here are two I enjoyed (there are reviews of them all on my blog, just search the title)

The NDD Book: How Nutrition Deficit Disorder Affects Your Child's Learning, Behaviour, and Health, and What You Can Do About It - Without Drugs by William Sears

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love by Jack Canfield


Wednesday 6th of February 2013

I wouldn't call it inspiring, but I really loved Blood, Bones and Butter. I've also enjoyed all of the Ruth Reichl books I've read - nobody can describe food quite like she can!

Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

Wednesday 6th of February 2013

I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- there are a lot of other good ones, but this is one of my favorites!


Tuesday 5th of February 2013

That last book, Service Included, sounds very interesting! It's always cool to see how businesses are run, from the people who work there. It gives you a better idea of how hard people work to make things seem seamless when it arrives at the table, but also introduces concerns we may have not thought of before. Thanks to your mention, I hope to read this book sometime in the future.

I read my first food-related leisure book last summer, titled "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones ( I really liked this book. It felt real and didn't push the romance so much. She let the romance develop naturally and slowly over the course of the book (and over the course of the meals). A widowed woman, Maggie, goes to China after a Chinese woman there claims that Maggie's bereaved husband sired her child. While there, Maggie writes an article about a chef who cooks in the traditional Chinese style, which is dying out. She discovers the magic and art in Chinese cooking as she interacts with the chef and comes to appreciate China's cultural landscape. I really liked this, plus Mones fascinated me with the wondrous and exotic dishes she described. Check it out sometime!


Wednesday 6th of February 2013

What an interesting sounding book! I was a Chinese history major as an undergrad, so this combines several of my interests! Thanks for the recommendation.


Tuesday 5th of February 2013

We were introduced to Baby Led Weaning by a friend and following it's advice is one of the best decisions we made as parents. Meal times have (mostly) been a joy and my daughter is an adventurous eater. Have you heard of French Kids Eat Everything? I think that's going to be my next read.

And I'll second Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - changed my life.


Wednesday 6th of February 2013

I loved French Kids Eat Everything (and so did Katie - she reviewed it here: