Looking for a new book to read this summer? In this month’s Favorite Things, we share a broad range of favorite titles, which offer inspiration both in and out of the kitchen!
Summer is a great time to start a new book – but which one?
When Emily and I recently talked about our all-time favorite books, we simultaneously said The Red Tent (1997) by Anita Diamant.
Many of you have likely read this international bestseller, and it’s certainly not unusual that we would like this book. After all, it’s told from a female perspective, focusing primarily on female relationships and motherhood.
But the fact that Emily and I both shouted this title in unison was a shared moment that connected us outside of our work. Our favorite books are truly a good way to get to know people and to better understand what makes them “tick.”
In addition to sharing books that offer a peek into what has inspired us in the realm of cooking, food, and nutrition, we have also tapped an interesting mix of people (including our kids!) and resources around town to share what they are reading these days.
These books extend way beyond the bestseller list (but include those, too!). Current picks and all-time favorites are listed.
For ease, Bookshop.org/shop/FAK links are included for each book title. This site sources from and gives profits back to local bookstores. So, read on to find the next book for your bedside table.
FOODIE FAVORITES & MORE
I’ve often joked that I can read a cookbook as though it were a bestselling novel. That said, the cookbooks that I have found most useful over the years include several by Ina Garten, famously known as the Barefoot Contessa.
Her first three books were published when I was newly married, and they were a go-to for me at the time. The books speak to my love of food and recipes that are simple enough to serve every day but special enough for company.
Similarly, The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer has been a reliable resource over the years when I’ve wanted to get back to basics or try something for the first time.
When I’m not in the kitchen (when is that?) I enjoy reading historical fiction, memoirs, and almost anything that a friend tells me they couldn’t put down. As such, my book list is varied.
For some foodie fun, Julia Child’s autobiography My Life in France (2006) tells the inside scoop of how she fell in love with food – specifically French cuisine – and how she became the icon she is known as today. If you like food, it won’t disappoint.
The Nightingale (2015) by Kristin Hannah is a non-food stand-out for me. The historically accurate work of fiction details two sisters’ struggle to survive in France during World War II. I couldn’t put it down.
Next on my bedside table is The Sanatorium (2020) by Sarah Pearse, which is a pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club that my older son passed along. He said it keeps you on the edge of your seat, so I can’t wait.
Emily is passionate about helping others cultivate healthy relationships with food. This includes rejecting diet culture, embracing body respect, and using non-judgmental food talk. She tries to incorporate these themes when writing about nutrition here at the Fountain Avenue Kitchen.
Here’s where her reading inspiration has come from recently:
Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life (2021) by Alissa Rumsey. This is real, raw, and honest. A great “how to” book for reconnecting with your body and your relationship with food.
**If you have 10 or more friends read this for a book club, Alissa will join you at your book club discussion! Connect with her @alissarumseyrd.
Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating (2019) by Christy Harrison is an examination of diet culture and uncovering what’s truly behind common health & wellness ideals. She has a great podcast too!
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, 4th edition (2020) by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. From the women who developed the Intuitive Eating concept, this 4th edition is all the nuts and bolts you need to learn about the anti-diet approach.
Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach To Healthy Eating, (2021) by Rachael Hartley. This combines recipes with gentle nutrition tips and has beautiful photos.
Emily’s favorite fun foodie read is by Ruth Reichl who is most famous for her role as the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. Read through her food journeys in Tender at the Bone: Growing Up At the Table (1998), Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table (2001), and Garlic and Sapphires(2005).
If you like food, and if these titles make your mouth water, even just a little, you will love her series.
Meet Conrad Louis!
He’s a fitness vlogger, personal trainer, and writer. We love his podcast All That Glitters because it’s high energy, positive, and filled with ideas on how to boost your confidence personally and professionally.
So we thought why not ask this successful guy what he’s been reading? Here’s what he had to say in his own words…
Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich is kind of a sequel to the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook: A tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal ( 2010) that was also interpreted into the movie The Social Network. I am now fascinated by the rise of cryptocurrency!
I also love Money: Master the Game (2016) by Tony Robbins. I know a book about money management may not be the first thing on your summer reading list. But this one is really entertaining and effective at helping you think about materializing your financial future in new ways.
Dr. Michael Gervais is a peak performance psychologist that we had the privilege of hosting on our podcast. In his audiobook Compete To Create (2019), and co-authored with Pete Carroll, they identify common traits among the world’s highest performing athletes. To me, this serves as a good tool for sharpening one’s own ability to perform.
For those who want to enjoy some summer movement without fancy equipment, my own eBook, The Rad Series, has easily digestible exercise programs for all levels. Find it on my website at ConradLouis.com and/or follow me @ConradLouis.
This year has been challenging, complicated, and eye opening in many ways. If you are interested in learning and reading more about equity and engagement in the Lancaster community, and beyond, here are some great places to start.
The YWCA in Lancaster, PA is home to the Center for Racial and Gender Equity.
Their Dorothy Height Book Club features a monthly book from diverse, thought-provoking writers. They meet monthly, virtually, to discuss. Check out their site for upcoming books and to sign up for the discussions.
Emily’s favorite on the list is Americanah (2014) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichieis a story of a young Nigerian woman studying in the United States.
I loved Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime (2019), a surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) funny memoir detailing his coming-of-age during the end of apartheid in South Africa.
FOR THE KIDDOS
Looking for something to inspire the little ones in your life? Here’s what our little ones (or not so little anymore) are pulling off the shelves these days…
Emily’s 2-year old likes any books with animals that follows a sing-songy pattern. She also likes books where you can lift a flap and see what’s underneath.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (series) by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle, Little Blue Truck (series) by Alice Schertle, and You Are My Happy (2019) by Hoda Kotb have been her top picks this year.
Her 4-year-old is now more interested in how things work and why are we who we are.
To this end, they’ve loved Can I Eat That? (2016) By Joshua David Stein, The If I Built a Car (series) by Chris Van Dusen, Alma and How She Got Her Name (2018) by Juana Martinez-Neal, and Sulwe (2019) by Lupita Nyong’o.
For the early elementary school group, Donovan and his wife have loved focusing on books that share important life lessons from a variety of perspectives.
Her Right Foot (2017) by Dave Eggers is a lesson in American history, specifically on the country’s foundations in acceptance of others. What Do You Do with an Idea? (2014) by Kobi Yamada is a confidence-builder, inspiring growth and imagination, by realizing anything is possible.
Just Ask (2019) by Sonia Sotomayor our Supreme Court Justice, shines light on what makes us all unique, while Last Stop on Market Street (2015) by Matt De La Pena teaches lessons in gratitude, patience, and understanding.
Donovan’s daughter has loved As Brave as You (2017) by Jason Reynolds about a boy learning what bravery really means after a summer with his brother and their blind grandfather.
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind (2012) by William Kamkwamba tells a story of a boy overcoming adversity and making change in the community around him. Number the Stars (1989) by Lois Lowry, is a classic historical fiction novel about a young girl in 1943 Copenhagen who helps her friend avoid the concentration camps.
They have also enjoyed reading poetry for a change. Brown Girl Dreaming (2016) by Jacquline Woodson is a compilation of memories of her growing up as an African American girl in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE
When I asked my own boys about their favorite books, it was an opportunity for us to reminisce about old favorites like Belly Up (2010) and A-Z Mystery Books (collection series) by Ron Roy, both detective stories with kids as the heroes.
But, not surprisingly, their hands-down pick was the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowing (especially #3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)). Both of them read the whole series, cover to cover. Twice.
As the boys have grown, tastes have changed, too. Christian likes non-fiction and memoirs such as Shoe Dog (2016) by Phil Knight, the story about the man behind one of the world’s most iconic bands—Nike. He passed it along to me, and then Jack. It was a great read.
He’s looking forward to reading Travels with Herodotus (2004) by Ryszard Kapuscinski, which chronicles a man’s life as he travels all over the world. Not a shocking subject matter of interest for a freshman in college!
Our soon-to-be college graduate John (he graduates on his birthday, June 13th!) has been up on new releases, and his suggestions never disappoint me. Here are some of the titles he’s enjoyed this past year:
Leave the World Behind (2020) by Rumaan Alam a suspense novel about a weekend away that goes terribly wrong; Red White & Royal Blue (2019) by Casey McQuiston which is a fun rom-com-ish book about what happens when America’s first son falls for a prince; and, Mexican Gothic (2020) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, which is a gothic suspense novel centering on a woman who tries to help her family but gets more than she bargains for.
Whichever book you choose, we hope you enjoy it. Feel free to add your favorites in the comment section below as we always welcome new ideas!
As a quick reminder if you prefer the ease of shopping from home but still like the idea of supporting local booksellers: all of the books listed above are listed on Bookshop.org/shop/FAK, which sources from and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores. If you’d like to support a specific local bookstore, you can even find it on their map and the store will receive full profit. We’ve even included all the books I’ve recommended in previous Favorite Things posts, so there’s no need to go hunting.