Another Essential Beach Reads List—But Hey, You Can't Have Too Many

But they're food-centric books, because you know what you like.

August 11, 2017 ● 3 min read

By Priya Krishna | Image Tasiania, iStock  

Looking for a beach read to complement your fierce devotion to discovering your next best meal?

Pair some of our favorites, old and new, with those lazy summer days by the surf.    



Goodbye, Vitamin, Rachel Khong

This debut novel from former Lucky Peach Executive Editor Rachel Khong is a hilarious, heartwarming tale of down-on-her-luck Ruth, who returns home to help take care of her father, who's in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It’s full of wonderful little observations about life, including the food moments that define it — and it will immediately make you want to hug everyone you see after reading. 

Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler

The salacious tale of 20-something Tess, who, fresh out of college, dives headfirst into the seedy, scandalous underbelly of the New York restaurant scene. As a front of house staffer at one of the city’s top dining destinations, she experiences firsthand both the delights and pressures of the fast-paced industry. Expect sex, drugs, and tempting descriptions of food. Word is there's a television adaptation in the works, so read up before all the bandwagoners do. 


Arbitrary Stupid Goal, Tamara Shopsin

Tamara Shopsin grew up in New York City in the 1970s, helping her parents run what is now one of the most famous diners in the city (and her family namesake), Shopsin’s. Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her ode to her childhood, and to the ways in which the Shopsins turned their general store into a diner while maintaining their reputation as a beloved neighborhood gathering place. The City, with its messy eccentricities, is one of the best characters—plus, the book also features amazing illustrations by the author and plenty of life advice for her very quotable father. 

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, Bill Buford

Swap the heat of the beach for the heat of the line with this classic by the always-clever Bill Buford, as he tracks his hilarious and darkly entertaining journey from The New Yorker writer to line cook at Mario Batali’s hallowed Italian institution, Babbo, to apprentice at a butcher shop in Tuscany.   

Delancey, Molly Wizenberg

If you ever wondered what it takes—emotionally, physically, logistically—to open and run a restaurant for the first time, read Delancey. It’s blogger Molly Wizenberg’s memoir of how she and her husband opened their first pizza restaurant in Seattle, and the highs and lows (but especially lows) that followed in their marriage. It’s candid and funny, and even includes a few very excellent recipes. 

Memoirs, Celeb Chef Edition: 

Yes, Chef: A Memoir, Marcus Samuelsson

Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson won a James Beard Award for his refreshingly candid memoir describing his journey to becoming the renowned culinary icon he is today. He takes you through his childhood in Sweden as an adoptee from Ethiopia, to Aquavit, where he became the youngest chef of a New York Times three-star restaurant, and eventually over to Harlem, where he built a neighborhood institution in the Red Rooster.

Out of Line: A Life of Playing With Fire, Barbara Lynch

Famed restaurateur Barbara Lynch weaves the story of her firecracker of a life growing up in a poor family in south Boston and eventually learning to embrace her city by building a restaurant empire there. (There’s also a hilarious, must-read anecdote about the time Lynch accidentally crank-called Julia Child that makes the book worth the price of admission in and of itself.)

While you're at it, here's an in-depth interview with Lynch about what's next, and a look at Samuelsson's extensive influence in one New York neighborhood