Reading List

These books don't need recipes to whet your appetite

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It hardly bears repeating that cookbooks can be incredible vehicles for armchair travel and cultural education.

But two recent food-studded memoirs have even more to offer in the way of thought-provoking global studies. Stack these titles on your nightstand for fall:

Day of Honey ($10) This compelling read is from Annia Ciezadlo, whose marriage to a wartime journalist takes her to the frontlines of Iraq. To wrestle with the trauma of that experience, she examines the small things that help individuals survive, a path that leads to an articulate and emotional examination of Middle Eastern food.

A Tiger in the Kitchen ($11) We're all for time-consuming culinary projects and will happily forfeit a weekend to cook the perfect cassoulet or practice baking bread. But Cheryl Lu-Tien Tan took dedication one step further when she traveled back and forth from her home in New York to Singapore for a year in order to learn her family's cuisine. The contrasting narratives of her life as a fashion journalist and her foray into the unpredictable and instinctual styles of cooking in Singapore (not to mention the hunger-inducing descriptions of the dishes she tackled) kept us sated through the final page.