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Text on the Beach

9 food books to take with you to the beach this summer
Beach Books
Cover Art: Courtesy of Sterling, Spiegel & Grau, Random House, Ecco and Knopf

This May, join us as we gear up for the first day of summer with recipes and ideas to make it your best ever. Let the Summer Countdown begin.

Summer officially starts in just a few days (not that we're counting or anything), and if you're like us, you're on the hunt for a book to devour on the beach, at that cabin in the mountains or even just on your sofa at home—with a boozy slushy at your side. This year's crop of food memoirs, novels and tales from life in a restaurant feed that literary hunger with stories of meals in India, Naples, Shanghai, Manhattan and beyond. Dive in, no forks required—just don't forget your sunglasses.

The Theoretical Foot, by M. F. K. Fisher (Counterpoint, $25), and The Arrangement, by Ashley Warlick (Viking, $26)
There are few food writers who have had as great an impact from a literary standpoint as M. F. K. Fisher. This summer, fans can dig into two books: The Theoretical Foot is a posthumous publication of Fisher's first novel that recalls her time just before the Second World War with Dillwyn Parrish, the man who would ultimately become her second husband; The Arrangement is historical fiction, loosely based on the same time in Fisher's life, digging into the aforementioned love affair. Read one for dinner and devour the second as dessert.

Cover Art: Courtesy of Counterpoint and Viking

Double Cup Love: On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China, by Eddie Huang (Spiegel & Grau, $27)
Fresh off the Boat's Eddie Huang is back in the memoir game with a book about his early life in New York, when he was: watching his restaurant, Baohaus, struggle, falling in love with an all-American white girl, and starting in on an early life crisis. (This makes his recent essay about the whiteness of food all the more apropos.) The culmination of these events kicks off a personal and culinary journey to China with his brothers that is peppered with witty conversations that will make readers laugh aloud. (Lesson learned: Don't eat weed-infused beef jerky.)

Sweetbitter, by Stephanie Danler (Knopf, $25)
Before (and even while) she pursued an MFA in creative writing, Stephanie Danler logged years working in some of New York's most loved restaurants, like Buvette and Union Square Cafe. Those experiences inform her debut novel, which follows a woman named Tess as she comes of age in the food world of New York.

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32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line, by Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers (Random House, $28)
One of New York's most enduring chefs, Eric Ripert shares the story of how he found his way to the kitchen. His memoir, written with Veronica Chambers, starts in his youth, when he escaped a rough home life with a cruel stepfather by spending time in a local restaurant, and follows him into the kitchen of acclaimed chef Joël Robuchon, as he worked relentlessly for a third Michelin star. The book culminates with Ripert's decision to move to the U.S. in 1989. So, perhaps a sequel will follow.

The Restaurant Critic's Wife, by Elizabeth LaBan (Lake Union Publishing, $14.95)
Lila is married to Sam, a Philadelphia restaurant critic who is obsessed with keeping his identity concealed (think Ruth Reichl in Garlic & Sapphires but more intense). The narrative is fiction, but there are some moments that ring of truth from Elizabeth LaBan's real life as the wife of James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic Craig LaBan.

The Bitchy Waiter, by Darron Cardosa (Sterling, $14.95)
Tales of life in the back of the house (that's restaurant speak for kitchen) are pretty entertaining (see Anthony Bourdain, ect.), but life in the front of the house comes with its own share of excellent—er, horrifying—stories. Darron Cardosa, who spent years waiting tables and blogging about it, captures some of the best in this book. A lesson: Don't be that diner.

Cover Art: Courtesy of Random House and Lake Union Publishing

Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from My Italian Mother-in-Law, by Katherine Wilson (Random House, $27)
An internship for author Katherine Wilson in Naples turns into a lifelong love affair with the city and an Italian man named Salvatore and his quintessential Italian mother, Raffaella. Of course, there are meals of rigatoni alla Genovese and baked pastas to fortify Wilson (and the reader) sprinkled throughout.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, by Padma Lakshmi (Ecco, $26.99)
Long before Padma Lakshmi was the Padma we see beaming into our living rooms during an episode of Top Chef, she was a model, actress, cookbook author and child growing up in a family—like so many families—whose binds are intertwined with food. Her memoir follows her journey in great detail, punctuated by the meals she ate. 

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