Bookshop

Welcome to the Bookshop!

Have Fun as a Solo Traveler: Go to bookstores! El Ateneo Splendid, Buenos Aires, which is in an old theatre. The photo is of the cafe on the stage, and bookshelves in the foreground

Welcome to the Wonder & Sundry Bookshop!

This shop features a curated list of books that I’ve found helpful in my journey to create a life filled with wonder. I’ve shared why I’ve found these books valuable and hope that you will, too.

Books listed here have affiliate links, meaning that I receive a commission for qualifying purchases. Most books here are listed with Bookshop.org, which supports local bookstores. Shopping at the Wonder & Sundry Bookshop also  supports me in creating Wonder & Sundry, and I am grateful that you’ve chosen to shop here.

Thank you!

Nonfiction

A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

I love getting lost; I find the disorientation exhilarating as I try to find my way back to the familiar. In this collection of essays, Solnit explores different ways of getting lost, from physically to getting lost through relationships and not being able to trust our own memories. Solnit weaves together a guide for getting lost through personal narratives and larger stories. In getting lost, we can learn to find different paths.

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, by Rebecca Solnit

In our popular imagination, disasters lead to chaos and Purge-like violence against other humans to make sure that we get ours. In truth, as Rebecca Solnit shows in this powerful book, disaster often reveals the best of us. Indeed, the humanity that we display when we are in our darkest hours, could teach us a thing or two about how to live during better times. An important read, especially if you, like me, believed the pop-culture narrative.

A Single Revolution: Don’t Look for a Match. Light One, by Shani Silver

A reader recommended this to me, and I am wholeheartedly recommending this to you. If you’re single and wondering what’s wrong with you, Silver has some welcome news for you. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s a whole lot wrong with our culture, and don’t get her started on the business model of dating apps (seriously—delete those things), but you, Dear Reader? You’re lovely. Your life is worth living right now, exactly as it is, and you do not need a partner to validate your worth as a human. This doesn’t mean being single forever, if that’s not what you want, but it does mean that you can stop trying to fix yourself to fit someone else’s idea of a perfect partner.

Silver self-published this book, and it can get a little repetitive at times, but this is well worth the read if you are single and also worth the read if you’re not and have ever found yourself trying to fix your single friends.

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation, by Rebecca Traister

Journalist Rebecca Traister began an investigation into single American women in the twenty-first century, setting out to examine why American women were staying single for longer. In examining US history, she found that this was not necessarily entirely novel. Indeed, when viable choices are offered to American women, delaying or even rejecting marriage altogether becomes more common. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in contemporary American society, especially single people.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear

I avoided reading this book for years, because I thought the title was annoying. Dear Reader, I was wrong. James Clear’s engaging read gives practical, immediately actionable ways to put habits into place that can help us build wonderful lives.

I’m really good at all-or-nothing thinking and believing that I have to have a perfect plan to start something, and this book makes it so much easier to make positive changes. Put this into practice, and just see what you can do.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you’re looking for courage to live the creative life you’ve always dreamed about, consider Big Magic your sign from the universe. One of the biggest things that holds creative people, including me, back is fear. Gilbert’s relatable and occasionally hilarious writing gently encourages you to move away from what’s holding you back from embracing the magic of the creative force.

Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine, by Edward Lee

This book made me think a lot about cuisines in the US. Lee celebrates immigrants and their cuisine and the cacophony of bringing them together. Lee is no purist, but nor is his “melting pot” hegemonic. His adventure across the US to unexpected places and his beautiful writing about the dishes he finds (and the recipes he creates) will have you hungry for more. It’s not an uncontroversial position Lee takes, but it comes from the best of places. Worth a read.

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity (Anniversary), by David Lynch

I love David Lynch, even though, and perhaps especially because, his films are so deeply disturbing. He’s one of our most creative voices, though, and he listens so carefully to his creativity. In this slim little unusual book, Lynch shares his process and how he developed it, but in a way that only Lynch would do. I picked up this book not long after it was published, so my edition does not have the expanded material, but in this, he goes deeper into his practice of Transcendental Meditation.

I have never tried Transcendental Meditation (and I’ll profess some skepticism at any practice that requires money to be able to learn), but I still got a great deal out of this book and recommend it.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Even if you’re really happy with your life, this book can help you get even more out of it. Designing Your Life takes design theory, a process designers use to solve problems (and produce products) through prototyping, and applies it to our lives.

This book came out of a popular life design course that the authors taught at Stanford for years, and it is chock full of practical ways you can imagine a better life for yourself and how to make that vision a reality. I can’t recommend it enough.

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport

If you’re looking to get the best out of technology and to leave the dross behind, thereby regaining a sense of focus and control over your life, Digital Minimalism is a good place to start.

In this book, Cal Newport shows us how to reconsider our relationship with technology and to prioritize high-value experiences over the quick fix of likes and notifications. This isn’t a Luddite manifesto; Newport recognizes that technologies have value. Rather, he wants us to avoid wasting our lives staring down at screens.

His methods may sound a bit extreme at first (and I have to admit, a month away still sounds daunting), but the rewards are enticing. This is definitely worth a read.

Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy

This short little book could have been even shorter, but its central premise is such a good one that I’m recommending it. Not everything we need to do to accomplish what’s most important to us is fun or enjoyable, and if we just get the unpleasantness out of the way and do the work (aka, “eating that frog”), we’ll thank ourselves later.

There’s a lot in this book that I did not care for at all—the idea that enjoying a coffee break with colleagues is a waste of time is just wrong, and planning out every detail of a project in advance is not good project management (I was a project manager)—but I’ve tried his suggestion, and, while I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it up, his central point is well taken. Keep what’s good, leave the chaff behind.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve gone around the bend on whether or not to include this book in my list. Is this a tale of incredible privilege? Yes. Is it always self-aware of this privilege? No. Does it wind up as a love story, which is a bit much? Yeah.

However, it’s also some of the better travel writing you’ll read, and, while her journey might not be perfect, Gilbert writes about profound spiritual experience in a way that will make you see it. It’s funny, honest, and inspired a whole bunch of female travelers for a reason. If you’ve denied yourself this book, because you think you’ll roll your eyes, I’ll tell you this. You might roll your eyes, but you’re also going to devour this book. Elizabeth Gilbert can write.

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age, by Katherine May

May’s meditation on enchanting her world, or bringing a sense of magic and wonder to it, focuses on our human need for wonder. Over the course of the pandemic, May writes that she’d lost her wonder, and this reflection on how she recognized this and sought to do something about it is definintely worth your time.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Does this sound familiar—I want to do everything, so I wind up doing not much? A big lesson I’m working through of late is how to make choices and focus on what is, as McKeown says, essential. It’s a tragedy, but we really can’t do everything if we want to make a meaningful contribution with our lives. This book provides practical advice for making those choices and sticking with them.

And, lest you think this only refers to business, my creativity coach recommended it to me. This is doubly important in creative pursuits. It will make you think, and it could inspire you to change your life.

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team, by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker

Do you know your purpose? This book takes Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk and creates a system for helping us define our purpose.
A lot of books like this tend to focus mostly on business, and this book definitely has this feature. However, it also has a track for individuals to use personally, and this is what, I think, makes this useful. Mead and Docker strongly encourage readers to find a partner to help tease out our Whys, and so this isn’t an exercise done solo. However, even if you do not have a trusted partner to do this exercise with, I think that you can get something out of this book.

The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage, by Mel Robbins

Have you ever read exactly the right book at exactly the right moment? That was me with this book. You may or may not have as a profound experience with it as I had (I hope that you do), but if you’ve ever struggled with taking action toward your dreams, this little book just might change your life. Her formula is simple, and it’s backed up by research. You can start today.

Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London, by Lauren Elkin

If you’ve traveled to Paris, or even just read about it, the concept of the flâneur, someone, historically a man, who leisurely wanders the streets of the city alone, without a destination or care in the world.

In this insightful book, Lauren Elkin explores the concept of the flâneur, but as a woman. She brings her own experience living in several world capitals as well as a wide range of works on wandering and spins a new creature, the flâneuse. This book is at its strongest when examining the lives of Martha Gellhorn, Sophie Calle, and George Sand, but Elkin’s own experience informs how contemporary women can take on the role of the flâneuse.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

You know when you get so absorbed doing something that time simply disappears? That’s called flow, and this classic book by renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi synthesizes his groundbreaking worldwide research into how people get into and sustain states of flow into a book non-psychologists can understand.

From his research, he teases out ways that we can enter and sustain our optimal experience (aka flow). Highly recommended, especially in this age of easy distraction.

From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want, by Rob Hopkins

We human beings created the systems that depress our potential, and we also have the power to envision and create new ways of living that serve us better. That power lies in our imagination. What if things turned out OK? What would that look like for us? What could we do right now to help bring that about? In our cynical times, I think this is a welcome counterpoint and one that could help us bring about a better future for ourselves. Thought provoking and recommended.

The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise, by Pico Iyer

In this meditation on what makes paradise, Pico Iyer, one of our greatest travel writers, journeys to spiritual sites and encounters very human realities, including within himself. As travelers, we are outsiders looking in, but as humans. we recognize ourselves. Iyer’s weaving of the outer and inner experience of travel and spiritual questions will stick with you.

The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit, by Mel Robbins

When’s the last time you gave yourself a high five? If Mel Robbins has any say, your answer would be this morning, in the mirror, not long after you woke up. Giving yourself a high-five sounds silly, and it is. But it can also give you just enough of a boost to help you get out of your own way and start living a life that you have always wanted to live.

I use exercises from this book, albeit adapted to my own purposes, every single day. And I also give myself a high five every day.

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Updated), by Rebecca Solnit

Our world can look so bleak, and often, it can feel like the only serious position to take on the state of things is one of hopelessness. Rebecca Solnit offers a powerful argument for seeking out hope. This clear-eyed, radical work urges us to look for the hope, for hope is how we can find the courage to act. She grounds her work in careful reading and evidence for the transformative power of hope, and this is a must-read for you if you have lost yours.

How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto, by Tom Hodgkinson

Let’s get something out of the way—this is a dude’s book. In fact, it’s one of the more male books that I’ve read in a really long time. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth reading or that those of us who aren’t cis-gendered white British males can’t get something from it. Like the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, this work is funny and cheeky, but it’s also deadly serious.

Our modern hustle culture sucks us dry and there’s got to be a better way to live. You might roll your eyes a bit, but it will make you think, too. And, I hope, it will inspire you to have a few lazy mornings, because they are absolutely delicious.

How to Cook a Wolf, by MFK Fisher

If you haven’t read MFK Fisher, let this be your introduction. In How to Cook a Wolf, written during World War II, is ostensibly a book of how to make do with the ingredients on hand, but it’s so much more than that. It makes you fall in love with food and shows you how to wring life out of nothing. For those of us lucky enough not to have lived through wartime, Fisher’s writing may still conjure up images of our student days, and, while many of the recipes are dated, the writing is timeless. You’ll love it.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell

If you’re a longtime reader, you may remember my post on doing nothing for a few minutes every day. This wasn’t where I got the idea from, but artist Jenny Odell’s call that we consider how our attention is stolen from us by our productivity obsessed, social media culture, will make you think. This isn’t a self-help book at all, and, indeed, it’s less about how to resist the attention economy, but more a reason why we should. I read this at the height of the pandemic, and I still think about it when I find myself drawn back toward the hustle.

In Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin

I have yet to see Patagonia, but I started reading this when I headed to South America. Bruce Chatwin wandered Patagonia in the 1970s, collecting tales of the land and its inhabitants (memorably, the cabin built by Butch Cassidy). Chatwin brings Patagonia to you in this exquisitely written book that will turn you into an adventurer.

Live Alone and Like It: The Classic Guide for the Single Woman, by Marjorie Hillis

Written in 1936, this delightful tome about embracing the freedom of living alone as a single woman will have you cheering. It’s delightful, even when it feels a bit dated. If you love living alone, you’ll smile in agreement, and, if you do not, you may wish that you did. Because it’s amazing.

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day, by John Zeratsky and Jake Knapp

What really matters to you? Are you putting your energy and time toward it? I don’t know about you, but I have answered that question in the negative more times than I would like in my life, and I ordered this book the second after a call with the person who recommended it it me. And now I’m telling you about it, because this book helps. The authors have a very simple formula for how to help ensure that there’s time to focus on the things you care about and a whole host of ideas on how to implement it.

The idea is that you mix and match and find ways that help you (or come up with your own). I use their formula every day to help me identify what’s most important and to help me keep my focus on it.

No One Tells You This, by Glynnis MacNicol

Making a decision to live a child-free life, especially for women, carries a huge stigma. We’re supposed to feel like failures for not having children, or partners. MacNicol took her fortieth year and took stock of her life as a single, child-free woman and decided to love her life, even if it wasn’t exactly what she’d envisioned it to be.

In taking stock, MacNicol travels to Iceland and Wyoming, as well as not far from her home in New York City, showing how travel has the power to change our perspective. Honest and raw, as well as funny and hopeful, this is a worthy read, particularly if you’re wrestling with similar questions.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard

This profound book helped me learn to pay attention to the world around me and to cultivate the art of noticing. Dillard spent a year in a cabin near Tinker Creek and wrestled with theological and philosophical questions as she stalked the natural world around her through four seasons. This Pulitzer Prize winning book is a treasure and, in my opinion, a must read.

Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir, by Rebecca Solnit

Solnit is one of our great living writers, and this gorgeous memoir shares experiences that defined her as a writer and feminist. San Francisco was not always the realm of tech bros, and Solinit captures its energy and danger, reflecting on what living in a society where women are targets for violence and what it means to live in such a world.

Solnit created a singular voice in this threatening environment, and we are fortunate for it.

Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock, by Jenny Odell

While the title might make this sound like a time management book, Jenny Odell in her follow-up book to How to Do Nothing argues against time management and encourages us to “save” as in “rescue” time from the clutches of productivity. Informed by the experience of the early days of the pandemic, as well as a reading list that will keep me busy for quite some time, anyway, this book is thought-provoking and very honest in her look at whether or not this rescue of time is even possible. I’m still thinking about this book months after I read it.

Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again, by Johann Hari

If you’ve ever felt frustrated about your inability to focus in our frenetic age, this book might give you some answers. Rather than squaring blame from our digital addiction on a lack of willpower, and therefore the power to address it, Hari instead convincingly argues that our stolen focus is beyond our power to solve as individuals.

Overcoming this and regaining our focus requires collective action, and Hari shares ideas of where to start. You might throw the book across the room, but you’ll pick it back up again, because his case is that compelling.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do, by Sara Knight

A cheeky, but also very serious, take on Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this book is a swear-strewn guide to how to say no to things that do not serve us. It’s funny, irreverent, and helpful. If you’re a recovering people pleaser, this one’s for you. Must love the effword.

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

I read this book years ago, when I was angry and looking for ways to poke holes in other people’s arguments, and I got so wrapped up in some little details that I knew about Thoreau’s life that I completely missed the beauty that is Walden. Do I think that we should all move into little cabins in the forest and ponder our lives? No, though, sometimes a little cabin in the woods sounds ideal. What I do think is that there’s some profound insight in living counter to our culture that are worth savoring. If you haven’t read it for some reason, or you read it a long time ago, I encourage you to read it again. It’s worthy of your time.

Fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

Immediately after the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks sentenced Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a young aristocrat, to live out his days in an attic room at the Metropol grand hotel in Moscow. He’s never to set foot outside again. It’s a strange sentence for a man of singular wit, and he makes his life an adventure in the grand hotel for decades. The hotel is filled with characters, including Sasha meets early in his stay, and his life somehow becomes a grand Russian novel confined by space, and the ending is just the best.

This isn’t a book that will stay with you forever, but it is a well written enjoyable read.

The Candy House, by Jennifer Egan

I loved this loose follow-up to Egan’s incredible A Visit from the Goon Squad (you don’t need to have read Goon Squad, but you really should, because it’s incredible). In this interwoven novel of characters from Goon Squad and new ones, action centers around the invention of “Own Your Unconscious,” a device that gives you access to every single one of your memories and the ability to share them with others. It’s had the effect you might expect, and society has divided, with a group of “eluders” who have refused the tempting sweets of the Candy House.

Egan is an expert in creating character voices with writing styles to complement them, and this work showcases her ability in a way that isn’t gimmicky, but instead absorbing and ultimately moving. You’ll love it, and I want to discuss it with you.

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

If you haven’t read this lively medieval collection of tales from a disparate group of pilgrims en route together to Canterbury, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Let’s discuss the Wife of Bath.

The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin

NK Jemisin won the Hugo-award three times for a reason. This first book in the stellar Broken Earth trilogy takes you to the world’s end, through the eyes of Essun, a woman searching for her daughter, whose father had kidnaped her after murdering her brother. The world has suffered a catastrophic rift, spewing ash and darkness, and Essun sets out on her mission. I promise you, the 500 pages will fly by, and you’ll reach for the second volume. This story is one of the most gripping works of fiction I’ve ever read.

The Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel

You’ve never read a story about a financial crash like this one before. Intrigued by the Bernie Madoff scandal, Emily St John Mandel created a tale spanning a luxury hotel, a cargo ship, the life of the uber wealthy, and ghosts. Vincent is one of my favorite characters from recent memory, and, like all of this author’s books, I recommend reading it immediately.

Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

Don’t judge this incredible novel by its cover—Lessons in Chemistry is not a light chick-lit beach read. It’s hilarious, fantastical, romantic, and a book you won’t put down, but the story of a brilliant woman who refused to conform to gendered expectations in the early 1960s has a deadly serious point. There’s no one in fiction quite like Elizabeth Zott, a chemist who cooks with gas and inspires a feminist revolution.

I loved, loved, LOVED this book. It’s a must read, as far as I’m concerned. I’d love to hear what you think.

Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett

This book has polarized my literary friends. I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t get through it, that it was weird and boring, and others who, like me, couldn’t put it down and wanted to tell the world about it. To me, this strange little book is exhilarating. Bennett has a keen eye for details, and a mind that wanders down fascinating paths. If this intrigues you, I encourage you to try it.

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St John Mandel

Have you ever hugged a book after reading it? I hugged this gem of an intertwined novel, ranging from the early twentieth century to five hundred years later on the moon. It’s one of those books that should not have worked, but in the hands of Emily St John Mandel, it soars. If you have read Station Eleven, you must read this.

Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel

I go through periods when I don’t read much fiction, and the few years before the pandemic was one of them. When rumors about Covid first started swirling, a friend of mine told me that it all reminded her of this book. Perhaps unwisely, I ordered it. Reading this book for the first time right at that moment heightened the fear around the disease that wipes out most of humanity, but that art and music are forces that keep us going gave me great hope.

If you haven’t read this finalist for the National Book Award finalist yet, do, and then pick up every single book that she has written, because they are all exquisite.

The Haunting of Hillhouse, by Shirley Jackson

Don’t worry about spoilers if you’ve already seen the Netflix series: the only thing that Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece has in common with the show are the names of the characters. You may wish that you knew what was coming, though, because this story, will have your hair standing straight up from your head.

Our window into haunted house is Eleanor, a fascinating character we cannot trust, and yet we root for as the house does what it does. Unlike a lot of horror, this finalist for the National Book Award is as literary as it is terrifying. Don’t read it before bed, but definitely read it if you love a ripping good spooky story.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

In this novel, Nora Seed finds herself caught between death and life in a magical place called the Midnight Library. Here, she can choose any number of different lives, including the life she lives now. This novel explores the great “what ifs” we ask of our lives and how we become who we are. Definitory worth reading, especially if you’re interested in the road not taken.

The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich

This Pulitzer-Prize winning saga is one of the best works of fiction I’ve ever read. Based on her grandfather, who worked as a night watchman at a local factory and who also served as a council member of the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa during the attempt by the US government to delist the band from the rolls.

Erdrich tells a tale that is by turns infuriating, mystical, and laugh-out-loud-until-you-nearly-pass-out funny, weaving in a cast of characters, especially Patrice (aka Pixie) Paranteau, that you will remember forever. If you haven’t read this incredible book by one of our best living writers, rectify that immediately.

The Obelisk Gate, by NK Jemisin

In this second entry in the Hugo-Award winning Broken Earth Trilogy, we go deeper into Essun’s past and learn more about the world that she has attempted to break free from. Essun’s daughter is coming into her power, and we meet another character, Alabaster Tenring. Through the desperate search , the world continues to come apart at the seams. Again, you’ll eat this book whole and look for more.

The Sentence, by Louise Erdrich

A novel set in Minneapolis against the backdrop of the pandemic and the George Floyd murder, this ghost story about a Native American bookstore haunted by its most annoying customer might not be Erdrich’s best work, but her protagonist Tookie is one of her more compelling characters. Tookie had gone to prison for transporting a body stuffed with drugs across state lines, and books became her lifeline. Out of prison, she’s a passionate reader employed at a local bookstore, and the ghost, who was seemingly killed by a sentence, haunts her.

A book literally about the power of words and literature, this novel is worth reading for the reading list alone.

The Stone Sky, by NK Jemisin

In this final book in the Hugo-Award winning Broken Earth Trilogy, we begin to understand the enormity of Essun’s role in this ending world. She continues her search for her daughter, Nasun, who has come into an awesome power. I cried, not just because this trilogy was so gripping, but also because it had come to an end.

Even if you don’t like fantasy, this series is worth the time investment so many times over.

This Time Tomorrow, by Emma Straub

What if you could live your life over again and make different choices? Thirty-nine-year-old Alice gets to do just that after she happens upon a time traveling portal at her childhood home in New York City. She returns to her sixteenth birthday, over and over again, able to make different choices and see the outcomes. What will she change about her life?

While there were parts of this book I found a bit annoying, I overall enjoyed it very much and think you would too. The time travel device is fantastic, and you’ll look up her address if you don’t know about the charming little New York corner already.

Cookbooks

Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

 

Dorie Greenspan, perhaps best known for World Peace Cookies (the original recipe is in this book), created a cookbook so good that it inspired a movement: Tuesdays with Dorie, where people from all over would cook recipes from Around My French Table. I’ve turned to it again and again in the years since I bought it, and it never lets me down. The appetizers section will have you in party dishes for years to come.

Baking Yesteryear: The Best Recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s, by B. Dylan Hollis

Have you ever flipped through an old cookbook and wondered what people were thinking? B. Dylan Hollis did, and he’s cooked them up and shared them in his delightful TikTok.

Some of these old recipes are absolute gems, and some are well . . . turkeys. In Jello.

Hollis brings his unique project to the page, sharing both the best of what he’s found and the worst. This book is a lot of fun, and, even if you never dare bake anything from it, it makes for a great conversation piece.

Fire & Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking, by Dana Goldstein

If you’re looking for a creative and accessible introduction to Nordic cooking, this James Beard nominee is your cookbook. Taking inspiration from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, Goldstein’s recipes are delicious and doable. The photos are gorgeous, and you’ll want to try all of the unique dishes. She has a helpful section on where to source specialty ingredients, and, where appropriate, she’s suggested substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients.

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Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes, by Rachel Khoo

This was a hard cookbook to find for a while there, and I’m really happy to see it available again. If you have a tiny kitchen and want to cook delicious French food (or, even if you have a big kitchen and you want a good introduction to approachable modern French cooking), look no further than Little Paris Kitchen. Rachel Khoo’s compact, beautiful book is filled with delicious recipes that you can do at home without a ton of special equipment or culinary training. I use this book all the time, and I highly recommend it.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

This is the book that changed American cooking. Julia Child demystified French cooking, sharing step-by-step how to create the most demanding dishes. While I don’t cook from this book every day, this is where I turn when I want to make something really special. The recipes are clear, the writing sparkling, and the impact unmistakable.

The Modern Larder: From Anchovies to Yuzu, a Guide to Artful and Attainable Home Cooking, by Michelle McKenzie (Author) and Rick Poon (Photographer)

This beautiful book shares pantry ingredients from contemporary cooking and recipes to use them in. If you’ve ever wondered how to use that cool ingredient you picked up somewhere that time, this book will likely have a suggestion for you.

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, by David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is famous for his writing about desserts, but this cookbook has so much more. Approachable and elevated, his take on modern French cooking will have you reaching for this book again and again. And the stories are great.

The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated: 200 Recipes for Ice Creams, Sorbets, Gelatos, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments, by David Lebovitz

If you’ve ever wanted to make ice cream (or sorbet, or gelato, or granitas, or or or . . .), get this outstanding book by David Lebovitz. He covers everything you need to know about making ice cream and there’s so many ideas! The chocolate ice cream on the cover is what the angels eat in heaven when they’re happy.

The recipes are great, but for the technique, this book is an absolute must.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat, illustrated by Wendy Macnaughton

Most cookbooks give you recipes, this contemporary classic teaches you how to cook. Or, really, how to taste. This beautiful book goes over the four elements of good cooking, and you will never be the same. There are recipes in here for you to try (the buttermilk chicken is out-of-this-world delicious), but what you’ll really come away with is a better understanding of what makes good food good. If you don’t already have it, get it!

Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg

I thought I cooked seasonally until I cracked open this James Beard Award-winning cookbook. This is perfect for vegetarians, but also for anyone wanting to eat more seasonably. The winter dishes will warm your soul.

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