No one needs more gadgets, but everyone needs more books. This year’s gift guide consists only of books. Specifically, cookbooks and cocktail books that people will actually read, use, and enjoy.
If you prefer gadgets and other things, check out the 2016 and 2018 gift guides.
Yeah, these are all Amazon links. It isn’t that I don’t support indie businesses, but indie businesses don’t give me money to pay for hosting when you buy from their links.
Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop
If the person you are buying a gift for wants to cook Chinese food at home, you need to get them this book.
The Noma Guide to Fermentation
Is the person you are buying for into fermenting things? This book will push them in new directions. Guaranteed hit. Get some
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
I got this book last year and have made multiple dishes out of it. The thing I love most is that there are selections from classic middle eastern literature related to food throughout the book, making it a joy to flip through. I love the Arabian Nights and I recognized a few of the passages from there.
Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn
If I had to cut my cookbook library down to 10 books, this is one that would make the cut. I’m moving into a house this week and I’m very excited to have space to make charcuterie again. If the person you are buying for loves charcuterie and likes to cook, get this book.
BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks
Everything we’ve baked from Stella is amazing.
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
If the person you are buying for is interested in baking bread, this is the book to get. Bonus points if you are in the Bay Area and can get a fresh loaf of bread in the afternoon to go with it.
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
I’ve gifted this more than any other cookbook. This is the safe choice on the list. If I know nothing more than the person you are buying for likes to cook, I’d probably recommend this.
Smuggler’s Cove by Martin and Rebecca Cate
When we were in SF for a week this summer, we set aside an evening to drink at Smuggler’s Cove. It is worth the hype. This is one of the tiki books you must own. If the person you are buying for is even mildly into tiki, get this book.
Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm
If the person you are buying for likes wine and wants to learn more, this new book is a great place to start. And it is really well designed! Get a bottle of wine from the book to go with it.
Drinking Distilled by Jeff Morgenthaler
Is the person you are buying for just getting into alcohol? (College student, perhaps?) This book is for them. It covers the basics of making and drinking cocktails for beginners.
Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons
I’ve made multiple batches of bitters from this book this year and they’ve all turned out great.
Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman
If the person you are buying for likes to entertain (or gets invited to lots of gatherings!) get them this book. The cocktails are excellent and are portioned for groups. I’ve also written about Maggie’s other book, The One Bottle Cocktail. I highly recommend it if the person you are buying for has a small bar but likes interesting cocktails.
Founding Fish by John McPhee
I read this book this summer after spotting a school of shad in the Hudson while I was out kayaking. While not a cookbook, this does contain a lot of interesting history, culinary and otherwise. Plus an addendum of shad recipes.
Oranges by John McPhee
A whole book just about oranges? Yes.
The Raw and the Cooked by Jim Garrison
This book is a treasure. Technically it is a set of essays, not a cookbook, but there are recipes in it. If the person you are buying for likes food and good writing, get this.
Edible and Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean
If the person you are buying for is interested in foraging but doesn’t know where to start, this is a great introduction.
National Audubon’s Field Guide to Mushrooms
If the person you are buying for is anything like me, this book will fascinate them for hours and they’ll want to go look for mushrooms the next day.