Mark Bittman


The author of How to Cook Everything  and Food Matters recommends some literary nourishment.


Although his popular and influential New York Times column on cooking and food is called "The Minimalist," Mark Bittman's influence on American diets is anything but small.  His compendium of recipes and principles How to Cook Everything has become a generation's kitchen bible; more recently, in Food Matters, he offered a masterful guide to applying 21st-century awareness of nutrition and ecological concerns to our everyday eating.  We asked him to recommend three books that feed the mind and soul.


Books by Mark Bittman





New Grub Street

By George Gissing


"The definitive novel about the world of freelance writing. Scary, horrifying even, and yet not entirely bleak. Written 150 years ago, and yet the world it describes hasn't changed much. If I'd read this in 1970 I'd probably have become a doctor, as my mother wanted me to."









The Fire Engine that Disappeared

By Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo


"My favorite police procedural ever, this is the highlight (maybe) of the brilliant ten-part series written by a Swedish husband-and-wife team in the 70s. As with all the books, it's filled with cleverly drawn, sympathetic, and often hilarious characters and a biting critique of Sweden's crumbling malfunctioning so-called welfare state. But unlike the others, there are two parallel mysteries here, and both are fun."








Journey of the Heart

By John Welwood


"A novel exploration of love and what it means. Maybe revolutionary, but at least different."


April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.