Mark Bittman

The food writer on works of fiction that nourish the mind and soul.



Mark Bittman is one of the country's best-known and most widely respected food writers. For 13 years he wrote "The Minimalist" column for the New York Times, and now he dispenses culinary wisdom and debates food policy in that publication's opinion pages. His How to Cook Everything books are mainstays of the modern kitchen, and the latest entry in the series, The Basics, delves into fundamental techniques that even experienced cooks can take to heart -- from how to boil an egg to how to properly salt pasta water. When we asked him to pick three favorites, Bittman responded, "I don't have three favorite books -- life is long in that regard -- but I have three faves from the last year. I just hope you're not expecting cookbooks!"


Books by Mark Bittman



Infinite Jest

By David Foster Wallace


"Some people think it's too long, but I found it too short. The most fun and intriguing and insightful read since maybe 100 Years of Solitude, or even Catch-22."







Something Happened

By Joseph Heller


"Speaking of Joseph Heller. If anyone but Heller had written this it would have been considered a masterwork. Sadly, Heller had to undergo cracks like 'How come you never wrote anything as good as Catch-22' (His pat reply: 'Neither did anyone else.')"





Oryx and Crake

By Margaret Atwood


"The best post-apocalypse novel in recent memory, and perhaps ever. Puts The Road to shame. And there's a sequel. (And, reportedly, a third book in the works.)"

April 16: ""Blue pottery vases and bowls for flowers are most attractive, and certain blue books...will repeat and emphasize color."

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.