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 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."