There are no shortage of thought-provoking food books on the shelves (or in your Kindle library) these days, what with best-sellers like Mary Roach's pop-science triumph Gulp and Michael Pollan's latest. But there's a time and a place for food-politics treatises and highminded cooking manuals, and summertime ain't it—when you're swinging in a hammock or lounging on the beach, only a novel will do.
Thankfully, there are some fine works of fiction that offer plenty of fodder for the food obsessive. Some revolve entirely around life in the kitchen, while others use dining culture as critical scene-setting, or illuminate characters through what and how they eat. In all cases, these novels hit the sweet spot for a great summer read, side-stepping the 'required reading' feel of certain non-fiction tomes while still saying something interesting about food and—in many cases—coming through with some serious literary food porn (fooderotica?!) to heat things up.
Here are 10 of our favorite novels in which food plays a critical role, with excerpt from each author to help you choose your next summer read.Click to start the list