My 5 Favorite Books With Food

Food in books paired with snacks. Could it be better?

Hey everyone! I’ve been hard at work on the Pie-Jinks series launch, so I’ve been thinking A LOT about pie. If you haven’t read the prequel yet (Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks, which is currently on sale for $0.99!), basically the main character Reese bakes magical pies that are infused with emotions and feelings and memories.

So now that I’m less than 2 weeks away from the launch of the series, I figured it’s a good time to do something a little different: suggest some of my favorite books with food central to the themes and recommend something to snack on while reading!

But before that, a little bit of an update about the Pie-Jinks events:

(Image: graphic for Vanilla Bean Vampire Launch Party. Includes a picture of the cover, the words “Vanilla Bean Vampire Launch Party”, a pie picture, a background of frosty fall leaves, lots of sparkles, and a bunting in autumn colors along the top. Colors are light yellow, orange, and salmon pink.)

Okay. Now that I have THAT out of the way, let’s dive into these suggestions! I love books with food, and especially books with MAGICAL food, so let’s take a look at some great food books I’ve read. 🙂

My Favorite Food Books!

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

So I literally JUST read this one. It’s a sweet, magical middle grade story about a town with a curse that pulled all but a snicker of magic away. The main character returns with her wandering, free-spirit mother, desperate to finally find some roots, and falls right into the way the town operates. And one of the best parts of this book? Magical ice cream! Seriously, there’s magic food in here and sweet magic realism and some really cool plotting and world building. One of my favorite books all summer!

Recommended snacking: Ice cream… your favorite flavor! Mine are teaberry (Leiby’s brand) and chocolate marshmallow (Turkey Hill brand)

The Great Witches Baking Show by Nancy Warren

Ok, here is another one I read this year, and honestly it gave me so many warm feelings. It reminded me a lot of the Pie-Jinks books, but with a more spring/summer feel!

This book is all about a girl looking to figure out where she came from and who her family is, and to do that, she learns how to bake and gets onto a show being filmed at the location of the only clue she has to her family. But then someone starts sabotaging the contestants, there’s some weird ghosties floating around, witches hosting the show, and… MURDER!

Super cute, super cozy, all the food, all the magic. Definitely recommend! And, there’s a whole series of these, and yes, I plan to keep reading one of these days!

Recommended snacking: Cake! There is a lot of cake in here, among other baked goods like tarts. My favorite kind of cake is vanilla with chocolate icing (whipped if possible), but I also love angel food.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

This one is a contemporary young adult with the enemies to friends trope. Two girls with an intense rivalry and hatred for each other take things a little too far and almost destroy their school on prom night. Their punishment? Work together on a food truck for the summer… or else.

And as these things usually go, the girls learn more about each other and that maybe they aren’t so different after all. And maybe they could actually work together and make this the best food truck ever! Cute, lots of drama, and lots of emotions!

Recommended snacking: This one makes me think of my favorite restaurant apps. So I will recommend boneless wings (I don’t like bone-in, I know, terrible), jalapeño poppers (the cream cheese ones), and blooming onions!

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

First off, can I say how much I LOVE this cover?

Okay. So this is another contemporary, but adult. Women’s fiction. This book stars Sunshine, a celebrity YouTube chef who suddenly falls from grace. There’s lots of drama, cooking, celebrity life, and heartfelt plot and characters in here. It was such a good, entertaining, thought-provoking read, and the cover just makes me keep coming back to it to think about it all over again.

Recommended snacking: Obviously this one has heavy citrus vibes, so I’m going with lemonade and ambrosia!

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I’ve mentioned this one before, and I’ll mention it again! I love this story about a tech lady who rediscovers her passions through a singing sourdough started she inherits out of the blue. It’s silly and light and a little fantasy/sci-fi, and it remains near the top of the list of my favorite books of all time!

Recommended snacking: Again this may be obvious, but… bread and butter! Maybe a little sharp cheese. My favorites are yeast rolls, warm Italian bread, and white bread. And for cheese? Cooper sharp American or wine cheese.

Final Thoughts

I love food in stories, and in particular magical food. While the books I shared here aren’t ALL magic food, they do all have elements that I love in each one. And, of course, thinking about magical food just makes me think about Pie-Jinks all over again!

I know I’ve been talking about these books a lot, but I’m just so excited to share them with everyone. During the pandemic, these books brought me joy. They’re light, fluffy, and magical. They’re exactly what I needed to escape from the darkness in our world. I had a blast writing them, and I want to share the whimsy and the deliciousness with everyone else. So I truly hope you’ll celebrate these books with me and maybe give them a chance. ♥

But even if not, I hope my list of recommendations sparks some interest in you and brings you some joy as summer winds down. Please feel free to share your favorite food stories with me in the comments… especially if there’s magic!

Until next time, happy reading! ♥

Scientific Misconceptions and Misrepresentations in Writing

Hey there! Sorry it’s been so long, but life has been crazy! Let’s dive right into a topic near and dear to me: science, scientists, and common scientific misrepresentations in fiction.

Many writers want to include an element of science, either by writing a scientist character, focusing on science fiction, or creating a system of rules for how magic in a fantasy story may work (hey, logic! I use science in my fantasy writing all the time!). For ease, I’ll break this into two pieces: myths surrounding the people involved in science and myths around the science itself. For many of these, I will also give you a way to approach these myths to improve your writing.

Myths of the Scientist

Myth #1: All scientists work in labs at universities. This is just plain untrue. While some scientists remain in academic environments, the funding and lack of tenure-track faculty positions, not to mention the simple fact that not everyone wants to stay in academia, means that a large number of scientists go elsewhere. In fact, most scientists are not tenure-track faculty. They may be found in government work, private companies (scientific or otherwise, believe it or not… people like people who proved they can think), scientific writing and publishing, ethics, consulting, or a large number of other positions. WE’RE EVERYWHERE.

Another reason this is untrue is that it focuses on biomedical-type science. Remember there are ecologists, psychologists, sociologists, geologists, archaeologists, etc. Every field in science is different, and many of them include field work. Take some time and talk to one of them, even if it’s by email. HINT: Scientists love talking about what they do.

Myth #2: Scientists are all stuffy old men in lab coats. Also false. While it is true that this is still a largely male-dominated field, and largely dominated by white men at that, there are tons of women, young scientists, non-white individuals, and jobs without lab coats. Would a consultant wear a lab coat? Maybe, but not always. When writing scientists, keep these things in mind. Make them a diverse bunch. And yeah, scientists can be quirky and awkward and arrogant. But remember that a stereotype is nothing but a perceived image and isn’t always true. Choose your representation of these folks carefully and deliberately. They are not cardboard cutouts, so don’t treat them that way. They still have their own personalities and lives and hobbies outside of their profession. But chances are good that if they are in science, it’s because they love it.

Myth #3: I don’t know enough science to worry about good science in my story. This may be true for you, but don’t let it stop you. Consult. Talk to people who know what you don’t. Writing isn’t solitary. You can ask to visit and shadow, ask them to look over your logic or give you the right knowledge. Even a student can give you basic information. If you don’t ask, the answer is no, but you may be surprised. And if you get a no, don’t let it discourage you. If one person doesn’t answer or is too busy, try someone else. Look on university and college websites for email addresses, and give it a polite, enthusiastic try. Even something as simple as “Hi, I’m a writer and I wanted to talk to you about your research” can open so many doors. Believe me, the readers (and scientists) will thank you for taking the time and effort to do your own research.

Myth #4: Scientists are not religious people. Again, take a step back. Scientists are first and foremost people. Within science, you will encounter both religious and non-religious individuals, just like in the general population. For example, I have been studying and working in science (biology, no less) for over 8 years and am a steadfast Christian. There are also a number of scientists with beliefs in any other religion (or non-religious viewpoint) found anywhere in the world. In fact, a 2005 survey observed 48% of scientists had religious affiliations and 75% believed that religion is important for conveying certain truths or ideas (see this page for more questions and answers). Don’t be afraid to make your scientist a person of faith (whatever faith that may be). Be true to the character, not the stereotype.

Myth #5: Scientists are not superstitious. While once again this depends on the person, I can say from personal experience and interactions that many scientists are very superstitious people. But not like you’d expect. What I mean is that because some experiments can be so tricky or finicky, if it works one time a scientist may choose to keep everything the same so it works again. Not just the procedure. Simple, unscientific things like not putting away a solution until a certain point in the procedure or doing a dance while an instrument is collecting readings (I knew someone who did this). And yes, we know it doesn’t make sense and isn’t logical. Yet…

For further reading on the public’s idea of the scientist, check out this page from the National Science Foundation (NSF). And remember, this is how they are perceived, not how they are. To read more about scientist portrayals in Hollywood, read this post from Euroscientist.

Myths of the Science

Myth #1: Humans use only 10% of their brain. False. False false false! I can’t tell you how often I see this in books and movies and it ticks me off every time. We use all of our brain. Maybe not all at the same time. But there’s nothing there we don’t use. End of story. So no excuses just so that you can write a character with special superhuman abilities. Find another way that doesn’t perpetuate a myth.

Myth #2: Antibiotics are good for getting rid of any infection. Nope. Antibiotics will only be good against bacterial infections… for viruses, you need an antiviral, and for parasites or fungi you need antiparasitic or antifungal agents. BUT also remember that use of antibiotics can lead to superbugs… those organisms that are not killed by a certain antibiotic, or are resistant. In fact, prescribing antibiotics for viral infections could also be contributing to antibiotic resistance of bacteria. If you’re interested in the major implications of antibiotic overuse, I recommend looking up information about antibiotic overuse and the post-antibiotic era. Scary stuff.

Myth #3: Hair and fingernails keep growing after death. They don’t. The body dries out after death, causing the skin to pull away from hair and nails so that it merely appears they have grown. They haven’t.

Myth #4: There is a dark side of the moon. Not really. This myth may come from the fact that on Earth we can only ever see one side of the moon. This is because the Earth and moon are what is called “tidally locked”, a case in which the rotation of the moon around its own axis is the same as its orbit around Earth, causing only one side of the moon to ever been seen by Earth. However, there is no dark side of the moon, as the sun hits every part of the moon at one point or another.

Myth #5: Brain cells (neurons) can’t regenerate in an adult. This is a myth that even scientists believed up until the late 1990s. It was thought that a person was born with as many neurons as they would get in their adult life, but in fact there are new neurons born all the time in a process called neurogenesis. There are particular regions of the brain where this process occurs regularly, such as the hippocampus (the region of memory).

Myth #6: People are left-brained or right-brained. This one isn’t true either. Whether an activity is creative or logical, both sides of the brain show activity. There is no such thing as a left-brained or a right-brained person.

I hope this gives you a place to start for your own writing. But I warn you, this barely scratches the surface. I encourage you to look at some other resources, including those listed above as well as other lists of scientific myth and fact such as on Alternet, Dan Koboldt (who discusses genetics myths in fiction), Listverse, IFLScience, and again this page from Berkeley. However, I encourage you to research any scientific idea you want to use in your writing. Doing the extra work now adds to your credibility and the enjoyment of your story by your readers!

My credentials to prove I know what I’m saying: BA in biology, MS in neuroscience, working in science industry since 2015.

This post first appeared on Paper Cranes Writing.