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Ten Quarantine Reads From A Yelp Book Nerd

Oh, hi there. Are you sitting around, not doing much of anything? Tired of non-stop social media (but definitely not Yelp)? You should read. Like, actual books. We know times are hard, so we wanted to make it really easy for you to get started. Here’s a list of some of the best food and travel writing around. Because you deserve it.
 
And of course, buy local! Chances are, your local bookshop is run by amazing people who just want you to love reading as much as they do. Find yours here, see if they’re open, and support them while you lose yourself in these great reads!

The Food Lab – If you’re not already a devotee of Serious Eats’ and NYT Cooking’s scientist/chef/guru J. Kenji Alt-Lopez, you need to make:

1. Some changes in your life.
2. Some foolproof pan pizza.

Your quarantine will be vastly improved by the latter, at a minimum. Once you’re a believer, invest in this weighty tome. It may be slightly intimidating, but it’s the modern day How To Cook Everything, offering up the why behind cooking principles. Your money can’t be better spent than making everything you eat taste fantastic. 
You’re On An Airplane – Ever wanted to spend the day inside the mind of Hollywood’s “indie” queen, Parker Posey? Sit next to her on a virtual airplane and hear stories of her southern grandma’s beauty regime (killer cocktail recipe included), how she was cast in Dazed in Confused, or about her dog, Gracie. Escapism at its finest.
In A Sunburned Country – Perhaps the best of Bill Bryson’s travelogues, this is more of an adventure-in-the-sun-soaked-continent-Down-Under than a travel book, per se. It’s probably going to be a while before you feel comfortable hopping a plane to see this country that houses the world’s deadliest wildlife, but living vicariously through Bryson’s dry humor is the next best thing. Plus, there’s a place called Tittybong.
Flour Water Salt Yeast – Looking to hop on the quarantine sourdough train that seems to have picked up all your friends? This baking bible from Ken Forkish will succinctly show you everything you need to know until you’re baking beautiful loaves of bread. Don’t sleep on the pizza primer in the back. Because pizza. 
 
The Alchemist – You’ve probably heard of Paulo Coelho’s simple, yet captivating, fable, and with good reason. Embark on a treasure-seeking journey with Santiago through trials and tribulations, and dream of getting out of quarantine. After all, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
Kitchen Confidential – The raw, unfiltered look into restaurant kitchens that launched the legendary career of the late, great, Anthony Bourdain. If you loved No Reservations, check out where it all began. 
On Food & Cooking – Simply put, the bible of food. Every chef worth his salt knows this red-covered resource from Harold McGee, a deep dive into just about all of the ingredients known to man. If you truly wish to understand food, and more importantly, how it is transformed from raw ingredient into deliciousness, there’s no better book to speed you through that journey.
Blood, Bones & Butter – One of the finest kitchen memoirs to appear in the last decade, this is Gabrielle Hamilton’s account of how she came to be the chef and owner of one of the East Village of NYC’s finest little bistros. The quality of her prose also launched her into being the reluctant voice of the struggling restaurant industry in this recent piece in the New York Times.
 
Kitchens of the Great Midwest – Lose yourself in a page-turning read about a woman with a phenomenally sensitive palate who becomes a celebrated chef. That’s basically you, right?

Salt – It’s the only rock we eat, and it has literally changed civilization as we know it. Mark Kurlansky’s examination of this flavor-making substance is educational and fascinating. Learn how salt has been warred over, built around, and ultimately been shockingly instrumental in the history of humankind.