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Five books chosen by Annabel Abbs

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. This brilliantly innovative book explores which flavours work best together. It’s part cook book and part culinary history and I found it very helpful when I was honing my food-fiction skills for The Language of Food.

Love and Fury by Samantha Silva. This wonderfully imagined story of Mary Wollstonecraft is based around the birth of Mary’s daughter (who became Mary Shelley), and is written from the perspective of Mary as a new mother. Poignant and illuminating – I loved it!

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd. I’m a keen walker and when I got tired of reading books on walking by or about men, I decided to write about women walkers (Windswept: Why Women Walk has just gone into paperback). In the process I discovered The Living Mountain – the best book ever written on the joys of hill-walking (in my view).

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir. What makes a brilliant mind? Memoirs are wonderful portals into how extraordinary people become ... well, extraordinary! I read all Beauvoir’s books, from her novels to her philosophical essays, while I was researching Windswept, but her childhood memoir was my favourite. Fascinating and beautifully crafted!

Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain by Pen Vogler. This collection of essays explores how we’ve been shaped by the food we eat. From the quirky to the intriguing (there are chapters on avocados, gin, and bread and butter). It’s a wonderful compendium to dip into before going to sleep. Vogler writes beautifully.


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