Close to the end of the year famous people start posting their book list. Bill Gates posted his “must read” list last week. They seem very thoughtful and most have a global flare. I’d really like to read a few of them.

Must read lists inspire me. They expose me to new ideas, people and concepts. Occasionally, I’m lead to think the book must be awesome if some smart, famous person read it. Not always. I’ve read many books that were recommended, but just because others liked it doesn’t mean I will like it. 

That is not the case with cookbooks. I like every cookbook and books about food. Reading cookbooks is very satisfying. Sometimes even better than cooking because there is no mess to clean up! My mind can conjure up the flavors and I can even get an idea of what the finished dish will taste like. It’s the next best thing to cooking.

I read many cookbooks this year, some old, some new. A few were standouts and I think they are worth picking up! Here are my 5 favorite cookbooks from 2017.

Green Kitchen at Home, by David and Luise Vindahl- The photos in this book are stunning! The book is perfect for vegetarians. There are many fun and interesting recipes that your family will gobble up. They won’t miss the meat. 

Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi This cookbook is my new favorite. I find myself going back to it again and again for inspiration. The food is Mid-Eastern and what you would typically find in Israel—obviously. Most of the dishes are fresh and inspire me to eat clean. The many photos of people on the street show what life is like there. It makes me want to visit!

The Midwestern Table, by Amy Thielen I know this book has been out for a while, but I never got around to reading it. It makes me feel at home. Thielen’s little stories make me remember my grandparents. The recipes are very good and fun. This is a great gift for someone who doesn’t live in the Midwest anymore. 

Fat for Fuel, by Dr. Mercola I know this is not a cookbook, but I had to add it. It was eye opening because it made me think differently about the way I eat and what I eat. This would be a great gift for a health conscious person. The book claims to boost brainpower and energy—we all need more of that!

The Book of Cheese, by Liz Thorpe If you like cheese this is the only book you need. The book is the best catalog of cheeses I’ve ever read—and trust me, I think I’ve read every book about cheese published in the last 10 years! The recipes are easy and trendy, showcasing cheese in a new light. It’s the perfect gift for that cheese lover!

The best gifts are the ones that keep on giving. Cookbooks do just that!

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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