There has been a slew of high-profile cookbooks published in 2013, from major chef tomes to influential restaurant cookbooks. But in addition to all these great cookbooks, 2013 has also been a good year for food books that aren't cookbooks.
This year's crop of food books range from provocative memoirs to exposés of the junk food industry. This wide spectrum of titles proves that when it comes to food, there are infinite interesting topics. Plus, all of these books are great cocktail party fodder.
Check out nine of the best books of 2013:
Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
If you read one book about food this year, have it be this one. We all know that the American diet is full of too much salt, sugar and fat. Moss explains how it got that way, and what big food companies are doing to make sure it doesn't stop (salt + sugar + fat = profits!).
Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen
We highly recommend Kate Christensen's food memoir, Blue Plate Special for its frank and evocative prose. If you've read any of Christensen's fiction (and you should), you already know how wonderfully Kate writes about food. And when she makes her writing personal, it only gets better.
From Scratch: Inside The Food Network by Allen Salkin
Allen Salkin's 20-year history of the Food Network might actually be a better read for someone that doesn't watch a ton of Giada or Bobby. Why? Because if you expect this book to divulge a ton of closely guarded secrets about your favorite celebrity chef, you might be disappointed. But you will get a fast education on understanding what sells on television, and how a bunch of people that don't care about food can end up running a network devoted to the subject. And that story is the one more likely worth telling.
Pandora's Lunchbox by Melanie Warner
Melanie Warner doesn't think that processed food is evil. But she does think it probably plays too big of a role in the American diet. Pandora's Lunchbox doesn't judge you for what you eat, but it will make you second guess those McDonald's french fries. Turns out soybean oil is a lot more fascinating than you ever would have thought.
Russ & Daughters: Reflections And Recipes From The House That Herring Built by Mark Russ Federman
If you've ever lived in New York, or have any affection for a bagel and lox, then you'll appreciate this look at one of New York's most iconic food stores. Mark Russ Federman's history of his family and his store will give you a crazy feeling of nostalgia, even if you weren't yet born during the times he describes.
Candy: A Century Of Panic & Pleasure by Samira Kawash
The history of candy is tied deeply with the history of dieting. Professor Samira Kawash takes readers on a tour of consumers' love -- and fear -- of candy. This is a book for research buffs; candy has impacted America in more ways than we know.
Cooked: A Natural History Of Transformation by Michael Pollan
We're just gonna say it. Cooked isn't Michael Pollan's best book. It took us a bit to get through. But we're glad we did -- because months later, we keep thinking back to certain passages. Pollan's overall message -- that one of the best things you can do for health is to cook -- is one that we fully support. Though we're not sure we're going to go quite as fermentation-crazy as he did.
Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear
In her brand new book (on shelves Nov. 14), New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear went where most American eaters don't venture. From ant eggs to ox penis, Goodyear explores the fringes of foodie-ism, and what these extremes mean for food in America. It's a well-researched and captivating read.
Best Food Writing 2013
It may seem like a cop-out, or at least a little obvious, to put a best food writing book on this list. But what is so great about this annual series is that editor Holly Hughes curates articles that likely never crossed your desk, even if you're an avid reader of food content.
Nearly every piece selected is worth your time.