A Day in the Life of a High School Library Clerk

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

This September marks my tenth year as a school library clerk. I love my job and how varied it is. No two days look exactly the same, especially since I split my full-time schedule between two high schools. When people ask what my job entails, I say that it’s a little bit of everything. I get to do nearly all library tasks: circulation, reference, collection development, marketing, shelving, and technology help. In addition to my daily work, I help run a multicultural literature book club and serve on one school’s equity committee. I like being busy when I’m at work, and that’s certainly no problem, especially this year.

Since the past year and a half of school has been virtual, my job was primarily virtual, too. Thankfully, students are allowed back in the library this year, and I think I forgot how busy the days could be.

I thought it would be fun to celebrate my tenth anniversary by sharing what one of my workdays looked like this week. People tend to think of libraries as quiet, calm places, but that’s an old stereotype. Here’s a glimpse of what the library is like for me on an average day.

Photo by Wander Fleur on Unsplash

7:00 a.m. | My workday begins at 7:15, but a crucial part of my day often starts around 7:00, when I stop by Starbucks to pick up my usual mobile order (Venti decaf shaken espresso with sugar-free vanilla, in case you were curious, which you definitely were). When I walk through the door, most of the staff greet me by name, so it’s fair to say I choose Starbucks over my at-home coffee maker most days. Sorry, Nespresso machine.

7:15 a.m. | I walk into the library, flick on a few lights, and turn on the vintage circulation computer that sometimes takes a while to wake up (I relate, so no judgment). I help with laminating at one of my schools, so I usually turn on that machine, too. There’s nothing like the smell of burnt plastic in the morning.

7:30 a.m. | I open up the library doors for students to come in. Sometimes kids are waiting, and sometimes only a couple of students come by before class. I’ll check out a few books and give students the holds they’ve come in to pick up.

8:00 a.m. | I help with laptop distribution, so kids start steadily coming in either needing a computer or needing help with a computer problem. I have several carts full of new books in my workroom that need to be processed, but I’m so busy with laptops that I only finish processing a handful.

10:00 a.m. | The first class of the day comes in for book checkout. After not having students in the library for so long, it’s a delight to have it packed and busy again. I start by giving the students a quick introduction to the space, and then they’re off to find books that look interesting. I have several displays set up and books faced out everywhere, hoping to make it easy for students to find engaging titles.

11:00 a.m. | It’s time for the first lunch of the day. We let kids eat in the library, so it fills up pretty quickly. I check out a few more books during lunch, but most kids are there just to eat and hang out. I heard a student say to a friend, “The library is where all the kids with social anxiety come for lunch.” I’m thrilled to be part of a place where kids feel safe and able to relax.

12:00 p.m. | Second lunch is happening while another class comes in for checkout. It’s a little chaotic, but the students are good listeners and end up finding a lot of books to read.

12:30 p.m. | I finally get a moment to pause and eat my lunch. I usually bring my Kindle to read during my break, but since I’ve been so busy today, I skip the book and play around on my phone instead. I knew I couldn’t focus on a book, which is a tad ironic, considering my job.

1:00 p.m. | The final classes of the day and kids needing help with their laptops fill the rest of my afternoon. I try to process a few books between students at my desk, but I don’t get very far.

2:45 p.m. | School is out, and I’ve waited a few minutes for the halls to clear. Now it’s time to take a book cart to an English teacher whose students had placed a ton of titles on hold. Kids have been so excited to have access to library books again, which makes me happy. Some kids requested one book, while several others requested five. I relate more to the kids who requested five!

3:00 p.m. | I return to the library, where the homework club is in full swing. Though this happens in the library, I’m not in charge of it, so I finally have some time to shelve, get books checked in, and straighten up the shelves for the classes coming in the next day.

3:30 p.m. | I reply to any emails I’ve missed, check the library visit sign-up calendar, and clean up my desk.

3:45 p.m. | I’m finally heading out the door! I turn on a podcast in my car while I drive home, looking forward to a (very long) nap.

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

That’s what my Wednesday looked like last week! For those of you who are also library workers, what are your workdays like?

Ten Books for Back-to-School Season

Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

Since I work in education, September feels more like a new year than January does. When I go back to work, sometimes I want to pick up a book that mirrors my current season. If a book is set inside a school or is about a professor, I’m interested right away. I’m not sure if my intrigue stems from working in schools or fond memories of college, but no matter the reason why, I love academic settings and characters. Today I’m sharing ten books that are just right for back-to-school season. Sharpen your pencils, and let’s begin.

Adequate yearly progress book cover

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

This novel presents a satirical look at a public high school in Texas. We meet an earnest English teacher who yearns for a deeper connection with her students. The principal ends up in the news for saying something controversial on camera. Other main characters include a math teacher, biology teacher, football coach, and a second-year history teacher who blogs about the school and starts to go viral.

I found this novel to be equal parts funny and insightful. Many of the characters are people I feel like I’ve met over the years. If you’re looking for a lighthearted book to welcome you into a new school year, this is the one.

The all-night sun book cover

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

I wrote about this book in last week’s recap, so I’ll repeat what I said then:

Lauren is a lonely, 30-year-old woman teaching college writing near Washington, D.C. She lost her parents years ago in a car accident and is still trying to find her way after their deaths. When Siri shows up in Lauren’s classroom, the two women strike up a friendship. Siri has also lost her parents, so the two feel a special kinship. Siri invites Lauren back to her home in Sweden, and Lauren, blurring professional boundaries, accepts.

The All-Night Sun follows the two women through their time in Sweden. This novel explores friendship, loneliness, and professionalism through beautiful prose and memorable characters. The cover of this book caught my eye at my local indie bookstore, and I’m so glad it did. I think most literary fiction fans will enjoy this story.

Good girls lie book cover

Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison

Good Girls Lie is set at a prestigious all-girls prep school in Virginia. The Goode School is for the rich and influential, the types of girls who will head off to Yale and Harvard. Beneath the impressive exterior is a secret society whose members push past the strict behavioral lines the administration has drawn for them. When a popular student ends up dead, people say it was suicide, but there are too many questions about the death for the interest to end there.

While I didn’t love this book’s conclusion, I did love the setting and the story’s fast pace. Good Girls Lie is the perfect escapist novel for anyone in the mood for a dark academic tale.

Looking for Alaska book cover

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska is the first novel by young adult legend John Green. (It’s also my favorite of his books.) The story follows a boy named Miles who attends a coed boarding school. It’s there he meets a girl named Alaska. He’s immediately smitten and is soon drawn into her fascinating, self-destructive world. When tragedy strikes, Miles is forced to reevaluate everything he thought he knew. 

I’ve read all of the novels Green has authored alone, and this is the one that has stuck with me the most. He writes teenagers so well, and their desperation and strivings toward adulthood are profound in this story. 

The most dangerous place on earth book cover

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

In some ways, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is the opposite of Adequate Yearly Progress. While that novel was satirical and followed teachers at a struggling school, this novel is much darker and primarily follows students at a school full of privileged families. The staff member readers get to know the most is a new teacher named Molly. She’s unaware of a tragic event that happened in middle school, an event still reverberating through the high school years later.

I appreciated how Lindsey Lee Johnson juxtaposed privilege and tragedy, earnestness and facade. This novel felt achingly real and has some critical things to say about how our actions can haunt us.

My dark Vanessa book cover

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

As the #MeToo movement continued to pick up steam in 2017, allegations come out against Jacob Strane, the man who groomed and started a relationship with his student Vanessa when she was just 15. The two are still entwined years later, even though Vanessa is in her late 20s and living her own life. Because of the allegations, she’s forced to remember what she had with Strane and reevaluate it. In her mind, she was in love. She’s not a victim. She chose Strane. Or did she?

This novel focuses on an abusive relationship between a high school teacher and his student, so know that My Dark Vanessa is not for everyone. It’s sad and disturbing, but I ended up loving it. It has important things to say about responsibility and consent.

The secret history book cover

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This novel is set at a small, elite college in New England. A group of eccentric students grows close with an equally eccentric classics professor. Readers find out within the first few pages that one of the students is dead. The tension of this book is how it got to that point. 

The Secret History is probably the most popular, beloved book of the dark academia theme, and for good reason. It’s beautifully written and is full of memorable characters who you’re never quite sure you trust. This book is one of my all-time favorite novels, one I wish I could read again for the first time. It’ll never leave my personal library. 

Stoner by John Williams book cover

Stoner by John Williams

Stoner is a simple book with a simple story. The novel follows a man named William Stoner throughout his life in Missouri. Stoner is expected to take over the family farm, but he is fascinated by literature and becomes a professor. We follow Stoner through his work life and marriage as he struggles with the things we all struggle with: being present, working hard, and showing up for the people who need us.

This book has been called a perfect novel, and I wholeheartedly agree. Stoner is not to be missed for readers who appreciate character development and a deep look into a person’s mind and spirit. It might be a simple story, but John Williams has profound things to say about being human.

Surprised by Oxford book cover

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

If you like nonfiction, here’s a recommendation for you. Surprised by Oxford is a memoir of Carolyn Weber’s time as a student. She begins attending Oxford as an agnostic but ends up becoming a committed Christian. This book is the story of how and why she converted. It’s a love story between Weber and Jesus, but also between Weber and her future husband.

Weber talks about faith with such nuance, intelligence, and warmth. The prose in this book is gorgeous, and you can’t ask for a much better setting than Oxford. If you’re a fan of Lauren Winner or Sara Miles, make sure to find a copy of this book and read it immediately.

Trust exercise book cover

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

This novel begins in the 1980s at a performing arts high school. The two primary characters are students David and Sarah, who fall in love. Their classmates’ rolling eyes can’t dim their passion or commitment. About halfway through this book, something changes, and readers are faced with a new reality that’s hard to explain.

Trust Exercise is a book that has kept on surprising me. The initial twist surprised me when I read it and ultimately left me disappointed. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this book after I finished it. The characters and their stories kept rolling around in my head. While Trust Exercise won’t be for everyone, I do believe it’s worth your time. (And so did the people who gave it the National Book Award.)


That’s my list! What novels would be on your back-to-school syllabus?

What I Read and Loved in August 2021

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

It feels so good to be back in this space. I never intended to take such a long break from posting, but I didn’t have much to share. My grandma passed away in April. Thanks to a mixture of grief and living through a global pandemic, I didn’t have the desire or concentration to read much. Thankfully, I’m back into a groove with books and was even able to develop many new post ideas that I’m excited about sharing. Keep an eye out for some fun posts dropping soon.

But first, here’s my August recap. Enjoy!

What I Read

The Plot book cover

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Format: eBook

Jacob Finch Bonner hasn’t been able to follow up the success of his first novel. The literary world has moved on, and he’s stuck teaching creative writing at a failing college. One day, a student named Evan reveals that he’s come up with a plot idea that is sure to be a success. He shares the plot with Jacob, who agrees that the story is a sure thing. When Jacob finds out that Evan has died, he decides to write the book that Evan never did. The success that follows is blissful until a note shows up that reads, “You are a thief.”

The Plot contains not one but two unputdownable storylines: Jacob’s and the one that Evan conceived. I loved the quick pace of this novel and enjoyed a look into the literary world. If you’re ever stuck in a reading slump like I had been, give this book a chance to get you out of it.

Jesus and John Wayne book cover

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Format: Print

One of my missions as a library worker is to convince skeptics that some nonfiction books can be just as exciting as any thriller. That’s certainly the case with Jesus and John Wayne. Throughout the book, Du Mez reflects on the history of white American evangelicalism and how American society has influenced it, and how it has influenced society. Du Mez’s observations are astute and helped me better understand the faith in which I was raised. Don’t miss this book if you’re interested in religion, politics, gender, and how the three often get entangled.

In book cover

In by Will McPhail
Format: Print

I’ve developed an interest in graphic novels this year and couldn’t resist In when I saw it on the shelf of my local library. The illustrations looked beautiful, and I was intrigued by the premise of a young man trying to connect with the people around him. Thankfully, this gem of a book exceeded my expectations. It follows a man named Nick who wonders why his interactions with people don’t have more depth. As he learns how to open up, he starts seeing the world in new, colorful ways. In is a beautiful meditation on belonging, connection, and finding one’s way in the world. 

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Format: Print

Rowan is a young woman who stumbles across an ad for a live-in nanny. She wants the generous salary and is intrigued about the idea of living in a “smart house,” a residence full of the latest technology. Since this is a mystery novel, things don’t work out. Rowan ends up in prison for murder, and The Turn of the Key is formatted as a letter she’s writing to a lawyer who she believes can save her. 

I love a unique, exciting setting when I read fiction, and Ruth Ware certainly provides that in this story. This novel is a perfectly fine mystery, but I was let down by the ending and lack of character development. 

So you want to talk about race book cover

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Format: Print

After George Floyd was murdered last summer, there was an interest in antiracism books that sent many titles to the top of the bestseller lists, including So You Want to Talk About Race. I’ve received requests at work for antiracism books, and after reading this one, I know Oluo’s book is the one I’d recommend first. In short chapters about topics like policing and incarceration, Oluo illuminates the struggles Black people have to be safe and respected in America today. (The chapter on cultural appropriation was especially helpful since I’d struggled to understand that topic in the past.)

Shortcomings book cover

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
Format: eBook

Shortcomings is about a Japanese-American man named Ben. When the story begins, Ben is dating and living with his longtime girlfriend, but the two keep fighting. The dissolution of their relationship causes Ben–a genuinely unlikeable character–to set out on an emotional and physical journey.

I was left wanting more from this graphic novel: more depth, more story, and more reasons to care about Ben. Shortcomings was entertaining, but nothing more for me.

The subsidiary book cover

The Subsidiary by Matías Celedón
Format: eBook

The premise of this book fascinated me: an office worker trapped in a building full of violence and fear reports what happens using stamps. While I appreciate the concept, this book didn’t work for me. I was never quite sure what was happening or who the characters were supposed to be. For me, this was a case of style over substance.

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

Lauren is a lonely, 30-year-old woman teaching college writing near Washington, D.C. She lost her parents years ago in a car accident and is still trying to find her way after their deaths. When Siri shows up in Lauren’s classroom, the two women strike up a friendship. Siri has also lost her parents, so the two feel a special kinship. Siri invites Lauren back to her home in Sweden, and Lauren, blurring professional boundaries, accepts.

The All-Night Sun follows the two women through their time in Sweden. This novel explores friendship, loneliness, and professionalism through beautiful prose and memorable characters. The cover of this book caught my eye at my local indie bookstore, and I’m so glad it did. I think most literary fiction fans will enjoy this story.

What I Loved

Photo featuring Jason Sudeikis

TELEVISION: Ted Lasso Season 2

Ted Lasso was one of the few highlights from 2020. It’s a hilarious, feel-good comedy about an American football coach who ends up coaching soccer in London. Everything I loved about the first season abounds in the second. The show is just as smart, funny, and heartwarming as the first ten episodes.

TELEVISION: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers is based on a Liane Moriarty novel of the same name. It’s about a group of people who find themselves at a mysterious resort that is supposed to change their lives and make them better people. I don’t know that this show is necessarily good, but I do know it’s entertaining. That’s all I want sometimes and Nine Perfect Strangers delivers.

MUSIC: Sob Rock by John Mayer

Sob Rock, John Mayer’s new album, was my soundtrack for August. I’ve listened to “New Light” and “Last Train Home” on repeat. Also, this album cover delights me.


What did you read or love in August? I’d love to know!

What I Read and Loved in March 2021

Photo by Dan Farrell on Unsplash

March was a wonderful, hope-filled month for me. I got my first vaccine shot and could finally begin seeing the light at the end of the very long and twisted COVID-19 tunnel. It was also the month where I regained some reading momentum which allowed me to finish eight books. EIGHT! And I enjoyed all of them! Keep reading to see the titles.

What I Read

This close to okay book cover

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
Format: Audiobook

This new release is about a woman who sees a man standing on the ledge of a bridge, about to jump. She pulls over, talks him down, and invites him to get a cup of coffee with her. They end up spending several days together as they explore their secrets and heartbreaks. 

This Close to Okay reignited my love for audiobooks, thanks to the book’s excellent narration by Kamali Minter and Zeno Robinson. Though I didn’t find the ending wholly satisfying, this is a good story about two people who meet at just the right moment in time. 

The midnight library book cover

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Format: Hardcover

The Midnight Library is a bit of a departure for me, but I loved it. It’s a sci-fi tale about a woman named Nora who’s attempted suicide, only to be stuck in a unique library in which she can live different versions of her life depending on which book she pulls from the shelves.

Matt Haig’s story is deeply engaging and moving, the perfect blend of realism and magic. This novel will be especially delightful to book lovers who have a particular love of libraries and librarians.

Good apple book cover

Good Apple: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York
by Elizabeth Passarella
Format: eBook

Good Apple is the true story of a conservative Southern belle who moves to New York, marries a Jewish husband, and deals with her evolving beliefs. This book is a quick, easy, and funny read, but it could have benefited from being more cohesive. Despite my issues with it, I still enjoyed this book, partly because I’m a sucker for almost anything set in NYC. 

Little threats book cover

Little Threats by Emily Schultz
Format: eBook

Little Threats is a slow burn of a suspense story about the 1993 murder of a teen girl. When the book begins, Kennedy has just been released from her 15-year prison sentence for killing her best friend, Haley. Kennedy has claimed innocence the entire time, but even her twin sister Carter is suspicious. Kennedy returns to her father’s house and her teen bedroom and faces the town’s anger and questions that are revived when a true-crime show comes into town to film an episode about Haley’s murder. 

I enjoyed this story and welcomed the slower pacing. The conclusion wrapped things up nicely, making the reading journey very much worth it for me. 

Who is Maud Dixon book cover

Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews
Format: Audiobook

Helen is a writer who’s had smashing success with her first novel, Mississippi Foxtrot. She goes by the pen name Maud Dixon and wants to keep her success under wraps. A wannabe writer named Florence becomes her assistant, promising to keep her real identity a secret. When the two take a research trip to Morocco, a car accident claims a life and opens up opportunities and adventures for the survivor. Though it started a bit slowly, the fast-paced ending more than made up for it. 

This thriller was another excellent audiobook, read by Thérèse Plummer.

The New York Times no-recipe recipes book cover

The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton
Format: eBook

This no-recipe cookbook is the perfect cookbook for me. When I’m in the kitchen, I like to be creative and make recipes my own. Sam Sifton gives cooks that option by presenting “recipes” that are more suggestive than essential. I enjoyed this book a lot because it reminded me why I like cooking so much.

The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper
Format: eBook

This compulsively readable thriller is about the lives of three different families living in one London apartment building. There’s Steph, Paul, and their teenage daughter Freya. Emma, a former shop-owner who feels entirely unmoored, lives below them. Then there’s Chris and his wife. Chris is a driving instructor who was teaching Freya how to drive. He becomes a person of interest when she disappears, and he was the last person to see her alive. 

The Downstairs Neighbor had me glued to my Kindle. The twists kept coming and coming, and the way all the characters tied together was satisfying. This book was just such fun

Know my name book cover

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Format: Audiobook

I’d only heard praise about Know My Name, the memoir of the woman formerly known as Emily Doe, who Brock Turner assaulted. With this book, the world meets Chanel Miller as she describes how the assault affected her, what the court case was like, and how being a victim and survivor has ultimately changed her life. Miller is a gifted writer; her prose is beautiful and places readers right in the courtroom alongside her. Her story was hard to read at times, but I was surprised by how hopeful parts of the book ended up being, too. Know My Name is an unforgettable memoir that deserves all of the positive attention it’s received so far.

What I Loved

The OverDrive logo showing a cartoon woman reading a book

TECH: OverDrive/Libby

Thanks to my local public library, I’ve been an OverDrive user for years. I fell in love with the app all over again in March, though. I had the opportunity to introduce some students and staff members to it, and that reminded me how great it is that so many library cardholders have access. Books you can get with the click of a button and take anywhere you go? Isn’t that fantastic?!

COVID Vaccine sign

HEALTH: The COVID-19 Vaccine

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to the scientists and doctors who are responsible for this vaccine. It’s given me hope that felt so distant, even just a couple of months ago. Sorry for all the mean stuff I said about you in high school and college, science!

cw: abuse

DOCUMENTARY: Athlete A via Netflix

The abuse that occurred in U.S. gymnastics is horrific. Athlete A does a wonderful job explaining what happened and who failed to protect the young girls whose lives were forever changed by an evil doctor. Though definitely hard to watch at times, the courage of the survivors is incredible and deserves our attention. Watching them read their statements in court brought me to tears. If you’re a documentary fan, don’t skip this one.

That’s it for me! What did you read and love in March?

My Favorite Cookbooks

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a love for cooking and baking. And because I’m a bibliophile, that means I want to own all the cookbooks. I have a decent-sized collection at this point, so today, I thought I’d share some of my favorites, and explain why I love them. 

You should know that despite my love of food and cooking, I have the palate of an 8-year-old. (I’m working on it!) I like cookbooks that are full of simplicity and don’t require me to hunt down ingredients that are hard to find. Pretty pictures don’t hurt, either.

Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen

No cookbooks get more use in my kitchen than the two Cravings books by Chrissy Teigen. Her cheesy ham and green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple. The black bean and mushroom enchilada casserole is a simple and delicious vegetarian option. I’m not a huge fan of breakfast foods, but the everything bagel casserole is absolute breakfast perfection. (I just realized while writing this paragraph that I have a thing for casseroles. I guess we can thank my Midwest roots for that.)

I love these two cookbooks because every recipe I’ve cooked from them is packed full of flavor and uses ingredients that I already have in my pantry. Plus, the photography is fantastic.

Magnolia Table Vol. 1 and Magnolia Table Vol. 2 by Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines has the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. (Her shortbreads are fantastic, too!) That’s reason enough to want to make more of her food, but there are others. Her Spanish rice is my favorite rice recipe, and I feel like I’ve tried so many looking for “the one.” I can barely handle how yummy her scalloped potatoes are, drenched in their cheesy, gooey sauce. I love few things in this world as much as I love queso, and her recipe does not disappoint.

I reach for these two cookbooks repeatedly during the holiday season because the recipes are perfect for a crowd as the portions are quite generous. I also appreciate the mix of main courses, sides, and desserts.

Half Baked Harvest and Half Baked Harvest: Super Simple by Tieghan Gerard

Is there an Instagram feed that is more drool-worthy than Half Baked Harvest? (No, there isn’t.) Instagram is where I first discovered Tieghan Gerard, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her cookbooks. While I enjoy and use both books a lot, the Super Simple one is my favorite because I like food that is both 1) super and 2) simple. (That book also includes a lot of Instant Pot recipes, which delights my IP-loving soul.) Gerard’s tomato soup recipe could not be easier, but it is packed full of bright, bold flavors. Her peanut butter chocolate bars are like a Reese’s cup married chocolate chip cookies and lived a long, happy life together. I like homemade mashed potatoes, but don’t like all the work involved, so her Instant Pot mashed potato recipe is just what I needed. 

If you’re a fan of Gerard’s blog and Instagram, don’t miss out on these cookbooks. You’ll use them all the time, I promise. 

Chefs’ Fridges: More Than 35 World-Renowned Cooks Reveal What They Eat at Home edited by Carrie Solomon

If you’re a visual and curious person like I am, you’ll love Chefs’ Fridges. I’m fascinated by what other people keep in their refrigerators and kitchens, so this book was satisfying on multiple levels. Unlike with the rest of these cookbooks, I don’t turn to this one too much for the recipes because the focus is primarily on the photographs and interviews with the chefs. Instead, I turn to this book for inspiration. I enjoy seeing what kind of sandwiches a person throws together after a long workday. It’s interesting to see what staples a chef always has around. Looking at this book (even just the pretty mint-colored spine) always makes me happy, and that’s reason enough to love it. 

Simple Cake by Odette Williams

I like to cook more than I like to bake, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d use this book. Though it’s true I don’t turn to this book nearly as often as I do some of the others on this list, I’m grateful I have it. The format of Simple Cake is wonderful and user-friendly. Readers are presented with various cake recipes that are simple staples, like chocolate and vanilla, but the book also contains recipes for frostings, compotes, and ways to mix and match the flavors. I’ll love this book forever because of the excellent chocolate cake recipe inside, but I also appreciate how fun it makes cake-baking and assembly.

The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton

The spirit of this cookbook is my favorite way to cook. Instead of relying on specific measurements, Sifton’s recipes call for some of this and a handful of that. There are some great basic recipes and some more “showstopper” dishes, but the book makes it all accessible and fun. I got a copy of this from my library this week, but I want to purchase my own copy soon. That’s a sign of true love.


Do you use any of these cookbooks? What are some of your favorites?