WSIRN Ep 36: Comfort food, but with books with Tiffany King

It’s Tuesday, and time for a new episode of What Should I Read Next!

Our guest today is Tiffany King, an online friend you might know from her wonderful food blog, Eat At Home. Tiffany is a busy woman — a homeschool mom for 19 years, and the creator of her own business — so when she reads, she craves something cozy and comforting. ““I don’t tend to go really deep with my fiction,” she says, “and I don’t feel bad about that.”  

If you love comforting fiction with mouth-watering culinary themes, today’s episode is just for you. Grab a snack and join us!

What Should I Read Next #36: Comfort food, but with books with Tiffany King

After the show (once you’re good and hungry) head over to Eat At Home to check out Tiffany’s recipes and meal plans, and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Books discussed in this episode: 

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• Fried Green Tomates at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
• The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
• The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz
• At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon
• The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
• Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
• The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
• Italian For Beginners, by Kristen Harmel
• The Sweetness of Forgetting, by Kristen Harmel
Babette’s Feast, by Isak Dinesen
• Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson

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  1. Sara Kilpatrick says:

    I think the pig feast scene you all were speculating about may be from The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes where the town secretly raises a pig without letting the occupying Germans know about it. Then they feast on it. Or, maybe there is a similar scene in The Guernsey Potato Peel Society book 🙂

    • Tiffany says:

      Sara, yes that’s the book that I was thinking of, but I still wonder if there’s a similar scene in the Guernsey book. I need to go back and look for it. I may have inserted the scene from Girl You Left Behind in my mind though 😉

  2. Michael Ann says:

    SO many of my favorites in today’s episode! Yes, the LACK of food is crucial to the Guernsey book. And yes, they hide a pig, butcher it, and feast on it! (How they get away with hiding pigs is great, even if they got away with it okay for a while!) Tiffany, if you EVER listen to an audio book make it Guernsey! The book AND the audio book are just amazing. My daughter and I quote it all the time. Also, Babette’s Feast! YES! Watch it with subtitles!

  3. Susan in TX says:

    Loved this episode! I really resonated with a lot of Tiffany’s picks. Tiffany, if you haven’t read Katherine Reay, I think you would enjoy her books, esp the first 2, Dear Mr. Knightley and Lizzie and Jane. Anne, you’ve got to read Fried Green Tomatoes, but more importantly, you can’t miss Mitford! I’m going to venture a guess and say you were too young when you read book 1. Those books are best once you have some life experience under your belt. I have told my kids that they cannot read them until they’re older for that very reason. And, at the rate you read, you would fly through them. They’re all shorter than Louise Penny’s titles. Also to be enjoyed are the Father Tim books that pick up where the Mitford series leaves off. The first one in that series, Home to Holly Springs is one of the best books on family and forgiveness I’ve ever read. Gotta agree with Tiffany, reading Mitford is like going home – definitely comfort food for the soul. ? Other books I thought of for Tiffany: A Fine Romance by Susan Branch; The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill; How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger; Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber and The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter (although this one may be on the longer/slower side). I’ll stop there as my enthusiasm has clearly run amok. Thanks for sharing with us today. Definitely made my morning walk more enjoyable!

    • Tiffany says:

      Susan, that’s such great insight that the Mitford books are best read when you’re a little older. Very true! Thanks for the other book recommendations. I need a reading vacation now 🙂

    • Tracy Tobias says:

      I was also going to recommend Susan Branch books. I’m half way through her third book, Isle of Dreams and am looking forward to a trip to the English Countryside in September inspired by a Fine Romance. These are all memoirs. Her second book, Fairy Tale Girl, has a lot about her discovery of Julia Childs and her passion for cooking. They are absolutely pure delight, seasoned with her beautiful artwork, fabulous quotes collected through the years, humor, recipes, and her ability to find joy and beauty in the small things, even during the hard times. I LOVE them. Definitely in the genre of comfort “food” for the soul.

    • Mary says:

      Love these recommendations….and I love your comment “Those books are best once you have some life experience under your belt.” I will have to revisit Mitford (I only read book 1 years ago and found it a little mushy). I personally are finding many books I read now have so much more meaning as I get older! For example: Anne of Green Gables.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      You are so right about the Mitford books. I have read them all and loved each one. My granddaughter is named Sadie for Miss. Sadie.

  4. Mary Kate says:

    Guernsey was my first-ever foray into epistolary novels, which I was really hesitant about, but I’m SO glad I got over my fear and read it. One of my all-time faves.

  5. Sarah M says:

    Oh my goodness, I’m going to love this one…I know *just* what you mean by comfort books. I love the list (though how did I not know that Fried Green Tomatoes was first a book?! It’s a favorite movie of mine…), and I have a guess as to which one was the ‘book she hated’…!

  6. When I heard it was Tiffany King on today’s podcast, I was so excited to hear her voice since I follow her blog! I have much in common with Tiffany: food lover, book lover, food book lover, homeschooler, blogger. I resonated with her picks although I haven’t read Fried Green Tomatoes. (Adding to my TBR list now!) Like Sarah M, I didn’t know it was a book! My recommendations are Peter Mayle’s books where he talks a LOT about Provencal food but also about the people and of course the place (thought you’d like it since you just got back from Paris). Start with “A Year in Provence.” If you like it he has sequels (“Encore Provence”, “Toujours Provence”). Also, “Extra Virgin” by Annie Hawes (food, travel, people, Italy). Tiffany, I use GoodReads as my list of books I’ve read. I jumped in, marking books I’ve read but obviously I don’t remember EVERY book I’ve read, so as I remember, I mark them off. I also use it as my TBR list so I have a place I can “put” books that I want to remember to read. And since I have the app, the list is always with me. I just wish I could make a note where I heard about a book and/or why I want to read it. Sometimes I forget! So glad you were on the show!

  7. Emily McT says:

    Fried Green Tomatoes was one of the books I read when I first got to college! I loved the movie, but then reading the book was so much better because I had the actors’ voices in my head. Mainly, Kathy Bates. I also need to put The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society higher on my to-read list. I would recommend The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones. It’s definitely a fast read and easily digestible. I handed it off to my mom, and then she handed it off to one of her friends. It’s about a British ex-pat who tours around New England with a famous British, celebrity baker and her dysfunctional family. There is some romance, adventure and lots of indulgent sweets. It’s not just Boston cream pie either. It really delves into the history of early colonial baking.

  8. Kirsten says:

    I LOVED the Mitford series and enjoyed the first of the Father Tim series, but the one where he went to Ireland was not an enjoyable read…hard to follow and the plot just wasn’t there. But, Karon came out with a Mitford Kitchen Companion that is delightful and has some fantastic recipes in it. Plenty of good comfort food?

  9. Maria Alexander says:

    Ok here are my suggestions: Kitchens of the Great Midwest, not too long, told by several different characters as they intersect one woman’s life. Recipes at the end of each chapter and so many great thoughts about who we are and how we effect one another. Second suggestions: anything by Katherine Flinn, especially Kitchen Counter Cooking school. These are nonfiction memoirs but told well. In the cooking school one she sees a woman at the grocery store getting all box/frozen foods and decides to help them overcome their fears/hang ups about food. It read quickly, I learned a lot and it was cool to think of how our food choices reflect our attitudes about ourselves. Third, Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl about her life as a food critic, using different disguises and how the disguises affected how she behaved/thought of herself and how others did as well. But DEFINITELY Kitchens of the Great Midwest.

    • Tiffany says:

      I’m embarrassed to say that I started and quit both Kitchens of the Great Midwest and Kitchen Counter Cooking School even though I was enjoying both of them. Now I’m determined to get them from the library and finish them!

  10. I recommend KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST by Stradal. A novel or family and food! It’s really wonderful! I haven’t listened to this episode yet (today was 1st day of school and too much on my list) but wanted to quickly mention this book to you. I’m already a subscriber to Tiffany’s blog! Her recipes and tips are awesome! I look forward to her weekly email!

    • Tiffany says:

      Stacie, I’m going to have to finish that book! I actually started it earlier this summer, but put it aside and never finished. I was enjoying it though. Quitting books has become a bad habit for me.

  11. Ellen W says:

    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a lovely book but I think I liked her newer book – The Summer Before the War even better. It takes place in Rye on the brink of WWI and is about a young female (shocking news in this small town) Latin teacher her trying to adjust to life in rural England and the area in general as the war begins.

  12. Diane says:

    Thank you for a great podcast.
    A fun book I have read many times to my children and also for myself is a story called
    Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon.
    A longer children’s picture book about a sweet older lady named Miss Fannie from the Mitford Series.
    Beautiful story! and illustrations.

    • Tiffany says:

      I haven’t seen that one, but I’ll have to look for it. It makes me wonder if Cynthia’s cat, Violet makes an appearance since it’s a children’s book.

      • DIANE PEDROSA says:

        There are a few cats here and there but it focuses on Miss Fannie, her daughter Miss Wanda, lovely hats that have a history and a church fund raiser. And just like Mitford, it feels like home.
        Also the book already recommended, 86 Charing Cross Road is similar reading style to Guersey PPS. And it is a true. Very good, both of them!

  13. Tiffany, I think you would enjoy Erica Bauermeister’s book, The School of Essential Ingredients.

    I thought of MFK Fisher’s book, How to Cook a Wolf, when you mentioned the absence of food in the Guernsey book. The summary at Amazon: “Written to inspire courage in those daunted by wartimes shortages, How to Cook a Wolf continues to rally cooks during times of plenty, reminding them that providing sustenance requires more than putting food on the table. M. F. K. Fisher knew that the last thing hungry people needed were hints on cutting back and making do. Instead, she gives her readers license to dream, to experiment, to construct adventurous and delicious meals as a bulwark against a dreary, meager present.”

    Fun podcast, Anne!

  14. Cheryl perrino says:

    Definitely read 84 Charing Cross Rd by Helene Hanff. it is a memoir with correspondence and food between a quirky new yorker and the staff of a bookstore in London during WWII. It is only about 200 pages and was made into a movie with Ann Bancroft. It is wonderful!!!

    • Ginger says:

      I had never put how similar 84 Charing Cross Road together until listening to this podcast, and came to make a comment and yes! You too!

      So much talk of food scarcity and how excited they were to get Helene’s packages, and epistolary!

      A great book mini-flight.

  15. Jessica Jensen says:

    This was great! I do like to stretch myself, but most of the time, I want to relax and recharge and these books fit the bill. There were even a few I haven’t yet read!

  16. Joyce says:

    Fun episode! I can’t believe no one mentioned the best foodie novel of all time though: Like Water For Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. I read it in one sitting, and then went out to buy ingredients to cook up a feast.

  17. Kari Ann says:

    Major Pettigrew- crank old man. That made me laugh out loud. I totally didn’t realize the 3 act structure until your podcast. I overlooked it as well. But I loved the novel all the same.

  18. Amanda says:

    I recently read “A Homemade Life,” which was recommended from an earlier podcast. I loved the food connections, I loved the cadence of the book, and I loved how I could read it in stops and starts without losing track of what was happening. It’s a fairly quick read with recipes at the end of almost every chapter.
    I completely identify with your favorites! I call my favorite genre “gentle reads.” They don’t require too much thinking and leave me feeling uplifted. I enjoyed The Lumby Lines series–they remind me of the Mitford series, though not as extensive. I’ve also loved Lisa Wingate’s series that starts with “The Language of Sycamores.”

  19. Jean Marie says:

    I Loved this podcast!! I’ve read and loved most of the same books as Tiffany and can’t wait to begin all these wonderful recommendations! Thank you Anne Bogel for all your bookish wisdom!

  20. Rose Booth says:

    Great podcast, Tiffany! I haven’t read Guernsey in so long that you brought back good memories of that book. If you like a cozy mystery, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson Series is a nice, comfort read. Hannah lives in Minnesota, runs a bakery and solves mysteries. Think Murder She Wrote. I love a good cozy mystery when I want to cleanse my pallet because they do go down easy. There are recipes throughout each book. She’s got 19 out in the series, along with seasonal books for the holidays. You never run out of goodness with this series!

  21. I loooooove the movie Babette’s Feast and I had no idea it was a novella! Definitely one I want to read. I think Tiffany would enjoy Sarah Addison Allen’s books – lots of food plus some of it is magical!

  22. Laura says:

    Favourite episode yet! I think because Tiffany’s book choices closely match mine. Second the 84 Charring Cross recommendation. Also, for fans of Mitford, I love Miss Read’s books. She has 2 series, Fairacre and Thrush Green, both set in small English villages, I think 1950s or 60s (but not really sure). The kind of gentle reads that are about life, nothing too exciting happens (so not too hard to put down at bed time) but enough to keep you interested.

  23. Natasha says:

    (One more comment…) I’m also a fellow Kentuckian- We live in Versailles. 🙂 I’m currently reading ‘The Kitchen House’ which might be another pick you might like. It has a ‘Help’ like feel to me.

    • Tiffany King says:

      Natasha, I’m waving at you from Lexington 🙂 I did read the Kitchen House and I liked it, but it was not as hopeful as The Help. I thought it was a bit dark. What did you think?

  24. Jamie says:

    Tiffany, you might also like Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (pure comfort food reading!) as well as The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones. The Tenth Muse is a book about books about food – Jones was an editor for many now-famous chefs and cookbook authors, including Julia Child. It’s her memoir of finding food as a career in post WWII Paris, finding love, and then finding and promoting good, wholesome cooking through cookbook writing (and cooking!) throughout her career. I’ve read this book close to ten times; it’s my go to book when I’m between library hauls and need a place holder for a few days. Jones is a superb writer, especially when it comes to the nuances of food, and some tasty recipes are included in at the end.

  25. tdgl says:

    I totally expected you to recommend “Heartburn” by Nora Ephron, which is a fascinating (true) story … with recipes! I also thought of “Blessed Are the Cheesemakers” by Sarah-Kate Lynch, which is a sweet little story that I literally plucked at random from the library shelf and thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks for reminding me how much I loved “Fried Green Tomatoes.” I’m going to try to find someone to read it out loud to.

    • Tiffany King says:

      I started Heartburn this summer, but got distracted and never finished it. I’ll have to check it out again. I haven’t heard of Blessed are the Cheesemakers, but that’s a great title!

      • tdgl says:

        To be honest, I think I read it in 1985, so it may not have held up. I recently re-watched the movie, and it was quite dated. I do think the new DELIA Ephron novel sounds interesting. I’m keeping an eye out for it!

  26. I kept waiting for the book THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE to be brought up in the podcast. That is the first book I thought of when referencing books about food. I loved reading this book. This book centers around some rough relationships that have some happy endings which centered around a tantalizing coconut cake (the author even includes the recipe at the end). I really enjoyed the story line and, of course, the glimpses behind the life in a restaurant as I spent many years waitressing myself through college. I think you’d find it an enjoyable read, Tiffany, as I have read half of the books you mentioned in the podcast and seem to share the same interests.

  27. Oh, and one suggestion about keeping track of your books. Join GoodReads. Every time I finish a book, I mark it as “read.” That way I can remember what I read. Sometimes I even rate it or write a review. I love referencing it when looking to see if I should read it. I am grateful for the people who take the time to review their take on the book. While I’m not as voracious of a reader as some on here, you can check out my picks at

    • Karen says:

      I’ve found this very helpful!

      You can create a “bookshelf” for each year. When I mark a book “read”, I go to the book, click on additional bookshelves, and click the shelf for the year.

      I started the additional bookshelves in 2012, so I have one for each year. (So I know I’ve read 50 books so far this year. My goal was 30. I usually average between 25-35. Except for back in 2009 when I joined a Ravelry group “52 in 52 weeks” and accidentally made it to 104.)

  28. Sean says:

    Characters do not necessarily have to be likable or sympathetic; they just have to be interesting, though I think it can be argued that Nick is somewhat sympathetic in Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn isn’t just a doctor- or lawyer-turned-writer, she actually studied creative writing and her work is much closer to literary fiction than mainstream/genre writing. It’s one thing to not like it, but you seem to act like it’s just bad writing and it is not. It just isn’t written for people that want to read about food.

  29. Meredith Barr says:

    My absolute favorite series ever is the Mitford books. I love Father Tim and his beautiful village and quirky friends and family. They are such a gift, an encouragement when I’m feeling sad, and I feel as if Father Tim has mentored me through the pages of Jan’s books. They are the best ever!! I feel very sad for people who have missed out on the gift they are. My dream is to go and stay at the beautiful hotel in Blowing Rock that just won a big award in Travel and Leisure. Blowing Rock is the inspiration for Mitford.

  30. Maggie Yoder says:

    I think we are kindred spirits when it comes to reading! I think you would really enjoy Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. I was in the midst of reading it when your show aired. If you loved The Help you would enjoy this one. Happy Reading!

  31. I just HAVE to recommend another couple books to this guest. PLEASE go and read some Joanne Harris. Chocolat (yes, that Chocolat, but the book is so much better than the movie!) Blackberry Wine, The Five Quarters of the Orange, The Lollipop Shoes, the list goes on. She writes stories with vivid characters and wonderful descriptions of places that stick with you long after the book is finished…all with a tiny bit of deliciousness mixed within.

  32. Angie says:

    Hi! I have been listening to the WSIRN podcast for some time, and this is my favorite episode. I very much enjoyed Tiffany — an interview as soothing and warming as the “comfort food” premise.

  33. Jenna says:

    I know you said that audiobooks are not for you at this time, but if you love the Mitford/Father Tim books (I do!!!), you will LOVE the narrator of the audio versions – John McDonough. If you feel the pull to try audio books in the future, start with these. Absolutely wonderful (his voice inflections for different characters is perfect), and a joy to listen to.

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