CODES List-Cookbooks

The CODES List, a committee of the Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), has announced the 2019 selection of essential cookbooks for public libraries. The CODES List: Cookbooks highlights titles for both avid home chefs and those just learning the rewards of making a meal. The list further supports those who appreciate the many joys of reading cookbooks, even if they rarely venture into the kitchen. As judged by librarians who cooked from them and hosted book groups about them, these are the cookbooks from 2019 that will stand the test of time, become reliable favorites, and nourish readers. This juried list marks an initiative from CODES to help librarians identify works destined to become the backbone of our most popular collections, works that serve as sure bets for readers and standards of their genre. Look for more lists in the coming years addressing additional topics vital to public libraries.

The list was announced Sunday, January 26, during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia.

The 2020 selections are:

Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking by Einat Admony and Janna Gur (Artisan: Workman. Sept. 2019. ISBN 9781579656720. $35).

In a vibrant celebration of Israeli cooking, Admony and Gur present a compelling exploration of this multi-ethnic cuisine with ancient roots. While specialists, they make accessible the sights, sounds, smells, and foods of the region. From the sensuality of shopping in open-air markets to preparing generous amounts of food for the family table, the journey Shuk takes cooks on is vivid and enticing. Try the Red Wine Lamb Tagine with Dried Fruit.

Life Is a Party: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration by David Burtka (Grand Central Publishing: Hachette. April 2019. ISBN 9781538729892. $35).

Burtka–chef, actor, and entertainment guru–puts the glitter in party planning with sixteen seasonally themed events. Colorful photos, inventive menus, easy tips, and great ideas for engaging the guests are its calling card but the delicious recipes might just become staples of your weeknight rotation. Burtka makes it easy to turn any party into a memorable occasion. Pecan Streusel-Topped Baked Apples are perfect for a fall party brunch or any day of the week.

Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar by Amy Chaplin (Artisan: Workman. Sept. 2019. ISBN 781579658021. $40).

Chaplin, a James Beard and IACP award winner, guides readers through the foundations of vegetarian cooking while avoiding dietary sensitivities. Chapters highlight a core recipe and then provide variations on it. This hefty resource offers rock solid instruction, inspiration, and useful overviews of key methods. The tone is both expert and can-do. Even if you are happy to eat meat, gluten, dairy, or refined sugar, try the Spicy Miso-Roasted Tomatoes and Eggplant.

Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes, Through Darkness and Light by Caroline Eden (Quadrille Publishing: Chronicle Books. May 2019. ISBN 9781787131316. $35).

Eden’s gorgeously conceived and designed guide to the cuisine and culture of the lands surrounding the Black Sea is a multisensory immersion into place, a stirring and evocative mix of memoir, travel tale, history, literary gazetteer, and cookbook. It reads like the journal of an intrepid and knowledgeable adventurer obsessed with food and is such a pleasure to delve into that you might forget to stop reading and start cooking. Try the Black Sea Börek.

The Living Kitchen: Healing Recipes to Support Your Body During Cancer Treatment and Recovery by Tamara Green and Sarah Grossman (Appetite by Random House. Jan. 2019. ISBN 9780147530639. $28).

Truly one of a kind, designed to support those living with, treating and recovering from cancer, Living Kitchen provides targeted advice, nutritional wisdom, and recipes. Those struggling with side effects will appreciate the thorough indexing and how recipes are cleverly coded with icons to aid in meal choice. Don’t think dietary restrictions equal a lack of flavor, recipes are nourishing and delicious and encourage healing as much as the enjoyment of food. The Coconut Chicken Fingers will be a hit for the whole family.

Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family by Priya Krishna

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. April 2019. ISBN 9781328482471. $28).

Food writer Priya Krishna chronicles the personal food journey of her mother, Ritu, as a new American and working mother of two. The result is a bold, exuberant, and delectable cookbook teeming with complex and diverse flavors. While Indian cuisine is the cornerstone of the Krishna kitchen, a world of influences and family experiences are reflected in their recipes. There is only one chicken recipe in this book for a reason, try Garlic-Ginger Chicken with Cilantro and Mint.

Son of a Southern Chef: Cook With Soul by Lazarus Lynch. (Avery: Penguin. June 2019. ISBN 9780525534174. $25).

Millennial cooking comes of age with this lively, energetic cookbook from rockstar chef Lazarus Lynch. His Queen’s based spin on Soul food with Caribbean, West African, and Southern influenced recipes is punctuated by high concept, flamboyant photography that highlights the flash and fun in his fresh, modern cooking. More than just a cookbook, this is an experience. Indulge yourself with his decadent Dulce De Leche Banana Pudding.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Italian’s Recipes Celebrating Food and Family by Daniel Paterna (powerHouse Books: Random House. Nov. 2019. ISBN 9781576879153. $39.95).

“This is not a cookbook in the classic sense,” writes author Daniel Paterna in what may be the understatement of the year. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delightful, personal tour of Italian American cooking, based on Paterna’s Brooklyn family. Weaving memories, recipes, and profiles of Bensonhurst bakers and butchers, this is a visually intoxicating love letter to an era, a way of life, and above all a cuisine. Make the Eggplant Parmigiana tonight.

Joy of Cooking: 2019 Edition Fully Revised and Updated by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, John Becker, Megan Scott. (Scribner: Simon & Schuster. Nov. 2019. ISBN 9781501169717. $40.00).

At nearly five pounds, this ninth revision in its 90-year history poses one question: does this new edition warrant purchasing? The answer is a resounding yes. While the new Joy includes many classics (Creamed Spinach), this volume offers over 600 new recipes. More importantly, it responds to the way we cook today, with recipes for the Instant Pot and sous vide, while paying attention to food safety, fermentation, and gluten-free dough. Don’t miss the Apple Dumplings.

The Joy of Seafood: The All-Purpose Seafood Cookbook with more than 900 Recipes by Barton Seaver (Sterling Epicure. Oct. 2019. ISBN 9781454921981. $35).

An encyclopedic work, sure to be a classic, this book takes all the guess-work and intimidation out of shopping for, storing, and preparing over 100 types of fish. Organized by species, including aliases, it offers multiple recipes for each fish (salmon alone has 30!), including both traditional preparations as well as the innovative. Don’t be put off by this book’s reference demeanor; Seaver writes with passion and enthusiasm. Start with the Citrus-Crusted Fried Halibut.

Midwest Made: Big Bold Baking From the Heartland by Shauna Sever (Running Press: Hachette. Oct. 2019. ISBN 9780762464500. $30).

Sever has delivered a baker’s dream. Filled with well researched recipes that seem to come straight from your grandmother’s recipe box. It’s so good you will want to read it cover-to-cover but the stunning photography halts you and sends you straight to the kitchen to start baking. Readers will be enchanted by this truly masterful collection of recipes. Attempting to decide what to make first is a challenge but try My Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin (Clarkson Potter: Random House. Nov. 2019. ISBN 9781524761738. $35).

James Beard winner Tipton-Martin offers recipes that explore the vast African American foodways in which she is so expert. Mixed in with recipes for Spoonbread and Pork Chops in Lemon-Caper Sauce are stories and gems that deepen what is already an astounding and important collection of history, culture, and cuisine. This most important, and kitchen-worthy, guide is destined to be a core title for decades to come. Make the Coconut-Lemon Layer Cake.

The CODES List: Cookbooks committee includes: Brian Kenney, Director, White Plains Public Library; Lucy M. Lockley, Lead Collection Development Librarian, St. Charles City-County Library (MO); Sarah Tansley, Branch Manager, Roden Branch, Chicago Public Library; and Neal Wyatt, Library Journal, contributing editor (chair).

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more at

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