Daryl_Wood_GerberIn the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, Jenna Hart, avid reader, foodie, and former advertising executive, moves home to Crystal Cove to help her aunt open a culinary bookshop and café and to find her smile. Granted, Jenna is not a cook; she never learned. Her mother did all the cooking. But Jenna is naturally curious, and at the age of thirty, she’s determined to learn how to cook, now that people with a knack for cooking want to teach her! Five-ingredient recipes, one at a time.

One of the joys of writing the series is that I get to research cookbooks. Yes, it makes me hungry reading all the recipes and looking at delectable photos of food, but I’m also learning so much. There are some wonderful storytellers. I’ve learned about histories of restaurants and chefs and people. And what a variety of foods are represented in cookbooks! Everything from decadent chocolate to gluten-free and paleo diets!

cookbooksI have quite a collection of cookbooks myself; I’ve been buying them since I was a girl; it’s sizable enough to take up a number of bookshelves. Here’s a picture of one packed shelf. There are ten more nooks and crannies, filled!

In order to research extensively, I often browse bookstores. Like with most books, I’m drawn to the cover first and then the title. Cookbook titles can be quite lengthy!!  For example: The Sweet Book of Candy Making: From the Simple to the Spectacular-How to Make Caramels, Fudge, Hard Candy, Fondant, Toffee, and More!  YIPES, right?!

9780425279403Often I choose a cookbook by theme, because for each of the books in the series, I focus on a food theme. For example, in FUDGING THE BOOKS, the next book to be released, I focus on chocolate-y foods as well as spicy pirate-style food. Why pirates? Because it’s Pirate Week in Crystal Cove, plus it’s National Chocolate Month.

fudgeDo NOT miss the Pirates’ booty fudge recipe included in the book!

When I browse cookbooks, I flip through the pages and see what catches my eye.  A recipe? A  photograph? A beautiful picture is worth a thousand bites!

If I can’t get to a bookstore, I often browse the Internet, looking at cookbooks on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and clicking through to see a preview of what is inside the book. I also read the reviews. Some of the reviews have made me laugh out loud. People talk about how recipes have turned out and why they did or didn’t like the cookbook. Some warn the reader to obey the author of the cookbook, or else. A few reviews have made me buy a book. [As you can see, REVIEWS for a book matter!!! The more reviews, the more the Internet algorithms kick into gear and help promote a book.  And, yes, this means it works for mysteries, too. Hint, hint. I would be thrilled for any help you want to give my books.]

As I accrue new cookbooks for myself, Jenna is also amassing a collection. She already owns a huge amount of fiction books. She hasn’t thrown away a book since high school. Her bookshelves are overflowing. But she is making room for her new love: cookbooks.

Do you collect cookbooks? Do you read them for the stories or browse for the pictures? Have you read a good tale or two in a cookbook? I’d love to hear from you.


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About the author:

Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California.  As Avery Aames, she also writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries, set in quaint Providence, Ohio. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. She is married, loves to cook, and has a darling, frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl or Avery at www.darylwoodgerber.com.