The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict, by William Leith (Bloomsbury, 2006)

A shambolic writer investigates the diet industry while facing up to his own issues. Funny in places and well-written in confident journalese, this kinda autobiography is as 00s as it gets, dated in some respects (a reliance on James Frey), padded at times, but is good on self-loathing. The secret? Therapy: food and other substance issues are linked to unresolved psychological problems, per this account.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Getting Away With It, by Steven Soderbergh (Faber and Faber, 1999)

Subtitled “The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw”, this balances a twelve-month journal of the film industry – there’s a lot here about Soderbergh juggling projects and writing-related procrastination – and a series of interviews with fellow film director Richard Lester. The book’ll make you want to go back and revisit Lester’s work: from the Goons to The Beatles to Superman via the best Musketeers movies. Recommended.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Ten (Food) Commandments, by Jay Rayner (Penguin Books, 2016)

The food journalist and restaurant critic offers ten simple rules for the good food life. A mix of personal philosophy, common sense, accessible nutritional science, and autobiography with a few decent recipes thrown in to illustrate the points being made. All good stuff, and the pork, butter bean and chorizo stew offered is a belter.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

My Last Supper: One Meal, a Lifetime in the Making, by Jay Rayner (Guardian Faber, 2020)

The restaurant critic and journalist ponders mortality through food. A kind of autobiography, structured around assembling a final meal, and with it a playlist. The Desert Island Discs-ish structure works well, making for an episodic but enjoyable set of culinary investigations, observations, and reminiscences.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Chewing The Fat, by Jay Rayner (Guardian Faber, 2021)

A collection of the journalist and restaurant critic‘s columns for the Observer Food Monthly supplement. And a very decent brisk read this too, with articles taking on topics from Christmas entertaining to what restaurants get wrong. Rayner is funny, good with a comparison, likes decent grub, and adopts the customer’s / home cook’s perspective throughout. Recommended.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, by Tim Spector (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2016)

A systematic debunking of popular canards about eating, weight loss, and food lifestyle. A persuasive, detailed, accessible, and comprehensive overview of the territory. Twin focuses become apparent: that gut bacteria diversity is important, and that First World tendencies towards processed, refined foodstuffs laced with antibiotics are problematic. Lots to think about here.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Lowborn, by Kerry Hudson (Vintage, 2020)

A writer revisits her younger life and self. Excellent autobiographical exploration of how class, gender, substance abuse, poor mental health, homelessness, poverty and related issues may intersect and inform each other. Neither sentimental nor sensationalist, but clear and compassionate throughout. Plus, a Proustian moment (involving banana-flavoured vitamin drops) for me. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss (WH Allen, 2013)

An exploration of processed foods, in product formulation and marketing terms, and the health implications of reliance on prepackaged convenience eating. This US-centric discussion is detailed and clear on the ways major companies structure desire (the “bliss points” of food) through chemistry and psychological manipulation. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Billionaires: The Lives of the Rich and Powerful, by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions, 2019)

Three case studies of extreme wealth and power: Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Jeff Bezos. A confident blend of biography and polemic, clearly making the argument that power corrupts, and that money distorts. Lots to ponder on here, rendered in a  chirpy and accessible graphic format. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.