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Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 ratings  ·  144 reviews
This collection of intimate essays by some of America's most well-regarded writers explores how food can help us cope in dark times―whether it be the loss of a parent, the loneliness of moving to a new country, the heartache of an unexpected breakup, or the fear of coming out. Luscious, full-color illustrations by Meryl Rowin are woven throughout, and accompanying each sto ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Black Balloon (first published October 1st 2019)
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 ·  1,045 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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Julie Ehlers
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
That I started reading Eat Joy on the first full day of pandemic lockdown was no coincidence. In those days of raw uncertainty (as opposed to these days of weary uncertainty) what could be more appealing than the idea of a joy so present, so tangible, you could eat it? The contributors to Eat Joy are mostly acclaimed authors (including Carmen Maria Machado, Colum McCann, Nick Flynn, Mira Jacob) and their excellent essays portray sorrow, fear, ambivalence, hopelessness—until, of course, food and ...more
Diane Barnes
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I noticed this review from GR friend Jenny, and since we share a love of books about food and cooking, I knew I had to download this one. She even included the fact that she found this on Hoopla, so that made it easy.

It's a book of essays by 31 different authors on comfort food that got them through difficult times in their life, including recipes at the end of each essay. For the most part, the food is simple and the recipes easy, especially the one about a rainy camping trip. Brownie mix and w
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this collection in Hoopla - tiny little personal stories of food and comfort. Spoiler alert - it is rarely fancy food. This isn't a cookbook although some of the essays include recipes (one is for just-add-water brownies.) It was good for my mood!
The Artisan Geek
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------
If you're interested in seeing me use a couple of these recipes and review the book, you can check out my video review :)

Such an emotional and raw collection of stories, showcasing how food can heal and connect us to our past. My video review will be up on my Youtube channel tomorrow.

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this book very comforting for myself. These are moments of grief or sadness that various writers have experienced with comforts foods which made them feel better. I quite enjoyed reading this book, and I highly recommend it to all!
Paris (parisperusing)
This collection features intimate essays from incredible writers — including Alexander Chee, Melissa Febos, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Laura Van Den Berg — sharing the comfort foods that helped get them through tough times. As someone who has always seen cooking more of a cultural expression of self-love, I can certainly see how the act of preparing a home-cooked meal can also be therapeutic and remedial. While I didn’t always associate cooking as intimately as shown here, reading Laura’s essay o ...more
I devoured these essays on the comfort of food!

What I expected: A book of fluffy, feel-good essays with recipes that I would pick up occasionally and read one or two essays.

What I experienced: A book of touching, insightful and engaging essays that I could not put down until I'd read them all! These are stories by 31 outstanding authors about how specific foods have gotten them through their growing-up years, helped with loss and grief, contributed to healing and helped them go home. With "reci
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5ish? Which I'm rounding up to 3 because of Colum McCann.

This is a book of essays about comfort food (and accompanying recipes). But it feels inconsistent. Some of the essays are beautiful and poignant, others feel like the essays one scrolls through when trying to get to the recipe at the bottom of the page on a food blog. I say this as someone who wrote many essays I'm sure other people scrolled through while reading my ill-conceived, briefly lived, and poorly photographed food blog. Maybe t
Melissa Dawn (pages.for.dawn)
Dec 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-dmc
So maybe I went into this book expecting something different. Eat Joy: Stories and Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Authors is a compilation of shorts stories from various authors about comfort food. I found it to be an interesting concept to talk about how certain foods lock into our memories because they were a form of comfort during difficult times. And although I respected the effort and courage each author portrayed as I’m sure it wasn’t easy writing about moments of weakness and vulnerabili ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wonderful and lovely collection of short autobiographical stories, centered around one of my favourite things—food! Complete with easy, homey recipes and reminisces about life and love, happiness, hardship and heartbreak, each piece is a bite-sized look into the interior lives of some of the world's most celebrated writers. ...more
Gail (The Knight Reader)
EAT JOY is a collection of food centered/adjacent essays written by well known authors where each entry is accompanied by lovely illustrations and a “recipe”. It is not a cookbook. You may pick up one or two ideas along the way but it includes basic recipes for things like white rice and brownie mix (LITERALLY packet brownie mix + water). Once you go into this collection with that in mind, you see what the editor set out to do in this volume and it becomes quite an interesting and offbeat book t ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

Eat Joy is an anthology bringing together a great group of writers reminiscing about comfort food, food memories, and food which nurtures and sustains. It focusses on the simple meals. Broken up in four sections - Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming - each of the thirty-one writers contributes a brief essay and a recipe. The text is decorated with wonderful water-colour drawings.

Understandably, I was very excited about this book because 1) I love good food writing and 2) the author
Mar 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I love so many of the writers who contributed to this anthology I was prepared for the book to be one of my favorites. Sadly I wasn't moved by the short pieces that mentioned food but weren't really great food writing. Memory seemed to be the focus here with food occupying a small spot. There isn't a lot of comfort or joy in these pages and that coupled with the format... double columns on each page made it only a so so reading experience for me. It seemed like a gift book which makes sense as I ...more
Kate Olson
(free review copy) A remarkable collection of food writing from a group of writers I highly respect. Just getting to read their short form writing all in one volume was a treat.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a delight! The essays are each different, and each is accompanied by a recipe. Sometimes the recipe is simple (pour into bowl, eat) or very complicated (two pages long!), and each recipe is in some way connected to the essay, which appears first. I especially loved the essay by a gay writer who was bullied and found solace in baking. The writing is gorgeous. I won't say the writing in the essays is always as good that that one but the writing is always heart-felt and emotionally sa ...more
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
There are moments in our lives which imprint on our souls, and often when we recollect them, our memories entangle with sensory information. The visceral quality of food as it relates to memory is unparalleled—sometimes we eat our favorite foods as comfort during grief, or a dish prepared by a friend becomes healing food from then on. Eat Joy is a lively collection of autobiographical stories in which food plays a starring role (recipes included—and they are lovely!). A diverse selection of cele ...more
Madison Pletan
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this! Even though the individual essays varied in quality (see below), the collection as a whole was warm and life-affirming. I'm considering starting a food journal of memorable meals and the memories that surround them.

My favorite essay by far was Anthony Doerr's Homesick at the Outer Edge of the World. (Anne, I was thinking of you and Caleb the entire time I was reading this-- I'll send you a scanned copy.)

In honorable mention, Dark Leaves and Warm Milk by Mira Jacob
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
"I just smiled and waved and made some gesture along the lines of: What can you do, these things happen. I couldn't stay depressed and divorced forever, eventually I had to eat some non-comfort food. But I'm really grateful for all the comfort food you made me.

I really enjoyed this collection of stories about the idea of comfort food from 31 different writers, and I love that recipes were included. The essays are divided around needing different kinds of comfort, and I really liked that. Definit
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A charming (and sometimes heart-breaking or heart-warming depending on subject) collection of essays and recipes from respected authors like Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Anthony Doerr, Edwidge Danticat, and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Some recipes are definitely new to me and I want to try them (Mira Jacob provides a chai recipe, Rakesh Satyal has one for pie (I have yet to master pies)) but others are just something simple that brought comfort at a tou ...more
Jen Nycz
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked the way another Goodreads reader ("Sam") described this collection: "Some of the essays are beautiful and poignant, others feel like the essays one scrolls through when trying to get to the recipe at the bottom of the page on a food blog." But on balance this is a nice little collection, with a few recipes I'm going to try (like the 24 hour pickles!), and it was a good book for the bedside table (nibble on a short essay or two before drifting off) ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
31 authors provided their stories and recipes to this collection. I was introduced to authors I never knew, those I’ve been meaning to read, and others I have fondly relished. The stories evoked loss, comfort, healing, and memories and how foods connect us. The foods provided sustenance and survival.

Initially what appealed to me were the simpler recipes of Emily Raboteau’s Congee, Edwidge Danticat’s Diri Blan (White Rice), the crusty Tahdig from Parochista Khakpour, and Los Meringuitos de Nena
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I was a quietly stressed-out kid who didn't ask questions. But there were two things that always helped: food and books. They were a refuge for me, and my greatest joy was the chance to eat something delicious while reading something delicious."

-Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, Spaghetti and Books

This is a book for anyone who really enjoys food media as a source of comfort, but perhaps not for the most down-to-the-letter recipe following. Which is fine for me, as I really love food-writing and watching
Ellyn Lem
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew that I was going to enjoy this book from the start since it was a collection of writers that I am familiar with (e.g.,. Edwidge Danticat, Mailie Meloy, etc.) writing about intense food memories and including recipes at the end of their vignettes. After the first piece by Diana Abu-Jaber in which she argues that Arab dishes are being "rebranded as Israeli," which she calls "cultural erasure," I was a little annoyed--um, same region, very similar food, no one is taking "cultural control" ov ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
i love food writing. i love documentaries about food and people’s relationship/history to it. so, this collection was perfect for me. i went in thinking that the pieces would be more food centric, but oftentimes food was just the vehicle in which these narratives were placed and not the destination. the healing and homecoming sections were my favorite as these writers shared food that helped them and brought them back to themselves in a way. love, grief, family, happiness, and societal/cultural ...more
Susie Dumond
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Writers reflect on the food that got them through hard times, recipes included. Great concept, and well executed. I really enjoyed reading this book and getting a peek into the kitchens of authors I love. There's a wide variety of stories and recipes, some that I hope to try out someday. Definitely a great read for foodie readers! ...more
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A few of the essays fall flat, but I read the first half while making dinner for my family and just repeatedly wept. After dinner I hid in the dining room and finished the rest. I think the title is an interesting choice I’m not sure I agree with but I also don’t know what else I would have called it.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: popsugar-2020
I love these nostalgic essays paired with recipes. It gave me a new way of seeing many authors I admire.
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part cookbook, part collection of essay/memoirs, this book was a nice little pick-me-up at the end of the day. It’s a book for folks who see food as a vehicle for memories.
Anna Alexander
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a beautiful book full of food memories. I loved the more simple and basic “poor college student” recipes.
Gretchen Alice
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An endearing and thoughtful compilation of essays from a legitimately great assortment of writers. Obviously I am heavily invested in both books and food and this combined the two of those interests admirably. Would make a great holiday gift for any foodies in your life.
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