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Books featuring sugar and spice and everything nice…delicious desserts!

In my free time, between work, friends, reading, and life in general, I really thoroughly enjoy baking. It’s a great stress reliever and my coworkers always seem a little bit happier when I bring in cookies or great bread the next day. I totally admit to having a sweet tooth, but I also don’t want to be overloaded on a sugar 24/7! Fortunately, there are plenty of great YA books out there that fill my craving for sugar and give me some fun stories along the way! Here is just a sampling of (mostly) fictional titles to get your taste buds tingling.

Heather Hepler has two books that fit the bill! Her most recent book, Love? Maybe, is all about a teen girl named Piper who is very cynical about love. She was born on Valentine’s Day and to say she is not impressed by the sweet sentiments of guys is an understatement. She does have one talent that makes her the perfect Valentine’s Day girl, though, and that is her unique ability to create amazing chocolate candies and concoctions. This book will have your mouth watering as you read about how Piper pairs chocolate with crazy ingredients to maybe, just maybe, win the heart of the guy next door. And don’t forget another Heather Hepler title: The Cupcake Queen. The cupcake trend may finally be dying out a bit, but this book is still as sweet as can be.

Sarah Ockler’s recent book, Bittersweet, even has a title that fits the bill of sugar and spice and everything nice! Hudson helps her mom at their family diner just about every day of the week. She also happens to be a cupcake connoisseur, making different cupcake combinations that titillate the tongue. Her cupcakes have put the little diner on the map, but is it enough to truly save the diner as money becomes tighter and tighter? You can even learn about Sarah Ockler’s favorite cupcakes!

Michelle Dalton’s Sixteenth Summer tackles another sweet treat. It’s not baking, but it’s definitely the perfect dessert for summer: ice cream! Like the previous books mentioned, Anna is definitely creative when it comes to food, and she is not afraid to mix a little vanilla with some jalapeño to see what crazy ice cream might be created.

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski is all about cake! You can have your cake and eat it too as you read about the fun that the main character has while decorating cakes. Unfortunately, life is not always that easy and while her cake hobby may take her away momentarily from the problems in her life, Sheridan will have to solve the rest of her problems the good old fashioned way: communication. But this is nonetheless a tasty treat of a tale!

For something a bit more mature, check out Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. It is an adult book, but she is an author with great crossover appeal. The main character, Sunshine, is a master baker, but when vampires get involved in her life, well, everything changes, to say the least. This is definitely a darker book than the previous dessert-inspired titles mentioned, but Robin McKinley is a master at writing and while dessert is not the focus of the book, it’s definitely a part of who Sunshine is.

Tanita S. Davis’s book A La Carte is all about Lainey’s dream to be a world-renowned chef. She dreams about having her own cooking show and about taking her cooking to the next level. This book is filled with hope and a positive message. It’s not really about dessert, but it has so many yummy foods mentioned that I could not pass it up for inclusion on this list. And the main character is a vegetarian too! This is a girl with dreams who is going to go far, and it’s an inspiring fictional story (sounds lame, but Tanita S. Davis does not make this story lame by any means!).

And one last book, and a nonfiction one at that! I owe a big thanks to the YALSA listserv for mentioning this title. Again, it’s not wholly dessert orientated, but it’s another story of a person going from rags to something great with his life: Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, From Cocaine to Foie Gras by Jeff Henderson. Again, this is another adult book, but it holds a lot of crossover appeal. What is more real than reading about a man who was doing unimaginable things, who went to prison for those actions, but then found a dream opportunity in the most unlikely of places: the prison kitchen. This is not only an inspiring tale, but it just goes to show how food, that thing that causes heartbreak, that celebrates joy, can in fact turn lives around.

I’m sure there are more great books out there for teens that celebrate dessert in all its glory. After all, I haven’t even touched on the great cookbooks available now! Do you have any other fictional tales to tempt the taste buds?

— Sarah Wethern, currently reading Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

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Sarah Wethern