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Reading Room: Adam Roberts’s top Substack reads
Reading Room is a mini series with writers sharing their favorite publications to read on Substack. Any Substack writer can now endorse their peers using our recommendations feature.
Great writers are great readers first, as the maxim goes. In this new feature, we explore what Substack writers are reading by asking them for a tour of their reading list.
This week, we spoke to Adam Roberts of The Amateur Gourmet Newsletter, a biweekly publication filled with recipes, restaurant reviews, and links, as well as Lunch Therapy, a podcast featuring interviews with chefs, writers, actors, and cookbook authors on a different weekly theme. Adam is also a reader and listener, with a long reading list of publications he subscribes to. Here, he handpicks some of his current reads on Substack.
For more finds from Adam, you can browse the full list of Substack publications he subscribes to on his profile.
Hi, Adam! Can you start by describing your reading diet?
Ever since my first-grade teacher sent me home with a copy of Charlotte’s Web to read before the rest of the class, I’ve been hooked on books. I read about 15 books a year, plus a few audiobooks, not to mention all of the cookbooks that I thumb through constantly. Almost all of it is for personal interest, though of course that spills over into my professional work as a writer. I mostly read before bed, but sometimes I’ll treat myself to an afternoon with a book in my favorite chair.
Describe your ideal or actual reading room. What does it look like?
My husband and I have a big, comfy brown chair in our living room that gets lots of sunlight and that our dog, Winston, loves to join us on. It’s cushy enough to feel cozy but not so cushy that you just want to take a nap. (Though sometimes naps happen.) My favorite ritual is to read the Sunday New York Times in that chair, starting with the puzzle, which I can never finish right away, then work through all the sections until it’s time to look at the puzzle again.
Do you remember the first writer or book that really captured your attention?
There are so many from various stages of my life. But the first book that I truly loved was The World According to Garp by John Irving. It dazzled me with its storytelling, its characters, and its heart.
“I’ve been hooked on books. I read about 15 books a year, plus a few audiobooks, not to mention all of the cookbooks that I thumb through constantly. Almost all of it is for personal interest, though of course that spills over into my professional work as a writer.”
Adam Roberts’s recommended reads:
Substack I’m most excited to open ASAP: A Piece of Cake by Bill Clark. One of the great regrets of my California life (I moved to L.A. from N.Y. in 2011) is that I never got to eat at MeMe’s Diner in Brooklyn, which closed during the pandemic. The food at MeMe’s was supposed to be quirky and cozy. And then, like a miracle out of nowhere, one of the chefs/co-owners, Bill Clark, launched a Substack and now he publishes his recipes on a (mostly) weekly basis. So saddle up for his olive oil cornbread pancakes, marvel at his beet gnocchi with horseradish beurre blanc, and bookmark his honey-roasted peanut cake with bourbon caramel frosting.
Substack I subscribed to most recently: From the Hip: One Woman’s Writing on Food by Lisa Donovan. I’ve only met Lisa Donovan virtually—she was a guest on my podcast—but we immediately hit it off because she’s that perfect combination of lovely-to-talk-to and smart-as-hell. She’s also a brilliant pastry chef (City House, Margot Café & Bar, Sean Brock’s Husk), a James Beard Award–winning writer, and the author of the celebrated book Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger. So when she announced recently that she was starting a Substack, I was like “I’m in!” And already her guide for where to eat in Nashville (where she currently lives) is bookmarked for my next road trip.
First Substack I subscribed to: David Lebovitz Newsletter. David, the original Emily in Paris and the author of numerous books, including The Sweet Life in Paris, The Perfect Scoop, and L’Appart, reached out to me almost two decades ago when I started my food blog because he’d already been doing his for a few years. Ever since, I’ve marveled at the ways he’s adapted to new technologies, from hosting Instagram Lives during the pandemic to his most recent iteration as a Substacker. I actually had him on my podcast to talk about his decision to move from blogging to writing a newsletter. Now it’s such a treat not to have to manually load up his blog all the time; when David writes a new dispatch, it pops up in my inbox instantly. I especially loved his recent saga about leaving the apartment he renovated for one with more open space.
Most memorable Substack: Dinner: A Love Story. There’s something about the look and feel of Jenny Rosenstrach’s newsletter that makes it stand out among the rest. Her newsletters usually come as a list of three things that she’s really into at the moment: the most recent had egg recipes, a recipe for sausage and peppers, and a Mother’s Day giveaway. I love how streamlined and useful it is and not at all pretentious.
Writer not on Substack who I’d like to see join Substack: Joan Didion! She would’ve been great. As for living writers: Gabrielle Hamilton would be a delight, especially if she included pictures of what she cooks at home.
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