Bookshelfie: Five Books That You’ll Always Want On Hand According To Melissa Hemsley

In our new feature in partnership with the Women's Prize for Fiction, the best-selling cookbook author tells us how she grew up surrounded by books, and now she's imparting her reading wisdom on us...

Melissa Hemsley

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

I grew up surrounded by books. In the library, at bookshops, I was raised to be a bookworm with my late father being able to read in multiple languages and my mum often taking me to the library during half term while she worked.

With a family so devoted to reading - so much so we always got second hand books as presents - the library quickly became my happy place. It's made visiting bookshops up and down the country for talks and demonstrations of my cookbook the best part of my job - and, it's given me great insight into all the best reads out there.

While I dip in and out of books all the time, there's always one close to hand with an envelope bookmarker. I keep them in my handbag, by the bath, in fact I often fall asleep with one falling on my face. These are my favourite makeshift eye-masks right now (and probably forever)...


Melissa Hemsley Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)

Melissa Hemsley Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)1 of 7
CREDIT: Penguin

The River Cafe Cookbook - Ruth Rodgers and Rose Gray

An incredible restaurant that I save up for and go a few times a year on special occasions for lovely long - two of everything please - dinners. Ruth Rodgers and the late Rose Gray are such legends and have a family of chefs who have worked through their kitchens. It's a beautiful book, a celebration of 30 years and counting, full of really cookable recipes and tons of practical tips.

Melissa Hemsley Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)2 of 7
CREDIT: Good Reads

My Vietnamese Kitchen - Uyen Luu

My friend Uyen Luu, we met through work, is the most incredible cook and she runs fantastic cookery classes and supper clubs at her photography studio every week. She starts prepping days in advance with her mum and brother and every dish is more amazing than the last.

Melissa Hemsley Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)3 of 7
CREDIT: Good Reads

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A new story about anxiety - Sarah Wilson

I first met Sarah Wilson through work, she's a massively respected journalist and cookbook author from Australia and we've hung out on both sides of the world. I've recommended and bought this book for so many of my loved ones. I've made notes on most pages. It's hilarious, sad, overwhelming, supportive, it's everything.

Melissa Hemsley Bookshelfie - Grazia (stacked)4 of 7
CREDIT: Good Reads

Diversify - June Sarpong

June is a huge inspiration to me. We are both Prince's Trust ambassadors and involved with 'Women Supporting Women', June for decades longer - she works with countless charities, I really admire her. Diversity is about discrimination and diversity and I've learnt a lot from her, still much to learn.

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CREDIT: Good Reads

(Any) Harry Potter - J.K Rowling

I've always got an HP or two next to the bed, the movies are saved on my laptop and the audio versions saved on my phone. They calm me, cheer me and most nights I fall asleep to them. I cannot wait to have my own children and read them all to them.

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CREDIT: Good Reads

Mad Girl - Bryony Gordon

I've long been a fan of Bryony Gordon and I lost my cool when she invited me onto her podcast MAD GIRL. I hugely admire the work she does through her columns, books, podcasts, campaigns and marathons in making mental health an all day every day subject for all of us to talk about. So happy to be one of her Mental Health Mates ambassadors/.

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CREDIT: Waterstones

Moranifesto - Caitlin Moran

I have the same publisher as Caitlin (Ebury part of Penguin Random House) and it's meant that I've heard Caitlin speak several times, each time I'm blown away by her spirit and talent. She's magnificent! Also look up the posthumous letter that Caitlin writes to her daughter Nancy. It gets me every time

Melissa Hemsley's best selling cookbook, Eat Happy, is available here.

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