Nigella Lawson shares her favourite books

The cooking goddess has a massive book collection and here she reveals her literary side.
By Laurie Grassi
Nigella in front of a small part of her book collection Nigella in front of a small part of her book collection

Kitchen aside, Nigella’s library is one of her favourite rooms in the house. She was the deputy literary editor of London’s Sunday Times, published her first book, How to Eat, in 1998 and was named British Book Awards Author of the Year in 2001. And she has a massive book collection, pictured above.

What's your favourite book?

This is the hardest, cruellest question for the passionate reader, but I do side with Sigmund Freud in positing Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield as a worthy contender for the title of best book ever written. I can think of no truer account of what it is to become a person, which in some sense all novels are —or should be— about.

Has any book made you cry?

I am not sure that I want any book to make me cry. I think that sort of emotional manipulativeness is not the province, ever, of literature. Still, when I was an adolescent I did react more intemperately to books, and Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kröger did more than make me cry: I had to take to my bed for days after reading it, such was my emotional over-involvement!

What book makes you laugh?


Anything by P.G. Wodehouse. Though I think —if I had to narrow it down— The Code of the Woosters probably makes me laugh out loud more than any other book I’ve ever read, no matter how many times I read it.

Which book makes the perfect gift?

The whole point of giving books as presents is that they do need to be chosen with detailed regard to the individual, and so I’m not sure I believe in any all-purpose perfect gift book. Still, I don’t think I’d want to know anyone who wouldn’t love to be given a copy of Philip Larkin’s Required Writing . Sad, laugh-outloud funny and thought-provoking: This book has it all.


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