Last year, The Great British Baking Show lifted me from a deep depression. Oh, those soothing accents. Oh, that spunky, magical music. Oh, those desserts! I felt utterly transported to England, and I binge-watched the show with my mom. One reason why I loved the show so much was that it reminded me of my own guilty pleasure: British chick lit or women’s fiction about cooking, baking, and overall sweet delights. And if you’re just coming to the The Great British Baking Show tonight for its season premiere on PBS, or you’re a longtime fan of this show, which is also known as The Great British Bake Off in its native UK, you’re likely want to indulge and binge read the following books that are like The Great British Baking Show. Or, for my friends in the UK, books like The Great British Bake Off. Sink your teeth into these book recommendations for The Great British Baking Show.
Novels Like The Great British Baking Show
I’m a fiction girl at heart, and also a consumer of British women’s literature about baking, cooking, and food in general. If you have yet to discover the pleasures of this subgenre, prepare yourself.
Here’s the basic formula (without being formulaic): take 1/4 foodie and baked goods-inspired themes; 1/4 quirky quaint British village, island, or town; 1/4 love affair with a brooding, Darcy-esque local; and 1/4 cozy and comforting feeling like nice wool socks on a cold day or a piping hot cuppa in a rainstorm.
That’s the formula we’re going for with these book recommendations for The Great British Baking Show (and book recommendations for The Great British Bake Off, too, of course).
My favorite author in this subgenre of foodie chick lit is Jenny Colgan. I first read her novel Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop in December 2014. It’s about a woman who has recently taken over her elderly aunt’s candy store in an English village. There’s romance, family, quirky villagers, and a Love Actually feeling around the holidays and every villager finding love. This novel hasn’t been released in the US yet, though you can find it at The Book Depository (cheap prices and free shipping worldwide!). However, the first novel in the series, Sweetshop of Dreams: A charming story of nostalgic sweets and unexpected discoveries (A Novel with Recipes), is available as an eBook and in paperback.
You can also find Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery and its sequel, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, in print and as an eBook. These novels have a similar feel. A young woman who’s down on her luck moves to a seaside village in England and revitalizes a baking shop with her irresistibly delicious bread. She finds love and a new purpose in her life having had employment and relationship issues. Overall, she regains her spirit and begins to hope again. This novel also includes recipes. As with any Jenny Colgan novel, it’s super sweet, cozy, and makes you feel like you’re sinking into a warm bubble bath…with chocolate ganache cake and a glass of wine nearby. I truly believe that her novels are comfort food, and she’s my top pick to go to when I need to feel happy again. Also, as soon as I’m done with one of her novels I tend to take my cookbooks off the shelf and bake up a storm.
One last Jenny Colgan recommendation is the Cupcake Cafe series, which starts with Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. This novel, the first in a series, is also about a woman finding herself in baking. The difference is this novel takes place in a snug little corner of London. Even though this novel isn’t set in a village, there’s still a close-knit community kind of vibe to it. It’s similarly cozy and cute.
The Cherry Pie Island series by Jenny Oliver is another feel-good foodie novel from Britain and a book I’d recommend to anyone who loves The Great British Baking Show. This series starts with The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe. The series follows the eccentric residents of a small and charming coastal town in England.
It’s everything a Great British Baking Show fan could want…warm and fuzzy foodie references, the quaint British setting on Cherry Pie Island, the good vibes and cozy, hand-knit sweater on a crisp fall day kind of feel. This is another star recommendation for what to read if you love the Great British Baking Show. It will utterly transport you.
Not sweet enough for you? Then you need to check out The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts. This novel is about a young woman who gets a job in a cafe in a castle and does her best to win over the brooding owner with her cupcakes and other delectable baked goods.
It’s another quaint, feel-good novel with plenty of baked goods and a hefty dose of romance. One of the things we love so much about The Great British Baking Show is the setting on an estate. This novel takes you to that setting and makes it come alive for you. Plus, Roberts’ description of the baked goods is enough to make your mouth water—and put that apron on and whip up a batch of your all-star chocolate chip cookies or your grandma’s secret-ingredient apple pie.
Another author I’d recommend if you’re looking for books like The Great British Baking Show is Trisha Ashley. She writes of small English villages and the quirky residents. When you read one of her books, especially after a rough day on the news or your own personal bad day, you feel restored, like there is good in the world again as long as there’s good food, good friends, good neighbors, and romance. Not to mention the endearingly eccentric pet. Start with Chocolate Wishes, the first in a series of novels about a chocolate shop in a small town in England.
This novel is about second chances at love, reuniting with old flames, and taking a leap into a future where you could be happy when trust and truffles are the flavors of the day. Trisha Ashley is also the author of A Christmas Cracker, which I wrote about in my article “Christmas-Themed Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction” last year. (In fact, if you check out that article, you’ll find tons of other recommendations that fit into this very specific dynamic of British women’s fiction…cozy, often rural, often involving food and love types of novels. Bookmark it for the holidays—it’s updated every year.)
These novels are sweet of course, but they are also hefty with most clocking in over 350 pages. I say that because you want something you can sink your teeth into for a few hours.
What are your favorite parts about the Great British Baking Show? What would you love to see in a novel like the Great British Baking Show? Leave a comment below.
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