Valentine’s Day is for chocolate. And more chocolate. And even more chocolate. Indulge in these 11 books that bring all kinds of chocolate to life on the page.
Chocolat & The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris
Harris’ enchanting novel — the basis for Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp’s Oscar-nominated movie — follows Vianne Rocher as she moves to the sleepy (fictional) town of Lansquenet, France to open a chocolate shop. Soon, Vianne’s delicious offerings are tempting the religious villagers away from the promises they made during Lent, and she’s strangely perceptive about guessing and assuaging each customer’s private issues.
In Chocolat’s sequel (published as The Lollipop Shoes in the U.K.), Vianne adopts a new identity and a new chocolate shop, living a life under the radar to protect her two kids. But soon, a beguiling stranger threatens to disturb the peace Vianne has worked so hard to create.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The debut novel from Mexican author Laura Esquivel is laced with elements of the magical realism style popular in Latin American literature of the time. In this case, protagonist Tita carries the supernatural ability to infuse her emotions into the food she prepares (which can then infect people who eat it). The book is laid out in 12 chapters, each of them based around a different Mexican recipe.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
In Robert Cormier’s famous young adult novel, chocolate becomes the spark that ignites a school-wide bullying campaign. Loner student Jerry Renault takes a page from J. Alfred Prufrock and Bartleby the Scrivener, refusing to participate in his Catholic high school’s annual chocolate sale. This pisses off the school’s powerful secret society, who set out to manipulate, bully, and (when all else fails) beat him into submission to the status quo.
The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
For the first book in her Amour et Chocolat series, Laura Florand molds a steamy international romance between two very different chocolatiers. The Corey family is basically the Hersheys in the word of the novel, the name synonymous with mass-produced chocolate candies, but heiress Cade Corey is intent on elevating the quality of the family product. In Paris, she meets artisanal chocolatier Sylvain Marquis, a man very serious about the craft and care of making chocolate. Marquis refuses to collaborate with Corey, saying her mass production doesn’t make “real” chocolate, but Corey argues she just wants to make quality chocolate that is easily accessible. Soon, Corey resorts to stealing Marquis’ chocolates as the two begin a sensual relationship.
The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie
Diego de Godoy arrives to Mexico in 1518 and meets the beautiful Ignacia, who offers him a drink of chocolate — which contains a magical elixir. Diego spends his immortality traveling the world, creating cacao concoctions, and trying to capture both the perfect taste of chocolate and the meaning of life.
The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson
Problems arise when commitment-phobic Amber gets involved with her womanizing friend Greg. On top of that, she’s drifting away from her best friend Jen. As she tries to navigate all the complications of her relationships, Amber realizes even chocolate can’t fix everything.
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Perhaps the only book to instill both chocolate cravings and fear of chocolate in one fell swoop, Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory concerns Willy Wonka, a reclusive, almost mythic chocolatier who opens his wild, whimsical factory to a group of golden ticket-winning children. Inside, they find edible creations that seem like a dream — but the pipe that slurps Augustus Gloop up from the chocolate river is the stuff of nightmares.
The Cocoa Conspiracy by Andrea Penrose
Lady Arianna gives her husband a rare book of botanical engravings of cacao, but when someone tries to steal it, she finds herself in the midst of a political conspiracy. The Cocoa Conspiracy even doubles as a cookbook, if you count the chocolate recipes scattered throughout.
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
Set and published in 1920s London, The Poisoned Chocolates Case weaves a tale of crime in the Golden Age of detective novels. Poisoned Chocolate Case is a classic mystery that follows six members of the so-called “Crimes Circle” who try to solve murders hinted at by complimentary boxes of chocolates.
Dying For Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson
The second installment in Diane Mott Davidson’s now-17-books-long culinary mystery series, Dying for Chocolate finds caterer Goldy Bear in the midst of a death that doesn’t quite add up. After meeting a psychiatrist at an Aspen country club event that Goldy was catering, he winds up dead in a car crash. Suspecting foul play, Goldy sets off to find the truth, providing some chocolaty recipes to readers along the way.