A household name since the ’90s, lifestyle maven Martha Stewart grew a gourmet catering company (first inspired by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking) into a global media empire with branches in publishing, merchandising, and e-commerce. From cookbooks and crockery lines to magazines and TV shows, the Martha Stewart Living brand came to define the ideals of style and domesticity for a generation of American homemakers.

Stewart built her business on imparting her passion for cooking, decorating, entertaining, gardening, crafting and healthy living. In two reading lists shared on her website and blog, she listed some of the books that have informed and inspired her life’s work. From historical romance to lessons on living a creative life, check out her recommendations below, and complement with the bookshelves of Julia Child and Marie Kondo.


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (also rec’d by Irvine WelshJoan Didion, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Richard Branson)

“It is difficult to believe it was 46 years ago that I discovered this novelist and his masterpiece. To this day, I envy anyone who hasn’t yet read it; they have an amazing treat in store.” -MS

Romola by George Eliot

“Learn about the de Medici family, the Renaissance, and the life of a woman in 15th-century Florence in this introspective novel that incorporates historical figures and actual events.” -MS

My Antonia by Willa Cather (also rec’d by Rebecca Solnit)

“Beautifully written, this eloquent book delves into the challenges and vicissitudes of prairie immigrant life at the end of the 19th century. It makes one dream.” -MS

The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandre Dumas

“Picturesque, descriptive, and historical, this novel is full of intrigue and cunning about the court of Louis XVI.” -MS

The Fifth Queen trilogy by Ford Madox Ford

“A magnificent series about Katharine Howard and her marriage to Henry VIII, her disputes with Thomas Cromwell, and the tragedy that befell her.” -MS

Fruit Cake: Recipes for the Curious Baker by Jason Schreiber

“This cookbook, Fruit Cake, focuses on baked goods made with fruit. Author Jason Schreiber has done lots of work for me, my magazines, my books, and my television shows. I was honored and excited to write the foreword. Original and witty, this book adds a modern and flavorful twist to the versions we remember eating as children.” -MS

Life in the Studio: Inspiration and Lessons on Creativity by Frances Palmer

“I’ve known Frances for years – she is a renowned potter, gardener, photographer, and entrepreneur. I was so happy to open this book and see all the gorgeous photographs – most of which were taken by Frances herself. This book is about a lovely and unique artist, her passions, her expertise, and her best lessons for living a creative life.” -MS

Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants, and Gardens by Dan Hinkley

“Dan Hinkley and I have known each other for many years. He is an exceptional plantsman, garden writer, horticulturist, nurseryman, and friend – best known for establishing Heronswood Nursery, in Kingston, Washington, and his current garden, Windcliff on Washington State’s Kitsap Peninsula. Through these pages, one can see how Dan’s own garden evolved.” -MS

Cooking in Marfa: Welcome, We’ve Been Expecting You by Virginia Lebermann & Rocky Barnette

“This book, by Virginia Lebermann and Rocky Barnette, talks about Capri, a restaurant, an art installation, and a wonderful place to gather. The photographs are all taken by my friend, Douglas Friedman. When asked what inspired the book, the authors said, ‘Douglas Friedman was the impetus and inspiration for us all to come together to propose this project to Phaidon. He loves The Capri, the wildness, beauty and theater coming out of the kitchen. We thought he was wonderfully mad when he shared the idea. But now we have Cooking in Marfa to document a magical moment in time at The Capri.'” -MS

Designing History: The Evolutionary Art & Style of the Obama White House by Michael Smith

“This book is for anyone who appreciates the art of decorating – design enthusiasts, political aficionados, and students of Americana, and more. It is an extraordinary book showing Michael’s collaboration with President and First Lady Obama on decorating the White House, one of the most celebrated residences of the United States.” -MS

(via Martha Stewart & The Martha Blog)

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