Bon Appétit: Recipe for the Perfect Book (Or at Least an Entertaining One)

man removing cloche from empty plate while second man holding utensils as if to eat looks on

I should start off with a warning: I’m a pretty pitiful cook. It’s my own fault really—I can’t be bothered to follow recipes. I have strong opinions about which ingredients to use, and while I’m open to a very wide range of cuisines, I’m also of the opinion that simple is best. This is all well and good for me because I cook to my own personal taste.

My culinary tastes may be somewhat reflective of my preferences when it comes to reading books. I avoid some elements but relish others. I enjoy sampling other literary cultures and genres. I still think simplicity is beautiful. And while I don’t enjoy cookie-cutter storylines or recommend a templated approach, there are a few common ingredients, so to speak, that I think can be found in a good book.

* * *

Entertaining Novel à la Porcupette


  • 1 compelling protagonist (one part trauma, two parts intelligence, one part pluck)
  • 1 believable antagonist (even mix of nature and nurture)
  • Dash of secondary characters (for best results, use variety)
  • 2-3 interesting locations (or more, to taste)
  • Heaps of motivation
  • Sprinkling of doubt
  • Handful of emotional impact
  • 1 engaging book cover (to serve)


1. Place compelling protagonist in interesting location. Add secondary characters and mix well.

2. Introduce believable antagonist to the mix. Shake things up, and don’t forget to incorporate motivation.

3. Place mixture in new interesting location. Cook under pressure until things start to bubble. Add a dash of secondary characters if required, but ensure even layer of motivation. Repeat as needed.

4. Carefully mix in sprinkling of doubt and let simmer until compelling protagonist starts to wilt and emotional impact begins to form. Move to another interesting location if desired.

5. Bring mixture to rolling boil, ensuring protagonist and antagonist brought together in mixture. If antagonist does not fully incorporate, remove and discard.

6. Reduce temperature and allow emotional impact to fully form.

7. If you find the mixture still isn’t coming together, toss out recipe and make your own!

8. Once to your liking, top with engaging book cover and serve.

* * *

This recipe, like all recipes, is highly subjective. You’ll want to add your own ingredients and use your own cooking methods to come up with your own perfect book recipe!


Hope you enjoyed today’s little bit of literary silliness. And if you’re of a mind to create your own bookish recipe, do share!



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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.