If you enjoy
reality TV--like Survivor, the Apprentice, or Top Chef, the Next Food Network Star, or Food Network Challenge
a well-written, educational and colorful non-fiction read
cooking and cookbooks or magazines. . . .
then you might enjoy Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America as much as I did.
This book was written by Amy Sutherland, a food writer from Maine, who began her year of research into cooking contests when a resident of her state won a place in the Pillsbury Bake Off. She chronicles the history of the recipe contest and then devotes a chapter to each of the biggest or most popular contests that are held across the United States throughout the year. She generally follows a different contestant in each chapter, detailing his or her methods, personality and competition style.
One thing that surprised me was to learn that many people are sort of professional "contesters," entering many recipes into many contests each year. By encountering these same competitors chapter after chapter, the book reads as a compelling and suspenseful story while allowing you some insight into the hows and whys of recipe contesting.
Edited to add that each Saturday, Sherry hosts a book review link on her site, Semicolon. Check them out or link one of your own.