Eat, read, remember

When my sons were young, we had a rule that dinner was served at the table and all family members were required to participate, unless they had a good excuse … like traipsing through Africa or being plague ridden. (“But Mommm, I’m about to break my high score!” garnered only a short delay.) Then, one by one, they grew into sports or band practice, jobs, or girlfriends. Now, it’s just me and my husband and we eat most of our dinners in front of the TV.

If you read the title of this post, (I’ll wait) right about now you’re saying, “Nice walk down memory lane, Linda, but what does that have to do with “the nourishment of reading”? Well, of course, reading nourishes your soul, feeds your mind, builds strong bodies twelve ways, but yesterday morning as I sat trying to recall the names of all the books I’ve ever read, I had an epiphany!

As book titles and author’s names rose in memory, so did thoughts of food. It took me a minute to realize why. Awhile back, I wrote about how certain songs bring back vivid memories, but guess what? So do certain books. For me, oddly enough, some of those memories involve food or drink.

I read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit while sitting at my kitchen table, eating hard salami and cream cheese on thin rye bread. Cups of Constant Comfort tea was my accompaniment as I sat at my dining room table reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. (A more serious book requires a more serious table?)

While reading Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, I consumed copious amounts of sea-salted wheat berries. I drank bottle after bottle of Faygo Rock ‘n’ Rye soda as I read Communion by Whitley Strieber. Chips and salsa may be my last book-related snack. I was addicted to that the first time I read Breathing Lesson’s by Anne Tyler.

I realize that I no longer eat something consistently while reading a book, not so much because I no longer go through food phases, but more that I rarely sit reading for more than fifteen minutes at a time. I’m too busy writing. I don’t snack as I read; I read as a snack!

What about you? I suspect I’m the only one who associates food with books, but what memory does a certain book evoke for you?

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18 thoughts on “Eat, read, remember

  1. I’ve never associated food with a book, but I don’t usually read and eat. Though that rye bread with salami and cheese sounds pretty damn good right now!

    I completely understand your feeling of only reading in bits these days. This whole growing up thing sucks. I remember devoting entire days to a book in my misspent youth.

    (Trying not to let this comment devolve into an old-person rant).


    1. I’m hungry so it sounds good to me too, only these days I’d use lebne instead of cream cheese. (lebne=yogurt cheese)

      You know, on some days I think about started a second blog, just for rants … anonymously, of course. 😉


  2. I must say, I’ve never associated a book with a particular morsel, but I have whole periods of time associated with books. For me, Pet Sematary calls back my time in the South during the late 70s, even though I read it as a new book in ’83. Likewise does Alien evoke memories of warm days and cool autumnal nights in northern Georgia. I remember The Talisman and Ghost Story as I read them in my car waiting for a girlfriend to get out of work (*shudder!* bad memory!).

    So yes, I have strong memory associations with books, but no food associations. 🙂

    Well, of course, no one else associates food with books … you’re all too civilized for that. Like you, I have other associations with many books: the primary reading space, the season, my life circumstances. I wonder if that affects our memory of the book in general?


  3. I don’t tend to snack much when I read because I’m not coordinated enough to manage food and reading. (I can walk and chew gum, but often bite my lip in the process.)


  4. Carrot sticks, celery sticks, or plain popcorn are about the only thing I risk eating while reading. I’m not coordinated enough to balance anything that has to stack, or hold two slices of bread together as far as that goes. Anything to complicated and I’d spill or drop it down the front of me and on the book. LOL

    Hey I just came up with a great idea! Read more = healthier eating = built in weightloss!


  5. I don’t usually eat while reading but I’ve been known to indulge in the occasional glass of wine while flipping pages. Anytime is a good time for wine–at least in my book!


    1. I love wine, Laura, but it makes me sleepy, so I wouldn’t get much reading done … speaking of which … I’m halfway through your book, which is pathetic, I know, but I’m moving in the right direction. 🙂


  6. This post is so funny to me, because I am constantly reading while I’m eating. For a while, there was one book I loved to read while I was eating a cheeseburger, because during the story the character gets lost and dreams about – you guessed it – cheeseburgers. I’m not sure there are any books that I specifically associate with a certain kind of food now, but I will say that when I’m eating I tend to choose more lighthearted books that don’t require as much thought.


    1. I can’t say I’ve ever eaten something specifically to go with a book, but that’s funny. Sometimes a book makes me hungry for what the characters are eating. And I made myself hungry while writing certain scenes of my current novel. Hey, maybe I should read or write about people who don’t eat; I might loose a few pounds! 🙂


      1. Heh, if you find that works, do let me know. I could stand to loose a few pounds myself, and the thought that writing could help is all too sweet.


  7. this post reminds of Proust, well I don’t eat while I read and write but I drink a lot of green tea and Diet Coke. Maybe espresso if I am planning a story. I suppose all these drinks are evoked, however ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan evokes pomegranate juice for because I drank this large bottle while reading it.


  8. I usually don’t eat when reading — okay, maybe some Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips which I parcel out slooowwwlllyyy. But I most definitely can drink while reading. Depending on the time of day — coffee, chai tea, seltzer, chardonnay, or beer.

    All of which sound appealing right now. I think I’ll go have a glass of wine….


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