‘Literary taste: The Food Theory of Books’
I’ve actually written about this before — how books are like food. Check out my fifth-ever post from (gasp) 2014. I called it “Tolstoy is So Tasty,” because, like beets, I didn’t know how delicious War and Peace would be until I actually tried it.
But tonight I am going to an event featuring Andre Soltner, he of the late lamented Lutece fame, and I got to thinking about this whole topic — how reading is a lot like eating — and decided to give it another go. (Also, it’s the Christmas season, and though I do very little decorating — see “Deck the Halls with Bough of Holly” — and send absolutely no cards, I have been holiday-busy, mainly going to a lot of holiday-themed events. Which involves little work other than dressing up, but does make me blog-lazy, to say the least.)
So. In “Tolstoy is So Tasty”, I explain how some books are like a good dinner: satisfying, filling, memorable. As a bonus, they inspire conversation.
A good book of short stories is like having a stash of tasty snacks to nibble between book “meals.” Just lately I’ve been dipping into Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties while waiting for A Town Like Alice to clear my system.
I go on some more about Junk Food books and and Thanksgiving Dinner Books and Health Food Books in that old post. Also Mallomar Books. Those are the books that, after you polish them off, you are thoroughly disgusted with yourself and feel the urge to purge. (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I’m talking about you.)
But I’ve read a heck of lot of books since posting that story and I’ve come to discover even more analogies. Like Airplane Food Books. Those are the ones you read because you’re trapped, otherwise bookless, and really have no other choice. I was once on a boat on the Amazon and had nothing to read but a tattered old copy of The Neotropical Companion. Which turned out to be pretty good. Kind of like airplane lasagna.
And how about Sheet-Cake Books? The ones that look really tempting but turn out to be dry and tasteless, or, even worse, teeth-on-edge sweet. I’m inviting a huge backlash here, but Little Women — eewwwww — is like this for me. Too sweet by far. And what’s with Jo not getting to marry Laurie because they are friends? Puh-leeze.
Books are like food also in that you can share them — either the food itself, or the recipe. Though it is hard to do this with e-books. And audiobooks? Heck, I tried one once but I felt like it was kind of like having someone else cut your meat for you.
Anyway. I hope you agree that my Food Theory of Books was, like In Cold Blood, worth another look.
I may even write about this again. In the meantime, enjoy your holidays and ponder this. Even though it isn’t a food analogy, it’s pretty cool. Though hey, I take it back. I did just this after first tasting Andre Soltner’s cooking.