If I were to categorize my reading habits, I’d have to say that I’m largely omnivorous and also a buffet-style grazer. My daily word count is a combination of fiction, nonfiction, perhaps a bit of spiritual or collections of essays, and a few lines of poetry. OK, so I don’t read poetry every day, but most days I spend time with my eyes on multiple books. Part of that is for professional reasons: books to review or research for various projects. But much of my reading, thankfully, falls into pleasure.
I simply can’t choose just one book to read at a time – for there are so many books and oh so precious little time – so I wander between a classic novel and over to the nonfiction realm, lately piling up a lot of books on history, Ireland, and nature. Unbeknownst to me, I discovered the connection after sorting through books to take on vacation and realizing that four titles I had selected centered upon the Irish.
Unlike my cluttered nightstand and piles of books that I tend to like seeds, my grandmother is a carnivore. Her teeth have sharpened with time. She reads one book at a time, from the time she drinks her coffee and eats breakfast until it’s time for bed. She’ll put down the book for meals and the occasional chat or thumb through the newspaper, but otherwise she’s reading. She doesn’t read nonfiction. She’s quite strict about this, but if she runs out of material she will satiate her craving with a cookbook – our cottage has a good supply of Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks from the 1970s. One minor drawback of a cottage on an undeveloped island is that you can’t simply run out for a new book, it takes a boat, and sometimes, even if you’ve reached the last page, it’s hard to leave the island.
If she wants to read something that I’ve already started, she’ll wait for me to select my other book and swoop in, plying me with reassurances that she’ll mark my spot and it won’t take her long and since I’m working through so many others at once it won’t hurt for her to just slip away with this mystery set in India in the 1920s. The book is always returned, bookmark placed just so. Likely our best conversations stem from books or the more subtle cues as we pass books back and forth, suggesting new titles, crying out: you must read this next!
Although our reading habits are a bit different, one thing we share – and passed down through the generations, now spanning four to my own book-loving children, is that no matter the grazer that is me or my keen, decisive grandmother, we both have a healthy appetite for books.
And if you should ask what dish is best cooked from those vintage cookbooks, so often reread over the years? Don’t ask either the omnivore or the carnivore. We’re only here for the stories.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.
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