Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eating and reading

I read the most delightful piece here today.

But books in any form have always been a huge part of my life. As a child, my family would sit around the dinner table, each person with their own book, calmly reading and eating at the same time...

I would love to have grown up in that household. What joy! I know that most people view meals as lovely social occasions; as opportunities for sparkling conversation and bonhomie, but it is my favorite thing to sit and read and eat all by myself.

I read the following in a Peter Mayle book once, and it greatly appealed to me.

Facing the entrance were two gentlemen sitting side-by-side, but eating alone; each at his table for one. This is a civilized arrangement I rarely see outside of France, and I wonder why. Perhaps other nationalities feel more strongly the primitive social urge to eat in small herds. Or it may be ... that a Frenchman is more interested in good cooking than in bad conversation, and takes every chance he can to enjoy a solitary meal.

I do like to sit and really appreciate my food. In A String in the Harp, I just read of a loving Welsh family having a meal together:

and for a while all conversation stopped as everyone attended to eating.

That's just about perfect for me. Sitting down with people I enjoy, reading, and eating something delicious, and then having a lovely conversation (perhaps about our books!) while sitting around the table for hours.

7 comments:

  1. How delightful! One of my favorite things to do is read while I eat. It combines my two favorite things in the world - books and food. Love this post Nan. You're a woman after my own heart.

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  2. Oh, Karla, I loved your comment!!

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  3. that does sound idyllic--too often we eat on trays with a baseball game on TV--perhaps once the season is over I will suggest eating with books, I do like that idea.

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  4. As much as I love to read, as does my husband, we have never read at the table while eating together. However, if one of us finds ourselves alone during a meal, we always have something to read!

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  5. Breakfast and lunchtime are when I read my magazines. That way I don't have to worry about spilling anything on my book. :<)

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  6. I agree. I love to read and eat lunch alone. I always call it my little solitary picnic.

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  7. Nan, thank you for your post, and for linking to my About Me page. I saw that there were readers coming from your site to mine, so I had to find out what was happening over here. ;-)

    To this day, I don't think my mother appreciates the fact that we read so much, since she's more interested in talking than reading. But for me, it's difficult not to read while eating. As a child, if I didn't have a book to read (oh, the horrors!) I would read the back of the cereal boxes. I just couldn't sit and eat and do nothing else.

    The reading at the table thing was definitely a product of my father's habits - he did it because he worked long hours at his job, and reading at the dinner table was one of the ways he worked reading into his daily life. He loved books, so simply not reading wasn't a choice.

    Now I work at the local library, and am always bringing books to my dad to read. My sister lives close by too, and I'm always getting her books from the library also. I do believe that if I ever quit my job, my family would go on strike. ;-)

    Thanks again for your kind words about my post - I looked around at your site and really enjoyed it. You must love books as much as I do, and I don't say that often. :-)

    Hava
    http://nonfictionlover.today.com

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.