If I had to categorize my reading habits, I would have to say that I am largely an omnivore and also a buffet-style grazer. My daily word count is a combination of fiction, non-fiction, maybe a bit of spirituality or essay collections, and a few lines of poetry. OK, so I don’t read poetry every day, but most of the time I spend time with my eyes on several books. Part of that is for professional reasons: books to revise or research for various projects. But much of my reading, thankfully, falls into pleasure.
I just can’t choose just one book to read at a time – because there are so many books and oh so precious little time – so I wander between a classic novel and the realm of non-fiction, lately hoarding lots of books on history, Ireland and nature. Unbeknownst to me, I discovered the link after sorting through books to take on holiday and realizing that four titles I had selected centered on the Irish.
Unlike my cluttered nightstand and piles of books whose seeds I tend to like, my grandmother is a carnivore. His teeth have sharpened over time. She reads one book at a time, from the time she drinks her coffee and eats breakfast until bedtime. She’ll put the book down for meals and the occasional conversation or leaf through the newspaper, but otherwise she’s reading. She doesn’t read non-fiction. She’s pretty strict about it, but if she runs out of supplies she’ll sate her craving with a cookbook – our cabin has a good supply of Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks from the 1970s. a cottage on an undeveloped island is that you can’t just run for a new book, you need 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 rush off, reassuring me that she’ll mark my spot and it won’t take her long and since I’m working on so many others at once that it won’t hurt him to slip away with this mystery set in India in the 1920s. The book is always turned over, bookmark placed just like that. Our best conversations probably come from books or more subtle clues as we pass books, suggesting new titles, shouting: you need to read this next!
Although our reading habits are a little different, one thing we share – and have passed down from generation to generation, now spanning four to my own book-loving children – is that no matter grazer that I am or my passionate and decisive grandmother, we both have a healthy appetite for books.
What if you were to ask which dish is best cooked from these vintage cookbooks, so often re-read over the years? Ask neither the omnivore nor the carnivore. We are only here for the stories.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.