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Eating and Reading: A Match Made in Literary Heaven!

Justin Cox
Justin Cox
This Week In Writing, we celebrate National Book Lovers Day by combining the world’s two favorite things: eating and reading.

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Alice/@eatingreading
Photo courtesy of Gretchen Alice/@eatingreading
Today is National Book Lover’s Day, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to write today’s newsletter than Gretchen Alice! Gretchen appeared on two episodes of our podcast back in 2020, is a librarian, and creator of the best Instagram account. Here’s what Gretchen says about our relationship with eating and reading. Enjoy!
Hello eaters and readers! Gretchen Alice here. Justin and I have been internet friends for ages, and our friendship is founded on us both loving books and food. Justin has his Eat Your Words website and I have the best hobby in the world, my bookstagram account, @eatingreading. I’m also a full-time librarian, so I’ve made a career out of my love of reading. To celebrate National Book Lover’s Day, I want to talk a bit about the relationship between the things we read and the things we eat.
Humans can’t survive without food, and while we could survive without stories, it wouldn’t be much of a life. The things we devour shape us into who we are and how we view the world. We could just eat the things necessary for our survival, or we could go the very human route of seeking out ways to find meals that are delicious and provide for us physically and mentally. Finding stories that speak to us also fulfills our need to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually satisfied. I’m using stories here in the general sense because I’m not enough of a snob to think that only books count — I think movies, television, podcasts, and more also meet that need. We use tales and meals to fill us up.
Were you a picky eater when you were a kid? I think we all were to some extent. We have our comfort foods, and that stays true for most of our lives. When I was a kid, I loved fruit snacks, canned pears, and clubhouse crackers… and I still truly love all three of those things, especially when I’m sick or sad. I’ve also got books I’ll re-read when I’m feeling down or tropes that I turn to when I need something to take my mind off of the world. But now that I’m older, I also love to develop my tastes. There’s almost nothing I love more than trying a food I haven’t tried before or reading something different from anything else I’ve read. And I know that some things aren’t for me — I still don’t like mushrooms, and I very rarely read a thriller I enjoy, but at least I give them a chance every so often.
I could probably keep going with this metaphor, but I’ll finish with this: both the food we eat and the books we read connect us to other people. Whether it’s the hands of the person who made the dish or wrote the book, we’re inextricably tied to the creator when we consume the thing. And if it’s something that we ourselves wrote or made, we’re doing it for ourselves AND for the people we’re sharing the thing with. Books and food help us to understand more about the communities we live in as well as places we’ll never visit. We learn more about the people behind the product and what motivates them. The next time you sit down at the table with a plate and a book in front of you, think of the people who picked your words and your food. Be grateful that we have relatively easy access to both of those and that we as humans care enough to create feasts and stories.
Thanks for joining me! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter, where I’d love to hear about what you’re eating and reading these days.
This Week's Featured Links
How to Write Literary Comfort Food | by Jordan Gross | The Writing Cooperative
Need to Rescue a Trashy Article? Turn It Into Junk Food. | by Philip S. Naudus | The Writing Cooperative
Using Food to Improve Your Technical Writing | by Jo Stichbury | The Writing Cooperative
This Week's Featured Instagram Post
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Justin Cox
Justin Cox @writingcoop

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