I have, as is abundantly clear, a little bit of a problem with books. I routinely stay up too late reading, telling myself that if it's the first half of a book, a few more chapters won't hurt, and if it's the second half, I can finish it quickly. I ignore my children, letting them forage for chicken nuggets and default to screen time in my (mental) absence, or designing fun outings for them that allow me to read on the sidelines--a trip to the pool or the skatepark.
I rue short waits, hoping I'll get delayed at the doctors office or hairdressers so I can get more reading in.
I've been known to pull out a book at long stoplights.
I know myself well enough to understand that if I start reading at breakfast, I am quite likely to be late to work. Since I'm rather fond of being employed, this is not a good path to wend my way down. However, it seems so sad and pointless to eat breakfast alone, the rest of the family still asleep, and not be able to read. A few months ago, I came up with the perfect solution: the Breakfast Book.
The Breakfast Book is a particular type of book. It can't be fiction, because the ol' what-happens-next? will pull me in ever time. Neither can it be a teaching related book, or a writing guide, because then I need to take notes, and I'm already hard pressed to eat without getting egg and crumbs on my book. Besides, the mental effort that goes into careful reading in order to learn something is more than what I am up for at 6:15 am. And yet, obviously, it needs to be a book I want to read.
Enter literary nonfiction. Not memoirs, because if they're worth reading, they will have a story that pulls me in and sweeps me along, merrily passing through chapter endings and into next chapters like I'm inner-tubing down a river. But something on a topic that interests me, something where chapters end with conclusions rather than cliff hangers, something that will engage my brain without taxing it too much.
The first book I chose for this was Is That a Fish In Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. The title says it all. The first part--witty, a little silly, referring to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The subtitle--letting you kn
ow the topic and scope, while maintaining the Douglas Adams references. I could read a chapter, be interested in the ideas and information presented, then close the book and walk away from it for days. If I forgot the beginning of the book by the time I reached the end, no real harm done. Each chapter still made sense within itself.
I don't read every morning. Sometimes I've overslept, or I want to leave early to buy a latte, or to get to a meeting. Sometimes I'm pulled into Facebook instead, or I managed to put a book down last night that is calling to me this morning despite my heroic efforts to not pick it back up. It took me months to get through the book--and then I did. Time for a new Breakfast Book.
Yesterday I stumbled across my next choice. The Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing is, like its predecessor, about a topic I know just the right amount about. Not so much that I'll get impatient, but enough that I'll get engaged wit
h the ideas presented. The title promises the same mix of wry humor, personal anecdotes, and deeply researched information. I read a chapter today, and am well satisfied with my choice.
What are some of the different types of books you prefer for different situations? Do you have any titles to recommend for my Breakfast Books?