Do Books Taste like Chicken?

Sometimes I get a craving for sushi. Nothing but a thickly sliced, buttery, creamy piece of sashimi will do. Other times, I can’t countenance getting raw fish for dinner. How insubstantial! Give me something I can really dig my teeth into instead. Something large, something to puff out my stomach, something to transform my walk into a waddle after the meal. A generous serving of the ultra-spicy Kung Pao chicken will do every well!

Books, too, are like cravings for me.Ā  Sometimes I absolutely enjoy an intimate, hug-the-readers-to-its-bosom memoir; other times, I’m repulsed by such mushy details of a stranger’s life. Don’t give me mush; give me death. I want blood and gore, people dying on crusades for silly reasons, excessive cruelty, and straightforward narratives of tumultuous events. Wars? Plagues? Pestilence? Famines? Count me in! Still other times, I prefer cool, objective neutrality — something from the physical sciences, the history of an idea, even a chunk from that most bloodless of subjects, mathematics.

I think such moods are natural, even if no one (certainly not I) knows nor cares whence they’re from. Like explanations for day-to-day stock market movements, the kind where pressed journalists write quick bites on why the markets crashed/soared/barely budged today but the explanations are noteworthy for their inconsistencies, their after-the-fact, drawing-a-target-where-the-arrow landed quality, those for why a book is a must-read now when it was neglected for months on the shelf only yesterday are neither to be trusted nor plumbed.

That said, I still find it very strange that I only made it through a couple of pages of Martin Dugard’s Into Africa the first time I picked it up, thus letting it languish disconsolately on the bottom shelf, stewing in the northern California heat for who knows how long, before with nary a change, devoured it in two sittings. What gives?

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65 Responses to Do Books Taste like Chicken?

  1. phoenixark says:

    Where is the bridge, I seem to recognise it?

  2. Cathy says:

    Me too. There are times I get tired of a particular book or genre I’ve read and would have the tendency to read another one. Same goes with websurfing. This week, I’m all into fashion blogs, the next about travel and the next about everyday rants of random people. Maybe it’s just variety we’re looking for.. just like when it comes to our food šŸ™‚

  3. AninhadaBest says:


    I loved your post.

    Congrats on being FP! -from a tea addict to another tea addict.


  4. I just had to toss several books because of the basement flooding – thanks, Irene.
    One of them was the book that I have been meaning to read for a couple of years…It is indeed strange how the books on the shelves patiently wait for the reader’s appetite change.

  5. Jessica says:

    Well yes! Books do taste like chicken. And chocolate. I too vary greatly in my book reading moods.

  6. Smart Krissy says:

    Haha.. I just thought of my own expression while I was reading this. Nice post!

  7. I’m very similar to you! I always have to have about 5 books on the go because I change my mind about what I want to read according to my mood/how tired or lazy I am/the weather…well, anything, really. Haha.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  8. Eldercate says:

    Love your post! Congrats on being freshly pressed!
    I too have strange reading cravings… my husband always laughs at me when I go back to Goodkind’s Sword of Truth for gore and philosophy together.

  9. photomi7ch says:

    Some books need the right time

  10. I always laugh about how the word “moody” has such negative connotations — and yet it only really illustrates how sometimes, one thing appeals; at others, it just doesn’t…

    You’ve nailed it here. And I completely relate to the sushi mood. In fact, my boyfriend will sometimes ask if I’m having a “hankerin'” for sushi. Because the hankerin’ needs to happen for me to enjoy it!


  11. Im kind of like you… I go through phases in my reading…currently I’m on a historical novel kick, and just to keep some balance (lol) I alternate between historical and contemporary novels. What I have also found, is that I have recently re-discovered books that I have started but for whatever reason have not managed to get through at the time… and now I find I actually enjoyed every one of them. Sometimes I think our reading even reflects whatever is going through in our lives. Love your blog by the way! Love the way you write!

  12. Great post. The bit about “Wars? Plagues? Pestilence? Famines? Count me in!” made me think of Mary Shelley’s ‘The Last Man’. I’ve written a very short teaser review here – – but really, I’d recommend just digging your teeth into the book itself šŸ™‚

  13. Luna Kadampa says:

    Nicely written! I like the way your blog is designed too — the header is very evocative. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  14. I love the title of this post!!! šŸ™‚ And I totally agree, books totally are cravings, and sometimes finicky ones at that. When I hate a book, I sometimes wonder if it’s because the book was legitimately bad, or if I just wasn’t happy while reading it for unrelated reasons.

  15. Nicole says:

    Great post. It’s very interesting when you really think of why we desire certain things, especially when they’re so different from each other.

  16. I’m the same way. The first time I read The Book of Negroes, I got maybe four pages into it and switched to something pulpy of the Elmore Leonard variety. I was in no mood for an epic read, no matter how lyrical. But a few months later? I DEVOURED it, twice, and then passed it on to those I knew would do the same.
    I’m kinda hoping the same thing will happen with Don Quixote. I’ve been working my way through it for over year, two or three pages at a time. Blah. Or maybe there are only so many laboured metaphors one girl can take! Great post!

  17. Which is an argument in favor of owning lots and lots of books, so you can pick ’em up and put ’em down at will. I’ve been alternating between fiction and English history and French history and some wonderful travel essays by Jan Morris.

    One of the very best gifts I ever got, at 12, was a box filled with books, some of which I did not read til a decade later — and loved. (Like Thomas Hardy.)

  18. teasandbooks says:

    Thanks, guys! I read all of your comments — ok, ok, who am I kidding? I read all of them several times since the first (& second time) through, my eyes were just glazing over in disbelief that I actually have comments! Woo! Thanks again!

  19. It’s strange how books that did not apppeal years ago suddenly look attractive, and vice versa. Some books I’ve read so much I’m just sick of them now. Maybe I’ll get over it and pick them up again.

  20. Stephanie says:

    My reading is almost completely driven by mood (and it could be argued that so is my diet.)Occasionally I have tried to create a reading list for myself but I’m seldom able to comply with it, as by the time I get two or three books in my mood has changed and I’m drawn to some other book instead.

  21. vivoxoggi says:

    Great post! Oh how I understand your appetite. I’ve got quite a few books in a holding pattern on the shelf but I will get to them sooner rather than later…if not, I’ve decided to donate them to the troops. Just heard there’s a place where you can send the troops books; when I find the website I’ll share it with everyone!


  22. jodi says:

    So true, so true. For me, memoirs are like chocolate: anywhere, anytime = yum. But some days I help myself to a hearty plate of classics and I feel so good when I’m finished. Meanwhile, congrats on the FP.

  23. truefinds says:

    Thanks for your interesting and well-written blog. I’m an recovering bookstore owner and, I admit it, I’m a bookaholic. Now, though, I run estate sales for a living so I am constantly tempted by cheap books. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), it seems that most people’s taste in books is very limited. Mostly I find mysteries and thrillers in the houses I work in. Now, I like mysteries and thrillers just fine for an occasional meal; i just don’t want to consume them every day. I tend to read a lot of non-fiction books, books that give me a hearty read and fill up my brain with knowledge. My latest blog entry was about a fascinating non-fiction I just read, so that explains another reason your blog caught my eye. Keep up the good work.

  24. I know how you feel. Book cravings are the best, and worst, feelings in the world. I love when I am able to satisfy a craving but when I can’t, I get stuck in a rut where no reading occurs. This often happens when I read some new genre and find that I must read others just like it, afterwords I search and search for similar books to help this craving but cannot find it. It’s horrible. Nice post!

    • teasandbooks says:

      In general, being “in between books” is a problem (a luxury of a problem, but a problem nonetheless). For me, it’s more of not knowing what I want to read, then trying out a few pages from one book, starting again with another, feeling guilty for abandoning things so quickly, but hopping on to yet another tome. It’s really strangely like being hungry, wanting to eat something, forming a mental flavor of different dishes in your mind, but then rejecting them all for not “hitting the spot”. At the end of the night, you’re hungry and grumpy.

  25. great title. posting on fb, esp. for my librarian colleagues…

  26. AMH says:

    Check out synasethesia for another angle on your title’s question. (I hope I spelled it right.)

  27. iowadogblog says:

    I totally have book cravings. That’s what makes my Kindle my guilty luxury. I can actually HAVE that book I’m craving right now! But sometimes I can’t really articulate what I’m craving, and that’s frustrating. Or I know I want to read an awesome dog book, and I just can’t find the one I want. Great title to this post, btw.

  28. Candice says:

    An interesting point,books VS chicken!Thanks for your sharing!

  29. I often read ebooks online while having my lunch or dinner. I think it is a great way to save time and at the same time, enjoying a great meal and a book too. I am currently into Master Key System. It is a must read book and I do recommend to read.

  30. themichellan says:

    I can relate. There are times when I get into book “cravings” too! There was a month where all I wanted to read was YA fiction. Now I’m getting back into poetry. I think sometimes it relates to what’s happening in our everyday lives (at least for me). Like right now, I’ve been really busy and don’t have much time to sit down and focus on a novel, so poetry collections are my thing. Nice bite-sized poems on the go. =)

  31. spider42 says:


    Very nicely put and I could not agree more about the way cravings for books come!

  32. What an eloquent way to describe how I feel about books. Thank you for the post. Great read.

  33. Michael says:

    Books + Sriracha Sauce = Crazy Delicious.

  34. Author says:

    Love the way you write. Got me hooked!

  35. gaycarboys says:

    I too took one look at the bridge and thought Florence.I was just thinking of getting rid of all my cookbooks which now haven’t been used in years. Like most things I do nowadays, it’s online. God forbid the net ever has a wobbly. thanks for the interesting post.

  36. Totally agree on both counts. Although with me there’s rarely a bad day for sushi. In fact you’ve just reminded me of the amazing meal I had in Crystal Palace, SE London on Saturday…

  37. natasiarose says:

    Some books taste like chicken others taste like steak or tofu. In the summer I like chick-lit, it’s like barbecued chicken.

  38. Esa says:

    Cool post.
    Up until a couple of years ago, I would pick up and drop books until I found what I was looking for. But recently I have been in a Zen like zone. It seems as if the books are coming and seeking me out, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can stay here.
    As for books languishing, just as an example, it took me 20 years to finally start and finish ” The English Patient “. But I have become a strong believer that we read specific books when we are ready to appreciate them fully.

  39. Lorna says:

    Ooh, great post! I love coming home from book shopping or book club with a selection of books, and then choosing which book will get my attention first.
    And isn’t it funny how a book that you just really can’t get your teeth into, suddenly gets “devoured in two sittings”! (There’s that food analogy again!)

  40. leadinglight says:

    For me, I can read mass popular fiction at any time. For classic tomes though, I need to have that appetite.

  41. orange says:

    So true! I get like that, I’m halfway through 4 books at the moment, 3 of them just don’t inspire me right now, I want something completely devoid of love and all that sappy jazz…
    Oh and I love the title heheh šŸ™‚

  42. Jay says:

    I so love your blog!

  43. Anyone out there have several books going at a time? My reading moods seem to change throughout the day! I can sit down with some romping historical fiction at lunch, only to be enticed by some serious nonfiction by bedtime. Then the next day, it is fantasy that catches my eye. It is not unusual for me to have 3 to 4 books that I am actively reading strewn throughout the house. Hope I am not the only person with this affliction…

  44. I too, have begun a book…then rejected it…then returned to it happily months or years later. I HATED Watership Down as a kid…perhaps I should try it again, some two decades later! I enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading more!

    • teasandbooks says:

      I sometimes think the same thing about certain children’s classics, e.g. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which I remember dreading having to slog through. So far, the memory of dread seems to have won out, and I’ve yet to revisit the island nor find its treasure. On the flip side of that, I’m also hesitant to re-read of my juvenile favorites, like I Heard the Owl Call My Name. What if they’re just not as good as I remember them? What if the magic is gone?

      • Good point! I’ve actually re-read a LOT of my childhood favs and have found many to still thrill me…EXCEPT that I’ve also discovered that many of them simply aren’t written well…the plot may still be fine, but the WRITING lacks skill. I’ll find myself reading and thinking, “I wouldn’t have used that word,” or, “Why did he/she do that when this would have been so much better?” I suppose that reading as a writter makes me more judgmental! And yes, that takes away some of the magic. When I re-read Anne of Green Gables – which I LOVED as a kid – I was irritated by her old-fashioned use of language. Kind of put a damper on my opinion of the whole series…

  45. Dee says:

    I am exactly the same, but only with certain reads. I had purchased and put aside George Orwell’s 1984 and wanted to read it desperately but found myself held back by all these misconceptions of how hard it was to get through advice from friends. Once I divulged this summer I couldn’t put it down. 4 days later it was done, and now a favourite. Don’t listen to what you hear lol

  46. Hi,
    I really enjoyed you post. It was very interestin espically as i like to read alot. I do find myself craving different things, sometimes i just love to read rubbish books with hardly any plot and then i want science fiction and then onto detectives and so on. It made alot of sense to me.

  47. Hey there! I really enjoyed this post. It’s my first time stopping by and I look forward to reading more incisive and eloquent jottings from you.

  48. Pingback: who what when where why « Carla Bradman

  49. I definitely go through reading moods, too. Lately, I have wanted a far lighter reading fare to go with the summer weather; now that it’s starting to get chilly, my brain, no longer suffering from suffocating heat and humidity (see also: no longer cranky), can concentrate on more complex tomes. Great post!

  50. F. says:

    Loved this post. But for some strange reason I thought the title read “Do books taste like children?” and was horrified/intrigued.

  51. thank you for the title. I have been looking for more things that taste like chicken. So far, the list includes sunlight, concrete, dialectic, dolphins and ducks.

  52. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    Personally, I’m pretty particular with books. Nothing is as satisfying as a YA novel…a good one.

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