I was recently skimming the New York Times, as I am wont to do, and stumbled across this post: “What Is ‘Normal’ Eating?” The poster rightly points out that eating normal means different things to different people. Whenever our office goes out for a company lunch, a certain subset of the office gets large portions of red meat with a starchy accompaniment; others of us order whatever has no meat but lots of cheese; others go in for the simple, healthy options. Each of us is getting a dressed-up version of our normal.
Normal reading for me involves a heaping helping of young adult fantasy and sci-fi, one book at a time—my reading relationship is mostly, though not entirely, monogamous. Jason, our publisher, chews his way through a lot of biography. My coworker Hannah and I agree on many books, but contemporary fiction is a nutritious part of her complete book-breakfast.
The New York Times post quotes selected points from a dietitian’s universal definition of normal eating. With a little bit of modification, I think it works for reading, too:
- Normal reading is picking up a book curious and reading until you are curious about something else.
- Normal reading is being able to give some thought to your book selection so you get thought-provoking books, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on books that are just fun.
- It is leaving some chapters unread because you know you can read some more tomorrow, or it is reading more now because the book is so wonderful.
- Normal reading is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in reading. Like staying up till 3 AM to finish a book.
- Normal reading takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. Food is also important, after all.