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Eat, read, bathe, repeat

“Young adult fiction is filthy,” my best friend announced the other day.

“Well, I know it can deal with challenging themes, Katie,” I spluttered, “but surely there isn’t that much se-”

She cut me off.

“No, I mean it’s filthy. Dirty. There’s food all over the covers, bits in the pages. I had to sanitise one I got from the library the other day.”

Clearly, young people are dynamic readers, I thought, mixing their reading with lunch and dinner. Quite literally.

I really didn’t think the internet would have anything to say on the matter, which was silly of me.

“Experts advise against reading a book while eating,” gravely intoned New Dehli Television’s website in an article on bad eating habits you need to ditch.

Book reading tracker, Basmo, is slightly more open-minded on the topic and lists the pros and cons of simultaneous reading and eating.

On the plus side, you can save time doing two things at once and you may feel happier.

A big downer is the practice can lead to “serious overeating”, which I hadn’t considered. Maybe that was what NDTV was getting at.

Even the New York Times weighed in back in 1983 with a how-to guide advising on everything from the size and format of the tome you chose to dine with [300-page hardbacks are optimum] to the type of food you should eat.

Apparently, soup. But I’m not so sure.

A wayward crouton plopping off the spoon into your broth could lead to excess page splatter. Or soup in the lap.

I expect it all depends on the soup.

Some people are purists when it comes to reading. Reading in a chair, no embellishments.

No snacks, no music, no telly on in the background. Just reading.

I love reading in the bath. Wine, bath, book, chocolate. That’s a power ballad of a night in for me.

Penguin editor Alice Vincent has this to say about it:

“To read in the bath is one of the most civilised ways one can spend an hour, soothing for body and mind. If nothing else, it’s deeply efficient: there are at least 10 minutes of reading while the thing is filling up, then a further half an hour during the soaking. When else can you dedicate 40 uninterrupted minutes to a book of an evening [or, let’s face it, an afternoon]?”

Alice and I are surely soul sisters. Though, where she gets the idea that half an hour of soaking is anywhere near enough, I don’t know.

I think my personal best is about three hours, at which point one’s skin starts to lose its integrity.

For those who consider bathing and reading concurrently a total aberration, you won’t be surprised to learn I also crack spines.

In fact, I delight in it.

Let that soak in.

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