I never feel quite myself when I haven't got a book. It's strange, really, because on the one hand you could say that reading is an escape from the self, and certainly when I was a child what I loved was that immersion in other worlds. But it's that sense of connectedness, that projection of oneself into the writer's imagination, the intimate fusion that makes me feel so intensely alive when reading.
I've never really understood the concept of "light reading," which is not to say the only books I read are serious with a capital S. It's simply that I don't buy into the idea that some are read because they're considered worthy and some for pleasure. I don't care what kind of book it is, it has to give pleasure, or what's the point?
More than that, I want to read books that somehow enter into the bloodstream, that become part of oneself. I suppose by "books" I really mean novels, because I am pretty much exclusively a consumer of fiction. And I say "consumer" because reading is a form of eating; both books and food provide nourishment. I do feel when I read that I am savoring the words—the writers I go for are the ones whose language I like the taste of.
For me it's never plot that makes the difference—any book that can be summed up by answering the question: "What's it about?" is not the book for me.
What's on Nigella Lawson's Bookshelf? Read more!