Nick Hornby: our appetite for books is the “literary equivalent of salads, or chocolate, or meat and potatoes”

Published in 2004, the book is a collection of Hornby’s “Stuff
I’ve Been Reading” columns in The Believer. 
Our feelings, ambitions, and anxieties often influence what we choose to read, and rightly so. In books we find reassurance, motivation, and kindred spirits. So when I came across this quote from Nick Hornby, I couldn’t help but enjoy it:

I’m beginning to see that our appetite for books is the same as our appetite for food, that our brain tells us when we need the literary equivalent of salads, or chocolate, or meat and potatoes.

Nick Hornby, The Polysyllabic Spree

In order to cultivate an inspiring, calming, intellectually nourishing reading habit, we can’t just pick up anything. Especially not something we think we’re “meant” to read (that’s a terrible idea–please try not to do it, and I’ll do the same).

Think about where you are in life and what that means for your literary appetite. If you start something and you can’t get into it, move on. If you like The Hunger Games, that’s no problem at all. We’re not always ready for Proust, sometimes we just need a heady book binge.

Reading isn’t about ticking boxes, it’s about exploring how the stories you read transform your own. Your time is precious; reading time more so.

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It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at

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