Literary Diet: How Do You Measure Up?

Recently, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider my reading habits because my laptop committed hari kari and our desktop caught the swine flu or some such virus.

I was feeling a bit Amish without internet or television–all that was missing was a barn-raising, a horse and buggy in the driveway, and some pastel dresses and bonnets in my closet.

With so much time on my hands, I started thinking about the genres of literature I read.  My literary diet is varied, but does it measure up to the USDA’s ubiquitous Food Pyramid (in MY day is was a circle!)?

Behold,  The Food Pyramid!


Now, the fun part–assigning literary genres to correspond to the pyramid levels.  This is just for fun so please don’t get your knickers in a twist at my genre placement.

  • Bread and Grains = classic literature, poetry, drama, contemporary prose
  • Veggies = nonfiction, non-celebrity bios and memoirs
  • Fruits = Sci-Fi, Fantasy, graphic novels, et al
  • Meat = historical fiction, detective fiction, women’s fiction
  • Dairy = chick-lit, YA, romance
  • Sweets = celebrity bios/tell-alls, trashy novels

During the school year, a good chunk of my reading time is spent on Bread and Grains–teaching the classics.  On weekends, I venture into Veggies and Dairy.  I do enjoy some of the genres in the Meat category but am sorry to say that I have little to no experience in the Fruits.  As for Sweets?  Well, summertime is the PERFECT time for some light and fluffy reads!

So, why don’t you weigh in and tell me all about your literary diet.  Are you a vegetarian, vegan, or carnivore?  Did I miss your favorite genre?


  • At 2009.08.14 09:56, Literate Housewife said:

    What a wonderful post! I’m going to have to give this some consideration. Do you mind if I blog about this as well and link back here? I’m going to give this some thought tonight and see how I stack up.

    • At 2009.08.14 10:14, Lisa said:

      Love this idea! Mind if I add it to my Sunday Salon?

      • At 2009.08.14 10:39, Amy Reads Good Books said:

        Great idea! I’d agree. . . I get lots more grains during the school year. I too am sadly lacking fruit. 🙂

        • At 2009.08.14 12:10, bermudaonion said:

          This is too cute! I’m sure I don’t read a well balanced diet, because I don’t read that much classic fiction.

          • At 2009.08.14 12:36, Positively Present said:

            Wow, I LOVE this post! What a creative idea! It’s fabulous. In real life I’m a vegetarian (and a very picky eater) but I also feel like I’m not getting all of my dietary needs met in my reading life as well. I need to add some spice to my reading life! 🙂

            • At 2009.08.14 15:20, Ti said:

              I am heavy on the Literary Fiction side. I could use a bit more Historical Fiction (meat). I cannot tolerate straight chick-lit so I guess I am dairy free 🙂

              • At 2009.08.14 16:53, Michelle said:

                This is fabulous!

                I subsist primarily on meat and dairy. More so on dairy than anything else at this point. I have to say, though, that it’s actually scarily remeniscent of my REAL diet. haha

                • At 2009.08.14 19:01, bybee said:

                  I’m heavy on the bread although I have been eating more fruit lately.
                  What a great idea!

                  • At 2009.08.14 19:34, Florinda said:

                    I think I consume more meats and veggies than most of the other groups. Does that mean I’m an Atkins reader? No, probably not; I get a fair amount of bread and grains too, but mostly of the contemporary-prose variety. Not much for fruit, unfortunately.

                    I love this concept!

                    • At 2009.08.14 19:58, Carrie K. said:

                      Wonderful idea! I don’t get as much Breads and Grains as I should, although I do get more than a lot of people I know. I mostly hang out in the Fruits, Meats, and Dairy sections – with occasional forays into Veggies. Unlike with my eating habits, I don’t go for Sweets at all. 🙂

                      • At 2009.08.14 22:27, softdrink said:

                        As a teenager I was more into Fruit. Currently, I need more Veggies in my diet. As in real life, I tend to go for the carbs and the cheese.

                        This is a great pyramid! I think your categories worked out quite well.

                        • […] ~ Natalie at Book, Line, and Sinker asks How does your literary diet measure up? […]

                          • At 2009.08.15 10:08, Hayden Tompkins said:

                            FRUITS AND DAIRY, BABY!!!!!!!

                            • At 2009.08.15 11:16, Beth F said:

                              How fun! I have a good foundation. I do okay on veggies, I eat lots of fruits. In my world, women’s fiction would be with dairy and YA would be with meat. Then I’d be a meat eater and not much of dairy eater. I pretty much don’t eat sweets.

                              • At 2009.08.15 16:54, kay said:

                                Such a fun post!
                                I think I would say I’m most into Meat, Dairies and Fruits, with the occasional Bread and Grains. But it’s hard to say, it depends a lot on what’s going on in my life… as it does for the food! 😀

                                • At 2009.08.15 19:04, Jenners said:

                                  You always have the cutest and most creative posts! I love this! And in this area, I’m a healthier reader than I am an eater!!!!

                                  • At 2009.08.15 19:39, emma said:

                                    Wow, I love this pyramid! I’m so much more healthy on your literary scale than in real life. If only restricted carb intake like this in my kitchen!

                                    • At 2009.08.16 05:39, Care said:

                                      Got any good Sweets to recommend? You’d think as someone who rates my books with pie slices, I would have more books in that treat category. Otherwise, I think my reading balances well.

                                      • At 2009.08.16 08:19, hisqueen said:

                                        I’m a serious carnivore with a bit of bread and grains. I used to be a lot more sweets and dairy but since meeting my hubby I’ve branched out.

                                        • At 2009.08.16 18:33, christina said:

                                          This is just too clever! Love it 🙂

                                          • At 2009.08.17 11:44, connie said:

                                            Well at least this is one diet I can stay on! Very Clever Nat!!!

                                            • At 2009.08.18 22:10, justicejenniferreads said:

                                              I absolutely love this post. It’s so witty of you to compare literary preferences to the food pyramid – genius idea! I’m a lot like you with my reading choices – during the school year, it’s mostly bread and grains. I guess when you’re an English major, that’s expected. I probably consume more dairy than I should – but after reading all those classic, who can resist (I can’t!). I delve into meat quite often (although not real meat, I’m actually a vegetarian) but I try to read different kinds of fiction every so often so I don’t get bored with any one genre. After that, everything kind of falls into the “consumes sparingly.” That isn’t to say I never read from those genres, but that I don’t read them on a regular basis. But I guess I’m a girl who knows what she likes and tends to stick to it unless something equally enticing encourages her to stray.

                                              • At 2009.08.19 14:15, Holley said:

                                                I am very definitely an omnivore 🙂 For instance, this past weekend I finished two books I had been reading on for a bit and one book all by itself…Christian historical fiction, a book of essays on Dadaism, and a book about crime scene cleaners. It was a great weekend!

                                                • At 2009.08.21 12:56, Dara said:

                                                  Definitely a carnivore with a little bit of dairy! I spend most of my time reading historcial fiction, with some YA and romance thrown in. I probably only get my breads and grains occassionally and the veggies are scant–only when I’m doing research for my own novel do I read nonfiction. Fruits are nearly non-existent too as I don’t read too much fantasy (although I am trying).

                                                  But the bulk of what I read is historical, so I guess that makes me pretty much a carnivore.

                                                  • At 2009.08.21 13:23, diane said:

                                                    What a great post. I tend to overload on: contemporary/ literary/women’s fiction. With a balance of n/f and historical reads. I’d consider my sweets to be: romance and S/F.

                                                    • At 2009.08.21 13:36, The Literary Diet « Life After M.F.A. said:

                                                      […] Literary Diet Jump to Comments Found this today – an interesting way to quantify what we read: Now, the fun part–assigning literary genres […]

                                                      • At 2009.08.21 14:30, alitareads said:

                                                        I love this! For someone who’s lactose intolerant, I sure read a lot of Dairy! Lately I’ve been dipping more into the Breads & Meats and finding them very nourishing.

                                                        • At 2009.08.23 01:47, Lorelei said:

                                                          I am living by bread alone.

                                                          • At 2009.08.24 07:45, Literature Crazy said:

                                                            Well, at least with the high levels of calcium I’m consuming on YA books, I can rest assured that I’m unlikely to develop osteoporosis.

                                                            • […] week I wrote a post that loosely compared literary diets to the USDA’s Food Pyramid.  The feedback from readers was positive and people seemed to connect and see the humor and […]

                                                              • At 2009.08.25 16:36, Jane said:

                                                                My literary diet is WAY healthier than my real-life one. I rarely indulge in dairy and sweets, and only sometimes in fruits. My day is spent grazing on a pure and simple diet of grains, veggies and meat. Now, if I could translate that to the real life I would not be a Lady of Size (ironically I just gave up dairy foods in real life, and feel much healthier.) Nice post!

                                                                • At 2009.08.26 19:13, melanie said:

                                                                  Hilarious! It’s a great wake-up call for readers like me who tend to stick to one or two food groups.
                                                                  Really, I ought to expand my diet…….

                                                                  • At 2009.08.30 12:20, Chris@bookarama said:

                                                                    That’s pretty funny!

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