Sorry I'm late posting today. Last night I was baking cookies for band camp and a new recipe for shortbread decided to give me some grief. Fortunately it all worked out, and now the kids will have some homemade snacks to balance out all the store-bought stuff they usually munch on.
I don't often read when I cook (I like not burning dinner) but baking usually requires some significant wait time in between tasks, so I started Barbara O'Neal's How to Bake a Perfect Life. It's a strong, very emotional story interspersed with lots of interesting recipes, and reading it while I was baking created the perfect atmosphere. With the cookies in the oven my kitchen became a warm, cozy perfumery of vanilla and brown sugar and chocolate, and made me feel as if I were in the book, working alongside Ramona, the baker protagonist.
It also made me realize how often I choose a book to suit what I'm doing. Barbara O'Neal is great to read while working on an extended cooking project, as is Peter Mayle, Poppy Brite or Anthony Bourdain. When I'm sewing I take a break with a quilt book or an art magazine, but I also read historical romance by Mary Balogh or Liz Carlyle, I suppose because sewing and needlework are my strongest personal connection with the past. When I'm cleaning house, for example, I always take a break with an urban fantasy, a strong contemporary or paranormal romance, most often by Patricia Briggs, Larissa Ione or Marjorie Liu. I think while I'm vanquishing dirt, dust and dog hair I feel more in tune with someone doing the same with evil demons (not to be read while cooking however; as I learned the last time Stephanie Tyler made me burn dinner.)
My moods sometimes dictate what I take off the TBR pile to read, too. If I'm happy and things are going well I like to read nonfiction or a how-to because I'm open and more inclined to learn something new. Whenever I get the blues, however, only poetry appeals to me; probably because it's always been my reading security blanket (for comfort, e.e. cummings, Keats or Rilke are most frequently my go-to guys.) I read most any type of fiction to relax at night after a long day at the keyboard, but when I'm particularly frustrated or I've had a bad day I always gravitate toward dark fiction with attitude, like one of Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros novels.
Do you choose what you read based on what you're doing? Do you have any perfect reads for certain situations or moods? Let us know in comments.