I divide my reading week like this: nonfiction books that require concentration on weekends, and fiction
on weekdays. When I am particularly busy, I read spy thrillers. I don’t have any real interest in espionage,
but spy thrillers have a proud tradition of luscious descriptions of people eating and drinking.
People remember Ian Fleming’s James Bond mostly for the sex and violence, but
I enjoy them for the fantastic descriptions of meals and the inhuman appetites for
alcohol exhibited by many of the characters. Literary fiction,
somewhat like real life, is mostly concerned with moral and intellectual issues, so
when I am stressed I prefer to read about people gorging themselves.
One of the joys of my job is that I’ve been introduced to the spy fiction of Olen
Steinhauer. Although he is more
in line with Le Carre or Graham Greene than Ian Fleming, his latest book, ALL THE OLD KNIVES
(coming Oct. 3rd) takes place mostly over the course of a single dinner, and so
nicely ticks all the boxes for my tastes in spy thrillers.