Tips for Reading in Restaurants Without Being Weird, Awkward, Or Getting Ketchup On Your Book

Posted by Jamie Canaves

Book Sandwich! via pebrenegre

I support your right to get your book* on anywhere and everywhere. And what better place to read than on a bookish dinner date with yourself? You deserve it. Now before you dress yourself up—or down, whatever your style—and grab your book, here are some helpful tips for a perfect restaurant book date.

*I will be using book to represent e-readers, comics, any and all reading material. We're equal opportunity readers/eaters here!

Pitch Perfect

First off: you’re neither weird nor awkward.
Okay, I don’t know you, so maybe you are, but don't fret—you’re neither of those things just because you want to eat dinner with a book. Trust me, everyone around you has their nose in their smartphone even while people are talking to them. You’re awesome. And your book is awesome.

You are what you eat.
Or more importantly your book might wear whatever you eat. Which means that chili-dog place isn’t the best choice for tonight. I mean, yes, your book would look adorable in a bib but I’m here to keep you and your date clean. Best food choices are non-messy, non-drippy and don’t require both hands to eat. Oh, and the squirts-out-the-other-end (looking at you poorly wrapped burrito) probably best to leave for another night or only eat it with a fork and knife.



Baby wipes aren’t just for babies.
You don’t want to get home, relaxed and stuffed, to discover a mysterious stain or gooey spot on your book. This especially applies if you choose books because of their covers and regularly stand in front of your bookshelves admiring the beauty of your books. Before you sit pull a Niles Crane and wipe, wipe, wipe! And then smile and be really nice to your servers so they don’t think you were insulting their cleaning abilities.

original image via Himalayan Happenings

It’s all about the placement.
You want your plate of food between you and your book. This way, while the airplane spoon is en route to your mouth, you don’t have to worry about any of it plopping in the center of your book. Our goal is to not hear splat! Also, depending on the size of the table, you can have your book on the side of the plate opposite the hand you eat with. Yes, singular. We are only using one hand for eating on this date.


Hand designation.
If you’re not planning on eating it, don’t get ketchup on it. This is why each hand gets assigned a job and swapping is not allowed! Sorry to sound like the hand-police, but it’s important to choose one hand for page turning and one hand for getting dinner from the plate to your mouth to avoid getting food, smears, and grease on your book.


via Woman’s Health Magazine

Can I have a straw?
It’s best to keep your glass on the table and slurp your drink through a straw. If not every time you pick up the glass, bring it to your lips, then place it back down you will risk that accidental bump, slip, and potential table flood.


via The eBook reader

Easiest way to keep your e-reader clean is to have it inside any of the many options for keeping it safe. I personally use the waterproof Ziploc-bag-looking ones in the pool, which means a spilled glass of wine won’t be short-circuiting my reader. Yes, people will stare if you lick spilled wine off your case.



Read funny at your own risk.
Laughing with a mouth full of food could result in food spraying (gross) and/or choking (total book date ruiner), and/or being stared at (apparently people stare when you’re laughing hysterically and sitting alone). Now, if you want to make friends, ignore my strangers-staring warning and get your laugh on—people will ask what’s so funny and it’ll turn into a conversation where you recommend the current hilarious book you’re reading. This is how book clubs and the best friendships start, right?

Now I can see you’re getting hangry and holding that fork like a weapon because you want to get your food order in to get to the best part, eating and reading, so I’ll leave you to enjoy. Book appétit!