What I Read: Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson is one serious reader.

The Seattle Times food columnist devours everything from the Wednesday food section of The New York Times to Seattle Weekly’s Voracious column to the daily print edition of The Seattle Times.

She’s also regularly listening to NPR, scrolling through news feeds on Twitter and Facebook, and surfing the web on her Macbook. Leson doesn’t own an iPad yet, but it’s on her wish list.

When she isn’t checking out food columns and other news, Leson is devouring novels, cookbooks, and nonfiction books. As one might expect of a writer and journalist, Leson is always reading.

Here are her thoughts on where she finds her news and entertainment:

1. What are your favorite local news outlets? Why?

I’m not only a Seattle Times columnist, I’m also a subscriber of 20 years longstanding, and I look forward to hearing the paper’s thump on my doorstep (if I’m lucky and the guy’s aim is good) at o’dark-thirty each morning. While I drink coffee and read the Seattle Times, my husband sips tea and reads the New York Times (ditto on the subscription, and the thump), which I regularly scour for great local news, like the swell story I read last week about the family that lives (who knew?) at the top of the Smith Tower. I’m also a big fan of our local NPR affiliates KPLU (jazz with Dick Stein, plus Terry Gross? nothin’ bettah!) and KUOW (national news and Marcie Sillman? dig that, too).

2. What do you consider “must reads” every day? Must watch? Must hear?

My Twitter feed: I “follow” a wide world of food writers, food folks and journalists, and I consider them my personal clipping service: they’re always good for the “gotta-read-it” links to all the news I need to know. Plus, I get lots of fodder for my blog from news that breaks on a variety of neighborhood blogs — which I also follow via Twitter. I don’t watch any TV (if you don’t count downloading Grey’s Anatomy via Netflix — dirty little secret!) and I try valiantly to ignore the sound of the anime channel my kid’s so fond of. I’m crazy for radio and think there’s nothing like it, and I can’t tell you how many times I have those “driveway moments” listening to one story or another on NPR (you know, where you’re so engrossed in a tale, it doesn’t matter that you’ve pulled into your driveway because you want to hear every last word of it). I much appreciate shows like “This American Life,” “Fresh Air,” “The Splendid Table” and other weekly and daily features, which I catch-as-catch-can.

3. Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other?

I used to roll my eyes at people who always have their face stuck in a laptop or smart phone, but since I switched over to the Dark Side and hooked up with a new MacBook Pro and (be still my beating heart!) wireless access at home, I find myself consuming much more news electronically. I have an iPhone, but rarely read news on it and I’m jonesing for an iPad, big-time. At heart, though, I’m a print fiend, and subscribe to at least a dozen magazines (the great majority are food-related). I relish the crazy-long in-depth pieces in the New Yorker (and wish I had more time to read it), never miss the Wednesday food section in the New York Times, and always check out the competition’s food coverage at Seattle Weekly, Seattle Magazine and Seattle Metropolitan.

4. Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information?

Yes to Twitter (see above), and Facebook, which I’m relatively new to. I very much like the ease with which I can see video via Facebook, whether it’s the news clips I didn’t catch on TV (see: anime) or the funny stuff (Obama: the Musical? Dyin’ here.) I’m on LinkedIn, but rarely check it.

5. What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly?

I don’t visit many with regularity (The Seattle Times notwithstanding), but do occasionally check in to Serious Eats, Culinate and a few other food-oriented sites. Also: the journalism news-site Romenesko

6. Do you regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and

Seattle Weekly’s Voracious blog for food news: they’ve got a hefty stable of writers, and offer a lot of posts on a variety of food- and drink-related news and opinion, though I could live without the sex-related food content. (“Huh?” you say. Exactly.)

7. Have your news consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so,

Most definitely: see laptop/wireless usage, above.

8. Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book?

Do I read for fun? Are you kidding? Yes. Always. But still not often enough. I have stacks of cookbooks and food-reference books on tables everywhere, and read them the way other people read novels. Speaking of which: the last novel I read (and it was fabulous) was “The Man in the Wooden Hat.” No relation to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by the way. Non-fiction? I’m struggling through “Salt in our Blood: The Memoir of a Fisherman’s Wife.” OK, now ask me which book I recently read that I’d like to read again, immediately. That would be “The Help.” And which non-fiction book I’d suggest you read. That would be “The Last Days of Haute Cuisine,” by L.A.-based food writer Patric Kuh.


About Heidi Dietrich
HEIDI DIETRICH has worked as a journalist and writer for the past decade. She began blogging for the Washington News Council in spring 2010. Read Heidi's blog posts, see more about Heidi, or see more of what she's writing at http://heidiseattle.com/.