The New York Times' Sketchbook column rounds up authors and their favorite dinner companions—in the form of reading material—when eating solo. One Man's Meat by E.B. White and Michel Faber's Under the Skin about harvesting humans for suppers are some of the more eclectic options.
Dining by oneself is a contentious issue. I see dining out alone as a lovely pleasure, but there are people who cannot and will not ever eat by themselves in a restaurant due to shyness, just feeling uncomfortable, or who knows what. Certainly no one wants to eat dinner alone in a romantic restaurant at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, but there's a time and a place for these meals.
My ideal meal alone? Lunch at an airy, somewhat busy place with comfortable seating, sans hipster scene. Eating right after the lunch rush is best because there's still an energy in the room, but it's not hectic or crowded. My eating companion? Short stories by Alice Munro or science-fiction. Fiction is an escape, and if I read the news I feel like I'm too grounded and businesslike for a luxurious meal alone. A note of advice: Unless you like silent mocking and judgment, steer clear from US Weekly and the like. I'll admit that I do occasionally 'read' these soul-suckers, but only in the safety of my own home.
Do you enjoy eating out alone? What do you read?