When I go to a restaurant, I always order the same thing. At the theater, I always choose the same type of movies. When I go in a bookstore, I always head in the same direction: first, new paperbacks (because the heft of a hardback makes reading in bed awkward); then the sale tables and mysteries; followed by adult fiction, occasionally history, then finally, the children's department.

When I read reviews, or look at advertisements I focus on the types of books - fantasy, historicai fiction, contemporary literature, mystery - I already enjoy. I have favorite authors, like Kristin Heitzmann,J. K. Row ling, and Donna Jo Napoli, and I always look forward eagerly to their next publication.

But reading only what you like can be kind of like the Atkins' Diet: steak and salad are great, but I couldn't eat them every day. (Couldn't afford it either, but that's another story.) Don't nutritionists say you should eat from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains in order to get all the nutrients you need to ensure good health? Well, I'm not a nutritionist and I don't play one on TV. But I am a librarian' which makes me (in a way) a genre-nutritionist: maybe even an idea-nutritionist. (Bear with me.) And I have become convinced over the last few years that we need to be reading beyond our comfort zones. So what 'cha eatin'? Why We Need Variety in Our Diet