If someone were to ask me what I’m reading right now, I’d say, “Oh. You know. Cookbooks.”

The irony here, of course, is that I don’t cook much anymore. The kids are gone. I’m tired. The husband is satisfied with a sandwich for dinner. So there you have it. Unless it’s Thanksgiving, in which case I cook like a maniac, there’s a whole lot of nothing going on in my kitchen these days.

So why do I read cookbooks?

It depends on the cookbook, of course. A number of years ago my friend Kathy Berg gave me a HUGELY entertaining cookbook called “Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs from Around the World” by Lisa Rogak. In addition to recipes, the cookbook contains death-related tidbits like this list of makeup options from a mortuary circa 1920.

For composing the features — $1

• For giving the features a look of quiet resignation —$2

• For giving the features the appearance of Christian hope and contentment —$5

So yeah. Who doesn’t love a cookbook that makes you laugh?

Mostly, however, I read cookbooks because they’re great Lifestyle Porn, unlike the “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook” that I received as a wedding gift. I still use this cookbook when I get around to cooking, but its straightforward, clinical directions for thawing turkeys and measuring ingredients “the right way,” as well as a straight-faced discourse on tongue as a main dish, hardly make for thrilling reading.

Today’s cookbooks provide readers not only with recipes but also with an invitation to share the author’s world. Take any of the cookbooks written by Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. In her breathy BFF style, Ree will tell you about life on the ranch with her husband (The Marlboro Man), their kids and their basset hound, Charlie, while she demonstrates how to make her “Perfect Mashed Potatoes.” Thumbing through Ree’s cookbooks makes you want to rustle up some cattle for yourself, even though you live in the Avenues, which tends to be a cattle-free neighborhood. Yee-haw!

When you get tired of the ranch, you can visit the tasteful WASPY world of Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, who likes to cook for her lovely husband, Geoffrey, and their lovely friends at their lovely home in lovely East Hampton, N.Y. Ina says things like, “There’s nothing really wrong with tuna salad from canned tuna, mayonnaise and celery, but I thought something so familiar might be better made with fresh ingredients.” I can only imagine Ina’s lovely friends murmuring in sophisticated agreement.

Then there are the cookbooks by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, which make you feel as if you’re sitting around a big old table, surrounded by Lidia’s noisy extended Italian-American family, chatting about all the varieties of pasta available to cooks now, as well as discussing the merits of canned tomatoes. (For the record, Lidia says there are merits.)

Back in the day when I was a raging Anglophile (“Downton Abbey” cured me of that), I enjoyed reading a cookbook called “Eating Royally” by Darren McGrady, who was Princess Diana’s “private chef.” Whatever that means. I used to take a good deal of pleasure in knowing that while the queen isn’t a big whiskey drinker (although the idea of Her Majesty doing shots is certainly entertaining) she does like herself a chocolate mousse laced with a few tablespoons of Glenfiddich whiskey, which comes from the Scottish highlands. You go, Queen Elizabeth!

See what I mean about Lifestyle Porn? They’re informative, yes. But there’s also a big element of fantasy in all of these depictions of happy people eating well, day in and day out. Come on. Does anybody’s life really look like that?

No.

But sometimes it’s fun to pretend.