Reading is one of life’s simplest and greatest joys. In time, a daily habit of reading can provide so much of what we crave – escape, comfort, inspiration and relaxation.
I believe that sometimes the simplest answer is often the best. For a stressful life, the best remedy may not be a cocktail of drugs or expensive doctor visits, but increased attention to what we need in order to balance our lives. I am not suggesting this is a cure or that a book should supersede medical advice by any means – simply that by making time every day to look after ourselves, we can reduce the likelihood of a major crisis. If an apple a day can keep the doctor away, perhaps a chapter a day can keep stress at bay.
People read for many reasons. My partner likes to read for entertainment – Mark Lawrence, Stephen King, Douglas Adams – rollicking, out-of-this-world entertainment and suspense. He also reads to learn – Bill Bryson, Thomas Campbell. I like to have a few books on the go at any one time. People ask how I can juggle it, but I think it is no different than watching a few different TV episodes each week. If you can keep up with Offspring as well as MasterChef, it is no harder to keep up with a few different books. In this way I can read according to what I feel like at the time – Austen or the Bronte sisters for English society and romance, Sheryl Sandberg for information and motivation, Barbara Kingsolver for a story that will make me forget the very room I’m sitting in.
Books can provide comfort in reminding us that we are not alone. We befriend the characters within them, follow their lives, and learn from their mirrored experiences. Books can inform us about the wider world, giving perspective on our own problems. They can drag us in, surrounding us with other lives so vivid that we are given respite from the trials of the day. A favourite book can be like an old friend, re-weaving the same story around us, predictable and beautiful.
Taking time for ourselves does not necessarily mean a huge sacrifice – of money or time itself. Next time you find yourself worrying or anxious, take a few deep breaths of fresh open air, make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of water, and sink your troubles and teeth into a good book.
Emily, how do you always pick topics related to my current things in life ? LOL!
I picked up two books from my friend's place yesterday for similar reasons, because reading makes me feel so good. I also had a conversation with my friend trying to convince her to take out some time for herself before going to bed and read something.