This has been the summer of reading. Since early May, I have read 14 books. To some, this might not be a lot. There are 52 book challenge people out there who have read far more than I have at this point in the year. 14 books in four months is exceedingly high for me because I'm a slow reader. I like to mull things over, chew on words, reread sentences. It's a wonder I've ever made it through anything in a timely fashion.
Anybody who knows me that I've been a reader for a very, very long time. It's one of my favourite things to do with my spare time. This last year, my mind was full of other things: thoughts that required careful analysis, many worries (unfortunately), a burgeoning workload and lots of plans. Reading fell a bit by the wayside, as did writing. I only managed about four books the entire six months before that.
In early spring, I picked up a book that a friend had recommended and devoured the whole thing in four days. It wasn't a particularly good book. But I couldn't put it down. I wanted to absorb every single word as quickly as I could. The next week, I got three more books from the library and managed to blaze through them all. This has kept up until now.
What I realized was that I was missing some fundamental part of me for a while. I needed to fill up on something. Really only other readers can understand it. I was thirsty. It felt like I hadn't opened my eyes in a while and when I did, I took in everything that could possibly be seen.
Filling up is so important. I'm not going to use the words, "nourish your soul" or somesuch. Filling up on things that you value, and that are of value is critical to your well-being. Just as we'd fill up on good, delicious meals, it's important to care for our minds and hearts in the same way. For some, like me, it's the simple act of spending a silent evening tucking into a book that I've been waiting for. For others, it might be hitting the rock-climbing gym.
We each have a cache of energy from which we draw to function in our daily lives and we sometimes forget that those stores can become depleted from stress or worry. I forget this often, even though I'm regimented about taking care of myself. There is something special about giving yourself time that's off-schedule to absorb some of that magic back.
Books have always driven me - they are a fundamental part of who I am as a writer. Stephen King in his book "On Writing" called books "uniquely portable magic." I believe it. They go hand-in-hand with the work that I do. They make me want to be a better writer and a better learner. They draw things from me - much like music does - that brighten my world.
There are many things that are uniquely portable magic for all of us. Look for the thing that fills you up and then, go have a lot of it.
If you love to read:
The Psychological Comforts of Storytelling on The Atlantic
My Favourite Bookstore on Read it Forward
On Writing: Memoirs of the Craft by Stephen King