Reading… Self-care in a Book

Read Something… 2019

Do people still read books?

Why do we have libraries, nobody reads books anymore?

Reading is a waste of time. I could be doing something instead of sitting around?

I kid you not, these are things I have heard people say about reading. I don’t read as much as I used to, but I honestly can’t imagine a life without reading. And when people say they don’t have time to read, I don’t believe them. If you enjoy reading, you’ll find time for it. There are plenty of things we don’t have time for, brushing our teeth, showering, putting on makeup, but we somehow find time for them.

What I noticed about people who tell me they don’t like reading, is they had unpleasant experiences with reading in junior high and high school. I remember the days of having to read novels that I had no interest in, and worse, we were required to write essays about these novels and even debate some of the topics and themes from these books. I usually did well in English Language Arts, as it was called back then, but I know it was not an activity that I always enjoyed. As a result, I made full use of my public library card. I wanted to read books I was actually interested in. It didn’t matter to me that they weren’t literary classics; what mattered was how much I was engaged in the plot, characters and setting.

Now, if you’re wondering how reading counts as self-care, here it is. Reading is a relaxing way to feed your mind, spirit, and creativity.

Open-Minded: Reading different types of fiction, memoirs, and biographies can help you become more open-minded. Reading exposes you to new and different ideas, other cultures, the life stories of people you otherwise wouldn’t encounter, and fictional worlds you wouldn’t have thought to create; the accumulation of knowledge is boundless.

Your critical and analytical skills are also engaged when you discuss the book with others in person or online. Book clubs are fun, but if it’s not your thing or you can’t get to one, you can often find others online or in person who enjoy informally discussing a book.

Cognitive Engagement: Reading helps you to concentrate. It also increases your vocabulary and thinking skills. Reading is also emotional.  I can tell you with confidence that I doubt I am the only one who has cried over a fictional character. A novel can evoke all sorts of emotion, sometimes on the same page: anger, happiness, surprise, sadness.

Reading is also an exercise in memory. 200-300 pages in you have a lot to remember, the names of characters, what happened since you last put the book down, the story line and so on.

Stress Buster: Reading can help you to de-stress. Grab a cup of something warm to drink, a throw, and make yourself comfortable somewhere. Reading suddenly becomes “me time”. We often think of self-care as something spa like, but the ability to be able to sit and read a book without being bothered is an excellent way to care for your physical and mental well being.

Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about taking time to read, it’s a pleasure, but it is also a form of self-care, regardless of what types of books you read.

There are endless types of books available for reading. If you need some ideas or prompts, here is a short and simple guide to help you experience a diverse and rewarding way to read your way through 2019.

Reading List and Ideas

  • A new release (2019)
  • A memoir or biography
  • A Thriller or Suspense
  • A fictional or true story featuring an immigrant’s life experience in coming to Canada or the United States
  • A self-help book about something you want to address in your own life
  • A Romance
  • A book that was made into a movie you enjoyed
  • A science-fiction
  • Historical fiction from a time period that is of interest to you
  • A humorous book
  • A novel where the story takes place in a country you have always wanted to visit
  • A novel that takes place in a country that you have visited before
  • A trilogy, and be sure to read all three
  • A book you started reading months or years ago and never got around to finishing
  • A book written by a Native American
  • A book about the environment
  • A book that has been banned by public high schools
  • The biography or memoir of someone who’s life sounds quite different from your own (e.g. class/gender/sexual orientation/religion)
  • A book that takes place during World War 1, World War 2, or the Depression