Leisure Reading In A Busy Life

My father always said of the perpetually busy that “they must be running from something” and while that has a smattering of truth to it in some cases, or may be nail-on-the-head accurate in others, there is a practice in our current culture of the need to be busy.  I remember a friend of mine in college who, with a bit of sadness, admitted to me that even when she sat down to watch a movie with friends, she had to have her computer in her lap so she could be working.

A psychologist I am not, but some people get their worth from their work so that makes slowing down and taking some personal time impossible for some.  While exercise, meditation, prayer, or even a quick drink in the evening may bring a respite from cultural whitenoise and the whirl of the working world, there is another option that can bring more than just a pause in the madness of the day.

Reading fiction.  

This is no surprise, I’m sure, but I am a zealot for reading who will preach the benefits of this pasttime to anyone within earshot.  Oh, I’ve heard all the excuses, so please save them for someone with less passion for the need of having a good book at all times. And I’m not saying you should be swimming in literature but reading daily is a practice that has benefits that are, in their own way, on par with exercise, eating your veggies, and getting a good night’s rest.

Fiction, to paraphrase Stephen King in his fantastic work On Writing, is a uniquely portable magic.  While Mr. King is talking about the magic of transferring a story from writer to reader, I believe the magic of fiction can instill so much in the reader and they may find themselves better for the journey.  Even if you’re reading a few pages a day, but staying connected with the story, read at your pace and reap the benefits of literature.

Sparking your imagination, building your vocabulary, stretching your mind to new places and worlds, understanding motivations of friends and foes, empathy, exploring other cultures through the eyes of an author that lived them, and just taking your mind away from where you’re sitting are just a few items on the long list of benefits of picking up a novel.  

I could fill pages on why I want non-readers and the constantly busy to take a moment, pick up a book, and take time with it each day but in the end people need to discover books they love at their own pace.  However, this requires reading. Loving to read requires the practice of doing so just as most other skills require action before habit or mastery is attained. And keep in mind, it rarely matters what you read, despite there being some really bad fiction out there, but find what you love.  You may, like dating, have to experience some painful connections, but if you press on, you’ll find your life is being influenced by that little book at your side and the world within.

This page is supported by Ashburn, VA Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jonathon Konz.