There is something I just love about having a stack of books by my bed, so that at any moment I can reach over, grab one that suits my mood, and fill myself up with ideas and stories.
Last summer, my mom started passing along a bunch of old Reader’s Digest condensed book collections. These collections varied in decade, published from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. They are perfect to read before going to sleep or just to relax because they tend to have lighter themes and be relatively shorter in length. It has also been a great way to add variety to my reading because the selection includes books that I may not have otherwise considered.
Lately, I’d been craving a good read, so I turned to these collections, and wound up reading the childhood memoir of Marcel Pagnol, “The Days Were Too Short”. There is something magical about Marcel’s writing. He leads you along unsuspectingly with this beautiful imagery and then, suddenly, with one sentence, he evokes a powerful and unexpected reaction. In this way, I found myself gasping in surprise, bursting into laughter, and at one point tears. It is simple, honest, powerful story-telling. Accompanied by charming, whimsical illustrations, the experience is a complete delight. (See image above.)
What a treat. That is just one of the reasons why I love reading. Yet, sometimes, I find myself resisting the desire to read a book. It’s a small kind of resistance: like when I am going to bed, and I’m tired so I don’t want to concentrate. Or the lure of reading on-line instead.
But reading a paper book is a very different experience than reading on the internet. I don’t need to look at all the research to prove it to myself; I just need to observe the way I feel after doing each activity. When I read a book, I am relaxed and soothed in a completely different way than if I’d read an article on my iPhone. The way it engages me is different, too. Reading a book takes me to a deeper level of concentration, a complete immersion into an enduring experience.
I am not saying one shouldn’t read on-line articles! Just be aware that each activity provides very different kinds of benefits. Listen to your body after 30 minutes of reading a book vs reading on-line, and you’ll see what I mean.
February is I love to Read Month. As I head into this month, I want to make a point of reading books at bedtime, at least on most nights.
Reading books is one of the most rewarding habits to nourish at home. It is a simple, inexpensive way to enrich our lives, delight our imaginations, and broaden our understandings. I can’t wait to find the next group of books to stack on my night table!
To sign off today, I leave you with a memorable quote from The Days Were Too Short. Pagnol’s father always said these were the most beautiful words in the French language:
“Hope is not needed to undertake a task, nor success to carry it through.”
How do you interpret that quote?