On my 5 Minute Journal, I’m supposed to write my last few bits (the Awesome 3 and the Tardis Moment) as the very last thing of my day. In addition, I’m supposed to avoid screen time – yes, even of a paperwhite kindle – before sleeping in order to have better circadian rhythm.
But. My parents were geniuses and instilled in me, early on, the need to read. It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am, how much I’ve done in a day, I can’t seem to really feel it is complete without picking up a book. Sometimes a real paper one; sometimes my kindle; sometimes, such as when I’m on the road, it’s just my phone. But there’s something about taking just a few paragraphs into my brain of some other world that helps me get to sleep. Even though I write about how I should be doing something different.
My Reading is Legion
I am usually in the middle of several books at once – currently, for example, there’s Thinking Fast and Slow, The Happiness Hypothesis, Fluency, Nexus, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Oh, and there’s the audio books: The Hydrogen Sonata, The Art of Asking, and I had to re-listen to Max Barry’s Lexicon just because it’s so damn good. There’s also Left of Bang and Consider Phlebas, but they’re “dead tree” versions left at home. Meanwhile, today a friend here in L.A. pressed The Paris Wife into my hands, giving me yet another item to lug around with me (sigh). My partner is probably looking at this and then looking at the stack next to my bed and shaking her head, thinking “That’s just the tip of the iceberg…”
But I can’t say no! A loved book from a friend is almost like a puppy or a kitten – shared with joy, cared for, sometimes struggled with, occasionally returned with an I think you liked it better than I did attitude. The last time I did a Simple Time of Peace I tore through three books in two days, cover-to-cover. That seems so luxurious! I used to carry books with me everywhere – several, since I wasn’t sure what mood I’d be in, and having more than one was like being able to change the channel. The Kindle or iBook? It’s like suddenly getting expanded cable. And don’t get me started on the evil deliciousness of Kindle Prime, the library of the internet.
Where’s the Harm?
It’s sometimes hard to justify my reading habit. Am I actually improving myself? Isn’t it passive? But at the same time, why not enjoy the new worlds, or benefit from the knowledge. I can know what the Emperor of Rome was thinking. How is that not magic? Sometimes I’ll try combining my reading with some other “legitimate” exercise – walking, for example. And sometimes I’ll schedule “deep reading” times so that I can give a book my full attention for a longer session, enabling better understanding. Sometimes I even create sketchnotes of the books I’m reading, combining activity and at least the illusion of productivity with my word addiction.
But really, I’ll never get past the simple desire to curl up with a good story and just lose myself in the words. It’s a practice that becomes dearer to me as my available time lessens…but I’m so, so glad I haven’t given it up.
What’s your reading practice? What would you like it to be?