The pandemic rocked our worlds, made face masks a fashion accessory, and paranoia a commonsense trait. But some good habits emerged. Are you reading more? It’s time to read again.
Have you ever read a book that was so good you felt as if you had moved into the community of its pages? That’s the freedom reading brings to us. If you have books, there is no cabin fever because there are no cabin walls. It proved to be a safe, great escape while we felt like prisoners in our own homes.
I love murder mysteries. Give me the twisty plots of a whodunnit anytime or day. When I read them, I become partner to the sleuth. I sit in a chair next to the survivors during the great reveal, and I celebrate as the guilty are exposed and taken away. In London, I went to Baker Street and had a moment. I went to the statue and home of the greatest detective who ever lived. The driver of our group said to me, “Sherlock Holmes was not a real person, you know.” Maybe not to him.
Now is the perfect time to send our mind space into other worlds.
While doing research for a mystery that I’m writing, I had to learn about the sex lives of plants. I’ve never been a talented home gardener, nor one to know much about flowers and plants, only an admirer of their beauty. Unexpectedly, I became swallowed up in the information. Time passed without me feeling one minute of it.
My go-to is fiction because reality gets enough of my time and attention. Five years ago, I was introduced to a public relations professional in London who decided to retire early, leave the city to buy a place in one of the villages she had romanticized about for years. As a hard-charging, type A personality, she wasn’t loved by the villagers. To win their favor, she entered a local pie baking contest. Not a baker or cook, she sneaked off to London to buy a quiche from one of the best bakeries there. Unfortunately, the contest judge who ate her quiche dropped dead. What a perfect beginning to a murder mystery and the Agatha Raisin series by the late M.C. Beaton.
Sci-Fi readers travel a bit further than the rest of us, they often leave the planet and learn new languages. Do you own a copy of the Klingon Dictionary?
Romance novels have never been high on my list, but I grabbed one during lockdown for grins. Five hours later, I was cursing a crazy woman and the horrible man she had chosen to date. It drew me in as if I were one of her girlfriends.
One of the richest women in the world who came from humble beginnings said of reading, “Books were my pass to personal freedom. I learned to read at age three, and there discovered was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi.” ~ Oprah Winfrey.
Psychology and mental health professionals tout the physiological benefits of reading: It strengthens the brain, increases the ability to empathize (we certainly could use more of this one); reduces stress, builds vocabulary, and my favorite---helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
The master of the thriller whose writing makes grown men shiver, Stephen King said of books, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
The past two years ruined plans and forced us to invent new ways to meet up, hold a conference, and even say goodbye to loved ones, from a distance. But those accommodations tended to highlight the gravity of our situation as we built extraordinary workarounds in homage to the great and mysterious novel virus.
Reading took us away from all that
Whether you’re attracted to historical fiction, sci-fi, memoirs, non-fiction, mysteries or romance, there is no shortage of “programming” in the world of books. Fortunately, we can download them to our devices before the martini is shaken, the wine poured, or the coffee brewed.
Most of us have a few books on our shelves that we never got around to opening because we had too many places to go or too much to do. Now that we’ve experienced maximum time in-between our own walls, we can escape our borders with books.
Grab a book and your virtual passport. It’s time to read again.