A Bag Full of Books
I spent a chunk of Sunday reading for Relaxation Day. I have several books going at once: One that lives in my purse, one that I started before two library books became available from my holds list, and the two library books from the waiting list. Oh, and a cookbook. I grabbed a vegetarian noodle cookbook from the new arrivals shelf when grabbing the books from the waitlist.
Josh teases me because I always visibly carry at least one book when we leave the house. He asks me if it’s in case I get bored, and while the answer is sort of yes, it’s also a security blanket. I like having a book with me. It makes me feel comfortable.
When I got my phone, I downloaded a bunch of e-books so I could always have books on my phone. But I also like to carry at least one paper book with me in case the phone stops working.
Imagine if I was out and the battery died or the phone went missing. I would no longer have access to a book. Carrying a paper book means I’m always prepared.
It’s good to be prepared.
I loved Will Schwalbe’s essay in the Wall Street Journal about our need to read. It begins:
We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?” It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives.
The essay is about how the rhythm of the daily world divides us and drains us, but books have the ability to recharge us. He writes,
Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone. It is a solitary activity that connects you to others.
I love reading alone, though I clearly also read with the twins because I love to read things together and discuss them in real time.
Like the author, I read books to help me understand the world around me. Dirk Gently wiggled its way back into my purse after the election because I felt like the Electric Monk held the key to understanding how people could elect Trump. I know — silly — but every time I started panicking about the people around me, I grabbed out the book and re-read a few pages and said, “Oh, yes, people really can believe anything regardless of fact.”
I am currently re-reading Dirk Gently by Douglas Adams. I’m reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee. I’m in the middle of Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman. I saved the last book in that trilogy for when I needed it, and that time popped up a day or two before those other two books became available at the library. Do you also save books? If I see that a book is going to be very special to me, I save it until I am either in the right frame of mind or need a pick-me-up. This moment was of the pick-me-up variety.
So as Schwalbe says to ask: What are you reading?