Despite my lifelong love affair with books, when I get busy one of the first things to get squeezed out of my schedule is recreational reading. (Although I do always seem to find time to screw around on the Internet for hours a day. Oh, Lindsay Lohan. When will you learn?) So I’ve decided to make books more of a priority, something as crucial as sleep and exercise and eating black kale and blueberries. In other words, something for my health.
Everyone needs a meditative practice. And while I like to do yoga while listening to the radio to zone out, my real meditation and relaxation occurs when I’m reading a great book. It can be fiction or non-fiction, humourous or heartbreaking, but as long as it’s well written and relatable, it’s always been very easy for me to get lost in a story. And there are few things more wonderful and more enriching, few things that can expand your world and awaken your passion, like a beautifully executed book. To read a book that you can’t bear to have end, to dawdle over the last few pages, reading and re-reading, repeating passages to anyone who will listen or taking notes on the parts that feel revelatory, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
And so I want more of that. On the slate for the next month are a couple of titles by my new literary crush, British writer Geoff Dyer: Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It and Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Also, Starter for Ten, a novel by David Nicholls whose most recent work, One Day, had me canceling plans so I wouldn’t have to put it down. I’ve also decided to indulge my love of biography and memoir, including The Orientalist (a real-life story of absurdly disguised identity) by Tom Reiss, Nancy Mitford’s study of Madame de Pompadour (I will gobble up anything that encourages me to think of Paris) and Ruch Reichl’s eating memoir, Comfort Me With Apples (I also love books that make me hungry).
Not every book will speak to me deeply, I know. But it’s a project that both gives me a sense of satisfaction – I consider reading a fundamental virtue, and each completed book an accomplishment – and satisfies me deeply. It’s amazing to me that we can, from time to time, forget to pursue what makes us happy. But in 2011, I’m making purposeful room for reading – and I already feel a little happier.