Reading can be recreation, like watching TV. Except that when you watch TV, no mental activity is required. You simply sit and it washes over you. When you read a book, your eyes, your brain, and dare I say it, your very psyche are engaged. You are required to translate the written word into synapses and your brain is exercised. Watching TV, not so much.
If you like mysteries, you can read Nora Roberts’ (writing under the pseudonym J D Robb) 51 book series, “….in Death.” Or if you favor something a bit more psychological, Elizabeth George’s 20 volume series featuring Scotland Yard Detective Thomas Linley. Spend some time in James Patterson’s hundreds of novels or find out who Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware is psyching out this year. Of course, there’s John Sandford’s “Prey” series. Go down south with James Lee Burke. How about some classic characters like Sherlock Holmes, or Hercule Poirot, or Miss Marple, or Father Brown.
If you are into literature, call upon Jane Austin, George Eliot, Harper Lee, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelly, Homer, or dare I say it, the bard himself. My hero Winston Churchill wrote a multi-volume history of the English Speaking Peoples. The choices are endless.
I read on Kindle. First of all, it’s cheaper than hard cover. Second, I can carry my library wherever I go. I know, some say they love the ‘feel’ of paper and the smell of ink. If you are going to wander over each paragraph a number of times, and spend weeks involved with this author or that, perhaps hard cover is for you. If you are ripping through books sometimes three or four at a go, Kindle seems the way.
There are books that take you through the ‘hows’ of modern life. Creativity Inc. tells the story of Pixar and how it almost didn’t happen. Learn how its founder, Ed Catmull, was able to work with divergent personalities to bring great movies to the screen. Read Chernow or Isaacson and get inside the heads of some of the greats of our, and other times. If you want a truly wild ride, read Eric Larson’s book, murders, mayhem, saviors, and the vile. Check out The Devil in White City, The Splendid and the Vile, and In the Garden of Beasts.
Authors can take the time to develop characters and deal with complex issues that simply cannot be addressed in 45 minutes on a TV program. Literature forces you to think and gives you time to consider this point or that. Nothing wrong with that. If you don’t ‘get’ something on the first pass, you can go back and reread it again, and if need be, again.
As you develop your library you can reread favorites. You can spend time with Dr. Watson, Eve Dallas, Barbara Havers, Tiny Tim, Gollum, Captain Hastings, Virgil Flowers, Spenser and Hawk, Vlad the Impaler, Churchill and Hitler, or any of the thousands of characters that may have piqued your attention. Sometimes rereading just a few pages can take you where you want to go.
The beauty of a book is that even though the author describes and event or a scene, you actually see it based on your own experiences. A snowfall might remind you of a time when you experienced the same, and what you see through the character’s eyes is the reality you remember. Think of the excitement of James Bond fighting a villain on a beach you visited a few years before or see a detective follow a ‘perp’ down a street in London you know well.
Reading keeps you fresh. It gives you a mindful of experiences you can find nowhere else. Reading forces you to grow, whether you want to or not.
Read a book. Try it, you might just like it.