“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
This may be a strange thing to say, but I actually fell in love with reading all over again this year–and that’s saying something because I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life and have never fallen out of love with it. We’ve been very happy together since approximately age four. At this point I’ve read well over 50 books so far this year, and that doesn’t count several re-reads of old favorite novels or short stories. And it certainly doesn’t count the sheer amount of newsprint, magazine, and digital media I read on a daily basis.
But this was the year that I really came to understand how much reading helps and grounds me. I think for most of us, besides childhood playacting, books are the first real exercises we get in imagination and projection. These are invaluable tools for processing the world, especially as adults (goodness knows we’re stuck in this phase longer).
In my quest to get healthier this year, I’ve come to the realization that reading helps with all of my brain problems. It stops the anxious skittering of thoughts, it helps me focus on a single (usually enjoyable!) task, and it takes me out of my own head and into another world. It silences my ego. Next to actual therapy, I think it’s one of the best things I am able to do calm myself when worked up over a problem or stuck in a feedback loop of fretting. For me, it’s practically meditation.
When insomnia strikes and sleep is not on the cards, books! When I feel overwhelmed or stress, books! When I just have a spare half hour on the Tube or lying in bed on a weekend, books! I am happier when I make the time and effort to read a lot.
So what did I read this year? I’m working my way through every single book and short story by Agatha Christie. I did a six month dive into the history of Mormon polygamy, which was an important bit of reading for me. I’ve discovered some great new romance authors. I’ve made an effort to read various political and social histories of the US–racial, economic, environmental, and ideological. I’m intentionally mainlining feminist authors in a way that I haven’t since university.
While this is not even close to my most book heavy year, I’m delighted to have discovered an old love in a new way. What books did you read this year, and which were your favorite?