When I decided February would be book month, I placed a handful of books on hold at my local library to keep me busy.
I wouldn’t say I’m naturally much of a book worm, or at least I never really have been. It’s been something I’ve developed a taste for over the years. Some seasons of life find me reading ferociously, and at other times, barely at all.
In the past few years, I’ve found myself craving the solitude of a good book. In our digital world, slowing to the pace of a page-turn is therapeutic.
I heard someone say recently that the soul travels at the speed of 3mph.
Books are a good way to slow the blinding speed of life — to slow information down to the words on a page. No intrusive ads, images, or videos.
For me, book month is an invitation to slow down. An opportunity for my soul to take a breather from demanding pace I’ve been keeping, to escape the noise and enjoy some quiet.
With a good portion of my day spent staring at screens and the rest filled with three energetic toddler boys, I find that when I get a moment to pick up a book I need to tumble into a different world. Novels offer a good escape. Whether I’ve got five noisy minutes while the boys are stuck in their chairs at the table, or a silent hour after they have gone to sleep for the night, I love the ease of drifting into someone else’s story.
There’s no note-taking or digesting the information presented, just the lingering question of what happens next? No obligation to do anything with what I uncover in these pages — only to let my imagination and curiosity be piqued.
And yet, the stories we read may not be so unfamiliar to our own. These stories put emotion, context, and a larger framing over our story. Perhaps the hero (or villain) remind us of ourselves, or someone in our world. The courage they exude. The fear they overcome. The grief that consumes them. The complexity of our story is unraveled in the stories we find around us.
At the moment, this is the easiest place for me to engage with reading — being sucked into a good story.
Here are a few books that I’ve just finished, am currently reading, or am about to read.
- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
- The High Divide by Lin Enger
- A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
- Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
When I am feeling a need for space to think and learn, I like having a few books on hand related to different interests. These are not quite as easy to pick up and require me to have some focused reading time.
When I read about some of the great thinkers and writers of the last few centuries, I’m amazed at the breadth and depth of their knowledge. Their understanding of language, trees and plants, geography, religion, history — I marvel at the vast base of knowledge that seems commonplace.
So for some of the things of life I have come to find interesting or of importance, I try to take a step beyond the echo chamber of information that is readily accessible. For those that are experts in these fields of study, what are they saying? What books have been written on the topic? What are the varying streams of thought?
I look for a thread, and I pull on it, and then I pull a little more. I find this practice of discovery empowering. With the amount of information accessible from the mobile phone, it feels somehow farther away. YouTube and Wikipedia are helpful to an extent, but a trip to the local library feels like a wealth of useful knowledge.
Here are some books I’ve just finished, am currently reading, or am about to begin.
- Rebel Yell S.C. Gwynne
- Beginner Gardening Step by Step
- Truman by David McCullough (In 2019 we bought our house which is near, possibly on, President Truman’s family farm.)
My last category of reading is topics that fuel my inner life and purpose.
These are books that remind me of what is ultimate with topics that broaden my perspective to new ways of seeing and thinking. But, they also challenge my thinking and limited understanding, providing gentle reminders of what is important and worth pondering.
I find that I need frequent road signs to keep me on track. Otherwise, I tend to drift toward whatever has the strongest gravitational pull. Chocolate, Instagram, the couch, etc. I need regular doses of books that reach into my soul and strike a chord. It keeps me living with eyes wide open.
Here are some books I’m currently reading, have just finished, or am about to read in this category.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge
- The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile
- I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
* * *
Reading month is an invitation to slow the pace of your soul. Instead of maximizing every moment of the day with productive vigor, allow yourself to indulge in the quiet solitude a book offers. Lord knows we could use more of it.
As I finish writing this from my local library, my advice is to let your interests lead the way. Do a keyword search in your libraries catalog of a topic of interest. Funny enough, I have two books I’m about to check out titled The Hidden Life of Trees and Among Trees. They just looked interesting. 🤷♂️ And I wouldn’t have checked them out had I not let my odd fascination for trees lead the way.
And remember, you don’t have to finish every book you start. The point is to read more, not finish everything you start.