Sunday, November 6, 2011


Feeling anxious about the root canal procedure about to occur in your mouth as you sit stiffly in your dentist's waiting area? Grabbing for that bottle of wine shortly after your daughter comes home from college with a tattoo on her shoulder and a piercing in her tongue? Gearing up to scream as you confront the living room wall that your 3-year-old decorated with Crayola markers. Stop. Breath. Grab a novel. Yes. I did say grab a novel. Within six minutes of reading it your stress level will be reduced by 2/3 according to Mindlab International at the University of Sussex. Reading is more effective at calming frazzled nerves than listening to music or taking a walk.

No wonder I'm feeling a little edgy. Just look at the pile of unread books on my nightstand that I really am going to delve into one of these days:

Despite my literary negligence, I  do love to read -- especially fiction. It's fun to be absorbed by a thriller or romance, travel to a faraway land, meet a character who I truly come to care about or despise. So many fascinating stories at my fingertips yet so little time to read them. A little sad, isn't it? All of those words strung creatively together by a talented writer, unexposed to my eyes, failing to serve their purpose. I do have good intentions, often reaching for the book lucky enough to be on the top of my heap after I crawl into bed, but generally I fall asleep before finishing ten pages. It must have something to do with waking up at 5 a.m. and hustling through the day until I settle down around 10:00 p.m. It's one of those human things -- the need to sleep.

So what can I do about my desire to kick back and read a book that will relax me more than a stroll through a meadow? Possibly, read during the day?


Do I have time?

In my first blog entry, I mentioned that it takes the average adult 18-minutes to read 15 pages of text. Okay. After dinner, around 7:00, curl up on the couch for 18-minutes and read. Sounds appealing. At that rate I could finish 18, 300 page books in one year. By the way, that's way above the national norm. The average American reads 3-to-6 books a year, but watches 35-hours of TV a week. You do the math. Maybe many of us really do have time to kick back with a book.

To learn more about how reading reduces stress click here:

Song of the Week:
I picked a classic story telling song this week, The Harper Valley P.T.A. sung by Jeannie C. Riley. No glitz in this video. Let your imagination create the scene.  Love the hair, Jeannie...  

Book(s) of the Week:
Because the topic of the week is kicking back with a book, I'll pick two, a classic and one from the collection on my nightstand.

First the classic, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Set during the Great Depression, it traces the migration of an Oklahoma Dust Bowl family to California and their subsequent hardships as migrant farm workers. It was published in 1939 and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1940. Read the first line:

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

I was drawn to Oklahoma in the five seconds it took to read that.

Now for a novel from my nightstand, Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. Click on the image below to hear a little bit more about the book:

A Little Something Extra:

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”
Alan Bennett, The History Boys: The Film


  1. Reading is my favorite pastime as well. I used to take the 50 book challenge over at Shelfari - but I haven't been able to hit that number in a couple of years. And after this year, if I could hit 18, that'd be amazing.

    I'm just waiting for December to hit so I can settle down with my traditional year end novel - Little Women.

  2. This whole NaNoWriMo thing is definitely getting in the way of my reading. :-)

  3. Maybe after NanoWrimo we can relax in December for "NanoReadmo" before editing those 50,000 words in January. Hey "NanoEditmo." I think I'm getting punchy.