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August 21, 2011

Reading Therapy

The August 12 New York Times Magazine has a great article about reading and how it helped a woman through a time of grief after her sister died. This woman, Nina Sankovitch, is herself the author of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading.  Ms. Sankovitch, an attorney, wife, and mother, set a goal of reading one book a day for a year. You'll see in the article just how much good this did her and her family.

I learned a lot from this article, Allaying Grief Through Books.  It's easy to succumb to a desperate restlessness after the loss of a loved one. Yes, we need to continue to participate in life, and a certain degree of busy-ness can be helpful to both body and mind. We also, however, need both grounding and flight during grieving and recovery from loss. We need to recover a sense of stability, of having our feet planted firmly on this earth, and yet we need to feel that we can escape from that very same earth-life stability for a few moments in a helpful and refreshing way. I'm not sure that any activity besides reading can accomplish this quite so easily, quickly, accessibly and affordably.

In fact, this article by Jan Hoffman serves as a powerful reminder of what reading can do for us at any time! As Jane Fonda says of her new book, Prime Time, reading (and writing) helps to "drill down" into subject matter, ideas, meaning.  Drilling down helps us focus, gets us grounded. Yet, depending on what we read, as we "drill down," we may find that our mind takes flight in a beautiful way---traveling into new ideas, a meaningful story, or an unforgettable poem.

This article motivated me to do more reading yesterday and much less television watching. The effects were salutary. I felt calmer, quieter, and more grounded--in addition to being better informed! Ms Sankovitch turned to her public library for many of her books in her magical year of reading, and she read a great deal of fiction. I lean more toward non-fiction, myself, but I think the principle is the same.

And, speaking of reading, if you have read a book that you found helpful during a time of loss or recovery, feel free to send a review to this blog, so we can share that helpful information with others.

Here's to traveling via our individual "Reading Railroads" and making our lives richer as a result.

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