Thursday, June 19, 2014

Take 2 Books and Call Me in the Morning

According to an article in The Telegraph (London?) reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress level by two thirds.
And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.
Jeez.  If this is true, I must be I comatose, especially the last couple of days.

I know there are people who do not read.  I gave birth to some of them.  I am married to one of them (it may take him a year to read a book).   I was fathered by a man who once read "Away All Boats" and decided he didn't need to read another book in his life.

But I don't understand these people.  I know they are good, intelligent people who probably accomplish a lot more than I do because they don't waste their time sitting in a chair reading, but I am as compulsive about reading as I am about watching television.  I can't imagine my life without a book by my side at all times. I have been a compulsive reader ever since I learned to read.

I remember the first time I babysat at a house with no books.   There were book cases filled with knick knacks but there were no books.  I had forgotten to bring something to read and just assumed I'd pick up a book while there. I was convinced they must be hiding them.  Whoever heard of a house without books?   But no, there was not a single book to be had in the house.  It was a whole new world for me.  A bookless house.

Because of books, I rarely get upset if I have to wait in a long line somewhere.  I always have a book (or my kindle) in my purse and I take that line as a time to read.  I get a lot of reading done at intermission of plays I am reviewing. It doesn't bother me if Walt decides to stop and pick up something at the store or visit the ATM while I sit in the car, because it gives me a chance to read another page or two in my book.  I'm kind of upset when I go to the dentist or doctor, or stop by Blood Source to donate blood and I do not have to wait because it deprives me of a time to read a few pages of my book.

I'm so compulsive about reading that I keep an "emergency book" in the car and it's not even the book I'm currently into, but just a thing with printed pages that I can pick up if I have somehow left my current book at home and find myself with a few minutes with nothing to do.  It will probably take me a year or more to finish that book, while I will finish many others that don't permanently live in the car.  If I don't have my current book with me and for some reason don't have an emergency book, I have been known to read the car's manual just to give me something to read.

With the advent of modern technology, I have choices of how I want to read a book.  I can read it as a hold-in-your-hand book, or a Kindle book, or I can read on my iPad or I can listen on my iPod.  I know I should read real books, but the advantage of an e-book, when you get to a certain age, is that you can make the print bigger.  I sometimes look at the books at Logos that I might want to read and the print is so tiny that I know I would never be able to read it.

The latest Diana Gabaldon book, "Written in My Heart's Own Blood," has me making best use of technology.  When I went to visit Bill the other day, I knew I would have two blissful hours in the car when I could listen to the book, because I had it as an audio book, but also as an e-book.  Too impatient to know the whole story, I had been reading on my Kindle where I can read faster, but I love listening to Davina Porter read the book too. In fact, when I finish reading the book, I will probably go back and listen to the audio book, where I will pick up more details because I won't be skipping over battle scenes to get to the personal scenes more quickly.

I sat here with my iPad and my iPod and I fast forwarded through the iPod trying to find the spot where I had been reading on my iPad.  The iPad has a feature where you can search for words or phrases, so I would listen on the iPod for a phrase and then search for it on the iPad so I could see how much farther I had to advance the audio book to catch up with the iPad (god, my mother would go nuts if I tried to explain this to her!).  But I did manage to sync the two machines up and then when I got home, found where I was on the iPod audio book on the iPad e-book so I could start reading again.  Only since I prefer to read on the Kindle rather than on the iPad, I then synced the two machines together so I could catch up on the Kindle.  

For the past two days I have done little but sit in the recliner reading the Gabaldon book (which is >1000 pages, so it can't be dashed off in a day).   Late yesterday afternoon, the Kindle let me know that the battery was low, so I leaped up, plugged it in to recharge and continued reading on the iPad so I would be able to follow the story during the time when the Kindle was out of commission.

Yes, it's a sickness of sorts, but a benign one.  And heck, if reading only 6 minutes can reduce my stress level by a third, what must reading all day long for days on end do for me?


Mary Z said...

I'm more like you - I have to have something to read at all times (cereal boxes, ads, whatever). But over the years, I've gotten very slow. I hate that, but......

Harriet said...

I've always been a reader, always brought a book if there was a chance I would have to wait. (Oh, the wonders of waiting in line at college, just to add or drop a course...)

I would much rather be reading than playing a game on a phone, which obviously makes me a dinosaur, but a calm dinosaur.