It’s something I fell out of the habit of a few years ago, and rediscovered again this past fall. I just couldn’t make the time for it while I was growing my studio, instead turning my attention to books about business and marketing and art. But as it turns out that was when I needed it more than ever.
Reading to relax helps keep me present when I’m stressed out, it tames my brain when it’s running in a million different directions, and it helps me be more articulate. Plus it’s fun to pretend to be someone else, if only for a few minutes a day.
One of my New Year’s habits is to read for business and pleasure for a minimum of five minutes a day each, though I strive for fifteen or more. And I can’t get over how much reading I can get done. Business books I typically log my fifteen minutes a day, because let’s face it, it’s not usually riveting. But when it comes to novels, I find the more I read, the more I want to read. It’s funny the things I can put off on a Saturday because I want to know what Stephanie Plum is up to.
According to my Kolbe test (plus I’m a Libra) I’m a researcher and an organizer so I keep lists. When it comes to reading have basically two lists disguised as four.
The first is a list of books that I want to read, loosely in the order that I want to read them, divided by business and pleasure. This is such a huge help! In the past I’d finish reading a book, panic because I didn’t have my next one on hand, then lose my momentum and fall off the reading wagon. Now I have a good idea of what’s up next, so when I’m getting close to finishing a book, I can look ahead on my list and line up my next volume.
The second is a list of books that I’ve already read. I just started this one in January, as a way to track my progress to see just how much I actually end up reading. It’s divided into work and play, and for fun I include the date that I finished it. When it comes to non-fiction, I often don’t end up reading the entire book, instead I jump around and read the chapters that are of interest to me, then move on. And I’ve decided that counts as “finishing” the book too.
So what am I reading to relax? I
love, need to read books that are happy, upbeat, funny, and easy, because, frankly, life’s too short. You won’t find thrillers, epic sagas, or intense dramas on my list.
Currently I’m reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I started it in October and I’m about to crack the spine on Hardcore Twenty-Four, her latest edition. I’m going to try some of her other books too since her writing style ticks off all the happy / upbeat / funny / easy checkboxes. I may catch up with Neil Gaiman or Douglas Coupland, and I’ve got my eye on An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.
Reading is by far the best thing I’ve done in a long time to relax and reduce stress. Now tell me darling, what’s on your nightstand?