There is nothing I look forward to more than a pair of cozy pajamas, my feet up and my nose in a good book. It’s therapy. Book therapy. If the kids are gone and the house is quiet it’s totally legit. This year I’ve recovered my favorite pastime: Wasting all the time in the world that I could be doing all the things…to read.
Why did I see it as a waste? Why, for years, did I think reading was only for the twenty-or-so-minutes before I fell asleep? What countless hours and years did I give over freely to movies, television and social media, when I could’ve been living my life? Or living another life altogether…
George R.R. Martin said: A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
Sometimes I want to live forever. There is so much need; so much work to be done and so much love and light and bright to shine and be and live. But if I’m totally honest there have also been times when I was ready to cash in my chips. All of them. All that need and desire and love and light and bright is sometimes too hard to bear. Especially when we try to carry it on our own shoulders. We were never meant to carry it.
What I’m learning is that we simply show up. We show up with our story and our life and what we’re learning; and we be honest about the messy imperfect journey we are on…and what God does with our lives and our words is His business. We’re simply a vessel.
Wisdom is what I am after.
If I can learn and glean from another life, and add it to the experience of my own, that is a gift. I cannot understand. Why would I not take the gift? Confucius said: No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
Over and over I hear people saying we need to fix the education system. We need to change access to learning. We need to, have to, should, shouldn’t, must….as if it all depended on us. But how much of our own lack is self-chosen? How often do we choose ignorance simply opting for a bit of momentary, illusory bliss?
How often do I know and not do? The answer is far too often to count.
There is nothing more beautiful and personal and painfully borne than a book. The pages of a life put to pen; the heart, bled out. Books are proof that humans are partners in miracles.
That one word, a line, a page or a book could resonate in the deepest places of a heart who never met it’s author, who because of their words lived a bit braver, brighter, lighter or better.
That God would intricately weave our lives and words and stories together for healing, redemption and glory. An ordinary life. An ordinary pen.
That a single life could be lived better for a brutal or beautiful story told.
I love to go into old bookstores and antique stores because old books are even better. I rest my hands on their broken bindings and carefully turn through their aged, yellow pages. Distinct with the smell of time. If only we weren’t so busy. We could live a thousand lives, and learn a million words, and be accomplices to miracles without ever leaving home.
Mason Cooley said: Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. You may need to stay where you are today, but you don’t need to stay WHO you are. Find a book today and read. Perhaps it’s been sitting on your nightstand or tucked in your gym bag or maybe you don’t have one but there’s a bookstore down the street or a click away from your doorstep. Whether you have to borrow it or buy it, make some time today just for you. Remember how it feels to imagine. Allow yourself to step into another world and live. Braver, bigger, better. It’s not a waste.
Here are a few of my most recent favorite reads:
- Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight: In a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, Knight tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike. Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.
- It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too), by Nora McInerny Purmort: Twenty-seven-year-old Nora bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.
- The Secret Wife, by Gill Paul: A Russian grand duchess and an English journalist, linked by one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Love. Guilt. Heartbreak. In 1914 Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger. In 2016, Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret. Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.
- In Fairleigh Field: A Novel of World War II, by Rhys Bowen: World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility. As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls? Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.
- Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want, by Maria Goff: Love Lives Here is a collection of stories that include the ways Maria and her husband, Bob, navigated family their way, without clear instructions or a road map. It’s about what they learned to make their lives meaningful and whimsical and how they created a space for their family to grow together while they reached outward.