A couple weeks back one of my fave book bloggers, Shannon at River City Reading, posted about how she spent five days in focused reading and was able to read four books – more than she’d read through all of the last month!
I was inspired by Shannon, not just by reading so many books in such a short time, but because of why she started this little experiment.
Shannon said that she’d been caught up in a bit of information overload – spending her days consuming a massive quantity of news media basically nonstop. From the onslaught from daily NPR updates, podcasts, newspapers, RSS feeds, and my entire Facebook newsfeed, I completely understood exactly what Shannon was talking about.
Not only is the quantity overwhelming, but the content over the past few months has been exhausting. Between political battles, social unrest, and so much violence, it’s been a challenge to wrap your head around everything that’s happening.
Shannon’s solution was a self-imposed retreat.
By taking a step back, unplugging, and setting a personal goal of reading for 60 uninterrupted minutes each day, Shannon set the re-set button.
I was so inspired, I wanted to give it a try!
So, beginning on Friday, the 22nd, I unplugged myself from the discourse. I stepped back from Twitter and Facebook, cut off the RSS feed, and tried my hardest to silence NPR (a challenge, when I’m not the only person in the house or car).
Not only did I read 3 books, I feel completely refreshed!
I feel like I gave myself the time I needed to process what has been going on. With a little extra time, my brain got a bit of a breather. I was able to remove a little of the feeling of overwhelm, and focus on what I could do to influence the world around me. Stepping back I feel like I have a renewed energy to deal with what may come.
I don’t think that we should use reading as a way to completely escape and ignore the world around us, but I think reading has an important power in helping us set the stage and frame the context into which we pour the information we receive.
By really focusing on reading James Baldwin, I’m able to place Black Lives Matter in a broader historical context. By finally getting completely lost in HRC, I have a new perspective on one of our leading Presidential candidates. And by escaping momentarily into Sweetbitter, I was able to give myself the breathing room to process things.
Reading is like a salve.
Well placed, it can work wonders.