Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reading as Meditation

It seems that no sooner do I put a disclaimer on my blog saying: I am not blogging anymore!  that I get an idea for a post that just grips me and won't let me go.  So maybe I need to just say I am only going to post when I want to.


This winter has been cold and snowy where we live.  It reminds me of all of the winters of my childhood, when we got so much more snow than we have in recent years.  I happen to love snow.  I love the peacefulness when it falls.  I still love to perch myself high on a big hill atop a sled and come down the hill at top speed.  I love to go home and drink a nice hot cup of tea.  I love to bake when it snows and serve Jason and the girls fresh melty chocolate chip cookies or a nice warm loaf of banana bread.  I love to slowly simmer hearty vegetable stews in my beautiful Le Creuset Dutch oven on a snow day and bake a big loaf of sourdough bread and slather it with real butter as soon as it's warm enough to slice.

But my very most favorite thing to do on a snow day is to burrow under my down comforter, nestle into my down pillows and read as the snow falls languidly outside my window.

This winter, maybe because of all the snow, maybe because my little family has passed around colds every week since early October, maybe because I am not blogging {as much}, I have been absorbed into books in a way that I had not been in years.  It's meditative for me.  I have the same soft, calm feeling in my brain and my bones that I do after meditating or practicing yoga for a few weeks.

I tend to read authors and here are some of my favorites from this winter.

John Green

I have read books by John Green before and I love his voice.  I love that these books bring me back to and remind me of what it feels like to be a teenager--so many firsts!  that "new breath of life" independence.  Allie has read all of John Green's books and I made my way through his catalog this winter and I love that it is something we can share and discuss, these feelings, this teenage angst and excitement, turmoil and elation.  Such highs and lows these teenage years.

Gillian Flynn

Normally I do not read anything dark.  I swore it off when the girls were small.  I wanted to always be upbeat and I struggle with anxiety and depression and I didn't want to follow some character down some dark passage and not come back for my girls.  But a friend told me how great Gone Girl was and we can not keep that book on the shelves in the library, so I tried it.  I loved it.  I was hooked.  I read it in a few days.  Then, I read Gillian Flynn's two other books and loved them both.  Dark Places  takes place partly in the mid-to late 1980s with pre-teen and teenage characters who are now adults in the rest of the story.  I was a pre-teen, teen in the mid-to-late 1980s, so I related so well to this and loved revisiting that time period.  Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn's first novel, is very polished for a first novel, it takes you on perverse twists and turns and I enjoyed every moment.


I want to be a knitter or a crocheter so bad.  I love yarn and needles and homemade things.  I love the idea of whiling away hours listening to the click of my needles while it snows outside.  I want to order alpaca wool and learn the difference between those thick, heavy yarns and the thinner yarns.  And I try.  And I can do it.  I know how, although I am still very much a beginner at both.  I just never make time for it.  I don't watch TV and if I am not cooking or cleaning or running errands, I am reading.  Some of my friends bring their knitting to get-togethers and gatherings and knit while we talk, but I would rather hold my mug of tea and focus on the conversation.  If I am honest I can't concentrate on conversation and another task.  If you have ever had me drive you somewhere you know this to be true.

Ann Hood

I read Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine when I was 15 and absolutely obsessed with hippies and the Grateful Dead.  I hardly even remember that book, but I always remembered Ann Hood and oddly I never read another book by her.  But, after reading the book on knitting, trying to inspire myself to take up knitting this winter, I decided I loved her writing style and wanted to read more by her.  She is my kind of writer.  Her writing envelops you, it surrounds you, it becomes like breathing, it's meditative, you become the characters.  I love that.  I've read several of her books and I feel so fortunate that I have more to look forward to reading!

I've attended several seminars on meditation and it is almost always suggested that when you do something-anything- and become completely absorbed in it so that you are almost not aware of the outside world, your whole focus is on the task, you are meditating.  For some it is fishing or cooking or knitting or gardening.  For me, it is reading.