• Rachel Saunders

The Magic of Reading

I’ve been thinking of books and reading a lot of late. Books were our gift of choice this holiday season, both to give and to get. I find it so wonderful to own physical copies of books, to have something solid to hold in my hands while I get swept away into another world. I like non-fiction too, it does have its place on my shelves but fiction is where it’s at, in my opinion.


Of course I cannot say with any certainty, but I think that there is a correlation, for me, between how many books I read in a given year and how well I’m doing mentally and emotionally. Could be vice versa but either way there is seemingly some correlation between those things.


This year 100 was my reading goal and I have long exceeded that. Unless I finish one more book (it’s the 30th of December as I write this) I will be at 117 for the year. Last year (2020) I finished just over 100. I know that the last two years have not been easy, and I’m not saying that I was totally oblivious to the pandemic and what chaos it’s brought, but the November before the pandemic I quit a mind numbing job. That, and then, once the pandemic began, working from home for my new job allowed me to pull myself back together, piece by piece.


Books and reading were one of those pieces.


I’ve enjoyed keeping track of what I’m reading for as long as I can remember. In high school I had a composition notebook that I wrote out the book title, author, number of pages and the date I finished the book. My recollection, which is hazy at best, is that I finished somewhere upwards of 150 books in a year, maybe over 200. It’s all hearsay, though, since I cannot say with any certainty. I often wish I still had the notebook, for posterity at least.


Now I have Goodreads, and my To Read list has mushroomed out of control…I will likely never conquer it. But that isn’t the point, I’ve learned.


I lost my way, reading-wise in college. I had so much to do for class and homework that I didn’t read much for fun, if at all. It wasn’t until a few years out of college that I unexpectedly came up for air and realized that I had time again. I was free, so to speak. Work didn’t come home with me like homework, so I was free to fill my time with reading again.


And for a time, I did, I was picking up books nearly every few days at the library and reading exclusively for pleasure. Then, the descent into the greyness and depression, spurred on by my increasingly mind numbing job. Goodreads shows that I was only reading 20-30 books a year 2016-2019. This may still seem like a lot to some but for me that’s not flourishing reading, that’s survival reading.


I read some great books during those grey years. Some very necessary books like Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn, and The Empath’s Survival Guide by Judith Orloff. It wasn’t enough, and I wasn’t OK, but it did push me forward.


So, seeing the numbers and knowing how I was feeling during those years leads me to thinking that there’s got to be something to how much I read and how happy I’m feeling; how OK I truly am. And I’m sure there is something to it. But I guess, in the end, what matters more is that I’m happy. I’m doing OK and I’ve never felt more alive than I do these days. Maybe it’s got something to do with the books, and maybe it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that reading isn’t magical.


Read more books!


I'm working on growing my physical library (photo not including the pile of books I'm planning/hoping to read soon):


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