Last Thursday my three rays of sunshine, my makers of merry mayhem, my overly-excitable off-spring headed to their first day back at school. After months of wet swimsuits and drippy ice pops and unanswerable questions, my house was once again my own. There would be no distractions while I cleaned, and organized, and wrote riveting chapter after chapter in my current middle grade novel. I had a list as long as my arm to tackle, and a kid-free day to throw at it.
But I just didn’t WANNA.
I wanted to play hooky.
And not just any kind of hooky. My favorite kind. The kind where you pull a whole series of books off the shelf and curl up on the couch with a bowl of snacks and an absurdly large beverage and you read until your eyes hurt and your soul inhabits another universe and your butt gets kind of numb. That word-drenched, page-turning, magically lazy kind of hooky that deserves its very own catchy catch phrase.
But I’m not so great at catchy. So I just call it “booky.”
Having spent a glorious day immersed in the entrancing world of Deborah Harkness’ ALL SOULS TRILOGY, I reemerged into the world of backpacks and after-school snacks with a list of undone chores undented by my day’s activities. And I did not care a bit. Really.
hooky booky is totally worth it.
So I want to know, my fabulous friends, when is the last time you played a little booky? When did you skip folding the laundry, or text your friends that you were too busy for drinks, or leave the weeds in the garden waiting so that you could read a book instead? And if you can’t remember – well, why on earth not?
In honor of those of you who have never (seriously, never?) played booky in your lives, I offer up these ten incredibly compelling reasons that you ought to start.
Life is noisy enough already.
Kids. Traffic. Construction equipment. Beeping, booping, and dinging electronic devices. If your day is anything like mine, it’s a constant barrage of sound. And yet, too often, we unwind from it all by flipping on the TV to be immersed in a story layered with sound tracks and laugh tracks and probably some other tracks I’m not even aware of. Picking up a book is such a QUIET relief after all the noise of day-to-day life.
But books CAN have a soundtrack, if you’re into that.
Not only is playing booky a quiet escape – it is an escape perfectly compatible with whatever sounds you find enjoyable. Cue up those ocean noises on Spotify to go with Mary Kay Andrews’ BEACH TOWN, or crank up the blues while you read the biography of Bessie Smith. And if you really want to get into the mood of the story, you can often find out what music the author – or the book’s biggest fans – recommend listening to while reading it! I personally love the soundtracks author Randy Ribay has made to go with his upcoming YA release: An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes (Merit Press/F&W Media, Oct 2015). You can check them out on his blog.
You weren’t really going to workout, anyway.
We don’t all have what it takes to have a fitness-club body (In my case, I lack the desire to sweat in public, unless there’s a jungle gym or an all-out Nerf battle.) But we all have what it takes to have a beautiful mind: namely a library and a place to sit. Oh, and the willingness to ignore other responsibilities.
It’s incredibly lame to see the movie without reading the book.
Guy who watched MazeRunner three times and bought a phone case, pendant and Christmas ornament on Etsy, I’m talking to you. Oh, and those of you who watched The Giver based on the fact that Taylor Swift was in it, rather than because Lois Lowry is a literary genius. That’s sad, people. You need to play some booky.
(And BTW, this Billboard article about Taylor Swift in the role? Funniest use of pie charts. Ever.)
Reading has been shown to improve brain connectivity. Yup, even in adults.
That reading every day thing isn’t just good for mini-minds. Recent studies show improvements in Theory of Mind (abbreviated ToM) – the ability to understand attributes of self and others. It also increases connections in the language regions of the brain, among other benefits. Check out this article in Psychology Today for all the nitty gritty details.
Because your knowledge base is a mile wide and an inch deep.
At least twice a day I’m confronted by something in the media that calls for my attention (or my outrage, or my contribution), and about which I know absolutely nothing. There’s reference to a civil war that happened in a country I barely knew existed, or persecution of a group of people I have never heard of. I like to think I’m pretty well educated and aware – but there is just SO MUCH TO KNOW. Luckily, there’s almost always someone out there who not only knows about that war or that cultural group, but who is PASSIONATE about it, who is expert in the topic, and who wrote a downright compelling book about it. In the grand scheme of things, wouldn’t it be socially responsible to get deeper than an inch on a few topics?
Because UpTown Funk keeps getting stuck in your head.
Audiobooks count, too. Turn off the radio and pop on Audible. Instant booky.
Reading diminishes stress.
The Mayo Clinic AND Web MD agree. Reading something you enjoy can decrease physical signs of stress, and it works faster than listening to relaxing music or having a cup of tea. Just think how relaxed you’ll be if you combine all three! Don’t you owe it to yourself to try? (References to back me up can be found here.)
Your kids are watching you.
The validation and satisfaction you get as a parent when you see your kid CHOOSE TO READ FOR PLEASURE rather than log into their electronic interface of choice is overwhelming. But odds are, if they don’t see you prioritizing reading, they won’t do it, either. No matter how uncool you become in their eyes, they still grow up in your image. Go ahead. Think about the last time you realized you sounded like your mom. Yup, it’s gonna happen to your kids, too. So give them something great to copy. Here’s a few shots of my readers.
So, are you wondering about the top reason to play a little booky?
Because You Can!
There are kids and adults all over the world without access to books, without adequate education, without leisure time for reading. (I’m guessing you at least have the illusion of leisure time. You know, the kind where the biggest consequence is that the dishes pile up in the sink for a day.) Don’t take your wonderful life and these wonderful gifts for granted! Play booky because you CAN read, because you have books near at hand, and because time to read for enjoyment is an amazing privilege. And if you have a chance after your book is done, check out these links to some of the great organizations that work to share those gifts with others around the world.