54: Roaming the aisles.

- December 17, 2017 -

I found myself in a rather atypical position on Sunday night, having finished the book I was reading without having another one to turn to at the ready.

I did have a book coming at the end of the day on Wednesday — Oliver Sacks’ The River of Consciousness — but I had nothing to tide me over until then. And so, rather than sit idly by, I found myself rummaging frantically about an otherwise quiet house, trying to unearth some work of fiction I hadn’t yet read from the many shelves which fill our home.

It had to be fiction — I was very particular about that. After an extended bout of mostly non-fiction reading, I had grown weary of the hold it had come to form on my mind, weary of the ways in which it had been so responsible for shaping my thinking. I wanted desperately to expand my horizons, to reach beyond its shores, and although I did manage to find one unread volume of fiction that night, I nonetheless made sure to stop by the bookstore the next morning to more properly replenish my reserves.

I’m not here to tell you to read more, though, because I don’t think that would be particularly useful advice. It would be a bit like someone saying “get more exercise!” or “drink more water!”: we all know it would be great if we could, but, in reality, we’re likely already doing about as much of it as we can.

No, my suggestion would be to read the same amount as you do now, but just to read more widely. To wander into an unfamiliar section of the bookstore. To get your news from other sites. To follow those whose voices are unrepresented (or under-represented) in your feed.

In other words, roam the aisles in any way you can. Be deliberate about it, and, along the way, don’t trouble yourself with worrying about whether you’re reading the ‘right’ things, or the ‘most appropriate’ things, or the ‘best’ things. Just read anything that speaks to you, anything that you feel pulled in by.

That alone, I think, would do wonders for us all.


Waving from my desk,
– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.