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Book Review Series: Why reading should still be important to you

So you’ve just finished reading the last chapter of your scary huge textbook, you have to collect and read a pile of research articles, and you have to find time to proof read your 15 page research paper before tomorrow. Academic reading has consumed your life? As a graduate student with year-round school, please trust me when I say ME TOO. When I get home from class at night the LAST thing on my mind is reading a nice book for my mental and emotional health. To be completely frank, I’m so sick of reading that I’ve completely lost touch with how much books used to take care of me. I always feel so conflicted when I pick up a book, thinking “if I have time to read this, that means I have time to catch up on readings for school.” I get in such a weird headspace that I end up putting the book down and doing something else, whether it’s productive or not. I feel like I’m cheating my grades if I start reading for “fun.” This continual pressure is taking away my time to care for myself and I need to make a change. Recently I’ve made a deal with myself that I am going to let books start to take care of me again.

I want to see myself in their characters, I want their stories to make me think about the world, and I want their messages to comfort and ease my soul.

Books are such a magical way to find connection with people and stories without having to leave the comfort of your own thoughts. I love books. I’ve lost touch with what they used to mean to me, and that troubles me beyond words. They are the ultimate daydream. When I want to find a little solitude and enter a new reality where my stresses don’t exist, I read a book. Books have become the enemy and I am not okay with that. I want to renew my relationships with books and let them ease my stresses and soothe my soul.

I will be reading a new book every month and writing a short review about what the book has meant to me, how the book has impacted me, and how it might impact you in some way. Books are for learning. Books are also a form of rejuvenation for your mind and soul. I will be reading the soul hugging kind and recommending some of my favorites to the folks out there like me who have taken an accidental leave of absence from books and want to find enjoyment and fulfillment in them once again. I want to let books take care of me in the way that they used to. If you find yourself making these same remarks or these same excuses, please let me validate for you that you are not the only one. If you’ve recognized your relationships with books needs some attention, I invite you to join me in this new promise of self-care.

If you find some connection between my thoughts and your own experience, let’s meet back here and start a dialogue on the books I have chosen. The first book I am going to read (actually revisit) is a classic comfort read of mine that I just recently re-read as I renewed my commitment to reading: The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I love this book. Meet me here and let me tell you why you would too.

I’m A Morning Person, Don’t Hate Me

The alarm on your phone is going off (do people have alarm clocks anymore?) letting you know it’s time to RISE AND SHINE! If just reading this sentence makes you want to grab your blankets, roll over, and hit the snooze button repeatedly…you’re not alone. Mornings can be hard, and sometimes your bed is just so comfy! I get it, but I’m here to tell you, there are some perks of setting that alarm just a little bit earlier.

Full disclosure: I’m a morning person, don’t hate me. With work, kids, to-do lists, errands, and meetings, I know how hectic mornings can be. It can feel like a mini rat race trying to balance the tasks of the day, wrangling little ones, and making sure you make it out the door with the same shoes on, a cup of coffee to-go, and something to eat for breakfast (on a good day). If mornings are a time of stress for you, there are a few tips and tricks to making the morning run a little smoother, and hopefully, can become one of your favorite parts of the day as well.

Start your day with something just for you, something you love. Mornings are the time I get to spend with myself and set my intentions for the day. I love waking up with the sun, putting a pot of coffee on, and practicing my meditations. On a normal day, I get to start my day off doing the things that make me happiest like working out, practicing yoga, and sipping coffee without the worry of running late to work. I am mindful, calm, and can reflect on the day ahead of me. Having the extra time to myself makes me a better me. Starting the day off doing the things that make you feel best helps getting out of those blankets a little bit easier, too.

Have a time dedicated to unplugging. Our TVs, laptops, phones, and all the little screens in our lives make it hard for our minds to recognize it’s time to unwind and prepare for sleep. Having the light and sound of the different screens can also keep us from getting deep, recharging sleep. Try and set the time about an hour before you would normally go to sleep, to reap the full benefit!

Start slow! Becoming a morning person, or any facet of this idea doesn’t happen overnight! Try setting your alarm ten minutes earlier for the first week. Ten minutes isn’t so bad, right? After the first week, try setting it another ten minutes earlier. Beginning gradually can feel less jarring than jumping into the change right off the bat. Carving out a little bit of time just for yourself and beginning your day with a clear mind might just make a morning person out of you.

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