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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.

All You Need is (Healthy) Love

Love is one of the most important, widely recognized, and yet largely misunderstood emotions we experience. As humans, our brains are naturally wired to make connections with others and, for both biological and cultural reasons, many of us believe we need it to survive (no matter the cost). In all its complexity, love can be categorized into two major types: healthy and unhealthy.

There are relationships that provide the type of love that allows us room to grow, offers acceptance and promotes self-love. Consequently, there are also relationships that deny us of these non-negotiables and stifle our growth as individuals. Love is important. Love is essential to us both emotionally and physically which, roughly translated, means we should not compromise on the type of love we deserve.

While most of us recognize the vitality of this emotion, many of us struggle to discern when the love we have for and with another person is adding to our lives or simply draining us of self-esteem. With that, I’d like to address the characteristics of each type in hopes of clearing the air on what a true, healthy relationship should look like.

Healthy Love

2016-05-19_11.23.31Healthy love can be a lasting connection or a fleeting state of being that both require hard work, selflessness, and openness to emotions. Relationships that are built on healthy love allow for individuality, invite growth, and strive to bring out their partner’s best qualities. These types of relationships are characterized by acceptance.

Partners are called partners for a reason; there should be a balance of power that does not try to change or control the other. When love is healthy there is trust, there is support, and there is equality. Affection and closeness should be welcomed (literally and figuratively) with open arms. Understanding that everyone is entitled to their mistakes, when a relationship is healthy both partners can accept responsibility for their behavior, give and receive forgiveness, and offer “benefit of the doubt” type of thinking.

Unhealthy Love

Unhealthy love can be categorized by feeling consumed by the relationship, unable to separate the individual from the pair. People who experience this type of love are extremely afraid to let go or stray from the relationship in any way. In opposition to healthy love, partners in this type of relationship experience little personal or individual growth and fear risk or change. Unhealthy love allows for an unbalance of power and the need to control or be controlled. People who give or receive unhealthy love tend to refute commitment. They can be afraid of intimacy and frequently play “mind games” to displace or gain power. Ultimately, unhealthy love is when the relationship forces us to look to others to determine our self-worth.

Love is simple. Love is also wildly complicated. It is the most confusing and rewarding emotion we have and therefore should be treated with care. Some say love is blind, while others swear by the fact that it is all-seeing. I can’t say that I agree wholeheartedly with either. What I do know is this; you (yes, you) are deserving of the most pure, healthy, and authentic love there is.

 

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