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Non-Toxic Living: The power of relaxation found in a good book

Non-Toxic Living: The power of relaxation found in a good book



After some stressful family events earlier in the year, I have gained a greater appreciation for books. I have found solace in books, and have done so all summer. The joy of reading is you can do it anywhere: by the lake, on the bus, in the bath, sitting at a coffee shop or in the garden.

British writer W. Somerset Maugham said: “The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.”

Books draw you in, they very often relax you, and, according to a 2009 study by The University of Sussex, can reduce your stress levels. I find that my muscles feel more relaxed after reading, too.  

Tackling a diverse range of books can make you more empathetic as you read about the lives and emotions of others. It’s a good way to realize that people have different beliefs, opinions and ways of living. Books educate us about history and often that influences our views of the future. Maybe you left school many years ago; that doesn’t mean one stops learning, often far from it.  

A good book can transport me to a different place, sharing the sights, sounds and smells of a time long since changed, perhaps even centuries ago. Deep in my imagination, a story takes place and can last, in my memory, long after the last page.

Reading is free — another reason why I love it. The Whistler Public Library (WPL) has a wealth of books to borrow and enjoy, and if they don’t have a copy of what you’re looking for, they can easily do an interlibrary loan and get the book from elsewhere in British Columbia.

In a world where news can (those wretched notifications) invade every waking moment, it’s calming and refreshing to pick up an actual paper book and let the headlines pass us by.

“But I don’t have time to read!” I often hear. But even a 10-minute read is still worth it: on the bus, waiting for the kettle to boil, or before bed.  

Reading can, if we let it, instil a sense of patience. Many books aren’t filled with action and instant excitement. When reading Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, I found myself thinking about how slow a read it was, with not much happening. So I decided to start from the beginning and read the book with a more patient frame of mind. With fresh eyes, I loved the book — I laughed, I cried. It felt like a spa day without having to get my feet wet.

Reading is an education without leaving home. Through the words on the page, our imagination transports us to places near and far, and into the belly of families often vastly different to our own. Reading is like a painting, it allows our own individual imagination to blossom. You and I can both read the same book but we’ll imagine it in our own unique way through the filter of our life experiences. Perhaps that’s why we often think the book is way better than the film adaptation?

Author and economist Paul Sweeney said: “You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” I often feel like this as I close a book. I want to finish it, but I also don’t want it to end.

As summer trundles on, might it be time to pick up a good book? Is it time to settle down and let the words transport you, relax and inspire you?

The wonderful librarians at the WPL can help you chose a good book. Alternatively, visit the Re-Use-It Centre or Armchair Books and buy one. Then, once finished, why not pass it on? 

I’d love to see those free little libraries with their take-a-book, leave-a-book ethos start to pop up around the world. It seems sad we don’t have them here in Whistler. These book-shares are such a fun way to interact with the community — plus, you come away with a free book to read, and what’s better than that?

Joanna thinks the books on her shelf breed at night!







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