I hope my kids always think of me as someone who loves to read. I think of my parents as book lovers.
When I remember my mother from my childhood, I remember her head bowed to a book, especially late into the night. My mother- in-law was like that too; she always had a book close at hand.
I think reading helped my mother and mother-in-law cope with their respective tasks and stresses of each raising five children. And it wasn’t nonfiction, how-to books that they read. No, they found their answers in literary fiction. They read heavy hitters like EL Doctorow, John Fowles, Doris Lessing, and Margaret Atwood.
Reading, like meditating, does good things to the body. I’m sure there’s some science that shows physiological benefits to the body when we curl up with a book — the heart rate slows and the breath gains depth. We enter another world when we read, as if in a trance. We focus intently and we lose ourselves.
When I am stressed from working or parenting, I grab a book. Right now I am reading “The Other,” by David Guterson. It is good literary fiction, a great way to escape. I have to bow my head to it now.