How often do you pick up a book and read with such delight that you forget about time and push a few less urgent items from your to-do list just you can keep reading?

Chances are, not often (unless you have somehow cracked the code, in which case I will politely invite you to share your secret.) For the rest of us, however, it’s a treat.

More so when you get to sit by a lake and dive in until daylight dwindles and it’s time to craft dinner. I got to do that, a week ago. We spent three days at a lake in South Cariboo which we filled with reading, work, hiking, coffee on the deck of a little cabin and watching land-locked sockeye salmon swim through in small groups. Dinner al fresco glazed in sunset light. Being silent and present. And of course, more reading.

The book I got lost in was ‘The chaos machine – The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World’ by Max Fisher (Little, Brown and Company 2022). Not a light read. It’s the kind of book that makes you take deep breaths as you go through, and then you have to peel your eyes off a while just to internalize the concepts. It’s compelling and it’s something that everyone who handles a computer, phone, and the internet, should have a peek at, which is of course, almost everyone.

The amount of research that went into this book is gargantuan. The many intricacies of how the conspiracy machine keeps churning and taking prisoners, becomes stories you find yourself thinking you’ve already come across because you have indeed.  

Here’s an example. Somewhere between walking on overgrown quiet trails and my reading about the incomprehensible depth of the dark web (there is a bright one too, as we well know), we stopped by a local store to get food. Less than two minutes into a brief conversation with someone there, we got a ‘real’ story which was uncannily resembling exactly the conspiracy scenarios I had read about that very afternoon.

Hence my recommendation to add it to your list. It can bring clarity and some much needed fright about the state of the internet which I think pushes us to refine our presence online. Also, it may prove liberating if you ever thought you may want to cut down on your social media consumption but had trouble extricating yourself from the gooey mass of incoming mind-trapping material.

The biggest after-effect may just be that you create more time and clear more brain space for …well, more reading, productive work pursuits and anything else that elevates your spirit by feeding your mind, including being in nature.

Books are magical realms

I have this ‘thing’ about books, you see. I often joke about being blacklisted by our local library. It’s because when I leave the building with yet another armful, I get these bemused looks from the librarian on shift. They’ve seen it all, I know, but I still feel like tiptoeing as I walk out balancing my new stack.

‘Oh, she must have a lot of time on her hands to read all that,’ you may think. She doesn’t. I mean, she does, but see the paragraph above about pushing a lot of the internet gooey mass to the side. Also, I don’t read every book that I pick up.

Some books come highly recommended, but they are not drawing me in so back they go, unread. It’s fair and it’s also good to never read a book just because you opened it. On that note, please let me know what you think about ‘The chaos machine’ if you decide to read it.

Regardless of the topic, the books we choose to read are realms of knowledge and wonder we get to learn from. I love that. I love it when a book changes me.

To each, their own

Many are work related (lots of nutrition and science books, which I love) and there’s a useful result to those nerdy forays which you can read more about on my work website.

Others are either memoirs or non-fiction, the kind that dig deep and change you, because I think that’s part of what we share with the world and part of what we leave behind. A legacy of showing up better and more compassionate, more willing to have your heart and mind opened.

As for the time to read all that and more… Well, it’s a game of sorts, because there’s an ever-evolving to-do list of various life items, which I am grateful for, because I love my family and all the many sides of life with them all, dog included.

That’s likely because of my mom’s manner of making me feel so warm inside when I’d walk in after a long day, and our home smelled like love and food, which meant that all was alright with the world. And me in it. So that makes me do the same. I am now the creator of that warmth, and I love the way my beloved humans walk in after a long day, say hello and follow with ‘it smells so good in here…’.

Fitting it all in

Growing boys have less time to linger, so time spent together around the dinner table is that much more precious. I indulge in it, and I sit a bit longer if one of them joins in later.

It’s a treat, because it’s getting shorter as they grow, so being present is what matters.

However, after dinner and dishes and a dog walk there comes more reading. Sometimes it’s a few pages, other times a whole chapter. That’s not important. It’s the pleasure of opening the book where you left it and indulging. Whatever your reading preference may be.

Then of course, a reminder: outstanding books and busyness of good work aside, save some time, even a bit, for simply being. Time to sit and chat with your loved ones, fully present. Or sit with yourself. I think that counts too in making sense of all that we read, breathe, sense and touch as we go about our days.

My present readings:

  • The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier, by Ian Urbina (fascinating and utterly sobering read about the state of our oceans and what hides behind our seafood choices)
  • Languages of Truth (Essays) by Salman Rushdie
  • Why We Get Sick by Benjamin Bickman, PhD
  • British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast – A Photographer’s Journey – by Chris Harris (a beautiful mix of outstanding photography, superb stories, humbleness and awe).