“reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” -mason cooley

Friends and new readers,

How is your post-Thanksgiving week going? How many of you have been to the gym more this week than you’ve been in the last few months? I did not have a full Thanksgiving meal last Thursday, but I definitely ate more over the holiday weekend than I typically would…thus, have already been to the gym a few more times this week than usual. I have also been trying to eat a little healthier, considering the holiday season is upon us, meaning too many cookies, baked breads, fondue, and chocolate. My boyfriend is also off on a filming adventure for work, so my time I would generally spend with him has been given to the gym. Or reading a book.

To piggyback on my “or reading a book”, I have been trying to read more lately. In a world filled with incredibly well done movies (I just watched Finding Dory, which was SO GOOD!) and addicting TV shows (my latest are Game of ThronesWestworld, and Girls), I find myself constantly distracted with the idea of sitting down on a couch, turning off my brain, and becoming consumed with the characters in a film or show. I am not saying that I am against this though. I grew up in a family that would order a pizza every Friday or Saturday evening, and sit downstairs to watch the latest and greatest flick. I still enjoy partaking in a pizza and movie evening with family, friends, or Jonny! I have found many interesting television shows recently (like the ones listed above), that force me to think and are always great entertainment! I also talk about these particular shows, with others, like they are actually real. Game of Thrones is real life, right?! Anyways, I need to pull myself away from a screen, every so often, and pick up a book. I look at a computer and my phone often enough in a day, that I don’t need to spend my evenings doing the same.

I have not read a lot since graduating from college a few years ago. Anyone in the same boat? We read too much in college. Sheesh…even as a Recreation and Tourism major, I still read A LOT of books. I read a few on business finance, entrepreneurship skills, commercial recreation and tourism, and even books like Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer. However, I became very burnt out and have placed reading on pause. I have since tried to pick up a book and read, but never finish the book. I get bored of reading, even if the book is good. I have read many informative books like Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please, which was well written and incredibly funny. I DID finish that particular book, but I have discovered that I need a fictional story to follow. I enjoy reading about the lives of fictional characters, living an imaginary but interesting life completely different than my own. I also think I am out of practice with reading. Is that a thing? I get tired when reading, and struggle to set aside time dedicated to cracking open a book. As I made it a goal to present you all with a blog post each week, I am creating a new goal to read every day…even if it’s only 20 minutes.

I did a little bit of research on why reading is beneficial for us. I found that it stimulates our minds by making us think and use our imagination. Our brains require just as much exercise as our bodies do. This is why playing games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or chess are so good for us. Reading is also a stress reliever that forces us to relax. I often suffer from stress, so I have a coloring book that I am working through and now a real life book(!) to help relieve my stress.

Taking the time to read helps improve our memory. While reading, we have to remember characters, their names, where they live, and what their role in the story is. I remember reading Lord of the Rings for the first time, before it was made into a series of movies, and writing down all of the characters on a piece of paper, with their specific roles in the books. I had to continually go back to the my notes and read who Faramir was and his relation to Boromir. Or the names of the dwarves in The Hobbit that adventured with Bilbo Baggins. Or whom was siblings with whom and how Gloin was the father of Gimli (who first comes around in The Fellowship of the Ring) and remember why Gimli did not like the elves (i.e. Legolas and friends), etc, etc.  Now I remember each of the characters, their backstories, and all of their characteristics a little too well.

My favorite benefit to reading is that it improves our writing skills! I took AP English in high school and read a ridiculous amount of books. But thinking back, I am thankful that Mrs. Sullivan made us read books such as, The Sound and the FuryCrime and Punishment, and Frankenstein. It gave me a wealth of knowledge on how to write, how writers use subtle colors of clothing or the positions of furniture in the room, to get a point across. Some readers may think that these tools used are a load of poo, but I found them and still find them very interesting! As a new blogger, my goal in each blog post is to improve my writing one baby step at a time. Now I’m not using the color red to symbolize love, or the color green to symbolize new life, but I am trying to avoid using words like “things” and “stuff”. A couple of my writing goals is to improve my grammar, spelling, and the way that I organize my thoughts. I can guarantee you that my writing has improved quite drastically since my first post in March 2016. When reading books (or other blog posts), I learn new words to utilize and how to use my voice in the words I’m typing on the screen.

On Monday, I drove through the snow(!) and icy roads over to Target. I went in to purchase the typical shampoo, conditioner, and face wash. I purchased all the necessities, plus a new book to get me moving on my most recent goal. My sister and a coworker both suggested that I read The Girl on the Train, which was just made into a major motion picture. Woof! So far, so good! I’ve brought it to the gym the past few of days and have thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel. It sure makes my workout go a lot faster! I think The Girl on the Train has been a good book to get me out of my reading dry spell. The descriptive words that Paula Hawkins uses are quite excellent. I am able to picture the characters (though hard not to picture Emily Blunt as Rachel) the way I want to and the locations she describes. I have realized how much fun it is to have a scene pictured in my head, and continually see that scene when I pick the book back up! It is also hard for me to be writing this blog post right now and not reading the book….

pile

I have a few challenges for you, my beloved readers:

  1. Please continue to encourage me to read. Ask me if I have been reading, because I need people to keep me accountable.
  2. Find a good book to read. Set a goal for yourself…even five minutes per day. It has been incredibly beneficial to me in the past few days.
  3. Find a subject you are interested in. Along with reading books like The Girl on the Train, I love reading books by Malcolm Gladwell that make me think and even take notes, and writers similar to Amy Poehler that make me laugh and realize how fun life is! I love reading blogs on cooking, baking, faith, DIY crafts, and movies/music. I also appreciate books loosely based off of historical times (i.e. Rome, World War II) to keep me educated.
  4. Comment (or text me or tell me in person) below with various good books that I should look into!

For those of you that would like a list of books I recommend, read below:

  1. The Mark of the Lion (series of three books), by Francine Rivers
  2. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers
  3. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
  5. Through the Eyes of a Lion, by Levi Lusko
  6. The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey (side note: I first typed Eddard…thanks Game of Thrones)
  7. Harry Potter (1 and 6 being the best, in my opinion), by J.K. Rowling
  8. Unbroken, by Lauren Hillenbrand
  9. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Thanks for continuing to keep up with my blog! I hope I helped you exercise your brain a little bit today. Enjoy the rest of your week. If you’re in Bozeman, the Christmas Stroll is on Saturday night. Get yourself out and about and immersed in some of the holiday spirit that is in the air! For your convenience (and to get you in the holiday mood), I have created a “christmas cheer” playlist on Spotify, so go give it a look!

Talk to y’all next week,

-Michelle

 

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One thought on ““reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” -mason cooley

  1. My book recommendation is “Boys In the Boat”, by Daniel James Brown. It’s the true life story of 9 young men and their quest for gold in “crew” at the 1930 Berlin Olympics. The hurdles these young men overcame should inspire all of us to not ever give up no matter how tough things get.

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