Check out this post over at 50 Books on reading vacations. Doppelganger misses reading vacations, and although I’m not sure I’ve ever had one of these, I miss them anyway. They sound great. I’ve been feeling really busy these last few days and haven’t had much time to read, and when I do read, I’ve felt rushed and distracted. If I go too long without an extended period in which I can read, where I can really concentrate and get absorbed in a book, I start to feel all out of sorts and all wrong.
Books can ground a person, you know? Make you feel like there’s something stable and solid and still in your life. I think for readers, reading can sometimes take the place of prayer or meditation; it’s a way to be still and contemplate something — no matter what it is really — and become absorbed and focused. I get tired of constant distraction after a while, and even start to feel a bit sick from it. Looking at one object for a while, spending time with one author, thinking about one subject or story can be soothing.
The best experiences of reading, for me, are like the best times walking or cycling: I am completely absorbed in one thing, my whole being is focused on it, and I forget myself. To be single-minded is a great pleasure. I’ve tried meditation a few times but haven’t ever kept it up, and I’m not sure I ever really will. But other experiences can offer something similar — I think what I most need is to learn how to fully focus on one thing at a time, to throw my whole energy and being into one activity, to become absorbed in the present and not be rushing off into past or future.