Rainy Day Reading
Today’s rainy weather gave me an excuse to finish the Wisconsin author Nicolas Butler’s Beneath the Bonfire: Stories, a collection of 10 short stories.
From The Chainsaw Soiree story:
Then we drove off, away from the church and the site of all those chainsaw parties, and many years later I would learn that the volunteer fire department had burnt it down to the blackened earth. I had run into one of the volunteer firemen at a wedding, and he described the church in detail to me, saying, ‘After we lit the fire, it went up quickly, and then you wouldn’t believe it, from underneath the place hundreds of snakes came out and half the department ran off. I never seen anything like it.’
‘They used to have parties at that church,’ I said, ‘chainsaw parties. That’s how I met my wife.’
I also read some of The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book, by Ted Kooser:
As, in the dented spaceship of my seventies (shaking a little and leaking water), I travel the endless reaches of my ignorance, all of the books I haven’t read, and never will, come rolling at me out of the dark like a hail of asteroids. And now and then an entire library, with a glowing trail of checkout slips, just misses hitting me by inches.
I also enjoyed reading the New Yorker article Can Reading Make You Happier? and discovering that there is such a thing as a bibliotherapist. Maybe this is what I will be when I grow up:
We feel that though more books are being published than ever before, people are in fact selecting from a smaller and smaller pool. Look at the reading lists of most book clubs, and you’ll see all the same books, the ones that have been shouted about in the press. If you actually calculate how many books you read in a year—and how many that means you’re likely to read before you die—you’ll start to realize that you need to be highly selective in order to make the most of your reading time.” And the best way to do that? See a bibliotherapist, as soon as you can, and take them up on their invitation, to borrow some lines from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”: “Come, and take choice of all my library/And so beguile thy sorrow…”
And, yes, reading does make you happier (not that I needed convincing):
Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”
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