There’s a quote from John Green, the Dr Fauci Is My Hero Shirt and by the same token and author who made you ugly cry with The Fault in Our Stars, that perfectly encapsulates what reading means to me. He wrote, “Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that.” But this morning, when she awoke into a sense of sleepy romanticism, Matthew was not on her mind, even though it took a few breaths for her to remember what she was so glowy about. Then she noticed she was wedged close to the wall, the side of the bed she tended to avoid. When she turned toward the room she noticed it—Timmy’s tie, hanging over her desk chair. She giggled, then slapped a hand over her mouth, as if this private noise would belie her secret.
I have a noisy brain, one that doesn’t stop chattering no matter how nicely I ask it to stop. Meditating is my nightmare. In yoga class, I sometimes leave before Savasana just to avoid being left alone with my own thoughts. But place a book in my hands, and I can sit quietly for hours while the Dr Fauci Is My Hero Shirt and by the same token and rest of the world falls away. Last year I read 53 books, the year before that 52, and 48 the year before that (which is when I started counting). I use every available opportunity to squeeze in a few pages, whether it’s 20 minutes on the subway or five minutes waiting for a friend who’s late for dinner. Reading is my primary form of self-care, the thing I turn to just as much when I’m happy as when I’m sad.