Hey mama, slow down—and consider reading a book! If you’re like me, you long to read for leisure. Maybe you daydream about creating or joining a book club, screenshot the latest “must read” on your Instagram feed to save for a rainy day, or browse bargain books at the grocery store checkout line. Honestly, I do all of these things. I half-commit to reading a new book each month, and then each month passes without reading for fun.
Confession: my New Year’s resolution was to read at least one book for leisure each month. It’s September, and I’ve only read three (outside of work-mandated books). But, there’s still time! Well, sort of. As a mom to an almost three-year-old and one on the way (in less than 30 days!), I don’t want to make any false promises to myself. The only thing this very pregnant lady can do is try. And, try I will.
You see, I read and write for work all. day. long. I read about new business strategies, marketplace trends, research findings, and other technical jargon. Most days I find myself wanting to do anything but read after staring at print all day. The only leisure reading I do religiously is with my construction-truck-loving toddler. I may know more about cranes, steam rollers, and excavators than I ever wanted to know, but I love every minute of reading to and with him.
But, what about my reading interests? What are they? I know I’m the only one who can answer that question, but I truly think we can find our interests, or even find ourselves again, in leisure reading. I mean, doesn’t the thought of curling up with a good read and just losing yourself in a storyline sound luxurious? In fact, it may even sound selfish: taking time for yourself to just read, relax, and recharge. Let’s re-frame that feeling of selfishness, though, into a mandate of self-care.
It seems like everyone is throwing around the word “self-care” these days. I’m here for it! I love that self-care is reemerging as a mindful way for women to stay sane. We can do it all, but we can’t do it all at the same time—and we certainly can’t do it all on an empty tank.
Truly, the beauty of self-care lies in the eye of the beholder. It can be anything to anyone, and I say start small. Start with yourself—maybe even by reading a book for leisure. September is National Literacy Month, and I encourage you to slow down, sit down, and read. Read for five minutes before breakfast, or while the kids are at school, or on your lunch break instead of scrolling through social media. I promise you your brain, your heart, and your soul will thank you for the break and the little extra love.
Simply, reading is good for you—like, really, really good for you. Scientists and doctors have conducted an ample amount of research to prove, and re-prove, just that. I could bore you with the statistics, but instead, I’ll just outline the basics from a recent article I came across that stopped me in my tracks. According to findings shared in Reader’s Digest, people who read for leisure—for even as little as 30 minutes a day—may live an average of two years longer than people who don’t read anything at all. Whoa, right?! Here’s why.
Reading for leisure encourages your brain to “deep read,” which forces your mind to “think critically and make connections” from the storyline you select to the outside world. Deep reading and critical thinking encourages higher levels of emotional intelligence, too. Oh, and one more thing: reading for leisure increases your vocabulary, which may lead to a “more resilient mind” and help fight against damages to your cognitive system. If that doesn’t seal the deal for you, I don’t know what will.
So yes, reading is fun and healthy, my friends! All of these benefits and more make reading for self-care all the more attractive. The benefits for you (and your brain) are seriously endless. So, now that I’ve convinced you to take a breather and read, I hope you’ll consider taking, or making, some time for yourself this month. C’mon, slow down, mama—and read a book!
Need inspiration to kick-start your new commitment to leisure reading? Here are a few of my favorite book club finds and follows:
Looking for a local group and/or in-person meet-ups? Browse a few San Antonio groups: