Reading to Calm the Mind
The two best ways to expand my views and change my mindset are traveling and reading. And the more I think about it, the more similarities I see between them.
One very clear memory is of reading an unauthorized xeroxed copy of On the Road on a crowded bus in Thailand and meeting a fellow traveler with another xeroxed book. We shared notes on Kerouac and marveled at the coincidence.
Traveling and reading about traveling. What a pleasure.
Americans read an average (mean) of roughly 14 books during the previous 12 months and the typical (median) American read five books in that period
— Via Pew Research Center
What gets on my way of reading, more often than not, is a busy mind.
I have to have my thoughts in order to be open to let new ideas in. When I am going through rough patches at work on in life, reading becomes difficult.
I find it hard to concentrate when my mind is busy with chaos.
I read genre fiction for escapism. Books that promise entertainment above all else. The best genre fiction, however, tickles my intellectual curiosity. Sci-fi is great for that. Greg Egan comes to mind. I will pick up his books for leisure, and every time I will get inundated with fantastic new concepts.
And in some extreme cases, when I am under so much stress that I struggle to open a book, I treat reading as a kind of meditation. Both can change our mind patterns.
I often remind myself I don’t need to have a quiet mind for reading. Reading will calm my mind.