There is nothing like the feeling of reading a good book, of getting lost in the storyline to the point where the only reality is the story and everything else is just a dream.
There is nothing like the feeling of reading a good book, of getting lost in the storyline to the point where the only reality is the story and everything else is just a dream. I have read many good books that have pulled me in so completely that coming back to reality took a while. For me, the ending of a good book is like losing someone in your life. There is a sense of sorrow at the closing of a book. You come to care for the characters and sometimes it's hard to say goodbye to those characters. I always find it strange when I am reading a book that has snow, rain, or darkness to discover it is sunny and bright when I put the book down. I truly expect to look up and see snow, rain, or night and am startled to see the sun. A good book can elicit a strong emotional reaction from me, good and bad. There have been many books that I have cried while reading, laughed out loud at parts, and got so angry it took everything I had to restrain myself from throwing the book across the room (and there are a couple times where I threw it anyway!). Reading is one of my escapes from the stresses of everyday life. It takes me to another place where other people deal with the tragedies and triumphs and allows my brain to disconnect and reset. Everyone needs a coping mechanism to help them deal with what life throws your way and books are mine. There's nothing better at the end of the day then a cup of hot tea and a good book. The combination allows my mind to ratchet down from the day, to start to relax and prepare for sleep. And I find that if I don't follow my reading ritual before bed, I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. If I don't take 20 – 30 minutes a night to allow my brain to switch gears, I spend a lot of time tossing and turning and worrying over the day's events or worrying over what tomorrow will bring. Reading, no matter what it is from a cookbook to a mystery to something light and humorous, allows me to short circuit the worrying and gives my mind something else to chew on while I am sleeping. Which, by the way, leads to some very interesting dreams. And for some unknown reason, reading will help me get rid of a headache faster than any medication I can take. You would think reading would make it worse, but no. A cool, quiet room and a good book is all it takes to get the pounding to go away. It really amazes me what a voracious reader I am considering all the problems I had as a child with reading and comprehension. I spent a couple of years in resource classes and my mom spent many hours listening to me read, asking questions, making me search for the answers. It was my mother's approach to learning to comprehend what I read that fed the tiny spark to the glowing flame that burns to this day. And I take time every day to say thank you to her because of the joy I have in reading to this day. (Lorie Mink of Pangburn is the Editor for The Sun-Times. Her column appears here each Friday. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)