Did you hear about the new study that explains how our brain cells shrink when we sleep? Once the cells are all shriveled, more fluid squeezes in around the brain raisins and washes all the toxins away. In other words, sleep is important because your brain needs a bath.
(Okay, so the study didn’t use those exact words…)
I believe this explains why we have the mushy, foggy feeling when we wake up from a deep sleep: our brains are filled with water and half drowned. It takes a little for the brain to drip dry and suit up for the day.
Ever since hearing about this study, I’ve felt virtuous about my typical morning wooze because maybe I can’t walk straight but hey, at least my brain is clean.
I’ve been kind of going running in the mornings. I say “kind of” because it’s more of a weak trot than a fluid run, I don’t go every day, and I’m not training for a marathon or increasing my distance or doing anything athletic-like. Mostly I try to stay vertical and not get mauled by dogs.
(Seriously, the dogs are getting to be a bit of an issue. Up the dirt road, there’s a new-ish family with three beautiful, young dogs and no fence. The dogs are friendly, I’m pretty sure, but they swarm, charge, and bark with alarming vigor. Yelling at them to go home is useless. I’ve taken to chucking pebbles at them, but I’m afraid that might anger them. This morning the pre-teen boy was outside when the dogs charged. He called them back. I tried to run by. They charged again. So I stopped, hands on hips, and cheerfully said, “I’ll wait till you’re holding them,” and then stood there while he tried to corral them. What’s the best course of action in this situation? Talk to the family? Carry pepper spray? Scream bloody murder when they swarm me at six in the morning? It’s putting a real damper on my runs, which are already hard enough without adding a herd of dogs to the mix.)
Anyway, to me running feels like I’m giving my entire body—the inside of it, that is—a bath. Every bit of my insides gets oxygenated. The blood is pumping, the heart is pounding, the lungs are doing their inflate/deflate routine triple time and it’s good. Of course, I really have no idea what’s going on inside my body because I’m no biologist, but that’s what I imagine is happening. (I also told my husband that if I don’t come back some morning, it’s because I either had a heart attack or the dogs won, so come scoop me off the gravel, please.)
I have not read a novel, cover-to-cover, in what feels like months. I start books. I tediously pick my way through non-fiction. I read articles and blogs. I read children’s lit and young adult fiction to the kids (and husband). I read emails and junk mail and magazines.
I miss immersing myself in a good book. A really good book. A book I can’t put down. A book that makes me lose sleep. Sinking into a book is a healthy form of escapism, I think. Reading requires a focus that allows me to sink down, down, down into something. I spend so much of my day multitasking and being distracted—partly out of necessity and partly out of habit—that a prolonged focus is more than I want to give. Yet putting everything else aside and plunging into a story is cleansing and rejuvenating, kind of like a deep sleep or a good workout.
In a way, I’m scared of a good book. It will derail me, eat up my time, force me to give up an element of control, and make me live another experience that may feel uncomfortable. And I’m scared of a book not being good enough. The book I read has to be perfect. I don’t want to read something that’s badly written, disappointing, or inane.
So I don’t read books. I have become a spoiled, scaredypants, finicky, lazy reader. This embarrasses me. I don’t want to be this way and so … I’m going to change it. I am going to make myself read one book—a fun book—each month. (Dang, I didn’t know I was going to do that until I wrote it. Shoot. Does that mean I actually have to do this now?)
Help a girlfriend out, will you? Pretty please tell me your true love reads?
My requirements are as follows: pleasurable, interesting, fast-paced (more or less), well-written, no dying children, nothing scary that will give me nightmares, and nothing sad that will depress me. To give you a better idea of which ones have passed muster, here are a few of my faves (* = top picks) (out of sheer laziness, no authors and no links—sorry):
The Bean Trees
Life of Pi*
Water For Elephants*
To Kill a Mockingbird*
Tuesdays With Morie
Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?
The Kitchen God’s Wife*
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
The Da Vinci Code
The Brothers K*
A Severe Mercy
And some young adult that I’m crazy about: Wonder*, Okay For Now*****, A Long Walk To Water, Old Yeller, and Where the Lilies Bloom. (Though this isn’t a genre that I generally prefer to read on my own time.)
Hit me up, people. I’m gonna crack me some spines.