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Taking note: Curling up with a good book

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column was originally published in the Feb. 8 edition of The Mining Journal.

Someone from a much warmer locale recently asked me what people here do to get through the winter.

I told them about the wealth of winter recreation opportunities, such as fat tire biking, skiing, snowshoeing and winter camping.

And although it hardly seems as exciting by comparison, I also mentioned reading, because, for me, that’s one of the best ways to get through a long winter — or anything, really.

Reading has been a constant source of entertainment and joy throughout my life, with many of my fondest childhood memories involving some wonderful books.

A few examples include the glossy, vibrant “Goodnight, Moon” board book; the big, beautifully illustrated copy of “Paddle to the Sea;” the “Cactus Hotel” picture book, which outlined the symbiotic relationships among cacti and desert creatures; and a huge old book featuring tales about ancient architecture.

These were just a handful of the books that I had at home growing up.

But fervent readers of any age know that even the best book collection should be supplemented with frequent trips to the library.

For me, the Peter White Public Library’s children’s section in the 1990s was a truly magical place with its colorful decorations, the rows of glossy Macintosh computers, and of course, the endless books.

Strangely enough, one of my favorite library books during early childhood was about germs.

I think its illustrations are partly responsible for inspiring an early interest in science, as I can’t remember the name of this book, but I still clearly recall how it looked, with its pages filled with neat, colorful little drawings that depicted the world beneath the microscope. To this day, the page featuring rod-shaped bacteria drawn in a fuchsia petri dish still comes to mind when bacteria is mentioned.

That’s just one example of the many titles from the library that would shape my thinking and love of reading growing up.

And while I’ve always liked to think of myself as a natural-born reader, that’s probably less true than I’d like to think.

A love of reading, in my opinion at least, seems to mostly fall under the nurture category if we’re talking in terms of the age-old nature vs. nurture debate.

Why?

Well, I think a child is less likely to love reading if adults don’t help develop the interest and the skill. A child is also less likely to love reading if they don’t have a good collection of books or a nearby library.

So this is where I need to give a lot of credit to my parents and my community.

I recently found out that I was enrolled in a reading program as a newborn that encouraged parents to read to their children through infancy and beyond.

It provided a few books free of charge and aimed to make new parents feel comfortable reading out loud to their new children while building stronger family relationships.

In the case of my family, I’d say it definitely worked.

Bedtime stories were a beloved nightly ritual, and if I remember correctly, so well-loved on my part that my parents, at one point, had to set a three-book limit so I wouldn’t be up all hours of the night.

To this day, reading remains one of my all-time favorite activities and there are few things that can bring me comfort and solace like curling up with a good book.

It’s my favorite thing to do when I’m feeling a little stressed, as I’ll find myself immersed in a narrative that places me in the shoes of someone who has a completely different life and set of challenges.

Movies and TV shows, while they can be wonderful, just don’t do the same thing for me.

I think this is because a written narrative forces me to focus, to imagine, to empathize, to put down my phone.

So, what’s my point here?

If you’re feeling stressed, or if you’re feeling bogged down with your own life and its challenges, try picking up a book.

Read a book to a child in your life, curl up with your favorite book, or, if you’re the social type, join a book club.

You just might find it changes your life. I know it changed mine.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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