My Brain on Fiction

Let’s face it. There is a lot to do. And most if it won’t ever get done. Take the dishes, for example. Or the dust that settles behind the door in my office.DAYDM

We have to prioritize. I have to prioritize.

Lately I’ve been prioritizing nothing. Literally. Nothing. I’m scheduling time do nothing into my calendar. Before the hullabaloo of the week begins — and it always begins — I mark time in my calendar to do nothing.

Sometimes it’s in the morning. In fact, that’s a part of how I start most mornings. Sometimes it’s a lazy Friday afternoon (like this one). Other times it’s just a longer breakfast or lunch, looking out onto my herb/veggie/rose garden. It’s only about 5 foot by 3 feet but each day the green of the plants greet me and I’m happy.

Our brains need a break. They need to daydream. They need to think about something that is really interesting and, at the same time, doesn’t matter at all.

Fiction is a great brain break. Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze in just 15 minutes of non-research reading a day. I find that, like exercise, my brain does better on fiction.  I’m happier, more relaxed, and can think more clearly.

Last month I read A School for My Village by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and am now (slowly) working on The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis. In January I read the Journal of Best Practices by David Finch. That one made me laugh out loud. Often. In public.

Three books. It’s already April and I’ve already read three books. I think that might be three more than I read last year. Which is too bad, really. I’m a reader. While I was in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer I read more than 130 books.

Reading, especially fiction, is deeply generative. It helps us to:

  • Make sense of the world
  • Connect with others’ perspectives
  • Step away from our own (petty? first world?) concerns
  • Rejuvenate the brain
  • Relax before going to bed

It’s kind of like singing in the shower. The best ideas come to me when I’m singing reading.

I like my brain on fiction. The next few years will be very busy for me. I’m sure you’re life is no different. I’m going to try to remember that just 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference. What about you?

Got any great book recommendations?

 

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