Weekend Workout

Bucket List – Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

If you need a reason to stay inside on a cold, rainy Sunday and read a book, here it is. Reading for as little as six minutes can reduce stress by 68%, slow your heartbeat, ease muscle tension, and positively alter your state of mind. All the better if you have a dog beside you on the couch and a fire roaring in the fireplace. Reading is my weekend workout.

The problem with reading a good book is that you want to finish it to find out how the story ends, but you don’t really want to finish reading the book. This happens to me all the time. I have a goal of trying to read a fictional story every two weeks. I know, I am a classic book nerd, but book lovers like me thrive on having an unread book on the stack at all times. 

A Kent School colleague, who knows me well, gave me a signed collection of essays by Ann Patchett, These Precious Days for my winter break reading. I love Patchett’s work and her personal essays were soul-baring and inspiring. 

Two lessons from her warm and witty pieces, which I will carry into the new year, are that life is a winding path with turns that we cannot see coming. How we react to those obstacles marks our character. We must persevere and move forward with kindness and humor. (sort of like the last two years and COVID, but that is another story!)

Secondly, Patchett wove through all of her essays the importance of reading. As a bookstore owner, she shared that it is always important to have children’s activities in the shop because she is creating a love of reading in those who are her future clientele. I love that thought and it resonates with me as an educator who believes in reading aloud to children often. Maya Angelou said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” We are growing readers and book lovers at Kent School, and I am proud to play a small part in that by reading aloud weekly in Little School, Kindergarten and First Grade.  

Sharing my love of reading with students brings me great joy. Yet, I am most proud that my own children are readers and it is always inspiring to talk to them about a book they have enjoyed. When they were very young, Jim and I always read aloud to them individually at bedtime – a ritual we still have on Christmas Eve when we read The Polar Express aloud as a family. I know they secretly made fun of me for always having my face in a book when they were growing up, but now they appreciate reading a great story. Jenna enjoys historical fiction, Kelsy prefers mysteries, James loves fly fishing personal accounts, and Jim likes history. 

Everyone reading quietly on a beach is my ideal family vacation! And, if we can’t find a beach, the living room also works. Join me for my weekend workout. Your membership fee is a good book.

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