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What if I told you that there is a way to travel to some of the most desired places on your bucket list (even in the middle of a global pandemic) all while never leaving the comforts of your home? Well luckily, there is! Although not literally, there are still a million adventures to be found within the pages of a good book. Reading may not be the first thing thought of when considering your wellness journey, but many would argue that it is one of the most important. It allows you to tap into the imagination with childlike wonder while also sharpening brain power. Maybe reading has been more of a daunting task rather than an enjoyable one throughout the years, but there is no better time than now to experience the fulfillment that diving into a good book can bring! We consulted the experts in order to answer all of your questions and set you on track for exploration and grand discoveries like never before.
With rows of books lining the multi-story Buffalo Public Library, it can be overwhelming to know just where to begin your quest for the perfect read. Director of Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Mary Jean Jakubowski was able to shed some light on the effects of reading for overall health, as well as how to narrow down your search.
Sometimes knowing how to start the journey is the hardest part. “I think that there are so many ways for people to get started reading. But first and foremost you need to find whether it’s an author you like or a topic that you’re interested in.” She added, “We see the most readership in fiction because people want to experience something through reading that they may not be able to experience otherwise. We also see a lot of people reading classics like: Catcher and the Rye, Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby. These are books that never go out of style.” Jakubowski also spoke to a few books she is reading lately, “The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the story of a prisoner assigned to tattoo all of those coming into Auschwitz.” She added, “I also love reading series books like The Hunger Games so that the characters carry through the different books.”
In a world that is often time noisy and chaotic, skimming the pages of a new book offers a mental break and escape to many different far away lands. “Reading is absolutely critical to one’s mindset. Most definitely the educational component of reading, but also the wonderful experience of being taken away by the words on a page. You can not only learn about things that you are interested in, but you can also become absorbed in the fantasy of what is transpiring in the book you are reading, ” explains Jakubowski. “All of that can lend a sense of relaxation and relief from all of the challenging things going on in our outside world. It can be calming, fascinating, educational and most of all fun.”
For those looking to own books or expand an existing library, shopping local is a great way to seek advice while also engaging in the community. Owners of Zawadi Books, Sharon and Kenneth Holley, share a deep rooted love for reading that has taken them beyond the realms of reality, and offered peace and tranquility in times of stress.
Sharon shared how reading allows her to let go, and see the world from a different perspective. “Reading a biography puts me into someone else’s life in order to see what they have done. Fiction helps to relax and give that imaginary scenery that you might need to help get through the day. A lot of times reading is an escape from something that is going on that you might not want to focus on.”
Being avid readers themselves, Sharon and Kenneth were able to give some of their personal favorite recommendations to help jumpstart you into a life of reading. “Since the summer people have been reading a lot of books related to race relations, but people are also interested in politics and history,” Sharon added, “books like Barack Obama’s A Promised Land, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, along with Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. I personally recommend Dear Kamala written by a local author Peggy Brooks- Bertram, and also one written by local professor Dr. Carl Stokes Jr. entitled Reclaim Your Visibility: A Straightforward Guide for Black Fathers to Improve Themselves and Their Relationships with Their Children”
For both Kenneth and Sharon reading played such a significant role in their childhoods that it led them to want to share this passion with others. “Reading expands your life immensely,” Sharon told us, “ I grew up in a small southern town and we did not travel very much, but I could say that I went everywhere in the world through the books that I was able to read. I could go to China, Mexico, South America, even though I never left home. It expanded my knowledge and helped me to understand so many things.” Kenneth exclaimed, “I traveled all over the world with author Langston Hughes. When I was in junior high study halls, I was never really there- I was looking at a sunset in Mexico, or somewhere else. Me and Langston went all over the world, and let me tell you, we had a good time.”
Reading not only takes you on a journey beyond everyday life, it also peaks new interests and improves brain connectivity. This mindful practice encourages health, happiness and balance which makes for a great addition to your wellness journey, and ultimately your best life. Follow along with #projectbestlife for more inspiration and motivation. For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.
In tough times, our efforts to maintain fitness, healthy nutrition, and personal wellness can fall by the wayside as we direct all our energy into navigating our individual storm. Yet, in the face of what’s happening in the world around us, it is essential to make space for self-care and experiences that fortify our physical and mental wellbeing.
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Trying to manage a proper work-life balance, saving for your future while paying all your bills, all while keeping strong relationships with friends and family… We know that life can get pretty stressful, and it’s easy to forget what’s best for your health both physically and mentally. Project Best Life is here to help with our podcast: Happy and Healthy. We provide tips from experts and share stories that will inspire you to live your best life, whatever that means to you. Listen now on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google