An avid runner, I always look forward to summer days so I can trek through my community with my sneakers and headphones, escaping into the music and enjoying the feel of the hot sun piercing my skin. Running is an outlet for me – my way of shaking off the trials of everyday life.
But the recent influx of rain has condemned me to isolation inside my 500-square-foot apartment, dooming me to restlessness.
Luckily, my living room walls are home to floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, housing countless books stacked on top of one another, leaning on each other for support from my overflowing collection.
Non-fiction, fiction, true crime, poetry, young adult, history, essays, biographies. Each decorated spine is a reminder that I am not alone. I have an escape route from my tiny, inner-city Calgary apartment.
Reaching for one of the many unread books that have been collecting dust on my shelf for ages, I hear the faint whistle of my stove-top kettle, signalling tea time.
The thunderstorm continues to pelt heavy rain outside as I curl up with my tea and a book, residing in my mustard yellow reading chair that is situated right beside the sliding doors of my balcony. Cocooned in a soft blanket, I have a front-row seat to the show that is the thunderstorm.
After a few sips of my orange pekoe tea, I pick up my book and am instantly captivated. With each soft clap of thunder, I am gently reminded there exists a world outside of my book. Without the thunder, I could sit here for hours, ignoring the buzz of my phone, completely immersed in each sentence I’m reading.
My all-black cat soon grows impatient with the lack of attention he is getting and begins to tap me gently with his oversized paw, vocalizing his annoyance with meows that accompany each tap. Of course, he’s always welcome to curl up in my lap, so long as his long, fluffy tail does not obstruct the world I am currently enthralled within.
As much as I enjoy exploring outside, my recent re-found love of reading has reminded me that there are vast, new worlds to be explored inside as well.
According to Medical News Today, reading can increase connectivity between brain cells, which has the potential to lower the risks of neurodegenerative diseases. Reading has also been linked to reducing stress, slowing natural cognitive decline, enhancing social skills, and boosting intelligence.
On those days when the rain is light, I don my yellow raincoat and make the 30-minute walk to my favourite locally-owned bookstore, enjoying the sound of the pattering rain hitting the hood of my coat. This way, I am able to combine two of my hobbies – exercise and reading.
The next time the thunder clouds come rolling in, consider escaping into a book as opposed to a cell phone or TV screen and relish all the benefits reading has to offer.