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I have a simple message this week. Read. It is by far the greatest gift of being human – to read the thoughts and ideas and stories of others. Here is a smattering of my thoughts on the never-ending joy of taking up books and getting lost in tales.

~ great read ~

I just finished reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. This book was 933 pages of dense text, exquisite words and indelible characters. I read most of it last weekend while my husband was down with the flu. Our normal plans cancelled, I suddenly had time. Time to just read. (At least until I got the flu on Monday!)

As any good read goes, the book became my companion, hooked into my thoughts even when I put it down. At 933 pages it was a commitment but worth every page. I thoroughly enjoyed Roberts’ extensive lexicon, making me pause to gratefully learn new words. His descriptions of people, places and events had me going over paragraphs several times to re-experience the pleasure of the language, the images and how his words made me feel.

I walked with him into a slum in Bombay and got invested in the people and the life he found there. I fell in love with his love story with a beautiful, mysterious woman. I struggled with him through the war in the mountains of Afghanistan. I was harried over his time in prison and his mafia-induced life. I celebrated his philosophy earned from love, pain, triumph and humanity. I was with him in those many pages and left the book still with him. That is the wonder of a good book. It remains a part of you.

~ little reads ~

Reading is my life-long love affair. When my kids were born I read to them everyday. It was a beloved time throughout the day and especially at bedtime. And when they became independent readers we still read together, hanging out in the living room with books as we silently shared space and time, lost in our literary worlds. To this day, we talk about books we have read and are reading. It is a fundamental aspect of our relationship with each other and with the world.

A couple of weekends ago our two grandsons spent the night with us. At bedtime, I pulled out a storybook that had belonged to my kids. All four of us gathered round that book. It was the lovely, quiet end to the day when for a few moments we got lost in an imaginary world as the prelude to sleep. The magic of reading to children is a joy and a privilege. It lights up their minds. You can see it in their eyes and feel it in the stillness with which they listen.

~ books and wine ~

I was a member of a book club when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona where I spent many evenings in the company of women and wine, discussing and debating books. There was a lot of passion in the living rooms where we met, as we imbibed and shared our varied experiences of the same book. We laughed and cried and drank our way through stories that united us in a love of literature and the authors who so generously share their stories.

We were, in my estimation, the “Literary Housewives of Phoenix.” We came away from husbands and kids and the long list of motherly duties to dissolve into our sexier, opinionated, intellectual selves. It was an irresistible indulgence of our own. The only requirement to get there was to read a book. We lingered on those evenings, reluctant to leave the company of those who understand the value and irrepressible joy of books.

~ reading is sexy ~

I read these days with my husband. He was the one who urged me to read Shantaram, knowing it would interest me. We talk about books and what they mean to us. Books that we read, at points in our lives, when they seemed to graciously show up to influence and direct us. Books that remain on our shelves to be re-enjoyed and to remind us of their power to change us, and how they have.

My husband and I enjoy nothing more than a rainy weekend morning when we make coffee and tuck back into bed with our books. Propped on pillows, wearing our now required reading glasses, we indulge in time with our books as we snuggle close. Other than talking with my husband, reading with my husband, is my favourite activity with him. (Well not quite, but this is a “G” rated blog.)

~ read ~

Reading is the ever-lasting underscore to a life well-lived. Books take us out of ourselves and into ourselves in ways that we cannot imagine until we open them, willing to surrender. Books reflect us, alter us and create us. They teach and inform and build us into more holistic, intelligent beings.

So I encourage you … put on some favourite music, pour a glass of vino tinto (or coffee or tea), open the cover of a new book and disappear inside the lines that will take you far from home and what you know and in the end will return you wiser, happier and satisfied.

And for certain … read with children, giggle with them and let them lead you into the wonderful imaginary places uncovered in pages turned by eager fingers and with playful minds.