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Watershed Book Cafe: A Quiet Place to Read

Erik: Reading has certainly whisked me away on wondrous adventures, and thrown me into intense drama, but providing refuge...

At times when I have been angry or sad, I have gone into refuge and taken a book. But usually if it is the kind of book that is very good then it will have energy explode inside me - it should make me want to write or act, but that's just me. And when it comes to the truth I read to read, not for refuge and not for a boost, if I'm in a good space.

Right now I'm talking about fiction, and that's probably what you're envisioning but I have read non-fiction that has connected with me. In fact I'm reading one right now: Zen in the Art of Writing. The book makes me want to put it down every second, and stop reading. That probably sounds weird to you because it should be a "page turner" if I like it that much, but every page, never mind page, every sentence, actually every word inspires me! I want to just start writing. So when I read that book I read a couple of pages then I put the book down, grab my laptop and start to type furiously.

But it would be interesting to hear other people’s thoughts about reasons to read.

Bev: I like pondering this topic because as you say, there are many different reasons to read. It's amazing that letters on a page can inspire, transform, comfort and motivate. I truly believe that books are the greatest gift we as humans have given each other, the ability to read the greatest adaptation evolution has granted us and ideas and thoughts the greatest gift from the gods. A lot of people read for escape or entertainment, much like watching movies; others read for practical reasons and can't seem to get enough of manuals. Others still read because they have to, and some of us read just to get by.

I think being part of a community, especially a spiritual/educational community like Watershed, encourages us to explore reading at so many different levels. We value reading not just for acquiring info but to develop our characters and instill a deep sense of awareness, not only of ourselves but of the world out there as well as the world of ideas and spirit. When we read, even those easy breezy novels, we get the sense that it is the farthest thing from escapism but rather it is just one of many opportunities to engage our minds, hearts and imaginations with another, whether it is the writer of the book or the character who seems to be larger than life. This is so crucial to deepening our compassion and getting over our narcissism.

It's funny, as I am writing this post I am also proofing an article called "A Day in the Life of a Brain". It's all about reading in reference to how our brain functions and assimilates the information we take in. We are amazingly complex creatures, and to think we are only one gene away from the chimps.

So on those relaxing Sunday afternoons when I'm curled up with a good book in the safety of my own home, it is not only one of my favourite things to do but it is also the moment when I have an opportunity to travel thousands of miles whether it's being transported to another time, another place in a novel or whether I get to travel over time and encounter the ideas of great and compassionate thinkers.

Who would have thought the imagination could perceive so much from just black dots and squiggles on white background.

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