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What’s on your shelf?



It’s taken nearly ten years for me to enjoy a good book properly. Isn’t that just plain crazy? How, I wondered, had I let so much time pass before I started reading again in this deeper, more meaningful way?


It started with a request, oddly enough. A friend of mine needed specific advice around being more confident, something she was struggling with. I honestly didn’t know what I could offer, in terms of helping her out. To this end, I found myself reaching for a book I hadn’t picked up in years. The pages were turning yellow, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway and see what was inside.


I set aside an hour to scan through and read sections that interested me the most. I sat quietly reading for awhile, not noticing that I had actually read well past the hour. I laughed to myself and thought how cool it was that I was enjoying something so simple, so much. I had to put the book down though, somewhat reluctantly, to get on with other things I had planned for that day.

When I next returned to the book, I found that I had recorded a few scrappy notes. I also noticed that years ago I had highlighted sections of it in pink highlighter pen. This book actually had some really great ideas and tips in it that were really useful. The real beauty of it though, was that I passed on one very striking idea, that my friend and I both really liked.


Here it is: When you feel like your confidence is fading, pretend first that there is an unbreakable shield all around you. Then imagine that there is a steel pole running from your legs, up through your spine and up through the top of your head. As I relayed this technique, I felt my energy and hers shift really positively, as we both found ourselves sitting upright and looking at each other and smiling.


I realised straight after this chat, that I wanted to go back and read that book from cover to cover, to see what other great tips I could find. That same week, I also came across an article that talked about the power of reading first thing in the morning. The idea of getting up a bit earlier to read was a sound one, but slowing down when trying to wake up didn’t quite work for me.

I tried taking the book with me on the train to read instead. It didn’t work though, as I got too distracted by the voices and movement of those around me. It dawned on me, that part of enjoying the book initially was it had happened during dedicated quiet time. I was also learning during that time. Something that as a teacher for the last twenty years, I obviously love doing.


So what option does that leave? It means, giving the early morning reading much more consideration and scheduling in. I’ve got to actively set the alarm clock for much earlier and have what I plan to read sitting right next to me. I’ve also got to take time to select what I am reading and to think about what I am hoping to learn from them.


You see I forgot somehow, that reading can take you to new places, never imagined before. I am reading about other people’s experiences and can reflect upon what those experiences can do for me. I might not be reading to find out anything specific. I may on some days be reading for feeling. Reading to feel emotions and sensations the book might be giving me. The reading may trigger memories or long forgotten notions. That’s ok too, because that helps me to engage with them and process them if I need to.


As I finish this bit of writing, I am actually incredibly excited to go this reading journey. To re-read one or two books that I glance at on my shelf, but never take any real notice of. To actually read the blurbs in Waterstones and pick up titles I have heard about for years, but somehow never got round to buying. Now is the time, I hear my inner bookworm saying. I am excited too, to build a whole new reference library for myself.


So, it’s a big thank you to my friend who asked me for help. Inadvertently she has signposted mand discover new ways of looking at things. To rediscover new concepts and ideas. To also pick up a book for pleasure. I am not great at meditating. I have tried, but it never seems to work.

To pick up a book and get lost in it, is a form of meditation for me. I am good with that as a form of disconnecting.


So I encourage you to pick up that book that takes you to a place of discovery. What book is coming to mind as you read this? What is that book calling you to do? It could be a DIY book, that helps you bring an ancient computer back to life. It could be a recipe book, with an amazing chocolate cake in it, that you’ve always wanted to make. It could be a novel, that makes you cry and think about that person that is no longer here. It could be a book that gives you an idea that helps you move just one step closer to that bigger dream. Go on, go for it. What book is calling you right now. Perhaps it’s that one, the one on the shelf that you have been meaning to read.


Happy reading.