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LIBRARY: Healthy and happy reading at home

Reports come in from friends and associates who say they can’t read during this pandemic. They complain they can’t concentrate, words are confusing, passages must be read multiple times.

I tell them not to worry, that is reading, actual reading, not just “page turning.”

Reading is a pleasure and an astonishing mental skill.

Like all pleasures and skills, long familiarity leads to, if not contempt, being taken for granted.

Here are some tips to bring the romance back into your reading.

Instead of just plopping into a chair, first gather some materials: a dictionary, some paper (a notebook is best) and a pencil or pen. Digital devices are all those in one.

You’ll use the dictionary to look up words you don’t know, and the writing implement and notebook to jot down definitions, record ideas or to copy sentences and paragraphs you enjoy.

Those notebook entries will become your daybook, a record of your reading and thinking. Don’t forget to date your entries.

Will that slow down your reading? Yes. But, remember, reading is not a race. It’s a skill and an art. Respect it by giving it your time and attention.

Make yourself comfortable.

If you like, be lavishly comfortable. Library patron and actor Ryan Case recently posted a Facebook video showing the way he used brilliantly-patterned pillows and quilts to turn an old glider suspended from a tree branch into a reading settee. Comfy pillows and quilts, a soft breeze, birds singing. No doubt Ryan drifted into a nap while reading “The Virago Book of Ghost Stories.”

But remember, reading is not a race.

Provide yourself a favorite beverage and snack. As E. Nesbit wrote in “The Magic World,” “There is nothing more luxurious than eating while you read — unless it be reading while you eat.”

I highly recommend coffee and toast. With coffee and a comfortable reading place, you take a “caf-nap.” Drink coffee, drift off to sleep, and 20 minutes later, the caffeine kicks in, and you awake refreshed and energized. The miracles of modern lethargy.

Give some of your library books a re-read. Find a book you bought years ago but never got round to reading.

Cookbooks and gardening books are treasuries of hope and happiness. Explore them, slowly and patiently in your own good time.

What are you reading?

How do you make reading more enjoyable these days?

Let me know in an email, and if I can, I’ll pass your thoughts on in this column.

Be safe, happy and well-read at home.

On the library’s Facebook Page www.facebook.com/clarkbooksyou can find videos about sign language, starting tomatoes and peppers from seed and transplanting the starts, lists of books available through online reading platforms and programs that will be held through Zoom meetings.

Join adult services librarians Angela and Jennifer for their new April online book group. The Bright Spot book group will be reading “The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton. Unlimited copies are available on Hoopla in ebook and audiobook format: at https://www.hoopladigital.com/artist/3538794164.

Please send an email to jennifer.clarkbooks@gmail.com or angela.clarkbooks@gmail.com to let them know if you are planning to attend. They will send reminders as well as answer any of your software questions.

Write Local, the library’s weekly writing workshop, and Meeting of Minds, the library’s discussion group, are now meeting through Zoom.

Write Local meets at 10 a.m. Fridays. Meeting of Minds will meet at 6:30 p.m. today.

If you’d like to join Write Local or Meeting of Minds, send me an email at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com, and I’ll send you an invitation to the meeting.

Stay well. Stay positive.

John Maruskin is director of adult services at the Clark County Public Library. He can be reached at john.clarkbooks@gmail.com.