Yesterday evening at 8pm, I plugged my phone in to charge in the kitchen. Nothing different about that, except that before I plugged it in, I switched it off.
Then I made myself a tea, lit some tea lights, sat on the sofa with a quilt wrapped around me, and read a book.
For 3 hours.
After a few minutes, I got up and found some paper and a pen. I wanted to read, but I kept thinking of things I needed to remember. Normally I would have actioned them, usually via my phone or maybe my laptop.
Instead, I wrote them down.
Once I wrote them down I could settle back into my book and enjoy the process of reading. I love reading. I always have. And I love books.
Nowadays I read so much online that I don’t get to properly read books in the way that I used to. I’ve decided I need to change that. Here’s why.
Books help me learn
I discover many inspirational articles online every week. I love the internet for that.
But when I want to want to learn about something properly, I buy a book and read it over and over again until I’ve absorbed and understood as much as I possibly can.
I’m often asked how my personal library of books is contained on just three bookshelves. This is why: I always have a few books that I haven’t read yet, plus I keep books that I want to re-read or refer to. Everything else goes.
If I get to the end of a book and know I don’t want to read it again, or if I make repeated attempts to read a book but can’t get into it for some reason, I take it to my local charity bookshop without a second thought.
I keep a list of books that changed my life and those books are still on my shelves. There are others that I know are just passing through, but I’m not done with them yet.
Books change my thinking
Recently I realised that my bedtime reading habit was not enough.
In the days before the internet, I used to read for entire evenings and even whole days, if I could. I developed the reading habit when I was young.
We didn’t have many books at home when I was growing up.
A set of encyclopaedias, some Readers Digest books, plus my mum’s cookbook collection. I had some Ladybird books and some Enid Blyton novels plus Little Women and What Katy Did.
My mum wanted to encourage me to read so she used to go to the library for me every week. Once a month or so I would get to go along and choose my own books.
I remember reading my way through the Mary Poppins books and always looking to see if the next one in the series was on the shelf.
Through my teens, I started to read more classic novels. Jane Austen, Emily and Charlotte Bronte. English was my favourite subject at school. I didn’t really read non-fiction in those days.
Studying for my degree at North London Polytechnic was an education in the widest sense of the word. I studied black history and feminist theory through fiction as well as non-fiction and biography.
The Virago book-shop was a five-minute walk from my flat in Islington. Books by Angela Carter, Alice Walker, and Maya Angelou challenged and changed my thinking about the world.
Books help me remember
I’m thankful that I did most of my studying through books, and I know that the things I value most in my life are things I’ve learned from reading.
My first teaching job was a long commute from where I lived but gave me hours of reading and thinking time. I never left the house without a novel and a notebook.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I love technology and all the things I can do with it, but it has limitations. I’ve noticed that it’s changing the way that I read and think. My concentration span is shorter. I look things up but don’t always remember them.
One day a week I work at a co-working space in Shoreditch: The Cube London. It’s also a neuroscience agency. Something I love about it is that everyone who works there is completely respectful of my work as a homeopath.
At Christmas lunch, I was sat next to a cognitive scientist and we spent our entire meal in a stimulating discussion about mind-body science.
Books help me be a better homeopath
Technology is a major cause of stress. Anxiety and insomnia are so widespread now, they are almost ‘normal’ and have a significant impact on immunity and hormonal health.
Knowledge is power and I always want to help my clients understand why they are not well. This helps to restore a sense of control and is a key part of my holistic approach to health and well-being.
I still love the internet, but I wouldn’t feel knowledgeable if it wasn’t for books.