I just added a new category in my YNAB Budget under Quality of Life Goals, it’s name? Books.
Since I started using Goodreads in 2013 I’ve read 104 books. That’s an average of just under 21 books a year with a low of 17 in 2013 and a high of 34 books in 2016.
Clearly I like to read, so it made sense to actually budget for these books financially since I’m already making time in my life to read them. There’s something very different about sitting down and relaxing with a good book compared to a film or boxset that I enjoy a great deal. Most of these books are fiction, I find they provide me with a good way of shutting my mind off at the end of the day by forcing me to use my imagination. I have to let my mind create the images that go with the words, converting the writers descriptions into visuals in my mind. The words on the page acting as the brush and my mind as the paint to create the large landscapes and cityscapes as well as the detail of the characters faces and the expressions they pull.
Until a few years ago I had gone a few years without reading a lot, I always had a novel on the go but the number I would read in a year was much less. Gradually as I got older and remembered how much I like reading the number would increase, but the intensity at which I devoured books became greater after I became ill with depression a few years ago. Throughout my recovery, and when I find my mood dipping again, novels become a great source of escape. Usually I find concentration hard when I’m battling a low period, but a good novel (often a familiar one that I’ve read many times) is able to provide me with some escape. Reading the prose of a good fantasy or sci-fi book allows me to find freedom from the circular thoughts and spirals of whatever I find myself fixating on. As a visual thinker letting my imagination build the worlds centuries away from today (in either direction) is a great way of exercising my creative muscles and preventing those unhelpful thought patterns take hold.
Whenever I’ve spoken to friends who have been struggling with similar mental health issues, I always recommend they read. It takes a bit of effort to start, but I’ve found it much more helpful than watching a film. The act of watching images develop on a screen is far less distracting than having to engage your mind with the words and story of a book. Reading, I find, is a form of active rest. I can let my body rest and recharge, while using my mind in a way that’s different from the work of my two jobs, and in so doing letting it refresh and recharge.
So here’s to books, to my new book budget, and to the many more hours of rest that they will provide.