This post was first sent to my newsletter on January 10th, 2023.
You really ought to subscribe :)
I took close to a year to finish two of the books from last years reading list.
That’s because I was reading them, in tiny bits, in small chunks, a day at a time
I was already reading a poem a day and then some time early last year I serendiptioustly ran into this Ryan Holiday post, which spoke to the virtues and pleasures of page-a-day books and daily wisdom.1
So, along with my daily poem, I read a Robert Greene reader called The Daily Laws as well as the Ryan Holiday–Stephen Hanselman collection of Stoic meditations in The Daily Stoic.
I absolutely love it.
It gives me varied nuggets of wisdom, from various perspectives.
It let’s me start the day on a tranquil, aware, intentional note.
And it calms the unfounded nagging fear, I always have in the back of my head; that I’m not reading enough.
So what’s a boy to do when he stumbles across something good?
Well … do lots more of it!
I looked around for some more books that I’d like to read this way.2
And decided to read several Anthony De Mello books that I read growing up.
Looking in the bookshelf yielded One Minute Wisdom and The Prayer of the Frog (Vols. I & II) as well as the book that made me fall in love with him, The Song of the Bird.
There’s lots of overlap and repetition in the fables and teaching across the books. That’s just a bonus to my mind.
And finally I decided to read Maria Popova’s, A Velocity of Being.
I have two of her books. The other one is called Figuring.
I resisted, so strongly resisted, reading either of them, because I’m in love with her beautiful prose and her sense of syntopia and her unique lens on the world.
I was always waiting to be marooned on an island, with only her books for company, because I wanted to savour them slowly.
The last couple of months though, in some sense, I have been lost at sea. So I gave in and read A Velocity of Being.
It’s a series of letters from people, young and old, big and small, across varied paths of life, all united in one common purpose. To tell young readers, why they think reading is important and the various ways reading changed their life.
It’s a letter a page3, each letter accompanied by an extravagant, lush, often sensuous piece of art.
I leave you with the letter I read today.
Laura Brown–Lavoie, rejoices in the way she gets lost in a book.
Lioness Illustration, by Ping Zhu
Sometimes when I’m reading a good book and I’m under a blanket and no one’s trying to talk to me, I forget that I’m reading. The tall grass of the story grows up around me, and I’m just another silent creature whose heart beats in that world.
If I sit still and keep reading that way, sometimes a sentence stalks by as lovely as a lioness. Blood around its mouth; that fresh, that killer. I read it once, and I know I have to read it again, not look away, watch closely how it moves.
And then I start to notice my eye muscles moving my eyeballs back and forth again, and see the black of the letters on the gray of the page, and I’m just plain reading under a blanket. It’s still fun.
But the reason I read is for the lionesses. For the sentences that pull me in with all their teeth.