Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little Mental Exercise

There's nothing like exercising your brain to make you feel lovely. It's easy to get so busy with all the little things in life that you forget there's a whole world of things going on outside, with important issues and things to think about.

For about a month now I've been in kind of a posting slump. The holidays kind of fried my brain, I guess; from the time that we took our holiday blog hiatus until about a week ago, I hardly posted anything that wasn't a book review on my personal blog, and the few things I posted here were quotes. I tried again and again to think of things to write, but came up with nothing.

Then I came across the current batch of books I'm reading. In case you don't know, I read pretty much more than I do anything else. So it isn't unusual for me to read a lot of books at once--what was unusual this time was the books themselves. They were books that made me think.
  • The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver. It's a historical novel about a fictional writer who grows up in Mexico, lives with famous revolutionary artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and works for Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. When he's older, he lives in America during World War II and the subsequent horrors of the Red Scare.
  • Empire, by Orson Scott Card. I got pretty worked up reading this book, which is about a possible future involving a second American civil war. And when I say future I don't mean Ender's Game-type future. It is terrifying because there is very little in it that couldn't happen tomorrow.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: A Year of Food Life, also by Barbara Kingsolver, is on my nonfiction list for the reading challenge I'm doing this year. It's about a year during which her family lived off only the food they raised themselves on their farm in Appalachia, and it discusses the horrible food practices in the U.S. today. You would not believe some of the things that go on in our food industry--for example, the fact that the average item on the average American family's dinner table traveled 1500 miles to get there, and that if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week that was only organic locally-grown food, we could save something like 1 million barrels (not gallons, barrels) of oil. How's that for addressing the oil crisis? And no one even has to buy a hybrid!
What I want to point out is that since I started reading these books, I am a posting fiend. I have ideas about things again; I have things I want to say, and I'm writing posts so fast that we have them scheduled days in advance. My posting slump is over.

So if you want to give yourself a boost and maybe remember that you used to be interested in things besides the newest episode of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan (or your newest homework assignment or project at work or whatever)... try picking up a book that will make you think. Grab the biography of one of those crazy politicians we always have an abundance of. Check out a book in a genre you've never read before. Ask a friend for a recommendation. Ask me for a recommendation! And if you don't have a lot of time to sit and read, look for some audiobooks at the library (don't buy them unless you know you'll like them, they're expensive) and listen while you're doing the dishes, folding laundry, or driving around. Give yourself the chance to think about some things that are going on in the world--it's amazing how quickly you can start to feel like a person again.

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