Reading to Beat the Winter Blues

black-and-white-woman-girl-sitting-largeGuess what? It’s almost the end of February. I think that no matter where you live, this can be such a difficult time of year. Whether it’s feeling caught in your mundane routine, dealing with large amounts of homework, dreary weather, or all three, feeling down and depressed can sometimes be nearly inevitable. So where are some places you can turn when you need to take a break and refuel? Most of the time, Netflix and social media can become our escape. Both are fine in moderation, but do those things really help refuel us?

One thing that I have found helps me get through the winter blues is doing more reading, even if it is something light and easy. Unlike Facebook or watching TV, it engages your mind and imagination. It requires focus and attention. A recent article from Metro discusses some books that may be worth reading during this time of year, especially ones with themes of hope and inspiration in showing how others overcome their obstacles. Stepping into the mind of another character can even give us a new perspective on issues we are dealing with in our own lives. It can be so tempting to spend all of our free time binge watching TV shows, especially those of us who do a lot of reading for school, but what if we read for fun more often? Would it help us to get in the minds of others so we can better understand them? Would our reading comprehension improve? Would we feel more productive than if we had spent our time browsing Pinterest or Instagram? Why not give it a try?

 

 

 

 

 

7 Practical Steps to Choosing a Gripping and Engaging, Good Book

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If you love to read, then you know the agony of trying to read through a dull book. You may also have spent countless hours roaming the library or bookstore to find that perfect book. As Christians, we want to fill our minds with uplifting media, but that does not mean we must only read Christian books. In fact, there are numerous good books that are thought provoking and well written and are also good for the soul.

Maybe you have a vacation quickly approaching, a free Saturday, or you simply always need to have a book by your bed. Whatever your reason, here are # steps to help you never go good-book hungry again.

  1. Start broad. Identify a general topic or genre that interests you. Fiction or non-fiction? Romance or Sci-fi?
  2. Check websites and reviews. See what others are saying about the particular books in your desired category. Amazon.com is great for browsing and finding good reviews.
  3. Put in you two cents. Now that you have a list of popular books, it’s time for you to decide what actually looks good. You know what kind of stories you enjoy most. Read plot summaries and/or descriptions.
  4. Make a list. As you narrow down what books are most popular to you, keep a running list of titles and authors.
  5. Head to the nearest library or bookstore. You may have a larger list than you can possibly buy or checkout, but you are covered in case a book is unavailable.
  6. Read. Yes, that may be obvious, but I know I have brought home countless books that I’ve never opened, or never finished. If the book is a dud, yes, it’s okay to move on. But sometimes a little perseverance can be very rewarding.
  7. Find a winner? If you end up loving the book, look up the author and see of he or she has written others. This is a great way to quickly add books to your list that you know you’ll love.

-Megan W

A World Without Love: The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

Imagine living in a world where love is a disease. Amor deliria nervosa is the government’s name for it. Around age eighteen, you are required to undergo a surgery that will cure you from this destructive ailment. Are you excited for the procedure so that you can begin your “normal” life? Are you apprehensive? Or has what you’ve been told about love all a lie?

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This is what Lena, the novel’s protagonist, discovers not long before her surgery when she meets and falls in love with a boy named Alex, who has also not been cured and lives outside the city fences in the Wilds with the rest of the outlaws, who are called “Invalids.” From there, and throughout the course of the three books (Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem), Lena learns about the power love can have and the truths that the government—and her family—have been hiding.

Something that I found intriguing about this trilogy was how the government sees love (both romantic and unromantic) as something dangerous. As something worth eliminating in order to reduce pain. I feel like this distorted view of what love really is can be how we tend to view it sometimes, too. After painful experiences, we will often build up walls and try to numb our hurt by not allowing ourselves to love anyone deeply again. But does this really accomplish anything? It’s definitely wise to protect ourselves, but I think it is dangerous to start taking it to the point where we view love as a weakness. After all, Jesus gave us the commandment to love each other as he has first loved us (John 13:34).

So imagine again that you are in a world where you are required to be “cured” from love. Would you go along with it? It would eliminate some emotional pain, but it would also eliminate any kind of joy or emotional connection you have with others. Is it worth it?

-Emily H.