Books as Basic Self-Care

I am here to posit that it’s exactly in these moments of struggle and stress that we need books the most. There’s something in the pause to read that’s soothing in and of itself. A moment with a book is basic self-care, the kind of skill you pass along to your children as you would a security blanket or a churchgoing habit. It’s a pair of glasses you let sit on your nose for a few stolen hours, coloring your familiar living room and the blustery world outside with the lens of another woman’s experience. It’s a familiar book, rediscovered and dusted off, cracked open at random until you’re sucked in again. It reads differently at different junctures in your life, but that’s part of the fun. Time travel, redemption, escape, and self-knowledge are all neatly bound and sewn into the modest covers of the books we pass from hand to hand, library to purse, mother to daughter, where heroines’ lessons live long after they’ve gone out of print or disintegrated from love and wear.

— Erin Blakemore, The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. xv

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