How to Read a Book (i.e., Live a Life) by Pausing on the Page

It is 30 minutes before lights out on Saturday night. I’m lying in bed, casually reading the poetry book with the green cover that was loaned to me a few weeks ago. Maybe it will lull me to sleep.

There was no struggle tonight whether to read books or watch TV at bedtime. My once-the-non-reader husband is now deep into his own book beside me. I guess lying beside a wife with a book in her hand for 30 years can do that to a person.

But I’m suddenly wide awake! The words in my book have reached fingers out for my neck and hold me by the throat. What is this book doing to me?

  • Some books I read, but I don’t retain.
  • Some books I enjoy, but I’m not touched.
  • Some books I think through, but I don’t share.

And that’s okay.

As with life, not every book is meant to be a thriller or a life-changer. We don’t need to be emotionally shocked around every corner in our daily life. We aren’t meant to remember every sandwich we’ve ever eaten for lunch. And honestly, most moments in an average day just aren’t worth talking about with another person.

But overall, our lives are meant to be experienced with purpose and priority.

And pauses.

I sit straight up and interrupt Jeff. You’ve got to hear this, I tell him. This is happening to me right now!

I read the words aloud to him from Marla Taviano on page 281 in jaded:

“be right back”

my favorite books are the
ones I have to put down to

google a question or look
up a vocabulary word or

write furiously on my laptop
or in a notebook because the

thoughts/ideas the author’s
words have unleashed won’t

stop coming/flowing and I
not-so-secretly hope you have

to put this book down a time
or two to create something

You’re getting your wish, Marla. I’m doing this in the moment, pausing the book to create something as a result of it.

Would I have gotten this much enjoyment if we’d chosen to just watch another episode of Parks and Recreation tonight (our latest series after recently finishing The Office)?

Even though the words in this book, jaded, were likely written at least two years ago, the flat symbols on paper are still alive today. The Word lives. It breathes and connects and moves alongside us, inside us, as we allow Love to recreate us more in its image.

when you can't say it all -marla taviano

I close the book. I open my laptop. I type in a few thoughts sparked by the words. I don’t know where they’ll take me, but we’re engaged now.

This is how I want to read books, i.e., how I want to experience life.

  • Slow down for the good parts.
  • Pause for the aha tingles.
  • Capture the awe to share and connect.

I fold up my laptop and tuck it under my nightstand.

But I pick up the book again. I turn to the next page. And slowly resume reading.

Do books do this to you, too? How do you slow down and experience life more fully? Share in the comments.

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17 thoughts on “How to Read a Book (i.e., Live a Life) by Pausing on the Page

  1. Pam Ecrement

    Love this, Lisa! I agree about the power of the book we hold in our hands . (And I still much prefer the book to an audio book or an electronic version. The feel of a book in my hand is a treasure!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I still prefer a “real” book too, Pam. 🙂 There’s something special about holding a book in my hands. I’m also more visual than auditory, so I retain a lot more when I see the words rather than when I just hear them.

  2. Pat

    Very interesting post! I’ve always loved to read, and always gave a book “in progress” but I think being in a book club the past few years has made me pay more attention to what I am reading and investigate more about the author’s background and inspiration. It is like meeting someone and really taking the time to learn more about them and their life. Being in a book club has also challenged me to read books I probably would have passed on. Keeping a journal of thoughts and phrases of note is also always helpful.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How wonderful that you are in a book club, Pat! I am in a small book club too, and it makes a huge difference in what I learn. When I read a book on my own, I think I’m paying attention, but once the book club starts talking about it, I realize I missed a few things. lol.

  3. Maryleigh

    I love a good book – one that leaves me looking up words – and looking up other books referenced in the story lines. I love when a book unlocks a door to another room that I didn’t know existed! A book that impacts us in positive ways is invaluable; to allow yourself to be impacted – that is a precious thing, too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, yes, yes, Maryleigh. I love when one book leads to another to another. I’m one of those people who has to even read all the footnotes, the acknowledgement pages, etc. I don’t want to miss a thing. 🙂

  4. David

    Very nice description of what it’s like! I absolutely get this, especially with non-fiction. With me it’s a hair-standing-on-end feeling when something I read triggers connections, and I wait as they gradually emerge.

    If I’m reading that kind of thing a lot, it will be with me while I go about life, otherwise it might stay in the marginal pencil scribbles. Perhaps I should take photos or carry around a little notebook with copied passages.

    There’s a different feeling I get from a novel, a kind of immersion in the author’s sensibility. The novel I’m reading atm I’ve read uncountable times before, it’s like being with a best friend.

  5. Donna Reidland

    I loved this, Lisa. I so appreciate books that make me read them carefully, maybe even doubling back to read something again so I can think about it more deeply. For me, many of them are books that help me understand the Scriptures better or help me be able to help someone else in their walk with God. But even when it’s the latter, the good ones always pierce and convict my heart first.

  6. Joanne Viola

    I love when a book causes me to pause to look up a word in the dictionary, or google to dig deeper and learn more. Sometimes I stop to take notes or write my thoughts. It is interesting to me how books become a part of us, molding us and shaping us, to become more.

  7. Jean Wise

    This is so true. so true. I borrow often from the library so love to underline but find now I have to reread later, write in my journal, pray and “chew” on those good words to let them really sink in.

  8. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, I love how reading good writing spurs our thoughts in unexpected ways. A compelling writer’s voice—even if it’s very different from mine—will definitely get in my head and trigger my own creative juices. I occasionally pause from reading to write down a quote, although most of the time I wait until I’m finished with the book and go back and look at my dog-eared pages to see which quotes are still resonating with me.

  9. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    I love your posts, Lisa, and your wonderful way of presenting things—like this: “We aren’t meant to remember every sandwich we’ve ever eaten for lunch.” This cracked me up a little. But it’s a good reminder. Sometimes I beat myself up with thinking that I must remember everything when not everything should be remembered.

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