Christine DeSmet is the author of the Fudge Shop mystery series and the Mischief in Moonstone series. You can find out more about her on her website www.christinedesmet.com, or by clicking here, see her books here, and read her last post here.
Scientists conclude rituals are part of our DNA and are used to deal with threats, particularly disease and danger.
That struck home with me—a cozy mystery writer and writing coach—when a reader online said reading cozy mysteries got her through the pandemic years.
Reading often comes with “rituals.”
Here are common reading rituals:
~ Do you have to read a certain amount before you take a break?
~ Do you always sneak a peek at the last line before starting the book?
~ Do you love bookmarks? Must you get a special one for each book you read? (Many people do!)
~ Do you tend to read many or all of an author’s books in a row?
~ Do you keep a book journal?
~ Do you have to read before sleeping?
~ Do you prefer to read while eating or at a restaurant?
Scientific research concludes rituals increase our performance. Baseball players and many in sports, music, theater, and others have rituals they do before performing.
Is reading a “performance” for you and me? In a way, it is. We’re challenged to explore words, focus for a length of time, and read until the cliffhanger of each chapter or page 50 etc. We feel good, maybe even different when we set the book aside after a reading session. Reading takes our time, talent, even courage sometimes. Conquering this performance perhaps helps a reader feel in control of their world, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes in a day.
One researcher called rituals the “punctuation mark” on life. Rituals increase our control over life or time, giving us a sense of power. Perhaps our animal DNA is saying, “Stay away, dangerous and messy life, because right now I’m in charge during my reading break.”
One researcher said writing rituals “enhance fluency,” and I believe that also pertains to readers. Reading increases vocabulary and storytelling know-how.
My reading ritual is simple. I start the coffee in the morning, and then with cup by my side in my chair by the window where I can watch the neighborhood dogs taking their owners out for their first morning walk, I read about twenty pages from a novel. The words inspire me to think and write and edit creatively.
I stop at around 20 pages in the mornings—and it has to be at the end of a chapter. Then I turn to my work. I can also read for a whole day on a weekend and bury myself in a good book, but the morning time is a bona fide ritual.
My ritual includes choosing a beautiful and appropriate bookmark before I start reading. The mood of the bookmark should match the tone of the book. Independent bookstores, author presentations, and book fairs are great places for finding unique bookmarks. Some people create collages or works of art with bookmarks.
What’s your reading ritual?