book = portable vacation


We already know that getting lost in a photograph of nature is surprisingly relaxing.


On any busy day, you can take a quick mental break by “walking” down that forest path hanging on your wall and paying close attention to the sunlight and breeze wafting through the trees … or even by focusing on the interplay of color, light, and details in the photo itself.



But did you know that reading about nature — or reading about pretty much anything, really — has a similar benefit?


According to an article in Psychology Today, “reading is tantamount to a mental holiday” that “helps us to be more relaxed and mindful.”


The article’s author describes a 2009 study, which found that “reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. According to this study, reading is more effective than other forms of relaxation — even listening to music.”


And there’s more. “Reading has many positive cognitive consequences. It improves ‘fluid’ intellectual skills that are said to decline with age. It leads to an expanded vocabulary, enhances memory, problem solving, and other cognitive skills. Reading also helps maintain ‘crystalized’ intelligence, the sum of our accumulated experience and knowledge.”


If you’re a regular reader of so-called “literary” fiction, you may even notice that a regular habit of quiet, uninterrupted reading time actually helps enrich your abilities to listen and to empathize.


And, thankfully, these benefits aren’t limited to the over-achievers among us who are reading stacks of books each month. It’s the act of consistently setting aside 30 to 60 minutes of quiet time and truly focusing on the words on the page that gets results, no matter how many pages you get through in that timeframe.


So turn off your phone (or, at the very least, leave it in another room). Then pick up your book or e-reader, and read deliberately (no skimming or speed-reading, please) for at least 30 minutes.


Concentrate on what you’re reading.


Be mindful.


Let your book serve as an instant, portable vacation that allows you to relax, recharge, learn, and dream.


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Welcome to the online home of The Novel Cat, where reading, relaxing, and snuggling with cats are a way of life. I’m Jennifer, and I help former and aspiring readers maximize life’s simple pleasures — like the joy of savoring a good book — by helping them create quiet spaces (both mental and physical) inspired by the habits of cats, who are masters at finding joy in life’s small details.

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”

W. Somerset Maugham

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”


“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

Marcel Proust

“Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace.”

Helene Hanff

“What a happy woman I am, living in a garden, with books … birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them!”

Elizabeth von Arnim

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

Neil Gaiman

“The art of reading is … an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us; when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

“When I … looked round at the familiar bookshelves, and could hear no sounds but sounds of peace, and knew that here I might read or dream or idle exactly as I chose with never a creature to disturb me, how grateful I felt to the kindly Fate that has brought me here and given me a heart to understand my own blessedness.”

Elizabeth von Arnim