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On hamster care and Agatha Christie

As you start this week, may you relish in the slowness of a light Monday. I know, you have lots of hard work ahead of you, and perhaps you’ll go to bed every night this week exhausted from either the physical or intellectual efforts of your day. Maybe both.

But don’t forget to enjoy life during the thick of it all. I was reminded of this last year, when I spent the weekend with one of my heroes, Susan Wise Bauer. I had asked her how to handle the “issue” of my then 7-year-old daughter’s constant checking out of hamster and rodent care books at the library—and nothing else. For several months, she seemed to read or care about little else, and I was disheartened to see my little reader no longer very interested in the childhood novels I longed for her to enjoy.

“Don’t worry about it,” Susan said. “She’ll grow out of it.” Then she said something that stuck with me, and still resonates with me, more than 15 months later. “When we relax, we don’t read Plato. We read an Agatha Christie mystery. We read for fun. It’s the same with kids. Sure, we want them to read the good stuff, but we’ve gotta give them room to just be themselves and relax with whatever they find fun.”

(This, from the woman who’s written about the entire history of the entire world, and who’s considered the modern-day pioneer of the neo-classical education movement.)

This is true for me, and it’s true for you, too. Yes, we need the Platos and the Dostoyevskys in our lives—but we also need the Christies. Don’t forget to just relax and enjoy life, whatever that looks like for you. Perhaps it’s a favorite movie, or a loved tv show, or a great, fun read. Savor it this week.

And if your day feels unusually hard, make that all the more reason to lighten your mind with something that fills you. Take each day in stride, and remember when you turn out the nightstand light, you get to wake up to a fresh start. Each day is a gift. Relish the lighter moments.

Have a happy Labor Day, friends.

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Janie

    This is so true! I sometimes feel guilty for rereading much beloved books, because it feels like wasting my time. But it’s another form of self care, which is certainly not a waste of time.

    I love that it’s rodent care for your daughter. When life is stressful for me, it’s usually books I know and love, but sometimes it’s travel books to exotic locations – a sort of mental escapism.

  2. Whitney

    I love that even while your daughter is reading something for fun, it’s still educational. That should be comforting. She’s learning how to care for a living creature!

    I read a comment once on a blog that said they would rather their bookshelves be a true reflection of what they read than what they aspire to read. It helps me figure out what books I want to keep. Those Harry Potters? Yes! Every “great book?” Probably not. They’re always at the library. I keep a lot of the solid ones anyway, but I don’t have to have every writer of Western thought in my house.

  3. Julie

    I have the exact concern about my daughter. She reads and then rereads the same books on horses. She must have them down by rote! Thanks for the encouraging words.

  4. Prerna@TheMomWrites

    Ahhh.. I needed this! I just bought a stash of Marianne Keyes, Nora Roberts and other fiction reads for pleasure and then, felt guilty that I wasn’t spending my reading time on more “business” learning.. Thank you for encouraging us to read for pleasure and not always for a purpose.

    • Tsh

      I love that you did that, Prerna! Enjoy your happy reading. 🙂

  5. Taynia | The Fiscal Flamingo

    Blog reading is my form of relaxation. I can do it in the morning while I slowly wake up and to calm me when I’m waiting at the DMV or something similar. But I find that I don’t read as many books now. I save those for days on the plane, at the pool or beach or before bed. And for those times – the latest Sophia Kinsella does it for me.

  6. Karin Allison

    This so fits for Sophie (age 9) and me! I just started her on “The Narnia Chronicles” but only because she asked what she could read since she was bored (I try not to be controlling!). She too for a while checked out a lot of pet books from the library, lol.

  7. Betsy

    Lovely post and wise reminder.

    If Susan Wise Bauer can lighten up, I guess we can too. (She’s one of my heroes too.)

  8. Guest

    I needed this! I am a serious person by nature and I find that I need to read for fun. My mind already focuses on all of the sadness in the world…I don’t want or need to read about it, too!

  9. Caroline Starr Rose

    Agatha Christies have always been my comfort books! They were my first introduction to adult titles. I can still picture exactly where they were on the library shelves.

    At a literary festival in July, I talked with a teenager about favorite Christie titles — Curtain, A Crooked House, And Then There Were None, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Love connections like that!

    • Tsh


  10. Faigie

    You know I stopped reading novels years ago. My problem is that once I start I cannot stop until I’m finished and nothing else in the world matters. Years ago I was reading MM Kaye’s “The Far Pavilions” and my husband literally had no wife for a week as I ” needed” to finish it before anything else. These days I read short things and non fiction.

  11. Katelyn

    Very good advice here. Just like we occasionally eat comfort foods or crash on the couch with a movie for the afternoon, it can be just as restful to pick up a book that doesn’t require really deep stretch the brain reading. Even then, your daughter was still working her reading muscles and expanding her vocabulary. And I think it encouraging that she found a topic of interest and was increasing her knowledge of it. Refusing to read anything at all for an extended time is what would concern me.

    I have a 3 year old boy. Sometimes my childhood favorites don’t resonate with him (at least not at this specific time) and sometimes the books he latches onto and has basically memorized within a week are ones that we only picked up from the library on a random shelf grab. He has his own tastes and that’s okay as long as he continues to enjoy the act of experiencing a story.

  12. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    And I’m off to go watch more of The Hobbit 🙂

    • Tsh

      Yeah you are. 😉

  13. Alaina Frederick

    We actually schedule into our week days off. It’s a chance for the boys to take a break from their school work. Mom gets to get some of her tasks accomplished. Dad gets to either hit the to-do list or take a day for himself.

    As for the novels everyone speaks off – I sadly haven’t read a book in a long time. I think I’m going to dust one off and start it tonight with a nice cup of tea!

  14. Rheagan

    My wonderful literature teacher for my senior year of high school referred to the low-key relaxing books as “potato chip books”. You can’t survive on just eating potato chips, but a few servings now and again never hurt anyone. I keep her words in mind when I reach for Bridget Jones Diary, instead of something more substantial. 🙂

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