Sleepy Readers


When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep. – William Butler Yeats

There were several especially quiet days during this past Christmas holiday that my 3-year old niece and I found a good chair to sit in so we could read together.  No matter what book she chose, there were certain times of the day that I could barely make it past page two without her falling into a deep sleep.  It would sometimes take me several minutes to realize she had fallen asleep, and most of the time the book was so good that I just kept reading until the end.  As I quieted my reading and eventually trailed the words off into a whisper, she would sometimes try to open her eyes or even smile just a bit, but otherwise she was, as my grandma always says, “out like a little light.”

It made me think about how relevant books are to the rhythms of life. There have been so many middle-of-the-night anxieties that have awoken me over the years, but the one thing they all have in common is the time they have given me to read (or pray!). It is little wonder that books are as abundant on nightstands around the world as they are in libraries around the world.  There have been times that my nightstand is stacked so high with books that I can hardly find the switch to turn on the lamp that is surrounded by them.

From there, the chronology of events is always the same:  I think I will never been able to fall asleep, so I begin reading.  Eventually, I feel the book start to slip from my hands and I try to keep my eyes open long enough to read until the end of the chapter, or at least the end of the page.  And then, without warning, I am “out like a light.”

One thing I’ve learned:  sleepy readers are the happiest readers I know.