April 3rd 2014

I’ve been seeking quiet places as I make the rounds of auto repair and medical appointments with an enticing book in my hands. Surprisingly, many waiting rooms are no longer good places for reading. Wall mounted TVs provide continuous loops of pharmaceutical infomercials and steady onslaught of talk and cooking shows as we are held captive with no volume control, even when no one is watching. Add loud cell phone conversations and the waiting world becomes a truly uncomfortable place. In our increasingly plugged in world, a little silence has become a precious commodity.

The electronic assault on our senses continues to spread. No longer can a person in a restaurant be assured of sitting peacefully with a book. Replacing the gentle white noise of other patrons are multiple screens of pre-recorded televised sports events competing for attention. Is it too late to take back the peace?

A quick web search revealed that people seek quiet in public places.  Both the New York Times and the Boston Herald have carried stories about Amtrak’s new “silent cars.” Train passengers are paying extra for the comfort of riding in quiet. According to an informal CNN poll, 53 percent of airline passengers would offer up a premium to sit in a silent zone.

As a ringleader for the CRF slogan “Read with a Child Twenty Minutes a Day” I am always on the lookout for literacy friendly places. So, it is in this spirit that today’s column gives a high five to a local business where I enjoy quiet reading time twice a week. The clinic where I get my allergy shots, The Allergy and Asthma Clinic on Lohman Avenue, is a television/cellphone-free zone that is stocked with well-worn magazines and books for all ages. I know I will be able to get twenty minutes to read even when the office is crowded and bustling. Not only does the quiet support reading for adults, but family groups can often be seen huddling together over books and homework. The staff actively encourages children to read.  Nurse Cindy Talley has built a literacy rich environment for her young patients. Besides age appropriate books and magazines, she promotes monthly mental challenges that include art and creative writing. Pictures, poems and letters by young artists are displayed on bulletin boards all around the immunotherapy (shots) station bearing witness to the popularity of these activities. In this literacy friendly environment, I have seen the littlest children picking up magazines and looking at them studiously.

Are electronics always on in your life?

Where do you carve out a quiet place to sit and read each day? Look around your home.  Is there an invitation to read waiting for each member of the family? You and your family deserve the pleasure of reading time each day. Whether it is a time to read aloud to each other or just a quiet time for everyone to read, each member of the family will benefit from the experience.

How much is a little peace and quiet worth to you? Where do you go to squeeze in twenty blissfully quiet moments on your busy days? Be a trend setter and share your suggestions for good places to read around the valley and I will spread the word through this column.