Secretary David Scrase talks about his books and reading habits
If I visit your house and you have books on display, I will examine your books. I might even prefer their company to yours. Growing up in a house with almost all the walls stacked up, your shelves immediately interested me.
For several months now, I have been trying to distinguish the books from Dr. David Scrase’s study. Since New Mexico officials moved their regular COVID-19 updates from the Capitol to Zoom, Scrase – in his capacity as Secretary of State for Human Services – answered questions about the health crisis as he sat in his office next to a wooden bookcase adorned with a New Mexico flag.
The image resolution is not fine enough to give us a clear view of most titles, but we see the books rearranged often. Sometimes her copy of “Joy of Cooking” is notoriously missing – in the kitchen perhaps? Does he cook? These are my fleeting distractions when covering press conferences.
Last week, Scrase consented to an interview about his books and reading habits, in which he revealed he reads exclusively on Kindle these days; and yes it is on Goodreads. He also participates in a reading group that meets regularly (currently via Zoom), alternating between fiction and non-fiction.
Describing himself as “exactly on the line between introvert and extrovert,” Scrase said her daily routine begins at 4 a.m. with coffee and up to two hours of reading, journaling and meditating before reporting back to her. very public work.
This quiet study space is not a hiding place but a way to eat, as he described it.
Borrowing a metaphor from a popular book, Scrase said, “You have this bucket that you carry, and during your day you interact with people, pick them up and give them whatever you’re going to give them – your knowledge, or wisdom, or love or understanding. If you don’t fill that bucket completely every morning, you’re in trouble. “
He detailed his habit of browsing through several books daily looking at the world through different lenses, with a penchant for “daily reading” books divided into small chapters. His current current books encompass WWII history, astronomy, Buddhist reflections, and a compilation of lyrics from every David Bowie song.
These stacks of books that we see in his press conferences are mostly organized into categories: novels, humor, poetry, woodworking, business, astronomy, anatomy, rock music and more.
There are also several copies of his own book: A Memoir of His Early Years as a Physician in Michigan, Written under a Pseudonym. (He has ideas for more books but doesn’t promise he’ll find them.)
Author CS Lewis has his own bookshelf and Scrase has named novelists John Irving and Barbara Kingsolver among his favorites as well as Buddhist meditation teacher and writer Jack Kornfield.
His interest in religious and spiritual works is a constant. After browsing the Bible last year, Scrase is currently studying the Bhagavad Gita. “Books that focus on the meaning of life, I find rewarding,” he said.
Enrichment of the mind is a notion that raises more questions: what is the mind, what does it mean to enrich or cultivate it?
Scrase said his daily study and exercise regimen provides a vibrant “stress management system” that has supported him while running a state agency and helping lead the response to the pandemic of ‘State.
“It’s like spinning a gyroscope, and if you run it fast enough, it can actually… spin and maintain balance,” he says. “If you can balance the spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual parts of your life, this is what you need to do. You can’t really control the other things anyway, so why try to balance a bunch of things you can’t control? “
Even before the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus reached New Mexico, Scrase said he had increased his daily readings and exercises in anticipation of the pressure to come.
“When stress levels rise, most of us just let go of coping because we don’t have time,” he said. “If you turn up the stress management system before the stress hits, the stress won’t be that high.”
Rightly so, this is where our conversation ended. Scrase, whose dates often overlap, had to join another meeting.
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