Connecting Readers with Finger Lakes Authors

The Joy of Getting High

I bet THAT got your attention! Disclaimer: it’s not what you think.

Stick with me, here, as I lead you through this examination of the physiology of reading.

What is your all-time favorite book? What book have you read over and over, even though you could probably now rewrite it yourself because you know it inside and out?

I have one of those books; it’s Homesong by LaVyrle Spencer. I read it for the first time in 1996 right after it was published. I have no idea how many times I’ve read it or listened to it since then. Audible is probably trying to figure out what’s going on, because it’s the book I listen to every night when I want to fall asleep fast. It’s not because the story bores me. It’s because I can fall asleep and know I’m not missing anything because the story is ingrained in my brain.

So, what is it that makes a book a favorite? From the high view, it’s most likely the same reason for all of us. Something in that book made an emotional impact or caused a visceral reaction, whether we were aware of it or not, and now that book, that story, or maybe that character is our dopamine that gets us high.

Yes, you read that right. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. There are many different reasons people pick up a particular book or listen to it more than once. They love a character. They love the setting or world. It’s comfortable. They’ve read it so many times that it’s now predictable. It may be a way to calm them if they’re anxious. They may read because they want to escape into a fantasy world. They read so their mind can focus on something different. It may be their way of experiencing places they’ll never physically visit. They read to add pleasure to their lives. It doesn’t mean their lives are horrible. In fact, this experience is a bit of self-care. Who doesn’t want to experience the natural high from something pleasurable?

As an author, I love it when someone gushes about a book I’ve written. (Talk about a natural high! Whew! In those times, I’m looking down at the clouds!) Yes, I’m pleased that they enjoyed the story, but there’s satisfaction in knowing something in my book tickled their emotions and got their dopamine flowing. Someday I hope to be the “LaVyrle Spencer” in their lives.

Are you seeking a little pleasure? Give this some thought. What book is your dopamine? My suggestion is grab it and get high (from the story and the emotions it elicits)! You deserve it.

Laurie Gifford Adams ( is the author of ten books ranging from children’s picture books to women’s fiction. (She calls it genre ADD.) She is the co-founder of F.L.A.R.E. – Finger Lakes Authors and Readers Experience ( and a member of these writers’ groups: C.O.R.W. – Charter Oak Readers and Writers (; K.I.W.I. – Kids Independent Writers & Illustrators; SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; RACWI – Rochester Area Children’s Writers and Illustrators.