The week between Christmas and a brand new year is never long enough for me, but I especially think we should get extra time given that we’re starting a new decade — don’t you agree? I need a few more days to (well, let’s be honest) finally get gifts put away which first means organizing cupboards and buying a few new totes and such. But also, after all of that, a few days to just sit and think about this past year, this past ten years, and to begin looking ahead to what comes next.
Oh wait. Sitting and thinking doesn’t happen in my world no matter how many extra days you give me. (Sound track right now: “Mom, can I do play doh?” “Mom, my doll’s hair looks weird.” “Mom, I need a blanket.” And this, as we’re all sitting quietly together.)
But quiet or not, enough time or not, before putting the lid on 2019 and all it held, it seems a bit of reminiscing and thankfulness is appropriate.
This morning, just one aspect of 2019 I especially enjoyed: my reading list!
I have slowly learned more about myself in this role of mother and how to set myself up for success. I truly enjoy reading, but it doesn’t just happen without intention. I also enjoy reading but am not interested in it becoming the top priority of my life. Setting a reasonable goal that will keep me disciplined but not turn me into a book-slave is important. Three things that helped me this year:
In the back of my planner, I started a list of 12 titles I intended to read this year. I had about 4 books in mind right from the start, and as other titles piqued my interest, I added them. I never had to wonder what to read next, which can often result in not reading at all.
I kept the next two or three titles ready to read at all times, because sometimes a certain book was too heavy to plow through quickly and I would mix in a lighter option. Also, seeing that there were more books to read kept me motivated to continue.
I keep my books near me. I bring them to the bedroom when I nurse the baby. I bring them to the family room when I think I’ll have a few minutes to read during the afternoon. I take it with me outside when the kids are playing. I limit apps on my phone that steal reading time, or purpose to read in the evening while the baby plays instead of just turning on Hometown or whatever. Not always — sometimes I just need a brain break. (I don’t want to be a book-slave!) But keeping it nearby reminds me to pick up my book first instead of just ingesting brain candy in my down time.
A Crossed-Off List!
And then back to that list: how satisfying to check off the titles, jot down my thoughts, and move on to the next. And, surprise surprise, having a list helped me so much that before I knew it, I was adding title after title and my “12 books this year” easily and without any effort grew to 17 (with four books underway.) I know that’s not incredibly impressive, as far as reading goals go, but as a habit-builder, all of these strategies are really helping me.
I share these because maybe some of these strategies will help you, too, or maybe just realizing strategies are worth creating in order to achieve some reading goals. Maybe 12 titles is laughable to you, or maybe just reading three books this year would be an achievement — whatever it may be, making a plan for important things, a plan that fits into your overarching life priorities, can make all the difference.
For my own benefit! The books I read this year:
Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara, 7/10
Designed for Joy, Owen Strachen et al, 7/10
The Vanishing American Adult, Ben Sasse, 10/10
Educated, Tara Westover, 7/10
Gay Girl Good God, Jackie Hill Perry, 10/10
Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, 10/10
Lies Women Believe, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in progress
Discipline: The Glad Surrender, Elisabeth Elliot, in progress
Killer Angels, Michael Shaara, 10/10
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 8/10
O Pioneers!, Willa Cather, 10/10
My Antonia, Willa Cather, 9/10 (re-read)
Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, 9/10
Peace Child, Don Richardson, 10/10 (re-read)
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Butterfield, 10/10
Saplings, Noel Streatfeild, 9/10
German Boy, Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, 10/10
They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer, 9/10
I Dared to Call Him Father, Bilquis Sheikh, 10/10
Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, 10/10
The Measure of Success, Carolyn McCulley, in progress
A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton Porter, re-read in progress