So, I have a slight book-buying problem. In general, I try to keep things pretty minimalist in our house. I love a good spring cleaning (or fall or summer); my mama taught me that skill at a young age. Even still, Marie Condo’s The Japanese Art of Tidying Up was a life changer for me. After reading it, I transformed my closet, threw away bags upon bags of trash, donated even more, and felt really grateful that my then-3-year-old didn’t notice when I went through her toys and got rid of some. But, I could not get on board with Marie’s section on books. I have a really hard time letting those go. I’m not sure if it’s because I enjoy reading so much, or in my heart of hearts I might be a true hoarder, or because I just really like the way books look on a shelf. Especially a full one. This year, however, I made myself (and my hubby) a promise not to buy any new books until I have read the ones I already own but haven’t yet enjoyed (we’ll see how long that lasts!).
I’m a big believer in setting goals for reading. When I taught 4th grade, no one had a bigger influence on me than Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. This woman gets what it means to be a real reader and how to help children develop their own love of books, of literature, and of learning. Her whole philosophy was based around student choice. How many times have you heard a high school or college student complain that they hate reading because they don’t get to choose what they read? Obviously, I understand that in order to learn certain concepts, we sometimes have to read things we wouldn’t exactly choose, but I found that in giving my students a choice, they were so much more motivated. So I embraced Donalyn’s “40 Book Challenge” (you can find her blog here), helped my students choose books across all different genres, made time to conference with them about what they read, and watched them take off.
I decided that in order to be authentic in my teaching, I would participate in the challenge with my kiddos. It was so much FUN. I discovered that once I had a goal in mind, I made more time to read. I turned off the TV more (and also learned to tune out four-hour Texas Ranger games), carried a book with me wherever I went, and even made time in class so I could read a few pages while my students read (we’ll call this “modeling”). I was a big reader before, but the challenge turned me into an intentional reader. While I was teaching, I tried to read mostly children’s literature so that I could have meaningful conversations about the books my students were also reading and so I could check their comprehension. But now that I’m out of the classroom, I’m enjoying a new freedom in reading truly whatever I choose.
Still, goals are a good idea, so I was happy to discover the blog, “Modern Mrs. Darcy”. She issues a reading challenge every year, which for 2018 can be found here. I will be starting my reading year off reading books within the categories she’s given. Although free choice is important, I also feel like it’s helpful to have a guide like this, to help you branch out and read genres you might not usually read. When I have completed her challenge, I will of course keep reading, and my ultimate goal is to read 50 books this year (and write one. More on that later. Maybe). I will be keeping you updated in my weekly blog posts, but also you can find me on Instagram (@andbabymade4) where I’ll be sharing what I’m reading on my stories! Here is what I’m planning for each category:
- A classic: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I’m not quite sure how I missed out on this one before, but it’s a favorite of my mom’s and I have a copy right on my shelf!
- Currently Reading: Recommended by someone with great taste: Essentialism by Greg McKeown (which I already LOVE). This was recommended by one of the hosts of the Sorta Awesome podcast that I enjoy, Laura Tremaine.
- Book in translation: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy or Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (another one I completely missed reading in school somehow). I have two for this category in case I can’t finish the Tolstoy, but I’m hoping to read them both this year!
- Nominated for an award in 2018: Awards aren’t out yet, so stay tuned!
- Book of poetry, play, or an essay collection: I have nothing yet! Help me out here, what would YOU choose?
- Currently Reading: More than 500 pages: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. I’m 100 pages in and loving it already. I’m always up for a WWII novel!
- Book you can read in a day: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (another one I have never read for whatever reason.)
- By a favorite author: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I absolutely LOVED The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Pigs in Heaven. So I’m really looking forward to this one.
- Recommended by a librarian: The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (actually, I already finished this one! LOVED IT!)
- Banned book: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s been on my shelf for ages!
- Memoir: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez. A sweet relative sent this to me for Christmas knowing my love of memoirs.
- By an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Also, this year, I already finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on my Kindle- a MUST-READ!
- Others: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, and many, many others.
What are your reading goals for 2018? Anyone want to join me in this fun challenge? Anyone have any great recommendations? I’d love to hear them! Don’t forget to find me on Instagram as I share my reading journey!
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.