At the beginning of each year, I promise myself I am going to read more. I love to read, but I do a poor job of making time for it. For a while, I was in the habit of reading for 20 minutes each night before I went to sleep. Making it part of my nighttime routine helped me to be sure I got some reading time in each day. But then I fell out of the habit and have not been reading as much as I’d like. So here I am, at the beginning of a new year promising myself I’ll read more.
Last year, I made a list of 12 books I planned to read by the end of the year. I know 12 books is nothing to some people, but 1 book a month was a pretty challenging goal for me. I was surprised, however, that making time to read wasn’t my biggest challenge. It was the fact that I had limited myself to those 12 books. By mid-year, I was feeling a little trapped by my list. I had this internal battle: stick with my list and follow through on my plan or veer from my list and still get 12 books in by year-end.
Well, I ended up reading a book or two that was not on my list and ended the year with a couple books from my list left unread. I decided on a different approach for this year. Instead of identifying a set list of books to read by the end of the year, I am going to commit to reading for at least 20 minutes each day.
Another change I decided to make in how I read is how many books I read at once. I have always stuck with reading just one book at a time. I was convinced that I could never keep more than one book straight in my head. Also, I believed that reading multiple books at a time would take away from each individual book.
But I changed my mind on that. And here’s why: Sometimes I just don’t feel like reading whatever it is I am currently reading. Not every book is a can’t-put-it-down experience and that’s just the reality. And when I only allow myself to read one book at a time, I don’t have anything else to pick up and read when I don’t feel like reading my current book. So I’m giving myself some flexibility this year. If I’m deep into a book and that’s all I want to read, that’s what I’ll read. If I need a little more variety, I’ll give myself that too.
So currently I am reading three books. One was left unread from my 2016 list, one is a re-read from my 2016 list, and one is brand new.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I made it a goal to read the Harry Potter series in 2016. I felt like I was the last person on Earth to read this series and I just really needed to understand what the cult following was all about. Well, I didn’t finish the series in 2016. I hesitate to admit this, but I just didn’t find the story gripping. I mean, I enjoy the books fine enough. But it’s not a can’t-put-it-down feeling. I don’t crave more. I don’t lose track of time reading these books.
But many friends have sworn that the series gets way better in the last few books. So I am going to give it a go. I picked up the fifth book in the series back in October and I’m only about a third of the way through. I know! I am not the fastest reader, but it doesn’t normally take me this long to finish a good book. I just can’t get into it. The story feels so slow and drawn out. I’ll get there though.
Harry Potter, you’re lucky everyone and their brother promises me this series is worth finishing. Otherwise, I woulda quit you a long time ago. I just hope I’m not disappointed.
Hands Free Mama
Hands Free Mama, by Rachel Macy Stafford, was one of the books on my list last year that I did read. And I loved it. It really helped me to open my eyes to how much I was missing in the everyday.
I began last year having made big strides in simplifying my life in terms of the number of commitments and obligations I had. And this book felt like a really good place to continue that growth. This passage in particular resonated with me. I found it while revisiting this book and realized it’s relevant once again.
While I had shaved down my volunteer commitments big-time, I decided to start a new business last August. As new businesses do, that really took a great deal of my time to start up. I pushed myself hard those last 5 months of 2016, and I think it was my subconscious knowing that this book would help bring me back to a more balanced approach. I had forgotten about this passage, but when I came across it a week or two ago, it really struck me. It was like a light suddenly shown down, making clear that I had once again taken it too far. Revisiting this book was good for my soul. I think I’ll look for another past-favorite to revisit next month.
Start With Why
This last book is one of the business-y leadership reads that I would have devoured 3 years ago when I was working on my MBA. But this genre took a backseat for a few years as I worked on focusing more on my inner self. I had been reading books about happiness, contentment, and simplifying. But starting a new business last year has brought these topics back to the forefront of my interests again.
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek is a book that has been recommended quite a bit by the leaders of my LuLaRoe team. Since I want to grow that business and since I’ve begun to start my own team, I thought it would be a good book to start the year with. I am about halfway through and it is really resonating with me. I completely get the concept of “starting with why”. I just hope the rest of the book gives some solid, concrete practices to implement. Stay tuned. I’ll report back when I’ve finished the book.
What are you reading these days? What books should I read next month? Let’s chat in the comments!