Reflections on My Year of Reading

In 2015, I set a goal of reading one hundred books.  I got to only 85, but I pushed myself to read a certain number every month, and I picked up lots of books that were new and buzzy and perhaps not things I would normally enjoy.  This experience was good, but exhausting.  I got to the end of the year, and while my list of read books on Goodreads had grown, there weren't any clear favorites, or books that had thrilled me in that particular way that marks a good read.  That disappointed me, and made me think about how reading lots of books does not necessarily ensure they will all be notable.

Therefore, in 2016, I decided I would only read books I really wanted to read, I would read books of substance, books that could teach me, move me, change me, touch me from my intellect to my heart.  At the end now, I can say with confidence that my reading this year fulfilled those goals.  The books I read this year did change me, and I am infinitely grateful that a goal based on numbers didn't force me to read meaningless fiction all the time to stay on track.  I read what I loved this year, and I loved what I read.

That said, I read 29 books this year (maybe it will be 30 by the end), a far cry from the number I read last year, and fewer than I would have liked, if I'm being honest.  I did, however, enjoy every book I read, and I only read books I wanted to read.  Most of that number was made up of nonfiction, which is different for me, but ultimately what I wanted to happen.  And I never really felt like reading fiction this year at all, except during the summer, which always happens with me anyway.  Otherwise, I read a ton of history, some Tim Keller, a few works of poetry, and some Christian living type books.  But mostly, I read history this year, which was simply the sort of stuff I wanted to read most of the time.  I love military history, so the two main time periods I read were The Revolutionary War and WWII, with a healthy dose of Cold War era history.  It was great.  I did not get to as many classics this year as I wanted to, and apart from finishing War & Peace in the beginning of the year, I don't think I read any, which is sad.  Obviously, and not unexpectedly, college had a lot to do with both my smaller number this year, and the fact that probably about 50% of what I did read this year was through Audible.  I have no qualms about reading that way, and I expected college to disrupt my reading.  I didn't, however, appreciate how much it disrupted things.

So what are my hopes for reading in 2017?  Well, I've decided I need to read more.  More fiction, more classics, more nonfiction, too.  I didn't like not reading books for pleasure for a whole semester. I think if I had, my stress levels would have been less, and I would have had a better time, basically.  So that's goal number one.  Intentionally carve out time to read and make it a priority.  Rather than finishing up homework at night and then watching a show, as much as I love that, I want to choose to read.  Reading is important to me, not only because of how much I learn, but because it is such a part of me at this point, it feels utterly strange not to read.  Here's to having a book with me at all times and reading in between classes and before class starts rather than staring at my phone.

I've done my best not to set any lofty reading goals, but I have a couple small ones.  First, I want to get into another big classic.  I loved loved loved reading War & Peace and stretching that baby over a good few months, and I want to do that again.  I'm thinking Crime & Punishment by Dostoyevsky, because I've heard so many good things about it recently, but we'll see.  Secondly, I want to get back into fiction.  Taking a year off was good, and I love historical nonfiction to the moon and back, but I did miss a good old novel.  Any recommendations for substantive novels would be appreciated.  And that's pretty much all I've got.  Read more, read better.  Those will always be my goals when it comes to books.

My reading this year has touched me and stretched me and molded me, and I am forever grateful to all the books and authors who change me each year.  Reading will always be my favorite thing, and in 2017, I will make it a high priority again and keep it there where it belongs.


Amy Shaw said...

I definitely think quality over quantity is the way to go, which is why I never want to set myself up with a number of books to read each year. That and I want reading to be fun, not stressful. And I think it's awesome that you read any books for pleasure while in college because I sure didn't. Keep at it! I really regret the years I wasted not reading outside of what I was required. I would also highly rec Crime and Punishment; it was very influential to me when I read it in high school.

Ella said...

Thanks for your comment, Amy! I appreciate your encouragement re: reading in college and I really hope to get to Crime & Punishment this year.

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