Are you the type that plans out a reading list for the year, and somewhere within the first month that reading list gets pushed toward the bottom of your ‘to do’ list? Or are you one of the type of person to be dedicated to your reading list? Or are you like me, and you have a list that you keep adding to throughout the year and just roll it over as the next year rolls round?
There is no shame in any of these options (or even if you don’t have a reading list). All of us are different, and there is no right or wrong way to read, unless you attend classes with a specific planned lesson and goal to your reading. In that case, get going. But if you are like me, and you don’t have a deadline to meet when it comes to reading, at times, it can be hard to get that literary prowess going. That is what I have been navigating this last week or two. I have set myself up for extreme failure in what I have done. And I say this in a light-hearted and fun way. I have a list from last year that I kept adding interesting books to as I saw them or heard from someone else that it was on their list. I am a self-proclaimed ‘book-aholic’. I want to read everything! However, there are only so many hours in a day, and like many of you, I have other obligations and responsibilities to tend to.
I did read 64 books last year. I use the word ‘read’ here loosely though. I listened to about half of them on Audible, which I highly recommend by the way. By listening to them, I was able to get stuff done while still getting in the knowledge or entertainment of books without having to stop and direct all of my focus on the physical act of reading. I do this with listening to the Bible as well through an application called ‘Dwell’. These are the two most used additional applications on my smart phone. While doing laundry, washing dishes, sweeping and mopping the floor, folding clothes, going through the clutter of the house, walking the neighborhood, or sitting down crocheting, I am able to plow through my reading list during my kids’ school day and after the kids go to bed.
Now that the first month of the new year is over, I realize that I have unrealistic expectations on my time each day for all of the things I need to do. For the past 10 years, I have been utilizing the Erin Condren Life Planner to keep things organized in my life. As I have mentioned before in previous blog posts, I have a blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. There are many different challenges that come with having this form of cancer in addition to being a mother of four boys and to being a wife. I am an active member of an amazing local congregation. Within that portion of believers of Jesus, I am a member of a group of people that check in on the ‘sick and the shut in’; a group that we call the “Care Team”. Having the planner really helped to stay on track.
Last year, I began to write down the title and author of each book that I wanted to read within the monthly sections of the planner. As I got closer and closer to the end of the year, I noticed that the list was growing faster than I was able to keep up with. And as the end of the year wrapped up, I began planning for the next year – this year. My current list has 53 books on it in addition to my regular read through of the Bible from beginning to end. I am positive that I will add to the list, and ultimately, I will not read every book on the list. I am not hard on myself. I do realize that it is alright if I don’t read everything. There isn’t a specific time limit, maybe other than life itself.
But there are times when I think that I am not doing as much as others. In that moment, I have to reevaluate how well I am utilizing my time. If I compare my habits to someone else, I am going to be hard on myself unnecessarily. And that is where my habit of keeping a planner really pays off in one aspect of my life. I look back on what I did in the past, and I am encouraged rather than defeated. I am reading more than I did in the past, and the subject matter is more complex than before. So that helps me get my focus off of comparing myself to someone else. The only one that I need to compare myself to is myself. My reading list is just that – MY reading list. I don’t have to answer to anyone about what I read and when.
So, if you have a personal reading list that seems to grow longer faster than it shrinks, you are in good company. And I applaud you. I also applaud you if you do so happen to read your list within a given time frame that is good for you. Good for you. And if you don’t exactly have a ‘reading list’ per se, that is alright, too. I need to write down the books I want to read in the moment or else I won’t read them. I guess it all comes down to this: read if you want to and don’t if you don’t want to. There is no judgment in it from me. Have a great day.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..