Reading Plans for 2016

It seems that 2016 is the year of Reading Challenges. Have you seen the one Tim Challies put on his blog? (Complete with printable category lists.) Redeemed Reader has a version for younger readers as well. I'm starting to see personal lists showing up on various blogs I read such as this one or this one or this one.

Up until now, I've been a fairly spontaneous reader. I tend make book choices based on various reviews and favorite authors, but now, for the first time, I've compiled a moderately thorough list of books across a number of genres and themes to read in the new year. Strange, considering that I've been making such literature lists for my kids for years!

I suppose I've shied away from making my own literature lists because I enjoy the freedom of picking whatever appeals to me at a given time. Reading is my primary relaxation. I read nearly every night for at least a few minutes, even on those nights I'm totally spent. And I haven't wanted to ruin that time by making it drudgery.

But this year is going to be different! Because this year I'm going to actually work from a list of titles I've put together. And the reason is because I want to expand the types of books I read and aim for some more helpful volumes than the ones I naturally turn to.

And yet, in order to not turn my favorite pastime into heavy labor, I've put together some guidelines. I want to keep reading fun, but challenge myself at the same time.

Anne's Notes to Self for 2016 Reading:

1. Aim to read widely over numerous genres and themes!

2. Read wisely.

2. Have three (sometimes more) books to choose from at any give time.  
One should be "stiff," one "moderately easy," and one a novel. Of these, one should be a book which will help me grow spiritually. Here's what "A." wrote back in 1892 in Charlotte Mason's Parent's Review magazine:
The wisest woman I ever knew–the best wife, the best mother, the best mistress, the best friend–told me once, when I asked her how, with her weak health and many calls upon her time, she managed to read so much, “I always keep three books going–a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take up the one I feel fit for!” That is the secret; always have something “going” to grow by. If we mothers were all “growing” there would be less going astray among our boys, less separation in mind from our girls.

3. It's OK to reject a book after giving it a fair try.

4. It's OK to go on a jag on one topic or author, but keep in check.
(Because so often reading one book leads to another on a similar topic as interest is piqued!)

5. Re-reading books is allowed.

6. Create a large list to draw from. 
I did this on Goodreads by making different bookshelves for the titles I'm interested in. For sure I won't read everyone of the 51 books on my "To Read" shelf, and I'll certainly read some that aren't there yet. But this gives me a good start on deciding that old question, "What should I read next?"

7. Do a better job keeping track of what I've read.
I'll attempt to do this both on Goodreads and also in my reading journal. Up to this point, I've been very spotty in using both of these tools.

What will I be reading in 2016?
I don't entirely know, which is exciting. But I can say that I'm eagerly anticipating a number of my options such as Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon; Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime; and E. M. Bound's classic, Power Through Prayer. Since we're all but at the New Year, I've gotten a head start this week with these books:

1. Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret  (Howard Taylor)
2. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
3. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment (D. E. Stevenson)

Here's to a 2016 with both wide and wise reading!


theologista said…
Hudson Taylor's SPiritual Secret is a very good book. Encouraging and challanging all at the same time. I hope you enjoy it!

In a similar vein, if you haven't read it, is the autobiography of George Mueller. Mueller and Taylor were contemporaries and acquaintances and their stories have some similarities.
Anne said…
Yes, I've read several bios of both Hudson Taylor and George Mueller before, and have been encouraged so much by their lives! I don't know that I have read George Mueller's autobiography, though, so I'll add that to my list. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!
Thank you for reading my list. I've enjoyed your notes to yourself. It can be quite hard to reject a book. I know that I have kept some books on my "vaguely in progress" list for far to long when they should be discarded! The forensics book sounds fascinating but that is the ex-doctor part of me.
Hmmm...Perhaps you are the person who put Mrs. Tim of the Regiment on hold at the library so that I couldn't finish it last month. I hope you were able to finish it before it was due again. (-: Or if you happen to own it, I'd love to borrow it when you're finished.

I'm not very systematic in my reading, but I am hoping to read more helpful and encouraging books this year, especially biographies. I'm reading In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom, which gives much more background on their lives in Holland before WWII. It is very encouraging to read how God used such ordinary people.
Anne said…
Haha, Heather! Yes, it must have been my hold that prevented you from finishing it. But I've been enjoying the other two books I'm currently in more, so I hadn't finished Mrs. Tim by yesterday when it was due. And turnabouts fair play, right? When I tried to renew Mrs. Tim, I found it had a hold. Yours, maybe?
I also have been reading more about WW II and the Holocaust since our trip to the museum. I have In My Father's House on my shelves, but it has been decades since I read it, so I think I'll add it to my list for this year. And yes, what an encouragement to read how God can use ordinary people!

Sarah - some of my family think I'm strange, but it is the former chemist in me that delights in reading topics like forensics and the human microbiome. ;)
Kristen Wegener said…
Mom, I read "In My Father's House" last year. Worth a re-read! Thanks for your list. I may join you in reading some of these!
Yes, I did put another hold on it. At least the library will consider it a popular title if we keep passing it back and forth. (-:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Anna Karenina. Many people who read it for book club a few years ago didn't like it, but I found it a fascinating study in contrasts, perhaps because I read that Tolstoy considered calling it Two Marriages (a much better title, in my opinion). It is so much more than a story of adultery when you consider the growth of one marriage in contrast with the destruction of the other.

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