In my life, I have found this quote of Peter Drucker to be true: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” It applies to weight loss (tracking calories in, calories spent) and also to other goals you might have in life like book reading. I am a very goal-oriented person, so it really helps me to define what I want to achieve, and why, and break down the goal into smaller steps to help me taste success along the way and keep going. I need to see that I am getting somewhere. I need a focus.
Many people say that they wish they could read more books. Reading can educate us, inspire us, carry us away–it is a great use of your time because it squeezes many lives into your one life. But because life is often hectic and distractions happen, if you don’t have a clear goal for yourself and a reminder about why it is important, this reading you would like to see happen is likely to take a backseat to the other things going on. One thing I have found to motivate myself to read more is to simply write down what I have read. This helps me to track my progress and also encourages me to finish the books I start. It can be tempting to start a new book before finishing the old book but when you are keeping a list, you can’t write it down until you finish it. It is a small feeling of accomplishment–there–finished–check.
I have given myself the goal of reading 52 books per year. One per week, on average. Some weeks more, some less. This is just to keep myself going and have an idea of how close I am coming to my goal. One day I would like to be able to read more, but that will have to wait until my kids have grown up some, I think. Since I started this reading list 3 years ago, I have become “a reader”, where before, I never would have thought of myself as one. This has enriched my life immensely and kept me going and growing through some very tough times. I think it is also good for my kids to see me engaged in a reading life–hopefully they will take up the habit as well.
Depending on what is going on in your life, you may want to give yourself a different goal–perhaps certain numbers of different genres, perhaps more or less… I believe there are some sites like Goodreads that you can track your books with and even discuss them with people online–I am a dinosaur and wouldn’t know about such things… But making a reading goal for yourself and tracking it is a good gentle nudge to remember to do the important things for your well-being, and not just the urgent things.
Here is my 2017 list, so far:
- Pathways to Bliss by Joseph Campbell
- Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer
- What Now? by Ann Patchett
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Foodist by Darya Rose
- Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone
- Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
- Become Who You Were Born to Be by Brian Souza
- Writing Children’s Books by Jane Yolen
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
- 5 Years in Heaven by John Schlimm
- Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
- In Defense of Liberal Education by Fareed Zakaria
- So You Want to Be a Librarian by Lauren Pressley
- How the West Won by Rodney Stark
- Why Teach? by Mark Edmundson
- The Journey by Peter Kreeft
- In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
- Unashamed by Christine Caine
- I Thought it Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown
- Why Write? by Mark Edmundson
- Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (probably the best one so far for me this year)
- The New Old Me: My Late-Life Reinvention by Meredith Maran
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
- Robot Coconut Trees by Kelsey Horton
- The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
- The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher
- Enjoy Your Journey by Joyce Meyer
One thing I have noticed is that since I have started this blog, I have been reading a lot less–I need to find ways to squeeze in both reading and writing. Having a goal makes me aware that I am not meeting it and take action to get back on track. Having a list of what you have been reading can also help you to see patterns of interest and growth in your life. You can learn a lot about a person by seeing what is on their bookshelves or list of books read.
What is the best book you have read this year?