2015 Reading Resolutions

Cross-posted on BostonWriters

Last year, Reading in Winter got me hooked on reading challenges. Theirs was pleasantly complicated and arranged in a BINGO! format that kept me reading until I had READ ALL THE BOOKS.

This year, Reading in Winter has abandoned their Book Bingo Reading Challenge in favor of a Read Local challenge.  Read Local for them means Read Canadian. I like Canadians, I really do, and I have no doubt that Canadian literature is an underappreciated art form. The problem was I didn’t much want to dedicate my entire reading year to it.

Still, I wanted to do something to focus my reading this year. So I spent some time surveying the reading challenges available to me.

There are tons of reading challenges out there. The Goodreads reading challenge is the most basic. Tell them how many books you’re going to read this year, then go do it. I wanted something a little more intentional than that.

There are challenges to get you to read more library books, read more Victorian literature, clear out your to-be-read pile, read more African American/Asian/Latino/women/new-to-you writers. There’s even a reading challenge to see how many different reading challenges you can enter and complete in 2015.

In the end, I made my decision the old-fashioned way. I made a list.

This year I want to:

  1. Support my local library
  2. Give new-to-me authors a try
  3. Support diversity in publishing
  4. Read great writers in the hopes of picking up a good trick or two
  5. Plow through more of my To-Be-Read pile
  6. Have fun

I borrowed Reading in Winter’s Book Bingo Scorecard idea and crafted one of my own that reflected these goals. Every month, I would work toward these goals by reading:

  • One book from my local library
  • One book from a writer I’d not read before
  • One book from a writer of color
  • One book from a Nobel Prize winner
  • One book from my To-Be-Read pile
  • And just for fun, I’m playing Authors A-Z, a game in which you try to read at least one book from a writer with last name that starts A-Z (the goal being to collect at least one author for every letter of the alphabet)

This means reading six books a month. Most months, that’s not a problem. But in months I can only log four of the good-for-me books (like *cough* January), I let myself use one book from that month in two categories. Toni Morrison, for example, is both a Nobel Prize winner and an author of color, so in January, I used her book A Mercy in both places.

I’d rather read six books a month. But then again, stressing myself out over whether I’ll be able to finish that sixth book in a given month kind of undercuts the whole “Have fun” plan.

The Seven-Year-Old liked the idea of collecting authors by their last names so much that she wants to do it too.

I made a scorecards for both of us, because of course I did. Here are mine.

The Good for Me Books

Looks like someone forgot to visit their local library in January. (Scorecard: Mommyo)

Looks like someone forgot to visit their local library in January. Tsk. Tsk. (Scorecard: Mommyo)

The Have Fun! Books

This one is nice because it lets me record the other books I read that don't fit nicely into the "Make Mommyo a better person" categories. (Scorecard: Shala Howell)

This one is nice because it lets me record the other books I read that don’t fit nicely into the “Make Mommyo a better person” categories. (Scorecard: Shala Howell)

Hmm… My reading may be weighted a little heavily toward having fun.

If The Seven-Year-Old ever lets me see her scorecard again, I’ll share it with you too. Through unofficial channels (read: by tucking her in at night) I’ve learned that she’s reading The Little House on the Prairie series at the moment.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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6 Responses to 2015 Reading Resolutions

  1. rayworth1973 says:

    I read about a book and a half a week, despite working, writing an article a week on my own web site, writing for the Sunday edition of Let’s Talk Nevada, writing the LVAS Observer’s Challenge, and writing my novels plus my other hobbies like astronomy and woodworking. I HAVE to read because I love it, not because it’s a challenge or anything. Luckily, I’m not forced to use the “wyberry” yet, so I go to Barnes & Noble or the Nellis Base Exchange or once in a while even Wal Mart. I buy books new. I have specific favorite genres after too many decades of learning what I like and don’t like. I don’t need to figure out or to stretch myself or to suffer to learn or whatever. I’ve done enough of that already for the time being. I read for pure pleasure. If I want to “learn” something I’ll take a class, but wait a moment.. I already have enough degrees to last me quite a while. So… unless something strikes my fancy… Then again, I’m a lot older and in a few ways maybe wiser so…

    That’s great that you’re spreading your wings and getting diversity. Expanding your world. A lot of people never do that and I applaud you for expanding your horizons. All the best.


    • Shala Howell says:

      Good for you. I read because I love it too, but I also enjoy seeing at the end of the year how I’ve spent my reading year, hence the scorecards. I’ve also found that with all the moving and generalized chaos of my life that if I don’t track my reading, it tends to slip out of my day. I’m just a much happier person when I read regularly, so reading needed to become a priority in how I chose to spend my time. As for the library vs bookstore, like you, I buy most of my books. However, the libraries around here are constantly fighting for budget money, and through my librarian friends, I’ve learned that higher utilization numbers are quite helpful to them when they are making their budget appeals. There are a ton of people here in Chicago for whom the public library is a critical resource, and I’d like to keep them around. Also, my local library hosts a number of author readings, and one day I’d like it to host me. It can’t do that if it’s been closed.


  2. I wish I had time to read this much, but what a fun method of choosing books. I have to ask, since you are the first person I have seen read it, but D.E. Stevenson’s Miss Buncle’s Book. How was it?


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