Reading Goals 2017
Jan 12, 2017
I've been brainstorming, compiling, adding, deleting, and narrowing down my reading goals for 2017 for awhile now. It's hard to find the perfect balance. Last year, I felt pretty good about my content-specific goals, but my numbers goal, as I've already mentioned, was stressful. I want to be pushed but not panicked, stretched but not stressed. Is that too much to ask?
Taking those feelings into account, I'm setting a similar number of content goals, but lowering my numbers goal to 48. Given my reading habits during the last five years, that number might seem so low that it shouldn't even be a "goal." Of course I'm going to read 48 books! The last time I read fewer than 48 books in a year was before I had kids. But I think I'm setting it low this year because I don't want the numbers to be my focus (but the Type A part of me still loves seeing that little tracker tick off the books, so I have to set some sort of goal). I'm also interested to see if I take a more relaxed approach to the numbers if I'll only squeak by with the bare minimum because I'm not as focused or if I'll surpass it by a lot. (Suzanne and I talked a little about the pros and cons of setting a numbers goal in Episode 3 of The Book Blab, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this conundrum.)
Anyway, while I'm not sure how I'm feeling about a numbers goal this year, I'm very excited about my content-specific goals. These goals always help me tackle genres I've been avoiding, read books that I've been wanting to read for forever, and just generally help give some direction and structure to my reading life. I always consider just participating in a pre-made challenge (Anne Bogel has two excellent challenges to choose from this year), but I always go back to just setting my own goals because I want to stretch myself while still reading the things that are actually important and interesting to me. So without further ado, I present you with my reading goals for 2017:
1. Read two books about childbirth
I think the reason behind this goal is fairly obvious (hello, baby!). I just really find birth stories incredibly motivating and inspiring, and so one of the best ways for me to prepare for the birth of our new baby is by reading about the births of other babies. I already have two books picked out for this goal: Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent and The Gift of Giving Life by Felice Austin, but I'm definitely up for other suggestions if you have one that you love. This goal does have a bit of a time constraint on it (beyond the general year deadline). I'm due April 24th, and as much as I love reading about birth, I don't think it's going to be as helpful if I wait until after the baby comes.
2. Read three books with Maxwell and three books with Aaron
One of my favorite goals from last year was reading some of the same books as Aaron (not to him--he would read on his own, and I would do the same). Not only did it strengthen our relationship (because shared books really do make you feel more connected), but it also helped me explore some books for that age group that I might not have otherwise and gave me some great titles to recommend. This year, I'm adding Maxwell to the mix, and I can already tell you it's going to be a much different experience. Aaron was basically on board with any book I threw at him, and consequently, I did all of the choosing. Max is not going to be such an easy sell. In fact, it will probably end up being him who does the choosing and me who does the following--which might mean I'm in for some . . . interesting . . . books.
3. Read Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott and The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Sometimes I prefer a more general goal to give me greater flexibility, but sometimes there are certain books I'm set on reading, and I know it won't happen without a goal. Such is the case with this goal. Last year, I read Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, and a couple of you told me, "Eight Cousins is good, but Rose in Bloom is better." Recognizing that I have a dismal track record for reading sequels in a timely manner, I really want to get to Rose in Bloom before I forget all of the characters from Eight Cousins. Hence the goal. And The Blue Castle? It's there because every year I think I'm going to make time to read it, and I'm tired of letting other books get in the way.
4. Read a book about slow, conscientious living
I'm a homebody at heart. My favorite days are usually quiet, unscheduled, and filled with cozy activities like reading or knitting. I've been embracing that part of myself more this winter, and consequently have been really interested in reading books such as The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, or Breaking Busy by Ali Worthington. I might save this goal for the fall, so there's plenty of time for you to add your own recommendations for books on this subject if you're so inclined.
5. Start a new mystery series and read another mystery by Agatha Christie
I actually enjoy mysteries quite a bit, but I don't read them too often (in 2016, I think I read a whopping zero, which shows the kind of priority I put on them). However, sometimes they're the perfect little reset when reading has begun to feel tedious. I've had my eye on a couple of series that I want to try (the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny or the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series by Anne Perry). Also, every year I think, I want to read something else by Agatha Christie because the two mysteries of hers that I have read were so well-crafted and intriguing, so I'm finally going to read another one this year. This goal, as you can probably tell, is purely for fun. I love fun goals.
6. Read Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson throughout the year
I was really excited about this goal when I thought it up a couple months ago and put it on my "tentative 2017 goals" list. Anne Bogel has called Home Comforts the "best book you've never heard of on housekeeping," and I feel like I'm always searching for the best way to keep my house clean and my sanity in check, so it seemed like something I had to read. But in the interim, my enthusiasm waned a bit (possibly related to the behemoth 900-page size of this book--how could anyone have that much to say on keeping house?!). However, I already purchased it for my kindle, and I think I will feel a bit of guilt if I don't follow through with it. I am anticipating this book being a part of all of 2017.
7. Read a parenting book
It sounds like I'm being all nice and vague with this goal, but really I'm not. The only book I have in mind, and really the only one I want to read, is The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax. You can try to persuade me to something else, but I'm pretty much set on it. I've heard such good things about it (including from my own mother), and Boys Adrift, an earlier book by Leonard Sax, is one of my favorite parenting books of all time, and this seems like a good follow-up.
8. Read two Young Adult books
This goal was prompted by Mike's cousin (who also happens to be one of my best friends) who happened to say a couple of weeks ago, "I notice that you have a lot of children's literature and adult books on your blog, but you don't seem to read very much YA." It was an accurate observation. And it's actually a problem because people will ask me for YA recommendations, and it's like this gaping hole in my literary repertoire. It's not that I haven't read any YA, but out of the ones I have read, there are very few I actually feel like recommending. I like the idea of YA, but the books always leave me feeling annoyed and depressed: the content often shocks me while at the same time feeling so immature (maybe I just don't like teenagers?). So I have a (perhaps impossible) request for all of you, my dear readers: Please recommend your favorite young adult books. But here's the catch: I'm looking for clean, well-written, realistic fiction--not fantasy or fairy tales. Why? Because most of the YA books I already recommend are fantasy (they tend to be quite a bit cleaner), but I actually prefer realistic fiction--I just can't find any that I like. It's a tall order, I know, but please tell me it's out there.
9. Read the 2017 Newbery winner
I have no idea what this book will be, but I'll find out on January 23rd. On the slight chance that I've actually read the winner, I'll read one of the honors instead.
10. Read Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley
This one is directly tied to one of my personal goals and also my theme for 2017, which I'll hopefully share more about in a later post. But basically, I adore Marjorie Hinckley and am so inspired by her life and words. I can't wait to read and highlight and make notes in this book and, most of all, apply what I learn.
I have so many more books I want to read this year, and so there's a part of me that wants to keep adding more goals (I had to delete so many other possibilities!). But I've set these yearly reading goals enough to know that I will be stretching and challenging myself as is. Looking back over these new goals makes me excited, and I think I've settled on the ones that are truly important (or truly fun) for me. Plus, I want to still leave time for myself to read on a whim. Reading for me is all about structure, flexibility, and balance, and hopefully I've achieved that with these goals.
What reading goals have you made for yourself this year? And, equally important, what books should I read to fulfill my goals?