With reading being one of my major hobbies, you’d think that I’ve always been an avid reader, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s only been within the last 5 years that I discovered a love for reading. In high school, do you know how many books (besides textbooks) that I read? A whopping ONE BOOK! Jane Eyre. And that was only because I was assigned that book in my English class. I loved the book, but for some reason, I didn’t even think about picking up another book for another decade or so. Textbooks have their place, but in reality, I have never felt like snuggling up on the couch with a riveting textbook (if one even exists) and the world of textbooks was all I really knew in school.
I started reading a little bit more when I was in my mid 20’s (which was a little over 10 years ago). I would read one book a year or so. Then over these past 5 years, I started reading more frequently because I got a membership to the Knox County Library and was exposed to a huge selection of books, in comparison to the small library in my town that carried what seemed like mostly paperback romance novels. With my Knox County library card, I would bring home half a dozen books at a time on various topics. I took my time browsing at the library and checked out books on all sorts of subjects (cookbooks, religious, historical, etc.). And surprisingly, I found that I would complete more books when I was reading more than one book at a time.
Around this time last year (Dec. 2012), I made a decision to really delve into reading A LOT. I was inspired by the MoneySaving Mom and her Book Reading list. Because of my previous read-a-few-here, read-a-few-there mindset, I decided that I needed to give myself my own Book Reading Challenge. So I wrote out my 2013 Book Reading Challenge list by breaking down the dozens of books into monthly ‘homework assignments’. I printed out the list and committed to reading the books. I never wanted to feel like it was a homework assignment though- and it didn’t. I was not a slave to the list and it changed frequently throughout the year as I found that books weren’t available at the library or that a book that I had started reading became quite boring; in that case, I would not force myself to finish.
In only one case was I disappointed that I didn’t finish a book that I truly wanted to complete and that was Pilgrim’s Progress. It was the second time (once being many years before) that I had tried reading Pilgrim’s Progress and I just couldn’t get into the book. I like books that have chapters or some way of breaking up the book into smaller portions because with the busyness of my big family and full life, I like to end off somewhere that is easily sectioned off. Pilgrim’s Progress is one long book- no chapters for me to break off on. So each time I would come back to the book, I lost track of what was happening and I lost interest in the characters.
I will be continuing my Book Reading Challenge for 2014 and I want to make sure that I never feel like I HAVE to read all of the books listed. My ultimate and highest responsibility is not in doing a good job at completing a book list, but in doing a good job at being a wife and mother. I never want my family to view me as a distant, yet well-read person, but rather someone who could find time for the things she enjoys while also enjoying the things she loves most: family. I think it is important for my children to see that just because I have lots of responsibilities at home, it doesn’t mean that I have to hide behind that as an excuse that I can’t make time for pleasurable hobbies- mine, being reading and writing. Even more importantly, I want to pass down the love of learning, reading, researching, and writing because sadly, in our culture, these things may be a dying ‘art’. Technology is taking the place of deeper studies and who knows where we will be in one or two generations if we continue on this same path. So, my love of reading is a gift to myself, a gift to my children and you could say even a gift to my future grandchildren.
If you would like to start reading more this next coming year, why not begin by giving yourself a Book Reading Challenge? Start off very simple so that you won’t overwhelm yourself and then give up right away. Make a list of a few books that you have wanted to read, but haven’t gotten around to it. Then commit to reading those books during the times that would most easily fit your schedule- At night while the kids are sleeping? Early morning hours? Summer break? You will have to rearrange your current lifestyle to make time for this new habit, but surely there are some distractions, such as web surfing or social media, that can be downsized in favor of a more lasting, favorable change. I wish you all the best in 2014!