My 2020 Reading Intentions
This year I’m making my reading life all about balance. Often I find my reading life swings like a pendulum. I read through a stack of books for review only to get burnt out and start a phase of reading solely books I’ve purchased myself. Or I read one too many difficult books in a row and find myself exclusively drawn to rereading Harry Potter. I’d love to create a reading life that’s more consistently balanced. Additionally, last year I pushed myself to read 100 books. I noticed that in trying to read more, I often read books that I knew would work for me and be easy for me to get through. While that’s totally fine (and my 2019 year was lightyears beyond 2018 in terms of book quality), I definitely gave up reading certain types of books in order to maintain my pace towards 100 books. This year I want to shake things up a bit and seek more equilibrium. Here’s what I’m hoping to balance in my reading life this year:
- Reading new books for reviews and reading the backlist titles that are on my shelves. Occasionally, I get overwhelmed by the books I receive to review and, in an attempt to hide from responsibility, I bury myself in books from my own shelves. Other times I plow through my ARCS and get bogged down by the monotony of new books that at times feel too similar. This year, I hope to not let my review books get the best of me. I’ll be extra choosy with which books I read in advance and make sure I’m giving myself enough variety with classics and other books that have been on my TBR for years.
- Books that are mirrors and books that are windows. These English teacher terms are so useful in my classroom as well as in my own reading. Mirror books are the ones that reflect my own experiences back to me. Window books are the ones that let me glimpse into lives and perspectives that are different from my own. I think I do a pretty decent job of balancing this in my own reading, but this year I hope to pick both mirror and window books with greater intentionality. I want to consider the aspects of my own life that I rarely see in my fiction and try to seek out books that fill those gaps. Conversely, I want to make sure that I’m seeking wide-ranging stories for my window books by intentionally picking up #OwnVoices reads by perspectives I’m particularly unfamiliar with. Native voices, protagonists with chronic illnesses, and immigration stories are some of the narratives I’ll be seeking out this year.
- Books specifically for projects and books that suit my mood. You might think that I get overwhelmed with books that I read specifically for projects like my Teaching Reviews. In reality, I’m quite good at skiving off my responsibilities and reading exclusively what I want when I want. This year I have a few more projects (some personal and some for work) that are really important to me. I want to make sure that I stay on top of reading for my projects but still make time to pick up some of the books that are resonating with me in the moment.
- Books that challenge me and books that comfort me. Before I started my #Bookstagram account, I almost exclusively read classics or books that ended up on various literary award lists. I loved the challenge of making my way through a difficult book, parsing out the meaning, and reading up on what other critics thought of each work. Since I began reading publicly and more prolifically, I’ve begun picking up a much wider array of books and genres. I love a good mystery, the right twisty thriller, and historical fiction. I’m even dipping my toes into the romance realm and I couldn’t be happier with that new aspect of my reading life! While I am so glad that the #Bookstagram community has stripped me of my literary snobbery, I do really miss the type of focused, critical reading I did in school. This year, I’m hoping to get back into the habit of reading books that challenge me without giving up all of my new-found loves.