Friday, January 31, 2014

Reading Goals for 2014

In my childhood, reading was the favored activity. From dawn to dusk any free time I had found me nose deep in a book. For several years I could read one a day. As my free time grew less and the books became more challenging (i.e. non-fiction) I went through one a week, give or take. And of course I learned about having multiple books stacked next to the bed all of which I was reading.
However, the past two years of motherhood, marriage, and generally living life left me with a shorter stack of books, and taking a lot longer to work through them. Last year I overwhelmed myself with a long list of books to be read in 2013, along with deadlines for finishing them. By mid-year I was frustrated whenever I sat down to read, and unable to focus on a once-loved activity. So I stopped reading my books and just read to my wee ones. Hardly stimulating material.

Throughout last autumn I learned a lot about how to say "no" to the world outside. This left me with a great deal of time that had hitherto been filled by church, extended family, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. And I found I could read again. Not the way I used too; after all I have a home to care for and children to invest in. I found I could read about two books a month. So in early January I made a list of books I would like to read. Books we have been given, books recommended, books that have sat on our shelves untouched, books borrowed. I organized by subject/genre, then picked three for January and three for February. And that is about as far as I have planned. I picked books that felt relevant to the needs of the hour. As the month draws to a close, I am trying to remember that it is not about finishing the final chapters of each book in a late night cram. It is about learning when to say "no"; to reading, to events, to outings, to the Internet. The needs of my life are my husband, two toddlers, and pregnancy. I can't do every good activity, clean every room, read every good book I hear of. But I am happy with how my reading is going so far. It is nice to pick up a book and read a page or two. Right now, it is not about finishing a check list. It is about choosing the best things over the good ones.

So did I read in January?

This has been a slow read, and more of a reference book. I am about half way through. It was passed on to me a while back by my sister-in-law. I picked it as a stimulator for ideas on managing my little family as we move out of the baby years. The author has a great deal of helpful thoughts. It is the small things that I that give me "Aha!" moments. Since I have a natural bent to organization, and was raised by an organized mother, the book feels like a repeat of things I already know. But I would recommend it to those who are looking for help in managing their homes.

Nearly at the end of this and I think I might need to read it all over again. This book was a gift last spring, but was so timely for right now as I re-evaluate a my stage of life.
I also have been reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as part of a large blog community.
Jane Austen and Motherhood is the reflective theme. It is fun to re-read this classic as a wife and mother. Whole new set of thoughts than when I was unmarried. The plan is to read through all six Austen novels this year. It is nice to have some familiar fiction to pick up now and then.

Those were the books I set out to read. A couple of bonuses came from a trip to the library.
This cookbook is now on my wish list. In the past month I learned a huge amount about making sourdough, a super simple pretzel recipe (Ethan loved making those) and successfully made croissants.
I picked up an audio copy of Wind in the Willows from the library, borrowed a beautifully illustrated version from my parents, and Ethan and I have enjoyed the adventures of Mole, Rat, Mr. Toad, and Badger over the past month. It was pleasant way to replace Netflix, and I hope I can find more stories to enjoy with my wee ones.
Along the lines of learning to say "no": The Art of Simple: To Don't Do, is a very encouraging article. I hope you are all settling well into whatever goals you made for 2014.

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