Last year, I set my Goodreads goal at 40. Before that, I had an average of 22-ish books read per year, and I was spending too much downtime on my phone, so I set a higher goal in order to give myself the push I needed to read. (It’s too easy to grab for phone for one thing and emerge three hours later not even having done that one thing.)
This year, I set my goal at 40 books again, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t want to measure my reading by pure numbers. I read a lot of nonfiction in 2021, yet found myself shying away from some of my heftier books because I didn’t want to be reading one book for two months (looking at you, Stamped from the Beginning). I didn’t intentionally pick shorter books in order to hit my goal; I read what I wanted to read, but the numbers goal did affect my choices slightly.
I don’t want to do that this year. There are a lot of books I’m interested in, but to really absorb them, I have to take time not just to read, but to think about what I’m reading. One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’m vaguely familiar with a lot of topics, but when it comes time to talk about them, I don’t remember any details or themes. Plus, I’ve been reading a lot of history and social science themes lately, and I want to not just read, but read critically. I want to think about how the author’s perspective intersects with my own – what’s the same, what’s different, what can I do better based on what the author is saying, what ideas are good, what ideas are flawed. I want to reread, reflect, and discuss. I want to actually learn stuff.
I’m reading 2 books right now. One is Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. There is a TON of info in that book, and a lot of it covers history my parents lived through, but I didn’t. My knowledge of American history, especially after the 60s, feels flimsy. I want to make sure I know what’s going on and what the context was for the issues Du Mez discusses, rather than glossing over what I don’t quite get.
I’m also reading the Bhagavad Gita. I took a class on Patanjali’s yoga sutras last summer, and the same teacher is now going through parts of the Bhagavad Gita. I want to learn more about yoga philosophy, so I’m reading through the whole thing alongside the classes. Because it’s a philosophical, historical text, reading it feels more like what reading my Bible felt like in high school than it does anything else. I’m trying to read it in small chunks and plan to journal about the questions and thoughts that come up while I’m reading.
Honestly, this is kind of an annoying way to read. It feels more like studying than reading, and it takes more effort and brainpower. But lately, I haven’t felt satisfied with what I’m absorbing from what I read, so here we are. I will definitely be interspersing some faster, easier fiction in between all this, as well as some childhood rereads I want to get to this year. (That’s another way I want this year to be different – I haven’t typically reread books but there’s some fiction I want to read for nostalgia and some nonfiction I want to reread because I don’t remember any details.)
I’m hoping my goal of reading more mindfully will naturally lead to more book blogging. That has gotten kind of stagnant the past few years, too. But I’m not putting a goal on that – I’m just going to read and see where the books take me this year.