One of my goals for 2021 is to be more intentional in my reading. Last year, along with many others, I did a lot of comfort reading. That was fine, and I don’t regret it, but there are areas in which I’d like to grow in my reading life. Growth will only occur if I’m deliberate since I’d much rather just pick up one more murder mystery.
One thing that helped a lot in my planning was listening to Episode 265 of the What Should I Read Next podcast. Anne’s guest Laura Tremaine had ten questions to ask about your reading life. I journaled through these questions and came up with some ideas on how I wanted to approach my reading in 2021.
Also, I downloaded the Literary Life podcast 19 in 2021 reading challenge and the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. Since the MMD challenge was more of a worksheet on how you want your reading life to look, I was able to combine the two challenges to give me a good list of areas in which to read this year.
Here are the categories I hope to tackle in 2021. These include both challenges plus some work reading:
- Poetry – They suggested an anthology, of which I own several. Normally I don’t read one straight through but dip in and out.
- Letters – These would be real-life letters, which I love to read. I may combine this category with the next one and read the last book of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s letters that I’ve owned for several years but not yet read.
- A book from my To-Be-Read stack – Lots to choose from here!
- Old Books – My cut off is anything pre-1950
- A Shakespeare play – I’ve read about three fourths of his plays and plan to read one new to me.
- A book that requires jumping a hurdle. Either because it’s difficult to read or long or I’m avoiding it for some reason.
- A book I started but never finished – There are several possibilities for this category.
- Something Russian – Perhaps I should combine the previous category with this one and finally finish Anna Karenina!
- Biography and Memoir – This is one of my favorite categories so I’ll have fun choosing a book for this one.
- Something Local – I can read a book set in my area or by a local author. Since I work with the local authors at my library, I have many possibilities.
- Reading Outside My Comfort Zone – This is a work category and part of the challenge.
- Travel Books – I have a couple on my shelves that I’ve been meaning to read.
- A Re-Read – I re-read regularly so this will be easy.
- A Favorite Topic – I could choose several areas here–writing, genealogy, cooking, needlework, English history, or theology.
- Focusing on an author – The idea is to read three or more books by the same author. I hope to choose a non-mystery author to stretch me.
- Multicultural/#OwnVoices novel or memoir – This is for work and part of the challenge – I completed this one by reading The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper.
- Theology and Christian Living – At least two of each this year.
- A Winter Reading Challenge badge – Our library has a winter reading challenge each year, and you can earn badges by reading books in different categories. I earned the Surviving Winter Challenge by reading Snow by John Banville, A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow, and Crossed Skis by Carol Carnac.
My January reading was very satisfying in comfort although not so much in the challenge. I read three nonfiction, one of which was poetry, fifteen fiction books, and one children’s book. Of the fiction, only three weren’t mysteries. As much as I love mysteries, I need to be more adventurous in my reading.
I re-read several Hercule Poirot novels, which could count in the rereading category as well as the focus on a single author category, but they aren’t really stretching my reading life so I won’t count them toward the challenge.
Waiting on the Word was poetry and devotional, but since I started it in December, I don’t plan to count it on this list. Also, I finally finished Union with Christ, which I started last year, too, so I’m not counting it either.
Business as Usual by Jane Oliver was a delightful novel in letters. It doesn’t count for the challenge since that’s supposed to be real life letters, but it was so wonderful that I don’t care. I loved every second of it and will most likely read it again in the near future.
February is off to a better start as I intentionally chose books to read and am setting aside time daily to make progress in them—theology, nonfiction, and a book on literature. I’d like to add a book on writing and some poetry. I’ve almost decided which poetry anthology to read. In the meantime, I’m listening to a podcast on poetry and one on writing.
Do you plan to read intentionally in 2021? What’s the best book you read in January?
4 thoughts on “Reading in 2021”
Thank you Joy – another thoughtful, interesting essay. For a biography if not read yet, highly recommend David McCullough’s John Adams (or his equally magnificent Truman). Planning on reading his 1776 next. Best book I finished in January was Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers. All especially relevant now….
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Oh, the Truman biography would be a good idea. I loved John Adams. Thank you for the suggestion.
I see 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is in your stack. I saw the movie years ago and loved it and meant to read the book one day, and never did, yet. It is now on my list.
Thanks for jogging my memory.
That’s one of my most favorite books. It’s a book of letters between a New York writer with a London bookseller about the books she wants to buy. She’s got a great “voice”.