Every year one of my goals is to read more.
In 2020 my objective was to read one book a week. As part of my daily ritual I schedule in thirty minutes of reading per day, early in the morning. I simultaneously listen to audiobooks during workouts and the in-between moments where my mind isn’t otherwise occupied: cleaning, doing my makeup, driving. This allows me the time to read two books at once, and strangely enough, the two mediums of delivery allow my brain to compartmentalize the story lines so they don’t overlap. I highly recommend.
This routine is perfect for me, and yet, in 2020 I still missed my goal by a lot. It was a complicated year. My book club has been put on hold as I struggle to run my business through this pandemic, and I’m learning to let certain things go. Not forever, but for now.
As long as I’m learning, that’s all that matters.
I hope you enjoy this post and pick up a few of my recommendations. I would also encourage you to do three things if reading more is a goal you share.
-First: schedule it in. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day or one block a week, it’s progress.
-Second: take an honest inventory of the materials you read and challenge yourself to expand the diversity of voices in your collection. Are you reading female-identified authors as often as male-identified? What about Black authors as often as white? Are you reading books written by authors from countries other than the one you live in? Throw some non-fiction in there if you typically shy away from it. I think that to truly use reading (or podcast listening, or movie watching… or any media consumption) as a path to learning it is necessary to expand our perspectives and expose ourselves to lived realities that are different from our own. This takes effort, but is important.
-Lastly, make a list of small, locally owned, and/or Black, Indigenous, Latinx-owned, etc. bookstores and support them! Where you purchase books also matters. And, if you are shopping from a variety of stores, it will be easier to find a diversity of voices. I have a list in my phone and rotate between them. I actually use Amazon as a wish list and organizational tool and then order my books elsewhere. It’s easy to do!
Five of the books I’ve read have an asterisk next to their number, indicating they were my favorites. I hope you’ll let me know what you think if you read them!
And for anyone wondering – Yes, The Stand is about a global pandemic. Ironically I did not know that until I picked it up. I simply was interested because I had never read anything by Stephen King and wanted to escape into some fiction (haha; joke’s on me). I’m now hooked (even though I’m not a big fiction reader), and have The Shining cued up next on Audible.
1) The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence, Gavin de Becker
*2) Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
3) The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People / Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People, Judith Orloff
*4) Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi
5) Are Prisons Obsolete?, Angela Davis
6) The Color Purple, Alice Walker
7) The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
8) Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Monique W. Morris
9) When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors
10) Becoming, Michelle Obama
11) Life Will be the Death of Me… and You Too!, Chelsea Handler
12) The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Barack Obama
13) Burden: A Preacher, A Klansman, And a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South, Courtney Hargrave
14) How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
15) Idiot: Life Stories from the Creator of Help Helen Smash, Laura Clery
16) Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World, Michael Pollan
17) What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
*18) Columbine, Dave Cullen
19) Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, Russell Brand
20) White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin Diangelo
21) The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
22) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
23) Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, Mikki Kendall
*24) Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
*25) Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
26) Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol, Holly Whitaker
27) So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
28) Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey
29) We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
30) The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae
31) The Stand, Stephen King
This year I read ten more than last, so I’m taking it as a win. Only about twenty more than that and with any luck, I’ll meet my 2021 goal of 52.