What to read, indeed!

Like so many things in 2020, my reading basically went straight into the toilet. Not saying I didn’t read, I certainly did, but what I was reading was not particularly poignant, educational, or profound. I simply defaulted to my form of the ‘beach read’ for the last few months of 2020 because I simply did not have the emotional capacity to deal with anything else. In my case that meant an over-abundance of mystery/detective stories from 20th century England. I know it’s weird, but honestly that’s my ‘beach read.’

Now that the calendar has brought us into a new year and I have reason to be hopeful for our country again, I feel not only capable but longing to refocus my reading in those areas that are meaningful and life-giving for me. As a result of this new-found emotional capability, hopefulness, and energy I created a list of 5 book categories and I will chose one book per category to read each month. The categories I chose are totally ‘Haddi categories’ in the sense that they are all my favorite genres to read already but by making a list each month I will force myself to be more intentional about my reading this year in a way that, clearly, I found nearly impossible in 2020. So, with no further adieu, the LIST:

  1. Non-fiction
  2. Social Justice/Religion
  3. Biography
  4. Book Club
  5. Classic

As you can see, the categories are broad but also helpful when deciding what to pick-up to read each month. (Not to worry my friends, since I usually read about 8 books per month I’ll still be able to get a British mystery in when I need it! ;)) It is my intention to share my list of books with The Book War at the beginning of each month and then let you all know how it went at the end of the month…wait and see if my ‘best laid plans’ come to fruition.

Since I am only now getting this blog written I will include both the books I read in January from each category as well as a quick ‘how did it go’ about each in order to condense what will normally be two blogs into just one.

  1. Non-fiction: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston: As a student of history and archaeology I didn’t want to put this book down. It’s an excellent mix of legend, personal stories, science, and the trials and tribulations of adventuring into unexplored areas.
  2. Social Justice: Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston: A collection of short stories written during the Harlem Renaissance (1920’s-mid 1930’s) where Hurston explores black cultural issues in both small town Florida and New York City. I personally love short stories and found myself both laughing and crying as I read this book.
  3. Biography: Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann: This book opened my eyes to the civil rights violations that were common practice (totally legal) just ONE generation before my own. Heumann is the same generation as my parents and was denied the right to attend public school because she needed a wheelchair due to contracting polio as a baby. Due to activists like Heumann, the Americans with Disabilities Act was written into law in the early 1980’s and this memoir tells her story as she and many others worked to make ADA a reality.
  4. Book Club: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: This is a new take on a classic Russian fairly tale. It took me awhile to get into the story but by the end I was warming up to the story and characters. Now I have to decide if I want to read the next book in the series…hum?
  5. Classic: Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories vol. 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle: Have I mentioned that I adore 20th century British mystery/detective stories? ‘Nough said.

I have to admit (and yes, I know I’m a complete dork) but this is a super-fun way to be intentional about what I am reading! Since I chose categories that I already love, I get to pick books that I am excited to read and (for the most part) know I will enjoy reading while also learning and staying engaged with what I feel is important in the world (social justice, religion, science, history, etc.)! Loving this strategy so far…stay tuned for February’s picks!

Read on my friends!