What I Read This Summer & How I Cultivated a Reading Habit

I’ve always been a reader.  As a child, I constantly “had my nose in a book” as my dad would say.  I knew all the tricks – I hid books in my textbooks and claimed I was doing “homework,” I convinced my parents my younger sister was afraid of the dark so I could have a nightlight in our room so I could stay up late to read.  However,  as I aged and become more academic with the entrance into my masters and doctoral programs, reading became less fun and more work.  I struggled to read and felt my attention span lagging with every book or article I attempted to read.  I feared as though my reading abilities had diminished as my dependence on electronic devises and gadgets grew (as I shared during The Shallows book discussion last semester).  It was during these conversations that I remembered the joy reading used to have for me, and I was determined to fix the problem.

As of now, I have completed fifteen books since April.  Nine of these have been work-related and six have been personal.  This may not seems to be a large number, but for someone who has only read a book or two in their entirety each year (I have become an excellent skimmer or piece-meal reader), this is huge!  As I write this, I also currently have seven books that I’m in the process of reading.  So, how did I go from reading 1-2 books a year to 15+ books in just a few months?

1 – I scheduled reading into my day.  This may seem extreme, but I took the advice of the planning gurus – if it’s important; schedule time for it.  I started with one chapter in one book a day.  After a few days, I wanted to continue reading when my chapter was done, so I grabbed another book and started reading it, too.

2 – I started reading actively.  I’ve never been an annotator because I was raised to never mark in a book, but I started taking notes on everything that I read.  It slows the process, but the books have more meaning, and I remember the contents longer.

3 – I joined a book club – ok, so it was with the CAPE specialists on a book about work so it was during work hours and no wine was involved, but it held me accountable and gave me someone to discuss the reading with.

4 – I made it a goal to complete a 2016 reading challenge.  In April when I had 1 of 12 books checked off, I felt like a failure and was determined to complete my books for the year.  As of this week, I’m almost halfway completed.

Work Reads:

  1. The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by Erin Gruwell
  2. Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
  3. Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang
  4. Journal Keeping: How to Use Reflective Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight, and Positive Change by Dannelle D. Stevens and Joanne E. Cooper
  5. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  6. Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College by Mark C. Carnes
  7. Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond
  8. Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald Finkel
  9. High-Impact Instruction: A Framework for Great Teaching by Jim Knight

Personal Reads:

  1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  3. Rosie by Anne Lamont
  4. The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince by Serena Valentino
  5. The Hit by David Baldacci
  6. The Innocent by David Baldacci

In Progress Reads:

  1. Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Designs, Case Examples, and Tips by Melvin L. Silberman
  2. The Target by David Baldacci
  3. Becoming an Academic Writer: 50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing by Patricia Goodson
  4. The Process of Education by James Seymour Bruner
  5. Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go from Manager to Leader by James Robbins
  6. What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor
  7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

These strategies are useful to anyone with a goal:

1 – plan it

2 – actively practice/do

3 – accountability

4 – target to achieve (gold star)

What have you read or what are you reading now?  Would you like to join a book club/discussion?


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