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.
- The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by Erin Gruwell
- Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
- Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning by James M. Lang
- Journal Keeping: How to Use Reflective Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight, and Positive Change by Dannelle D. Stevens and Joanne E. Cooper
- The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
- Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College by Mark C. Carnes
- Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond
- Teaching with Your Mouth Shut by Donald Finkel
- High-Impact Instruction: A Framework for Great Teaching by Jim Knight
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
- Rosie by Anne Lamont
- The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince by Serena Valentino
- The Hit by David Baldacci
- The Innocent by David Baldacci
In Progress Reads:
- Active Training: A Handbook of Techniques, Designs, Case Examples, and Tips by Melvin L. Silberman
- The Target by David Baldacci
- Becoming an Academic Writer: 50 Exercises for Paced, Productive, and Powerful Writing by Patricia Goodson
- The Process of Education by James Seymour Bruner
- Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go from Manager to Leader by James Robbins
- What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor
- 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?