I’ve written in this space before about the importance of setting goals, both personally and professionally, and right around this time last year I was feeling a bit low and run down. Since I have always enjoyed reading, I thought setting a goal of reading a certain amount of books over the course of 2016 may help to keep me actively focused on doing something I find enjoyable and restorative (instead of just finding time for it whenever, because let’s face it, there’s never any time to just do things – we have to make time).
Last December – quite by surprise – I came across Goodreads’ infographic that outlined the books I read in 2015. At that time, I set a goal on my Goodreads account of reading 12 books in 2016 (I had read 11 in 2015). I admit to forgetting all about this goal until about a month or so ago, when I logged into Goodreads for the first time in several months and saw my un-updated progress toward the goal I set myself.
Happily, I’ve surpassed the goal I set for myself, reading 15 books in 2016 – although, as I noted on Twitter, one of them was Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, which really should count for 3 or 4 books by itself. Here’s my 2016 reading list, in (more or less) the order in which I finished them:
- Atonement (Ian McEwan)
- Zealot: The Life & Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Reza Aslan)
- What Great Teachers Do Differently (Todd Whitaker)
- Hacking Education (Mark Barnes & Jennifer Gonzalez)
- Invent to Learn (Gary Stager & Sylvia Libow Martinez)
- A Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin)
- A Decent Ride (Irvine Welsh)
- Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World (Michele Borba)
- Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow)
- Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates)
- Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him (David Henry & Joe Henry)
- Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules (David Sedaris, ed.)
- The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Sarah Vowell)
- A Clash of Kings (George R.R. Martin)
- Barrel Fever (David Sedaris)
What’s interesting to me in reflection is that this year – more than any year prior – I took advantage of multiple formats for reading. Of the 15 books above, I read only four in traditional book form (Atonement, Great Teachers, Ride, and Unselfie). Five I read as e-books via my Kindle app (Hacking, Invent, Thrones, Hamilton, and Kings) and the remaining six (Zealot, World, Furious, Children, Patriot, and Barrel) were audiobooks, either CDs or digital downloads from my local library. This wasn’t necessarily by design, though I will say that audiobooks are a great solution for somebody who wishes to read more but also spends upwards of 10 hours per week commuting (much safer than e-books or traditional books during that time, too!).
I know some folks are stans for their preferred formats, but I honestly didn’t have a preference – I just love reading, and I like all of the above formats equally. The only edge, if you can call it that, that downloadable audiobooks have is the adjustable speed setting (my library uses Hoopla and Overdrive, among others, as their digital content distributors) – I often find it more comfortable to listen to audiobooks at 1.25 – 1.5x normal speed.
On deck for the first part of 2017 are The Collected Essays of James Baldwin, George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords (I’m trying to catch up in case Book #6 actually drops in March, as I’ve heard whispered), and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting sequel The Blade Artist.
As always, I’m eager for your recommendations for must-reads, especially those about education.