Reading – a plan for 2021

My younger self would be aghast at the need for a plan to include reading in my routine. Reading books has been as natural to me as breathing for as long as I can remember. However, various things have brought me to the point where there are some days when I don’t pick up a book at all and that is not a good thing. What interferes? Well nothing bad, just children and a job and crafting. Anyway, I read some articles towards the end of last year which advocate having a plan for reading, so here it is.

My plan is to begin the day well by reading a chapter of a book at breakfast. I’m picking out non-fiction to read but nothing too heavy. I already mentioned my first breakfast read and now I am onto Paula Gooder’s “Body”, which I am very much enjoying. She is very good at explaining complex ideas simply and helping me to see what the baggage is that I have brought with me into my theological thought.

The other half of my plan is for last thing at night. I always used to read loads before getting to sleep but the elimination of caffeine from my system meant that my hours of night time reading were severely curtailed. This is generally a good thing since I never used to be able to tell whether I would take one hour or four hours to get to sleep. Now I rarely stay awake longer than half an hour. So, my current half hour read is “The Golden Age of Murder”, which is a really well written (and laugh out loud funny in places) survey of detective fiction from the 1920s and 30s.

Next up on the list of things to read will be my other Christmas books, probably leading with English Pastoral by James Rebanks.

Alongside this, I’ve joined a new bookclub set up by some clergy colleagues which is going to be devoted solely to children’s literature. We are beginning with Little Women, which I have on the kindle so was a quick re-read. I have gone onto Good Wives as well because it just follows straight on.

2021 – a new start?

Although I have been very lax at blogging over the past few years, I have, in fact, been writing more regularly than ever. It’s just that I write at 750words.com rather than coming here. That has the advantage of being not for others’ eyes and so much less stressful to write.

I do like writing for a blog though and I had an idea for this year. I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions that begin in January but there seems to be such a sense of transition and hope in the air that it is as good a time as any. My resolutions, or perhaps I should call them intentions, are simple:

  • Read more books
  • Knit more

We’ve recently moved house and the comments from the removal men have left me with a little bit of guilt at quite how many books I made them pack.

This was one of a couple of dozen small boxes in my office/study. I guessed it contained books – I was right.

Not that having too many books in itself is a bad thing but that I don’t actually read or refer to them terribly often. In my new study my desk faces the bookshelves. In my old study they were over my shoulder so I only saw them in my Zoom background. I’m hoping that having them right in front of me will remind me that reading is supposed to be a part of my job.

So, today, I decided to start the year the way I mean to go on. I picked up a book that I bought with hugely good intentions of reading and started it. Well, restarted it actually since it had a bookmark in for about 20 pages in.

The book is Why I Am No Longer Talking (To White People) About Race. I bought it in London about 18 months ago while wandering around Foyles. Since then, it has been sitting in a pile. I’m into chapter 3 now – it is a sobering read. I have read enough about white privilege and racism to know that this is a problem in which I am complicit. What I haven’t figured out is what I am personally supposed to do about it. More work required.

Over the next few days I intend to make a shortlist of books to read in various categories but also to figure out when my reading slots are. Over breakfast is an obvious one, as is early evening now that the kids don’t need me then. I love books and I love reading but it just never seems to get to the top of the list when there is a screen to look at instead. Late at night I just read things on the kindle because I tend to doze off and the kindle at least switches itself off when I do that. I get complaints otherwise.

I think the aim of the year is not to read a particular number of books but rather to read some and consider whether it merits a continued place on the shelves.

Off to knit something now.