Nick’s annual reading goals
Over the years I’ve established a set of goals, or at least traditions, for my reading. I try to read a selection from each of the following categories every year:
1) Bible. During Lent, I try to read daily from the Bible or a book on a religious topic. Each year I try to read a Bible book I haven’t read before
, although as I get older there are far fewer that I haven’t read and that strike me as something I’d like to read. (The Psalms or Proverbs, for instance, may be great individually but would be a little tedious to read straight through; Leviticus and Deuteronomy are basically unreadable for a casual reader.) I also revisit a few particular favorites every so often–the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel of John, and Ruth are at the top of my list.
2) Baseball. Sometime during baseball season, I try to read a book on baseball. Most years, I get to it during or April or May when my interest in the subject is at its height (and the Nationals are still in contention). This year
, for whatever reason, I didn’t get to it until the World Series was almost over. I’m no Yankees fan, but I think the best baseball book I’ve ever read was a couple years ago when I hit Jonathan Eig’s Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig
. Great book on a man with an almost wholly admirable life, cut tragically short, but with that beautiful “Luckiest Man” speech at Yankee Stadium the summer before he died, when he showed he had no bitterness in his heart for anything that had happened to him.
3) History. Every year I try to read a popular history book. For some reason, I like to read these in late summer while I’m at the beach. This year
‘s book was fun, if not fully satisfying. The best history books I’ve read, at least in the past five or six years, are Gotham: A History of New York City
, a monumental undertaking but endlessly fascinating, and Last Call: A History of Prohibition
4) YA. My wife says I should read more YA, since I’m trying to write in the genre. She’s not wrong! Still, since I write almost every evening, and read a wide variety of books, I really only have time to get to four or five YA books in any given year. The best YA book I read in the past year was John Green’s Looking for Alaska. I’m not going to praise it anymore here. In fact, I’m angry at John Green for writing so well and making me realize I’ll never live up to the standard he sets for the genre. If you must read a YA novel but don’t know what to get, pick one by John Green, doesn’t even matter which one. They’re funny and heartbreaking and stay with you long after you’ve finished.
5) Literature. With a capital L. At least once a year I try to read a book that an English major would love. Sometimes I really enjoy them, other times it’s more of a trophy to put on the shelf. Earlier this year I finished Boswell’s Life of Johnson
. It’s the second time in my life I’ve read it and it’s well worth revisiting. The one I’m working on now is Moby Dick
. I like it so far, but, umm, I’m taking a little break from it. I’m about halfway through. I’ll pick it up again in a couple weeks and finish it.
What about my readers? Do you just read whatever catches your attention, or do you have goals in mind and try to stick to them? Or do you have an actual plan? I think the most ambitious reading goal I’ve ever heard was one that of the husband of one of the librarians at my wife’s library, who was trying to read a biography of every American president, in order. He was up to Thomas Jefferson at the time, a couple years ago. I wonder if he ever finished, or where he is now?