Another Reading Journey — 2022 Edition
My last Medium post was last January, and yes, it was about reading. For the last few years, I’ve created personal goal for books each year, and every time, I’ve failed to meet the goal. I’m once again living into that January energy, focusing on a new goal which, according to my track record, I’ll come short of accomplishing. But, I’m hoping this year is different. Here are some reasons I’m optimistic:
- Last year was tough. We were all living within the pandemic reality, I was stretched in numerous directions, and I dealt with some real heartache and loss throughout the year. I realized the best moments of 2021 were when I was in the midst of a good book. For me, reading has a way of taking me out of my habitual life, a life that often leads to some lonely and isolating spaces. Reading stretches my own reality, makes me aware of others outside of my regular circles, and helps me gain insight into other communities and those who live in them.
2. I’m going to be focused more on fiction. I read a lot of dry theological books for school and though they expand my knowledge, sometimes my brain needs a break. And often, those fiction breaks expand my imagination as I explore the future of humanity and how to creatively explore where we could/should be. Fiction has a way of breaking down barriers of reality, but can be amazingly insightful in exploring the beauty of the unknown.
3. Books from school count towards my quest. I’ve been shy about including my school books on my Goodreads since they are “required reading”, but some books have been monumental in shaping my theology and worldview. I should be sharing them if I complete them, because theology should be for every person, not just for those studying in Divinity school.
4. Diversity matters. I made a decision to focus on voices who don’t look like me in 2021, and this will continue. This means reading a lot of books from people of color as well as female and non-binary authors. The canon has plenty of content from white men . . . but I find my world view is changed for the better when I read authors who aren’t in my comfort zone. I will continue a reading journey that purposely seeks out diverse voices.
My goal this year is 75 books. It might seem lofty, but I read 69 books in 2020, so I know this is definitely achievable. I am also setting forth a strategy to keep myself accountable on the journey this year. I will continue to utilize Goodreads to track my journey, but will provide a rating AND review of each book read. I hope this not only keeps me accountable, but will provide others with recommendations of books to read. As I begin this journey, I wanted to share my personal system as I utilize the 5 star rating metric on Goodreads:
1 star: I rarely use this rating, but this is given to a book that I find has toxic theology, toxic insight, or toxic reasoning. I give this to any book I feel should never be visited because I think it could provide fear and hate in the heart of a reader.
2 stars: I don’t think I’ve ever used this one, but in theory, it is for a book that I did not like but perhaps could be good for someone else. Perhaps this is showing bias, but I can’t recall a book I’ve found to be awful for me as a reader but could have validity to someone else. But, it’s important to leave this option for now.
3 stars: I see merit in the book, but it just wasn’t for me. This usually includes books where I didn’t fall in love with the style, storytelling, or delivery, but I could see it being a fit for someone else. I never regret reading a 3 star book, but would rarely revisit it.
4 stars: A good book that I might revisit again. These books I enjoyed and certainly would recommend to some folk. Honestly, it’s likely I would reread these books at another time and perhaps rank them differently upon another read, but consider these more of a “like” read than a “love” read.
5 stars: Groundbreaking. Monumental. Potential lifelong companion. I admit, I do love a lot of books. 5 star books are always worth revisiting. For some, the rating is based on exceptional style and genre-bending. For others, I can’t stop thinking about them and want to discuss them with whoever I can. These are the books that often stay on my bookshelf, destined to be lent to someone so I can buy another copy to lend out again. When I lend a book, I never expect to see it again . . . in hopes that it will be passed on to yet another person.
Books don’t always keep their rating. I do love to revisit books, and some books, like cherished lifelong friends, remain with me for decades. But some friends are with you for just a season of life, and books can be that way too. The best friends are those who stay with you a lifetime and share lifelong books with you. I do hope my journey can introduce others to their next lifelong book. Here’s to our 2022 reading adventures!