Monday, January 01, 2018

Balancing My Reading Life

So 2017 was not my best reading year. I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 200--same as last year but a a low number for me. I knew the year would be busy and I knew that 200 seemed doable. And I did it (although December required a big stack of books..). But when I look at the reading most of the books I read were picture books. Don't get me wrong I LOVE picture books and they are always a huge part of my reading life but they don't always make up the bulk of my reading year. I read fewer middle grade novels, fewer adult fiction titles, fewer nonfiction books and almost no professional books. Even though I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don't feel great about my 2017 reading.

As I've been thinking about this, I read Katherine Sokolowski blog post,  Lessons from Romance Novels and Kristen Ashley. She talks about her recent reading life and her binge reading of 47 romance books.  She says, "Overall, my five month reading binge of forty-seven of Ashely's books (many over 500 pages) have reminded me of the lesson from the flight attendants when you get on the airplanes - we need to put on our oxygen masks first. For at least the past seven years my reading life has been completely geared toward my beautiful students."  

Mary Lee and I started this blog 12 years ago today. (Happy Birthday Us!). 


We started it as a way to share with each other the books we were reading as we predicted Newbery titles. But we also read other books. Since we started the blog, I read so much more--connecting with other readers has totally enriched and expanded my reading life. But this year felt different. I am not sure when I started to feel like every book I read was an assignment and I am not sure when I started reading middle grade fiction almost exclusively but I know that I have lost any type of balance in my reading life in the last few years and that I miss the balance and the joy that comes with reading lots of things--not only things that my 5th graders might like, not only books that may win the Newbery, but just books.

So 2018, I am going to give myself permission to balance my reading life--to choose some books just because I want to read them. Like Katherine, I love keeping up with books that my students might enjoy and I think middle grade novels are the best books out there-I enjoy them as a reader. I also know it makes me a better teacher. But I can do that and also read other things across a year I think. My friend, Kristen Turner wrote this great piece  on her blog, Twin Life: Having It All --It is called Handling It All and it reminded me that I have learned to let go of things in my life because other things are more important. I can certainly let go of some imaginary reading requirements I have for myself to make room for a more balanced reading life.

So in 2018, I'll set my Goodreads Reading Challenge because I like the way it tracks my year of reading. But my real goal will be rediscovering a balance in my reading life by giving myself permission to do that.  Hopefully in 2018 my Goodreads list will include more adult fiction, more professional books, more YA and more nonfiction.  Or maybe I'll go on a binge like Katherine and stick with one genre that I totally fall in love with for a bit.  Who knows! Just hoping to read and enjoy a lot of great books in 2018.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!



  1. Happy New Year and Happy Blog Birthday. My own blog is only about 2 weeks older than yours. It's great that we are all still here. Wishing you balanced reading, and plenty of time to do it.

  2. Fantastic points. I am reading a lot more than I ever have, but feeling more overwhelmed by it as well, for the very reasons you list. I too am going to put less expectations on myself this year. Reading for pleasure has always been a huge part of my life, and my life is as stressful now as it's ever been, so I need to reclaim that for my own sanity. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!


We welcome your contribution to the conversation!