2011 Reading 2012 Reading reading

Reading Goals for 2012 and First 10 Books for the New Year

December 28, 2011

This past year (2011), my book average came to about 1 book per week, at 53 books for the year. (This doesn’t count books I’ve read to our girls or children’s books, of course.)  For 2012, my goal is 75 books for the year, but I’m secretly (:)) aiming for 100. Not sure if either will happen, since about halfway through the year my life should change in a very special way. (And I hear that adding a third child is when you realize you’re completely overwhelmed…)

So, what do I plan to read? I’m not mapping out an entire list, but I am planning to start with these 10 sometime at the first part of the year (listed in no particular order, to be read in no particular order):

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (unabridged) (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

(note: This book is currently free for Kindle via Amazon.)

2. The Hunger Games (Suzeanne Collins)

3. Evil and the Justice of God (N.T. Wright)

4. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (James Loewen)

5. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

6. Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful (Louise Bates Ames)

7. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Tony Hsieh)

8. Families Where Grace Is in Place (Jeff VanVonderen)

9. Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt (Leslie Leyland Fields)

10. The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Gretchen Rubin)

Of course, depending what format these are read in, there will likely be several other books read before or in between some of these.

How I Choose What to Read

In general, I try to read books from a variety of genres, topics, and studies. (I have a rather odd diversity of interests, as reflected that while earning a degree in Biology I enjoyed squeezing in courses in Greek, Psychology, Theology, Basic Harmony, and Parasitology while still wishing I could also be taking courses in Graphic Design, Photography, and Philosophy. Regretfully, at that time in my life academics didn’t have priority over student involvement opportunities, but that’s another story.)

Within certain limitations, I try to read books that are popular (thus, bestsellers and new releases) and/or well-recognized within their genres. By doing this I am reading what a large chunk of the rest of the nation (at least, the literati) is reading. That benefits me by 1) knowing what ideas and books shape the thinking of the general literary world and by 2) knowing what topics are of interest to the rest of the world/nation. I also try to read books that aren’t popular.

I attempt to cycle through these categories each month (or several months):

  • Christian (including theology, Christian living, familial interaction, commentaries; I try to read books both from those who I would consider to be more conservative than me and those who are to the left of where I am.)
  • Bestsellers and New Releases (both fiction and non-fiction)
  • Human Interest and Psychology
  • History and Biographies
  • Productivity and Organization
  • Culture and Anthropology
  • Education and Learning (from child-development to curriculum choices to my own personal fields of learning)

Mapping it out

I definitely don’t start with a specific t0-read list of 75 books for the year. Rather, I prefer to have my list evolve. (Although I currently have around 400 options on my Amazon wish-list in case other sources run dry. ;)) I love hearing book recommendations from others, and I’ve found that books themselves contain a good number of recommendations and references to other books. New books come out and others rise to the bestseller lists. (My husband occasionally reviews pre-releases and new releases for his work, so I sometimes hear about new books that way, too.) Sometimes I’ll find I really love the way a certain author writes (or what s/he writes about), and so I’ll hunt for more books by that author. Other times are more random: Amazon will make suggestions for similar books based on what I buy or add to my wish-list, I’ll find recommendations on blogs, magazines, or articles I read, I’ll see it in someone’s Facebook feed, or it’s offered for free download via Kindle.

I also joined Goodreads last Spring, though I’ve not been very active in using it over the past year. There, you can follow what your friends are reading or see people with similar interests are reading–a good sort of social network for readers. I’m hoping to use it as a better means of keeping track of what I read over the course of the coming year.

If you have a booklist for this year or even just a couple of book recommendations, I would LOVE to hear them! Please share! 🙂

Later on, I also plan to share my December 2011 reading and my favorite books from this year..

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  • CharlieJ December 28, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I’ve quite enjoyed your blogging. It’s refreshing to see a non-academic have such a vibrant intellectual life, especially since you have so many other worthy things competing for your time and attention.

    You also read interesting popular works that I can’t, since I’m bogged down in academic work. So, I will be following your and Daniel’s progress in 2012 with great anticipation.

    As a recommendation, I offer The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher, notes by Thomas Boston. It is perhaps the most inspiring Christian classic I have ever read.

    • Keren December 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks, Charlie, though I don’t know if “vibrant” is an apt descriptive. 🙂

      I added Fisher’s work to my list, though in the only review I found I see it led to “The Marrow Controversy.” 🙂 Sounds like an interesting history surrounds it, but also looks like a helpful, interesting read based on that brief bit of information and your high recommendation.

  • johanna December 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Keren, I loved reading this list as I love to read too. I do not read nearly as much as you, and yet I find that I read so much more than a lot of moms I am around. I’m glad to see another Mom putting out an effort to read. I, too, have a WIDE variety of interest, and I find that reading is one way that I can keep my mind active while dealing with the mundane things of infants, toddlers, preschoolers. A couple of these are already on my list, and I’ll look into the others. Thanks!

    • Keren December 29, 2011 at 10:44 pm

      Thanks! I liked seeing your list, too. 🙂 You’ll have to update what you read for this coming year (or at least what you liked).

      Congrats on your Kindle! I think you’ll get in at least a little more reading time with it. I don’t have a Kindle, but I do have a Kindle app on my phone and am usually reading at least one book that way, often at times I couldn’t be reading a paper book.

  • Erin e December 28, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I find the your—year old series very helpful! Especially if you probably come from a similar background to mine where all you hear is “every action from a child is sinful, even from the first day.” that immediately pits the parent vs. The child, and any unhappy, unsmiling moment of the child is viewed as rebellion. Very sad, but I can’t tell u how many times I’ve seen this. 🙁 many of these young Christian parents really have no clue about the way children think and develop. A crying one week old is “sure to be exhibiting his will.” the books aren’t perfect, but they at least give parents an idea on the norms, especially beyond the first year is so.

    I’ll have to look into the others. Fascinating list!

    I’ll have to look into these others

    • Keren December 29, 2011 at 10:50 pm

      Thanks, Erin. I haven’t read the other Gissell Institute series all the way through, but have the other ages we’ve been through, as well, and have used them as a very helpful reference.

      I have oft noticed on the sad neglect of a focus on Imago Dei, as well, and a seemingly obsessive focus only on sin nature as what is read into a child’s actions. We need both aspects to have a full picture of people, in general, children in specific to this conversation.

  • Tara Green December 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    You might enjoy “Grace for the Good Girl” and “Jesus Made in America.”

    Thanks for sharing this! I keep getting on looking for your favorites list. Really looking forward to that!!

    Sometime, you’ll have to share how you get your reading time in, too.

    • Donna Bixby January 3, 2012 at 1:11 am

      Loved this! I’m trying (with my sister’s encouragement and my Kindle Touch Christmas gift!) to become a better reader. I have the totally non noble goal of reading one a month this year! But, I would honestly be thrilled with 10! Would you mind giving me a list of your “Top 5”. I’m sure I haven’t read any of them! :-{

      • Donna Bixby January 3, 2012 at 1:12 am

        Oops. I think I posted that in the wrong place. Sorry.

        • Keren January 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm

          No problem! I tried to fix it, but couldn’t figure out how. 🙂

      • Keren January 3, 2012 at 1:53 am

        I posted “My Top 10 for 2011” list here, but hmm…top 5?

        1. King’s Cross by Timothy Keller
        2. Generous Justice by Timothy Keller
        3. Slavery by Another Name by Douglas Blackmon
        4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
        5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

        Also, not sure if you’ve read it, but I believe you would enjoy Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Alsup. (It’s also not too long and available on Kindle. :))

        Enjoy your Kindle! We got one for my mom as a group gift.

  • Donna Bixby January 3, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I’m friends with Wendy and follow her blog avidly and would you believe I have not read her book. Don’t tell her! 🙂 It was on my list for this year, though. Thanks for the tips!

    • Keren January 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Same here! I just finished it up this December. 🙂

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  • Rachel January 12, 2012 at 10:55 am


    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog posts. I am hoping to get a lot more reading in this year than the last. Thank you for taking the time to write on this subject.

    • Keren January 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks, Rachel!

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