“To read is to fly.” – A. C. Grayling
While New Year’s resolutions have never played an important role in my life (I can’t remember the last time I made one), I do think resolutions are essential. Life is defined by the decisions we make and I’ve come to view life as a series of adjustments. As we increase in age and wisdom, we begin to recognize opportunities in our life to grow and improve. And any decision to embrace that opportunity could best be labeled as a resolution (I’ve just never understood why we’d wait until January 1st to make the change).
On a related note, I like reading. Each time I read a new book, I am stretched as a person. I am forced to embrace a new thought and evaluate my life against it. I am taken to new places and enjoy conversations with new people. I am inspired, entertained, and invested into. I become a better person because of it… I just wish I did more of it.
That’s why I’ve taken this occasion of a new year to purposely resolve to read more books. For most of my life, I’ve averaged reading about one book per month. But for the next 52 weeks, I have resolved to read 52. After giving it some thought over the past few weeks, I have made the decision to read one book per week in2012 for a number of reasons:
1. It’ll make me a better writer. As one who enjoys spreading thoughts and inspiring others through the written word, writing is important to me. And reading always increases our capacity to write.
2. It’ll make me a better leader. Life requires relationship. Each of us interact with others on a daily basis. And our lives are either giving life to others or draining it from them. I want my life to give life to others and inspire them to live better. There is a growing passion in my heart to continue taking this message of “finding more life by owning less” to more and more people. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like down the road, but there’s a 100% chance leadership qualities will be required.
3. It’ll increase my worldview. Reading opens our heart to new ideas, new cultures, and new worldviews. Good art always does.
4. It’ll increase my breadth of knowledge. There is a world of inspiration to be discovered in books. There is also a world of knowledge to be found in books. I live my life trying to see the good in people believing that we can learn something from everybody… and since some have had the opportunity to write it down for us, it would make sense to take full advantage of their efforts.
5. It’ll increase my reading speed. Just like any skill in life, we improve with practice. While not a slow reader, I have never considered myself particularly fast either. No doubt, reading 52 books in 52 weeks will be a stretch for me. It will require my attention and practice and will likely increase my skill and pace in reading – at times, by necessity.
6. It’ll be a good example for my kids. My kids are young (elementary school) and still learning to read. I want them to embrace the practice with joy. I want them to become lifelong readers. And I want them to recognize their father as one who does the same.
7. It’ll increase my ability to dream big. While I have enjoyed reading all genres of books, I have always found special joy in biographies. Reading the stories of those who sacrificed much, inspires me to do the same. Reading the stories of those who loved unselfishly, inspires me to do the same. And reading the stories of those who accomplished much, inspires me to dream big and do the same.
8. It’ll stretch my self-discipline. No doubt, at times, this resolution will require discipline. The best ones always do.
9. It’ll stretch my creativity. New thoughts always stretch our minds to rediscover life in new ways. We begin to see the world differently. And we find new creative solutions because of it.
10. Books lead to greater relationships with the people around us. Books provide great opportunity to improve our existing relationships. Not only do they provide new conversation starters, they offer a new depth to our conversations as well. They encourage us to further pursue their claims within the world and people around us. As a result, they give us opportunity to not just grow in ourselves… but grow in our relationships with others as well.
11. It’ll help me better discern good ideas from bad ideas. One thing’s for sure, there are a lot of different approaches to life and the problems we face. Reading books provides opportunity to better discern what has worked in the past and what has not.
12. There are so many great books left to be read. There are books written to provide wisdom, inspiration, knowledge, and laughter. There is a wealth of life hidden inside of them… all we need to do is take the time to pick them up and read.
Thus far, I am on pace. I have recently completed Every Body Matters and Seven Days in Utopia. I am currently rereading Death by Suburb. And I have another book lined up to read after that. I hesitated a bit writing this post… but I desire the accountability. Putting resolutions out in a public forum encourages our discipline and resolve. It further calls us to pursue our goals as others have the opportunity to track our progress. And that encouragement will be valuable to me throughout.
Lastly, I wanted to encourage you. No doubt, if you read blogs, you are likely a reader already. But if not, there’s no better time to start than today. And while 52 books is a challenge that I believe fits into my life at this exact moment in time, you may find greater encouragement in reading 26 or 12. But either way, I’d love to have you join me in some way.
I’d also welcome any book recommendation in the comment section below.