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52 books in 52 weeks

When my kids were all little I got away from reading real live adult chapter books. I wished I could read them. I even started a few. But after weeks of not reading them, I’d have to start over again to remember what was going on (I have a terrible memory!) and I normally just gave up.

In 2012 I set a goal to read one book a month out loud to my kids. That was the beginning. We made our way through classics like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, A Christmas Carol, and The Secret Garden among others.

In 2013, on our first furlough, I signed the kids up for the Library Summer Reading Program. We’d done our own version of the program the previous two summers but we were limited to the books in our personal library in Africa. All of the kids finished the reading program that summer!

In the process of getting books to and from the library, I picked up some of the books the kids were reading (the Percy Jackson series, specifically). I was hooked. For the first time in years I was sucked into books, finishing them soon enough to be able to remember the beginning when I got to the end. After that, I read “adult” books – in other words, books you’d find in sections other than the children’s section of the library. Bigger words. More complex plots. I felt like a grownup again.

2014 was the first year I set a personal goal for reading, but I made one grave error. I didn’t make a plan for keeping track of what I’d read. I probably came close to reading 52 books that year, but I couldn’t remember everything I’d read at the end of the year.

(Have I ever mentioned I have the *worst* memory? I can remember meaningless details and forget other more important things. Non-essential? Right out of the brain! Essential? Well, we’ll get rid of that, too! Make room for more of that meaningless stuff!)

So, in 2015 and 2016 I started a list at the beginning of the year. I also participated in a challenge with some online friends for accountability.

This goal has been a great way for me to stretch beyond what I would normally read and try new things. 

I started reading Stephen King novels — not his creepy horror books, but some of the ones that would fall into the Science Fiction or Fantasy category. His book, On Writing, has been a huge help.

I explored and discovered new authors. One of my favorites has been Jeff Wheeler. He writes youth/YA fantasy. It’s clean and always gripping. The first series I read of his, I could see the plot devices coming a mile away. The second series was better and contained some surprises. The last series I read of his, some of the plot developments made me so angry, I almost stopped reading the books. (But I’m thankful I didn’t!) I’ve watched him grow as a writer through these books.

I read Unbroken. That book was so powerful. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It moved me in ways a book hasn’t in a long time. We were going through a rough time when I read it and the way God used people in that book gave me hope and healing in our struggles. 

There have been series I never thought I’d read, yet found that I enjoyed them and they were nothing like I’d imagined (Harry Potter). There have been books that helped me with my own writing. Other books made me see things from a different perspective. Still others were pure fluff and fun.

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This year, one of my goals is to read 52 books in 52 weeks yet again. I already have a reading list going for the first books I’m going to tackle. The book I’m working on now is a collection of essays and articles by a St. Louis reporter all published in Al-Jezeera between 2012-2014 (an ebook not pictured above). Her perspective of events that took place during that time is refreshing and very Mid-western, even if I don’t agree with her 100% on everything. If nothing else, I can understand her perspective better than I do most of what I read in the main-stream news media.

Maybe you can’t set a specific goal for a number of books read in a year. Maybe all you can do is go get a book and set a goal to start and finish it. Maybe you could read a book a month or try to read through a particular series of books. Whatever you do, I encourage you to make a plan to read this year. You’ll get farther than you’d ever get if you never set a goal at all.

Happy New Year!

After a month-long hiatus in which everyone in our family managed to get sick, some more than once, and we ran around to various church and family gatherings, I’m back to blogging!

NaNoWriMo was strenuous this year since it was jammed in there with all the other travel and school and jobs and holidays and my brain was fried when it was over. I did keep up with my personal journal but that was about it. Any other writing felt like too much.

Now it’s 2017! A new year! A time for setting new goals and achieving new achievements! For writing new things!

I’ve never been one much for making New Years Resolutions. They set me up for failure before I ever start. Each year, I set goals for myself for the coming year. Last year, one of my goals was to submit two of my books to publishers and see what happened. The rest is history. What happened with the first book, you might ask? I had some publishers show interest in it, but haven’t heard back from them about it. With all that has been going on in my life, I haven’t had time to follow up.

(Yes, my book will still be published. Patience, dear reader. I have to wait for my turn in the queue!) 

Over the next few days, I’m hoping to share about some of my goals for this year.

In the meantime, we are spending our time here in the US trying to stay warm. Thankfully, the winter hasn’t been that severe. Last furlough, we got a big snowstorm every week in December and January. So far this time, aside from a slight dusting that melted off the next day, we haven’t gotten any. Some days, all I want to do is hunker down under the warm blankets and not come out.

I think of the hot dry season that they are heading into in Uganda. I remember that they won’t even have any cool days for another couple of months. It’s hard not to be homesick.

Tonight it’s supposed to start snowing and we should have a couple inches by tomorrow. That doesn’t bother me as much as the bitter cold that will follow it the next morning!

So, dear reader, stay warm! Set goals! Enjoy this new year! In the immortal words of Anne Shirley…

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