I always want to read more books. If I go too long without exploring times past or hearing new-to-me ideas or happening upon intriguing fields of study I get kind of pent up and cranky. It’s like my brain decides it’s been caged up too long and revolts.
It took me a very long time to notice this. And really, I only figured it out after repeatedly watching the revolt make a big fat mess in the middle of my favorite relationships. (Sorry about that.)
But it’s not just reading more books that helps me be my better self. It’s reading more books of a certain type that makes the real difference. I love a quick movie-type read that has me page-turning through the early hours, but those usually don’t have the elements that let my wild-monkey-of-a-brain out for a run.
I bet you’re similar. It might not be histories and culture that let your brain play in just the right way, of course. For you it might be poetry, or engaging characters, or quantum physics, or spiritual memoirs, but I’m guessing there’s a difference in the soul-soothing for you between various types of books.
So how do we get more of these reads into our lives?
One way that’s been working well for me lately is to make a list of topics I’m currently interested in reading about. I don’t mean a list of anything ever that in your wildest dreams you’d want to read about. I mean what’s on your mind right now.
Here are a few of the questions I use:
- What book have I wanted to read but have been putting off?
- What subject is on my mind a lot right now that might be better thought through with the input of an outsider?
- What am I wrestling with right now that could use some encouragement?
- What books have my friends been reading lately which have sparked my interest?
Assuming you’re reading regularly (and here’s a tip for jumping back on the reading bandwagon if you’re not), all you need to do is start referring to your list when you’re ready to begin a new book.
I’m a big fan of reading whatever a person feels like. It’s easier and more impactful that way. But choosing between books that we’ve already decided matter to us (rather than browsing that ever growing “to read” list) moves us toward books we feel like reading AND that matter in the broader scope of our lives.
I’ve been using my annual reading sub-goals as my list, and have had my best reading month in a long time. The books are timely and enjoyable but are also nurturing my mind and life in directions that are important to me.
What better books are on your list this year?