We at the CME Retreat know exactly what values drive us. We built them into our very name. Community, Motivation, and self-Education: these are the values that our leadership team is working to foster in ourselves and in the lives we touch.
I love Charlotte Mason's principles because they are about life, not just education. In the past few years, I have been deeply challenged to embody the ideals that I want to pass on to my kids. If I want to raise readers who are curious, confident that they can self-educate, and willing to struggle through a dense book, I have to work to become that reader. In the spirit of self-education, would you consider joining me for a reading challenge this year? For many people, just finding time to read is a challenge in itself. Once we carve out that time, though, what shall we read? How do we keep our reading list challenging, varied, and enjoyable?
I am going to use the Choose Your Own Adventure Reading Challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy as my guide. I like that she includes two lists, one for those looking for more fun in their reading lives and one for those ready to grow and stretch themselves through their reading. Some of the categories in her challenge that caught my eye are a book recommended by someone with great taste, a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able, and a book that you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet. If you choose to sign up on Anne's blog, she sends free printables to help you track your reading.
If you want a reading challenge the focuses specifically on classic works, you might enjoy Back to the Classics 2017 over at Books and Coffee. All the books chosen for this challenge must be at least 50 years old, and many of her categories are specific to classic works. Karen also has some fun categories, including a classic with a number in the title, a classic about an animal or with an animal in the title, and a classic set in a place that you would like to visit. That last one has me longing to pull out some childhood favorites! If you want to sign up for the Back to the Classics challenge, you can earn entries for prize drawings at the end.
You can choose any challenge or make your own by finding twelve categories that you want to use to guide your book picks next year. Maybe you want to finalize your list by the beginning of the year so that you don't have to think about what to choose next. Maybe you are like me, and you prefer to mix and match categories and use them as a guide each time you are ready to pick a new book. For the most part, I'm so contrary that the best way to assure I never pick up a particular book is to write it down on a To Be Read list. That being said, there are a few that I know I'm going to read this year:
- A genre that addresses current events: Norms and Nobility, David Hicks. (Education is a current event, right?!) I am part of a book group taking the entire year to work through this slim little volume. We spent most of December discussing just the preface, and I have gleaned so much food for thought already. I am really looking foward to the rest of it.
- A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read: ahem, so many possibilities... but the clear winner for me is All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. I almost never buy new books, but this one was a special splurge last year. I was so excited to treat myself, then it slipped onto my shelf, and the poor book hasn't seen the light of day since.
- A classic with a number in the title: Henry V, Shakespeare. Our local co-op is reading this one in the spring. We're working our way through Shakespeare's cycle that began with Richard II, then we read Henry IV: Part 1 last year, so I'm pretty excited to see our young Prince Hal with a crown on his head. We're all going to learn the St. Crispin Day's speech together.
- Three books by the same author: this is kind of a cheater category, since you have to read three books before you can check it off your list; however, I had already decided that I'm going to focus on Wendell Berry as my author of the year in 2017. I have a whole list of title to choose from, including his poetry, essays, and novels. I am going to start with Hannah Coulter, and see where the spirit moves me from there.
What about you? Are you up for the challenge? Head down to the comment section and tell us how you are going to answer the perennial question "What should I read next?" in 2017. We want to hear what categories appeal most to you. If you have already chosen specific titles, would you share some of them? (You might inspire someone to read her next favorite book.)