It's New Years Eve, and everyone is making resolutions and signing up for challenges for next year. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is when I put together my personal reading plan for the next year and buy books for myself. Any that I want to read and can't buy right now go on a wishlist for easy reference later, but between my birthday and Christmas this is the time of year when I have the most spending money at my disposal, while buying books for myself in, say, midsummer can be a stretch. It's also the time of year when I can usually count on getting at least one good book as a gift. (Although there wasn't one this year, but that's OK. I did get a couple Amazon gift cards, which is the next best thing.)
My usual plan is something like this:
Pick an HEO year to draw inspiration from. (That's AmblesideOnline's 7th-12th grade curriculum.)
Look over the Back to the Classics challenge for more ideas.
Add in books that my eldest will be reading for school NEXT year which I haven't read yet.
Also check the upcoming AO Book discussion forums for any discussions I'd like to participate in and make sure I have books for the discussions I'm responsible to lead.
I take all that, put together a list and a loose schedule, buy books, and then usually throw the actual PLAN part of the plan out the window and read whatever strikes my interest. At the end of the year, there are usually a few books from last year's list leftover, and several books I decided to read or re-read over the course of the year that weren't in the plan. But in general, most of the books I selected do get read at some point over the year.
The one other part of my plan, is that at any given time I have 5 types of books going. They are:
- A "Christian Thought" book. This is a category I've carried over from my high school literature classes. It covers theology, worldview, Christian living, philosophy, commentaries, and I tend to throw books about pedagogy, parenting, and homemaking into this category, too, because I want to be thinking theologically about my vocations.
- A history "Spine". (I've been co-leading a discussion of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples for the past couple of years, and look forward to continuing being involved in that group).
- A second book from the "social studies" categories: history, biography, geography, civics, economics, etc.
- A long/"serious" novel, epic poem, allegory, play, etc.
- Light reading. This includes random books I pick up off my kids' free read shelf, Shakespeare plays, poetry, quick novels, poetic essays - anything I can read in a couple of hours on a weekend or a sick day without having to think too hard about it. I don't usually plan this category in advance.
This year I've added a couple new wrinkles to my plan. For one thing, I've decided I want to actually try and complete the blogging part of Back to the Classics, rather than just using it as a reading list. Additionally, one of my pastors issued a reading challenge to our church, and I've decided I'd like to participate in that and in the discussion group that will be meeting quarterly to encourage each other and chat about what we're reading. So I'll be trying to complete both lists, taking advantage of overlaps when possible. The other complication is that I have decided to intentionally limit my reading this year to no more than 13 books total in the 4 "serious" categories, so that I can focus more of my attention on my homeschooling/parenting/housekeeping responsibilities. (As much as I would LOVE to just read all day . . .) So if I'm going to complete the challenges, I will need to do a little more planning with my "light" reading than normal, and also take advantage of the school books I will be reading out loud to my kids to fill a few slots.
So, here's the plan:
- Continue reading History of the English Speaking People. I don't expect to finish this, so it won't actually count for the challenges.
- Christian Thought (Christian living): This Momentary Marriage
- Social Studies (history/biography): Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution
- Epic: Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves
- Christian Thought (theology/devotional): Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ
- Social Studies (politics/current events): Real Dissent
- Novel: Robinson Crusoe
- Christian Thought (motherhood): Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full
- Social Studies (history/government): Miracle at Philadelphia
- Novel: Faust (part 1)
- Christian Thought: "A book recommended by your pastor" TBD
- Social Studies (missionary biography): A Passion for the Impossible
- Novel: The Count of Monte Cristo
Light reading that I am planning to fit some of the challenge requirements:
- The Incredible Journey
- Amos Fortune, Free Man
- The Pursuit of God
- Thick as Thieves (the 5th installment in The Queen's Thief series, due out in May)
- Poetry by Emily Dickinson
- The Cherry Orchard for my "Russian Classic"
- Pilgrim's Progress
- Robin Hood
- Henry V
For Back to the Classics, I'm counting Incredible Journey, Amos Fortune, and Robin Hood as my 3 children's books. I decided Robinson Crusoe and Legend of Sleepy Hollow are "grown up" books, even though they are sometimes published under children's labels like the Junior Deluxe Editions.
So that's the plan. Of course, I probably will go "off plan" at some point, and there will be a bunch of other books read in the "light" category before the year is done, but this is where I'm starting.