The first in our new blog series, The Global Parent: Notes on Being and Raising Global Citizens.
The latter half of 2016 saw a significant uptick in work and with it, a significant downtick in my usually copious reading habit...and I felt much poorer for it, leading to my resolution to make 2017 my #YearOfBooks. It is also the year that I turn 40 and I'm sure these two events are connected because (apologies for the morbidity) I have calculated how many books I will likely get to read at my current rate if I were to live an average lifespan. At 20 books a year, I have about 800 books left to read...ever! Sounds like a lot, but not enough to catch up on classics, the fantastic new books that come out every year, books on great ideas and current events and the occasional British murder mystery (my guilty pleasure!). Have decided to double my intake this year, to read 40 books - and to make them all worthwhile choices, no just lull-me-to-sleep fluff (except for the occasional aforementioned British murder mystery).
This resolution has brought up a few questions (yes, this is me interviewing myself).
1. How will I double my already robust reading time?
I have one solution here - carry my Kindle everywhere & put my phone down. Before I got a smartphone 7 years ago, I carried a book in my purse at all times. After I switched to reading exclusively on a Kindle, you would think I would have carried that beautiful, light device everywhere instead, but I just switched to reading articles and playing Words With Friends while waiting in lines or traveling. Not terrible habits as habits go, but much of that word gaming/current events time can be supplanted with books.
2. How will I decide what books to read?
I plan to stay flexible, but I'd like the books I choose to rotate through one of the following categories:
Literary Fiction - Modern or Classic. Delving deep into a character or being sucked into a plot is my favourite way to spend reading time. At the end of long days of work and children I've found my tolerance for difficult writing has diminished which has affected the books I choose. As much as I would like to read Infinite Jest, that isn't going to happen for a least a few more less chaotic years. My criteria here is beautifully written but accessible books that put me in a mood. What kind of mood? Any, really - just being taken out of my regular headspace means I'm reading a good one.
Great Ideas - Science, History & Philosophy. I consume most of my non-fiction these days in long-form articles, meaning I don't get deep enough into these topics about which I really do enjoy reading. That hopefully changes this year.
The State of the World. So much of what I thought about the world went out the window this year, reminding me that I need to get further out of my comfort zone in my learning and reading. I need to make the search for truth an active part of my life. These are non-fiction books that I hope will teach me about the human experience beyond my own.
Practical & Business Skills. Books that will help me grow Baby Hero and myself professionally and personally. These could be business memoirs, more practical e-commerce/branding books or those that extend my personal and managerial skills.
Just Because. I can't read important books all of the time!
3. What books have I already chosen?
Here is the list so far - deliberately short as I expect what I want to read to evolve.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - has been on my list since it first came out, I really like her careful but accessible writing style.
Serious Men by Manu Joseph - His other book, The Illicit Happiness of Other People was a recommendation from a friend and since I read and loved it a few years ago I have been itching to read more by Joseph.
The Mothers by Brit Bennet - The one 2016 fiction book that really appealed to me - I'm a sucker for a good coming-of-age novel
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddharta Mukherjee - I love his writing and was glad this book was good enough to be on Bill Gates's favorites of the year
The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane - am reading this because it is a topic that fascinates my 5 year old and she seems to know more about it than me
The Road to Character by David Brooks - am most unsure about this book as am worried it will be too schmaltzy, but am trying to read books I'm unsure about as those are the ones most likely to surprise me
The State of the World:
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance - has been recommended by so many and seems highly relevant in 2016
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - was amazed when I first heard Noah's personal history - very curious about how he made it to where he has
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier - another on my list forever and highly relevant to my work
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life - has been highly recommended by a friend as effective in personal, parental & professional relationships
Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works - was recommended in the website design book Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug, a book suggested to me by Allie. Am wondering if it will tell me I'm doing this blog post wrong?
The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good is Great for Business - the heart of Baby Hero's ethos, looking forward to reading examples of companies who have embraced conscientious practices.
Am going to leave these to whim!
I've only made resolutions a handful of times in my life - the last one was 2 years ago (to stop parenting with guilt, will write more on that another time). The resolutions I make, I usually keep and I'm really looking forward to keeping this one. More than anything I will enjoy sharing the books I like and I would love to know if you have already read any already on the above list or if you have suggestions for me - I need 28 more! If you would like to join me in my #YearOfBooks, send me a tweet @samarshaheryar.