Reading Goals for 2017

Some of my friends read dozens of books each year. I will be lucky to reach one dozen.  Last year, I had a long list I wanted to read, and I finished 7 of them. I don’t want my book reading to be about placing stress on myself to reach arbitrary self-imposed goals. So, this year, I am dividing my reading list into tiers of different priority. I will be satisfied with however many of these tiers I finish.

I think part of the reason I read so few books each year is that most of my selections are serious non-fiction. I include at least one “fun” book or story in each tier to offset potential seriousness overload.

Tier 1

These are three books and I am already reading and want to finish this year along with two short stories that are the basis of science-fiction movies.

20160109_101547Love Wins
by Rob Bell

Before Kelly suggested we read this book, all I really knew about it was that it was condemned as heretical by the American evangelical church when it was published. We have been reading it together slowly for more that a year. So far he is asking a lot of difficult, but reasonable and important, questions about what “salvation” and Jesus really mean.

ReachingStudentsReaching Students
by the National Research Council
edited by Nancy Kober

A survey of the latest in Discipline Based Education Research that I hope will reinforce what I learned at  a workshop presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers in November 2015. My goal in attending the workshop and reading this book are to improve my students’ learning.

Self-Esteem, 3rd Edition
by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning

A lack of self-esteem (a.k.a. lack of acceptance of God’s love and forgiveness) has been a major hindrance to my life, and I have only realized how significant a problem it is in the past few years. I am working on this with the help of a counselor, who has been guiding me through this book. It is a dense book full of exercises and practical steps. It is not a book to be read as much as a book to be worked. So far, the work has been more than worth the difference it has made in my life.

Farewell to the Master
by Harry Bates

This is the short story upon which The Day the Earth Stood Still is based. If I had to pick a favorite science fiction movie, that would be it. We will see if the story is better than the movie in this case.

“Story of Your Life”
by Ted Chiang

The film Arrival is based on this story, and I want to read it before I see the movie. I put it in the first tier so that I will read it while the move is still playing in a local theater.


Tier 2

These are all books from last year’s list that I did not read yet.

LakotaWomanLakota Woman
by Mary Crow Dog

“A unique autobiography unparalleled in American Indian literature, and a deeply moving account of a woman’s triumphant struggle to survive in a hostile world.” The author was from the Rosebud reservation, less than 3 hour’s drive from my home.

OhitikaWomanOhitika Woman
by Mary Brave Bird

From Goodreads: “The dramatic, brutally honest, and ultimately triumphant sequel to the bestselling American Book Award winner Lakota Woman, this book continues Mary Brave Bird’s courageous story of life as a Native American in a white-dominated society.”

20160109_101554The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown

This past year has been a watershed year for me in terms of accepting my imperfections and believing that I am loved and valuable anyway. The title seems like an oxymoron, but I look forward to learning more about why it is not.

wrath-and-dawnThe Wrath and The Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh

This “retelling” of One Thousand and One Nights was Jackie’s favorite book of 2015.  “Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.”

I had this book on my list last year, but I did not get to it. My biases against it are still present. Admitting one’s biases is the first step to removing them, so here are mine.  The description makes it seem like Ahdieh has written this book to get a fictional serial rapist (I’m presuming none of these girls consummated their “marriages” willingly) and mass murderer off the hook. What next? “ISIS not evil, just misunderstood!” “Fall in love with Jeffry Dahmer!” “Hitler was just a tortured soul!” “John Wanye Gacy, record-breaker and heart-throb!” “Boys, do you have trouble getting girls to like you?  Here’s the solution! Become a dictator, serial rapist, and mass murderer!”

Now that I have that out of my system, I still want to read it because of the incredible reviews it has received, and I want to know what unimaginable (to me) device the author uses to absolve Khalid and why Shahrzad lets him live long enough to fall in love.

Tier 3

BlackKidsCafeteriaWhy Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
by Dr. Beverly Tatum

The blog By Their Strange Fruit has been difficult but eye-opening reading about my faith and race. The author says that the “writings of Dr. Beverly Tatum have shaped much of my early journey on race and race relations, particularly” this book.

20160109_101530The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan

This was Kelly’s book before we got married, and it has been sitting on our  bookshelves ever since.  I decided it is time for me to finally read it. I’ve never seen the movie, but I know the book is usually better anyway.

rest-of-usThe Rest of Us Just Live Here
by Patick Ness

As Jackie says, “I loved the concept: very, very few of us can be ‘the Chosen One.’ While Harry Potter was off saving the wizarding world, most young wizards were just trying to get good grades in double Potions.” I love it too; of all the books Jackie has recommended in her blog, this one seems the one I am most likely to enjoy.

20160109_101541The First Men in The Moon
by H. G. Wells

Last year, I read the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis for the first time. Many of the science fiction elements of this series were influenced by Wells’ novella. Of course, probably every science fiction writer of the past 120 years has been influenced by Wells in some way.

Tier 4

If I finish all of the books above, I will be surprised. So, if there is a tier 4, I want to leave it open for books I haven’t considered or don’t know about yet. In other words, I want to leave space for spontaneous reading.

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