(Please ignore everything on this blog other than this post. I switched to a free account a few months ago, and this is the default theme. Everything is out of date, but I'm unwilling to spend time on this until I decide how to use this space moving forward.)
I have a love/ignore relationship to reading challenges.
As a first grader, the summer reading program at the Tacoma Public Library changed my life. I read 100+ books in an attempt to meet the mayor, and a voracious reader was born. By the time I reached the final summer of my MA at Bread Loaf, however, I swore to never read anything assigned to me ever again. I am, at best, a reluctant member of book clubs, and I refuse to read most books that people tell me I HAVE to read.
Two years ago I started a blog with the stated goal of reading "a book a week"; while I have always read more than that, I wanted to break my habit of reading 16 paranormal/urban fantasy novels in a row. So I challenged myself to read 1 non-"trashy" book each week. (Note: "Trashy" is a term that a friend and I coined in high school, and is applied without judgement to pretty much all adult genre fiction. I say "trashy" with great affection.) That summer I found #bookaday and started following other voracious adult readers like Donalyn Miller and John Schu, and I ratcheted my reading up another notch. My reading goal for 2011 was 365 books, a goal I reached on December 28. (I estimate that at least 100 of those were picture books). I had mixed success at some of my other goals; I don't really blog anymore, so I abandoned the challenges I had entered, but my Twitter PLN and my relationship with booksellers keep me reading newer, better, more diverse books, which was my reason for entering the challenges in the first place. So I'm quite happy with my reading in 2011.
I do believe that part of leading a reading community, which is what we do as a teachers, is constantly pushing ourselves further, so I've set some goals for 2012.
Goal 1: Read 365 books (a book a day). Wait, it's a leap year, right? 366 books.
Goal 2: Read 12 professional development books (a book a month). This has more to do with the number of unread books about reading and writing that I have piled up than a need to challenge myself. There are at least 12 books in the stack that I WANT to read. Hopefully this goal will remind me to read them.
Goal 3: Continue to read through my stack of 2011 Coretta Scott King, Stonewall, and YALSA Non-Fiction winners, and add the 2012 titles (plus the Schneiders) to my stack. I want to revisit the Walden books too.
Goal 4: Start reading the Printz winners and honor books, in chronological order. This is a stretch for me; out of last year's books, only Ship Breaker (and now Please Ignore Vera Dietz since I heard A. S. King speak at ALAN) appeal to me. The rest of the list seems so grim. But if I am going to hold myself up as an expert in YA, even if it is only in my own classroom, then I need to be familiar with what others consider to be the best, even if I sometimes disagree with their choices. (Also, I really wanted to be nerdy like Donalyn and John and Colby Sharp, but many Newbery books are even less appealing to me AND they're old, and if I tried to read Caldecotts from the public library, I would bankrupt myself in late fees. Thus #nerdprintz was born.) I might finish in a year, or two, or never. It depends on whether or not I like the books. I will, at least, start each of them.
Goal 5-?: I have a few more ideas in my head. I want to read all of Sarah Dessen's books (and David Levithan and Laurie Halse Anderson and. . .). I have a dozen or so series to finish or catch up on. I have a growing stack of books written for adults by friends of mine that I really want to read. I need to read a few books that my students are obsessed with. There are Babymouse books unread.
How will I keep track? Goodreads, of course. Over the last two years this site has become central to my reading experience, so I'll be tracking everything there. I'll make a shelf for my various challenges and see how I do. I'm also going to be better about posting about books I love on Twitter and Facebook. I learn a ton from my Twitter friends (Paul Hankins is especially good about promoting great titles), and I need to return the favor. And, of course, #nerdprintz. I'll keep using that hash tag to report on the titles that I read and recommend. I look forward to hearing what my fellow nerdy readers have to say. Please, post your plans there.
And Happy New Year!