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Reading Resolutions

For the past few years, all of my reading has been for the purpose of research.  I read pedagogical teaching texts or young adult lit almost exclusively, and when I branched out from that, it was to read complex books that I thought I might use to challenge my students to use for craft examples in class.  I read only as a teacher, and not as a reader.  In 2015, I’m determined not to do that.

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Poet’s Corner

Ten days ago, I was in London, England.  Pretty much every moment of every day since then has been spent either reliving a magical moment there, or frantically trying to catch up with everything I fell behind on here in real life.

Much of that trip of a lifetime was spent flitting around different literary sights in London.  My husband and I had a beer at The Plough, the famed pub of Dickens, Woolf, and Darwin.  We visited Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey and saw graves of and memorials to my heroes Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and more.  We enjoyed a visit to the home of the most famous fictional character in England, Sherlock Holmes.  The Globe Theatre, The British Library, Southbank Book Market…we saw it all.  Awash in the history of English literature, my trip made me desperately want to revisit much of it.  I can’t think of the last time I read a classic for pleasure.  So, I made my first reading resolution for 2015: read my roots.  My degree is in literature, but I’ve missed out on a lot of its classics–probably because they were assigned as boring whole-class novels and I knew about SparkNotes, but I digress.

NYT-list---11---Cropped-761259So, I knew I wanted to read some classics for fun.  But I also wanted to make sure I read lighter, easier things too, for a different kind of escapist fun.  I got curious about bestsellers I’d never bothered exploring…Janet Evanovich. James Patterson. Sue Grafton.  I’ve never read any of their books, but millions of others have. So, that’s another resolution–read my age.  I’m a 27-year-old female lover of mysteries, and I’ve never cracked the spine of an Agatha Christie! So much of my reading life is focused on the 11th graders in my classroom, but I need to read my age, too.  I want to read what everyone is reading and talking about–all of the New York Times bestsellers, not just the Young Adult list.

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Heaven in Outer Banks

My last resolution is to relax and read.  I recently read an article about a woman deciding not to participate in the GoodReads Reading Challenge because she felt like it stressed her out and diminished her intrinsic love of reading.  The comments were overwhelmingly negative and unsympathetic, but I found myself in complete agreement with her!  I was always “behind schedule” on the challenge, always feeling like I couldn’t take the time to read anything massive like The Goldfinch or pondering like The Poisonwood Bible or immersive like Will in the World.  Those books would take me way too long to read, and how was I supposed to find new things to booktalk for my students then?!  Well, I’m done with that.  I want to return to the days of my vacation in North Carolina last summer, where it rained for seven days straight and all I did was read.   It was the perfect beach vacation.

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My selfish to-read list

2015 is my year to stop feeling guilt, obligation, or stress about books.  Yes, reading saves lives, changes the world, and creates empowered, literate citizens, but that’s not why people read.  And that’s not why I try to get kids to become readers.  Reading is an exercise in imagination, in escape, in adventure.  It’s joy and pleasure and heartbreak.  It’s empathy and knowledge and understanding.  I’ve been so busy trying to teach that that I’ve forgotten it myself.  This year, my resolution is to remember that.  What’s yours?

Share your #readingresolutions and see others’ on Twitter.

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18 thoughts on “Reading Resolutions

  1. […] I just read for the pleasure of it. Shana, you and I both wrote about that in the past. Here and here. Look at this recurring […]

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  2. […] was exhausted by trying to keep track of everything I wanted to share with my students, and even resolved to read less as a teacher.  I wanted to offer a variety of rich mentor texts to my students […]

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  3. […] her hubby) have taken us to England where we virtually toured historically majestic places where remarkable literaries once stepped foot.  And, Jackie has provided us the opportunity to be audience members […]

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  4. […] Three Teachers Talk has been killing it lately. Be sure to check out Amy’s 5 suggestions on how to meet your writing goals and Shana’s reflections on losing sight of reading for herself in Reading Resolutions. […]

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  5. […] Sometimes others write my thoughts. Shana did that this week in her post about Reading Resolutions. […]

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  6. pennykittle January 15, 2015 at 7:48 pm Reply

    Love your post… and love I’ll Give You the Sun–which I can see on your stack. The freedom to read is a truly precious gift… we should all stay close to our own. 😉

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  7. Amy January 14, 2015 at 9:26 pm Reply

    Shana, you wrote my soul here. Seriously read my mind as I sit here with the narrator of Winger reading in my blue-toothed ears, and my night stand towers with other YA fiction. I even told my husband just last week that even my love of reading has become a part of my J.O.B. I, too, love your phrase “read your roots.” I’ve lost my footing, and I’m determined to get it back. Recently, I started a book club with my former colleagues and friends I want to stay in touch with now that we work in different districts. We’ve met twice and read books that have challenged my “norm.” A slice of heaven. Thanks for this great post!

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:19 am Reply

      Yes! I’m thinking of starting a book club too, for the purpose of reading “stuff we wouldn’t normally read for our jobs or age.” I’d love to read some Faulkner with friends. Or some collections of poetry!! 🙂
      (But PS…I really did love Winger!)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Erika B. January 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm Reply

    S, as I always look at author’s craft (regardless of what it is I’m reading) it’s the emotional component that draws me in. Here, I feel the calm exuding from this piece for two distinct reasons. 1. You are owning your truth [as a reader] 2.There is a sense of pride in taking back your reading journey. Kudos!

    I couldn’t agree more. I am reading The Classroom and The Cell by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill and it’s taking me a little over a month. There are moments where I find myself (actually!) believing I should read faster. Then, I find my center…my calm…and realize that for this dense discourse about the perspective of (in)justice I’m reading it at the exact pace it should be read (for me).

    I loved this post!

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:18 am Reply

      Thanks, Erika! XOXO

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  9. Ruth January 14, 2015 at 9:54 am Reply

    Yes, yes, and yes!!!!!
    I too have had it with reading challenges. For some of my students, they worked and for some, who like me felt stressed out, they were misery with titles between covers

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:17 am Reply

      Absolutely! And our kids deal with enough competitions and challenges outside of class.

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  10. Jackie January 14, 2015 at 9:39 am Reply

    I love “read your roots”–I have some embarrassing gaps for an English teacher, and I’ve resolved in the past to address them, but somehow, they always end up lower in my “to read” pile…..

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:16 am Reply

      Me too! Can you believe I’ve never read anything by Hemingway??? And I made it to age 26 without To Kill a Mockingbird…eek!

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  11. Dave Arbogast January 14, 2015 at 9:01 am Reply

    You’ll love Stiff!

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:16 am Reply

      Thanks, Dave! A student read it a few years ago and gave it to me, so it’s long overdue.

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  12. booknerdkim January 14, 2015 at 9:00 am Reply

    Hi! I *love* your resolutions! Makes me want to be more explicit about my own RR’s for this year…

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    • shanakarnes January 15, 2015 at 5:15 am Reply

      Thanks Em!! Miss you!

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