Friday, February 27, 2015

Intentional Reading

For a number of years now, I've embraced the word intentional. Until I realized the word was what drove me in my activities, I just did my daily tasks with intention and never thought anything about it. 

After homeschooling for twenty years and moving into a traditional classroom as a middle/upper school teacher, I recognized the need to embrace that word intentional with my job in the classroom. The word drove me. I was intentional, or aimed to be, about every single thought and action as I approached my job. I used that word while leading the few professional development meeting we had. In my opinion, intentional is the key to doing a job well, whatever that job may be. (I nod now when I hear that the head of school where I last worked uses the word intentional frequently. I don't know whether that came from me or elsewhere, but doing a job with intention should be encouraged.) 

So, if you are not intentional about cleaning a toilet, it will likely not be cleaned that well. If you are intentional about a student learning the countries of Europe, you as a teacher will figure out ways to help the student learn them. Likewise, if you are intentional about reading, you will plan ways to make room for reading, either planning time to read, or planning what to read, or both. 

Intention and planning go hand in hand. If I were not intentional about what I read, I would walk to my stuffed shelves and just pull out any book to read. But, I've never been like that. I like to plan. I like to make lists. And I daresay that those of you who are listmakers are ones who get much done throughout the day because you work with intention. Have you ever thought about reading with intention though? (A helpful list of things can be found here.)

Intentional reading can take several directions. Maybe you intend to read every book in a particular series such as the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games series, or O'Brian's Aubrey and Maurin British naval books. Or maybe you intend to read every book written by a particular author like Pat Conroy, Alexander McCall Smith, or Gladys Taber. Another aim at intention could be to read all the Pulitzer prize or Newbery award books. Or maybe you have another take on intention like I do. 

Reading books from my own bookshelves is my overall goal of intentional reading. If I live twenty more years with enough eyesight and health to read consistently, I might come close to reading through my bookshelves. That's a stretch of the word might, too. Specifically, my intentional reading involves regularly reading different genres. Since I'm an avid listmaker, I've shelved my books according to topic. I have shelves for history, science, particular authors, particular countries, fluff fiction / beach reading, biography, Christianity, classic fiction, and books about books. Plus, I have a list of audiobooks I download from the library. It is from those "lists" or shelves that I rotate my reading. 

I also challenge myself in the cyber-presence of others through seasonal reading challenges. To choose books for that, I go through the shelves and pull a few books from some of the shelves so that my reading is varied for that challenge. I know myself well enough that I fear I could easily let myself fall into a pit of reading only fluff fiction just like one can fall into the pit of eating fast food for (unlikely and unhealthy) sustenance. I have a particular shelf that books accumulate for the next challenge. The shelf for the Spring Reading Challenge is pictured here, minus the book Gilead. The different genres range from juvenile historical fiction [Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons (Rinaldi)], history and biography [Unbroken (Hillenbrand), The Revolutionary Swamp Fox (Bodie), the Lewis & Clark books (Hamilton)]; fluff fiction [A Week in Winter (Binchy)]; notable fiction [Gone With the Wind (Mitchell), Crossing to Safety (Stegner)]; and reading through the works of a particular author [My Losing Season (Conroy)]. I have a number of audiobooks that are loaded on my iPod to listen while tasking and walking. When I finish a book, I add it to or mark it "read" on my Goodreads page after I finish it. 

If you would like to read with more intention, think about joining us for the Spring Reading Challenge through May. Just three months. If you are just starting out, don't over-think your intentions and get discouraged; pick only three to six books. When finished, pick another until the end of the challenge. If you do join us and also have a Facebook account, there is a private Facebook group you can be part of to share quotes and encouragement,  or ask questions. It's also a quick place to list your finished book. Many of us use Goodreads to keep track of our books to read and those read. Goodreads allows for you to virtually shelve your books anyway that's helpful to you. If you haven't already and would like to participate in the Spring Reading Challenge, please post that in a comment, and I will follow up with you.

Press on with intentional reading!


Becky Powell said...

You've given me a different way of looking at books. I do have one book to finish, "Moby Dick," and another to read by March 17 for the book club I'm trying to return to. I can't remember anything except that it has to do with somebody having fifteen lives. I'm going to pick a Southern Gothic because of a friend who wants to discuss this genre. I'm not sure what else yet. I'm still thinking.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I think I need to clean more toilets with intention ;-)

I just finished an interesting book about the traditions of tea. It was so much better than I expected!