This week I announced my word of the year for 2017. In January, I am defining the areas where I want to improve my consistency.

Toward the end of the year, I decided to declutter our home, in particular my office. Two items of note caught my attention as I sat on the carpet in the middle of piles of paperwork, writing articles, knick-knacks, and the colorful paper clips trying to find a home  – I could build a life-size Jengo with my blank journals and unread books. Collecting beautiful and interesting notebooks is a thread I’ve carried from childhood. I adored my father’s desk, multicolored binders, the stapler, and notebooks standing around as a captive audience among all of the other paperwork. I’d often ask him, “Can I have this notebook, Dad?” I’d stash another journal in the corner of my closet.

Along with this important memory, I realized another truth – there were several books I had bought, but hadn’t read. Throughout the year, I make every attempt to read. It’s also a pursuit I’ve enjoyed since I was a little girl. Some of my favorite memories involve taking a trip to our local library and exiting the doors with stacks of books I could barely balance in my hands. As soon as we reached home, I’d head for my room, prop my pillow on my headboard and start my book. Judy Blume, Carolyn Keene and others captivated my attention as my eyes weaved through the words, sentences and paragraphs. After a few hours, I’d look down at the pages, realizing the end of the book was closer than I anticipated. It is there I stopped, wanting to savor the book for a few more hours, not hurrying to the end.

Those feelings of my childhood seem to waver last year. In 2016, I didn’t read all of the books on my list. I didn’t even come to close as I reviewed my to-read list. I realized how many books I bought or checked out and saved for later. The “later” never happened. This is a problem – both professionally and personally. To become a better writer and person, reading is a must. I’d like my reading consistency to improve in 2017. Part of the reason I am writing this post is to hold myself accountable for the goal I’ve set this year for reading. I’d love to read at least 52 books this year. Here are some rules I am implementing to accomplish this pursuit:

  1. Reading in the morning and before I go to bed;
  2. Keeping a book in the car (always) for those unexpected wait times;
  3. Less social media and more reading time;
  4. Using audio tapes as a way to include more book time (this is new for me);
  5. Post my reviews of notable books in this space;
  6. Use downtime to read, instead of playing on my phone; and
  7. Appointing reading hours with my daughter and husband.

I’ve started my year with “Books for Living” by Will Schwalbe, a fitting beginning for my 52 weeks of reading. I plan to be accountable to myself and my readers by regularly updating my book review section in this space. My hope is to revisit that feeling in my childhood, the longing and anticipating and lingering in the pages of a good book.

I’ve always known that reading has the power to change perspectives and to confront hard truths and most importantly, to learn something new about myself. Anna Quindlen says it best, “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” I couldn’t agree more.

MPj04394190000[1] by Alberto G. via Flickr.