There is a group of books that I keep checking out of the library, over and over again, without ever reading the book.
There’s a similar pile of books on the top shelf of my bedroom bookshelf, and a third group stacked on my bedside table.
These are books about interesting subjects, many of which are highly recommended by friends and the reading community at large.
But I haven’t been able to read them cover to cover.
Nor have I been able to simply move on, which I often do. I long ago resolved to never finish a book that I wasn’t enjoying. I used to feel compulsive about finishing books, even when I lost interest after only a few chapters. Now, I don’ worry about that at all. There are too many good books out there! There is no time to waste reading books that don’t capture me completely.
Yet – I still keep checking these same books out of the library. And I refuse to donate the pile of books in my bedroom to Ukazoo, my favorite used bookstore. I pick them up occasionally – I read a few chapters – and then I ultimately move on to another book.
What gives? And what do I do?
After considering this issue, I noticed that many of these books fit into categories; they are books about writing, parenting, and mindfulness. These are possibly the three subjects I care most about in my life currently.
So why don’t I read these books?
I think part of the reason why is that I don’t have as much reading time as I used to now that I’m a parent. And, related – I absolutely love reading fiction. I will always choose a compelling novel over a non-fiction book, every single time.
But – I still WANT to read these books! They’re on my list because I believe that they’re going to help my grow in my knowledge and my skills in some way. They’re on my list because I want to be a better writer, a more intentional parent, and a more successful meditation practitioner.
So this is what I’ve decided: I’m going to create a Slow Jams Syllabus. (I call these books Slow Jams, because I enjoy them, but don’t plow through them the way I did with all 13 of Louise Penny’s mystery novels.) It’ll be a syllabus, like in college – a list of required reading that I am requiring for myself.
I’m going to give myself a tentative “deadline” for completing the syllabus, although there is NO CHANCE I will stick to this goal if I start a book and find that it’s not as good as I thought it was. This is really all about ME – what I want to do and to learn, how I want to grow. So there’s no need to stick with it if it’s not working for me.
However – having a deadline will help me to be realistic about the not gonna happen factor. If I haven’t read one of these books by the end of 2019 – then it’s probably just not for me, and should be replaced by a title from the wait list. (Oh, yes – there is a wait list. SEE BELOW.)
Syllabus listed below. Happy reading!
Kerriann’s Slow Jams Syllabus (semi-required reading, to be read by January 2020)
No Drama Discipline, Daniel J. Siegel
Parenting From The Inside Out, Daniel J. Siegel
The Soul Of Discipline, Kim John Payne
Story Craft, Jack Hart
The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, New York Writers Workshop
Writing To Change The World, Mary Pipher
Bestseller, Celia Brayfield
Writing Mysteries, Sue Grafton (and many others)
Meditation Now Or Never, Steve Hagen
Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
No Bad Kids, Janet Lansbury
The Wait List
Happiness Is An Inside Job, Sylvia Boorstein
Buddhism Is Not What You Think, Steve Hagen
MBSR Every Day, Elisha Goldstein
Start Here Now, Susan Piver
The Happiest Kids In The World, Rina Mae Acosta
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
Designing Your Life, Bill Burnett
The White Album, Joan Didion
Bark, Lorrie Moore
Wherever You Go There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn