Set of rectangles with abstract shapes in navy, peach and pink. Individually, they look like book covers. As a set, like 2021
Set of rectangles with abstract shapes in navy, peach and pink. Individually, they look like book covers. As a set, like 2021

Reading into the new year

Setting an ambitious, attainable reading goal for 2021

My 2021 resolutions are a small and ambitious, but attainable. That last part is key; after a year like 2020 I have no desire whatsoever to punish myself (which is also why this post is coming mid-January and not the cool, crisp, exacting 1st of the year).

6 boxes with geometric shapes that abstractly represent the concepts below, e.g. a square within a square for tv
6 boxes with geometric shapes that abstractly represent the concepts below, e.g. a square within a square for tv

I’m giving up weekday TV.

As much as I appreciate keeping up with the amazing shows y’all are watching, and as much as a good evening cry with Call the Midwife got me through 2020, I want to explore my own mind. I want to quiet the scattershot electricity that buzzes through my brain. I want to focus more, and this is one quiet way to be both entertained and thoughtful. On the weekends, will I binge watch my favorite shows? I’m hoping not. I’ll forgive myself if I do, but I’d like to move toward movies which are so much less of a commitment while still inspiring, immersive stories that also allow me spend time with and connect with my partner.

I’m planning ahead.

I will try to plan my books out a month ahead of time at least (got a paper planner for doing just this). At minimum I will know at least what I’m reading next week. I love the idea of having a schedule for this because I can think ahead to important events that will be happening this year – my ten year wedding anniversary in May, for example, or September when we should have paid off our debt – and book those books in (excuse the pun) where I know they will be meaningful. I should note that most of the time I get my books from the library (one of the world’s best institutions that we frankly don’t deserve. You should use the library too, if you can!). This has the added benefit of forcing me to plan ahead since often the books I want have a wait list I need to sign up for weeks in advance.

I’m giving myself a deadline.

Sunday night, that’s my deadline for finishing each book. Although I appreciate a good bookend (so many good books puns) to the work week, I cannot choose a Friday because I know I am exhausted on Friday evenings. In fact, I am trialing my first week as I write this and three out of four night this week I’ve gone to bed with my kids between 8 and 9p.m., which doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading. Building in buffer at the weekend should buy me a few more hours and allow for those busier weeks where I can still prioritize my sleep.

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Love getting reactions and recommendations from friends on the Internet.

I’ll review what I’ve read.

Not a Goodreads user, here. Maybe I’ll become one if I find a good reason? But I don’t want yet another distraction in my life. Yet another platform. I do however like keeping notes of what I’ve read and what I get from each pile of pages. This week as I’ve gotten up early each day to write (another annual resolution) I have naturally written down what I’ve learned from the books I am reading. I think this says a lot about what reading does for me, and though I hope the process goes a little faster in future weeks (so that I can write other things too), I do very much like the idea of sharing thoughts and reactions with a community of other readers. Even (and perhaps especially) if that community is small. I have already gotten so much out of one simple tweet about my second book of the year.

I won’t keep a grueling pace.

As I’ve mentioned above, reading is not something I wish to punish myself with. If a book a week is too ambitious I will alter my course to a book every other week, and if that is too much, then a book a month will suffice. It will still be better than what I managed to read last year. But as with most new things I’ll give this a try for a month and then reassess.

I’ll keep a list of recommendations.

I received a stack of wonderful books for Christmas that I would like to get through, but I also have a backlog of titles I’ve been collecting for years, even some recommended by my dad before he passed away in 2012. I also have a lot I want to learn about — native Florida gardening, homesteading and backyard chickens, the history I should have learned in school but didn’t, and yes, a few tech books. It seems daily someone has another interesting read to recommend. I’ll keep them all in a Todoist list and if it gets too difficult to decide which one to read next maybe I’ll put them all in a hat. This should make the planning part easier.

Words, design, community. Leading w/ kindness. Product Design manager @ Webflow. Prev. Glitch, Mozilla, Adobe, Women&&Tech, Jane & Jury. cassiemcdaniel.com

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