Reading List 2020 (Intro) — “Reading for Whim”

Each January, I make the commitment to read 12 new books during the calendar year — one book a month. I figure, reading a 300-600 page book means only 10 to 20 pages a day. On average, this means devoting 15 to 30 minutes a day to reading for an average reader. This nominal time commitment is a pathway to many new ideas, concepts, facts, understanding, and comprehension for the world we live in.

In addition, to stay engaged in reading, I adopted an approach Alan Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College and Author of The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, calls “reading for whim.” (you can find his book from Amazon here). In short, reading for whim means reading what strikes you as fun. Find a book, subject, concept, or story that compels you. Then, let that book lead you to your next adventure. Read what inspired your favorite author to write his book, what that author cites, the book’s subject matter that you found particularly inspirational, or a concept or principal expounded upon in the book. In short, read what you are interested in and not what others want you to read (you can listen to a great podcast about “reading for whim” here). The author best summarizes this concept with the following anecdote:

[M]any students who have come to me over the years after graduating…think[ing], Oh, there is so many important books I haven’t read…They come…and say, “Give me 10 books that I should read over the next year.” Or: “give me 10 books that you think everyone should read.” I always find myself thinking, Read what you want to read. Since you were 6 years old [sic] you’ve been reading things that people told you to read. Now you don’t have to do that anymore[.]…Go out and read what strikes you as being fun.

John Wilson, Don’t Worry, Read Happy: Alan Jacobs on the Pleasures of Reading, Christianity Today January 2012, at 40

This year, I put reading for whim to the test. I can honestly say this concept has changed how I read. Specifically, I am seldom stuck in a “what should I read next” or “why am I reading this” mindset. Each book I have read thus far has been engaging and interesting. Also, as I read, my reading list manifests itself, taking out the guess work on what’s next. Most importantly, it is a reading list tailored to me. So far, I have read seven books with five books left to go this year. The books I chose either came from a podcast I listened to, a concept introduced in one of the books I read, or from on of my favorite authors. These are books that I am not necessarily recommending you to read (unless you are interested), rather this series is only intended for you to chase your whim and encourage you to read.

Hopefully, each of the posts in this series will be structured as follows: (1) a brief explanation of the book; (2) what caused me to read the book; (3) themes or ideas I gleaned from the book; and (4) the curiosity or “whim” it stirred within me, leading to my next reading adventure.

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