2013 Reading Goals

Being that it’s mid-January, I should probably get around to reflecting on the previous year’s reading accomplishments and look ahead to this year’s. In years past, I set annual reading goals for myself, and they looked something like this:

2013: ?

I wanted to slow my mind down a bit in 2012, aiming to read collections of poetry each season. I think I marginally succeeded, having read several great works. On the way, I surpassed my personal best of books read in a year (50) by three. I did, however, miss the mark in not reading very many individual poems from different poets. Altogether, I read seven collections, including Dickinson, Eliot, Frost, Milton, Neruda, and Whitman. Paradise Lost was the highlight, though Neruda, Eliot, and Dickinson were also fantastic. I hope to continue to make poetry a regular part of my reading rhythm. More on that below.

As years pass, I find myself gravitating more toward Jacobs’ organic, whim-driven approach to reading rather than Adler’s more rigid, list-dominated prescription. My reading lists, set at the beginning of each season, change much over the course of each season more often than not. However, organic or not, I have set goals for myself in 2013.

This year, I hope to slow down the pace and read some larger, denser works that require more time, attention, reflection, and study. One reason for this is to be less driven by lists. Another is that there are excellent books I want to read which simply require more effort. Yet another reason is that much of contemporary theology (especially within the “young, restless, reformed camp”) has left me wanting more depth and variety. A benefit of this year’s goal is that my reading can be more open ended and relaxed.

Don’t get me wrong, I still intend to read a healthy stack of books this year. You can keep tabs on them by clicking the seasonal link in the tabs above. But these will mostly fill in the cracks when I don’t have a chance to sit down to more difficult books with a pipe in my teeth and a pencil in my hand.

Let’s finally get to some specifics. My initial goals are to get through Carson’s masterful commentary on John, The Book of Common Prayer, The Valley of Vision, and John Updike’s Early Stories. Elizabeth and I were also given a subscription to Ligonier’s Table Talk, which will take us chronologically through the prophets this year. I hope to balance all of this out with a decent amount of poetry, including a collection by Wendell Berry and many of The Best Poems of the English Language. Later in the year, I might tackle Daniel Doriani’s commentary on James, a collection of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, and Luther’s Bondage of the Will. And exhale. We’ll see if I can successfully slow myself down and maybe improve my retention in the process. Whether I can or can’t, I wish you the best in your reading endeavors in 2013.

Odon Marffy’s Man Smoking a Pipe and with a Book, 1920s


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