Creating a Summer Reading List
Summer. Is. Here. At least it is for the Our Lady of Wisdom Church and Catholic Student Center! And summer means one thing... major guilt and regret over wasting precious summertime! In order to avoid that summer guilt and fight off that August anxiety (like Sunday night anxiety only with the weight of an entire school year on your shoulders), I'd like to share with you Aunt Katie's Guide to Summer. The first installment is my How to Create a Reading List. Future posts will include organization and cleaning--okay, okay--what cocktails to make when you're organizing and cleaning, how to spend all of that precious free time, Austin Family Roadtrip Planning Guides and more... that is assuming I don't stay up until 3AM every night watching Netflix. #Summer
Don't waste it,
Pictured: What I'm reading in May... the details about these selections will be coming soon in a different post!
How to Create a Reading List
Choosing a Summer Reading List has become somewhat of a ritual for me... throughout the year (and last decade) I've filled up my Amazon Prime Visa with book after book that I have all the intentions in the world to read and none of the time. Summer is the opportunity to put some order to the stacks on stacks of books collecting dust in my home (note: I have not made my Summer Cleaning List yet.)
One large chunk of my reading time is usually devoted to my required reading for the Fides et Ratio Seminars I participate in every Summer. However, this year due to the 1,000 weddings and ordinations I will be attending, I won't be able to make it to my favorite summer nerdfest, I mean getaway, I mean academic endeavor. So this year, I'll be sharing with you my monthly reading guide. #butfirst let's talk about how to form a well-rounded list...
1. Start with the books you already own... A certain humility is required when we look at our stacks on stacks and realize we have sunk a lot of money into our desire to learn. You probably have LOTS of books that you're dying to read, finish, dust off, move from that pile next to your bed that you keep tripping over, etc. Start there.
2. Don't worry what other people think... Did your best friend recommend a book to you and you hate it? You don't need to finish it. It's okay. Is the book you picked up too challenging? too boring? too tiresome? Put it down and try again another time. Non-required reading should bring you some enjoyment--whether it teaches you something new, broadens your worldview, or enlivens your imagination. But unlike a Netflix series that automatically starts the next episode even if you're losing interest, you can put this book down!
3. Challenge yourself... Reading is so good for your brain and your heart. We need a break from Fortnite or following the Royal Wedding once in a while so we can feed our interiority. In particular, our Catholic intellectual tradition provides an unparalleled dialogue between the Church and culture. Many of us look around the world today and get pretty depressed. Educating ourselves on Church teaching, challenge ourselves with classic literature, and expanding our hearts through the written word will not only make us better citizens of the world but provide us with excellent small talk for the 1,000 weddings and ordination receptions we will be attending this summer!
4. Be a critic... Engage the authors of your books--not necessarily via facebook comment or angry tweet, but ask questions as you read--what is he or she getting at? Do I agree with these statements? Even better--get a friend to read a book with you or join a book club. We all take different lessons and inspirations from the things we read. Other people's opinions (while potentially wrong) present us with a different view and often challenge us to figure out what we do or don't believe.
5. Go to a bookstore or library... [Even if you're planning to order it online or download it to your ereader of choice.] One of my favorite activities as a kid was going to the bookstore. There is something instructive, overwhelming, and beautiful about being surrounded by millions of words at once. There's a certain magic to the weight of a book in your hand, the smell of the paper, the kerning of the fonts that gives reading a more sacramental experience. Even if it is just a nice place to visit and you never intend to make a purchase, the act of walking through a bookstore opens our minds to how many millions of books are out there! And the coffee is usually pretty good.
Reading List Advice
I'll keep it short, so you can get to reading, as Michael Scott would say, ASAP as possible. I like to mix in some spirituality, theology, scriptural commentary, biography, how-tos, and fiction--that's just me. You can come up with your own combination. I also like to read several books at the same time--okay, not at the same time--if I could bilocate, I would not waste it on reading, but a couple of chapters of one, put it down, a couple chapters of another, etc. I also like motivating factors like a movie or miniseries release... must read the book before seeing the movie!! Final advice: look into audio books. I have had a great deal of success with actually getting to my laundry once in a while when I can listen to an audiobook. Let audiobooks take the place of Netflix for one week--and you'll be astounded by what you can learn!
What advice would you add for creating a Reading List?