Last year, I made a huge reading list using Tim Challies’ ever-popular guide. It’s a great way to organize yearly reading goals. However, as with my read-the-Bible-in-a-year strategies, I had fallen off of the book-reading bandwagon by January 31.
I did read last year. I read things for class, book reviews, research, and pleasure. They just weren’t any of the things I had set out to read on January 1.
So, this year, I’m taking it month-by-month. And for some added accountability (and a healthy dose of pressure), I’m going to share my January reading list here.
Some disclaimers: first, a huge part of my job is reading. I teach 9th-grade humanities, which involves literature and lots of research for history lectures. I also write book reviews several times a year and speak a couple of times a year, which involves research. Secondly, I read very fast: around 900 words a minute with 65% comprehension if I’m speed reading (which I do a lot with things I’ve already read or things I’m just reading for research). (Lest you think I’m bragging, I think my speed-reading and speed-writing capabilities are gifts to make up for my general physical awkwardness in all other areas of life.) Third, a few of these books will carry into February.
So, without further ado, the list!
by Johann Harl
I’m reading this one for a book discussion that my husband and I were invited to. My dad grew up in South Central LA during the crack epidemic, and that’s about as up close and personal as I’ve come to learning more about it. But outside of hearing his stories, I haven’t read much about the war on drugs on a larger scale. I’m excited to learn more. I only have ten days to read it, so I might speed read first, then go back and savor it later.
by Sarah Moslener
One of the new year’s resolutions that I’m actually striving to keep is starting a book club! I wanted to gather an ethnically diverse group of Christian women to discuss cultural moments that have shaped evangelicalism. The first book was my idea, after a couple of friends recommended it as a game-changer. I’m expecting it to be one of those reads that makes me realize I’ve been living in the Matrix. We’ll see. Planning to finish by our February book club meetup.
by Joel McDurmon
One more book club read. This one is an online group that originally started as a way for me to bring together a group of my Facebook friends who had expressed interest in learning more about African American history. It’s since blossomed into an invitation from McDurmon to help me admin the group, and open it to a broader variety of people. I’m one chapter in, and I’m already impressed by the scholarly dismantling of so many myths I had heard. A highly recommended read for anyone who softens the brutality of American slavery. You can join the book club here. We won’t be devouring it all in January.
by John Steinbeck
The ninth graders are opening up the school year with a dose of Steinbeck, and I could not be more pleased. He was one of my favorites when I was their age, and I still remember leaving tearstains on the pages of my copy. We started the year with some 18th-century literature, which has been fine (fun, even), but now we’re coming to my favorite period: modern American literature. We’ll also be mixing in some short stories from Hemingway, some poems from Langston Hughes, and some short stories of our own.
by Danielle L. McGuire
I stumbled across this book yesterday while doing research for something (fictional) that I’m writing. Without getting too far off into the weeds of my self-indulgent rookie novelist ways, I’ll just say that I googled something that landed me on this page and down the rabbit trail of the rape of black women throughout our nation’s history. (This is not a veiled upcoming novel announcement; I’ve always written them for fun, and they never see the light of day)
This is a quick re-read for research purposes, but I had to put it on the list. Douglass’s birthday is coming up. If you haven’t read his narrative, you’re missing out on one of the most important books in American history as a whole, and African American history in particular. It’s not long, but it’s worth your time.
And, my audiobook for this month is most likely going to be some YA fiction to break up the heaviness of the rest of my books. I’ve been listening to this series nonstop and I’m not one ounce ashamed! But I think I’ll be breaking for John Green this month.