In Common: February 2nd 2018

In Common is my (mostly) weekly Commonplace roundup – notable quotes from the week, and current reading list.

I have not kept up with my commonplace over the winter months, but I am trying to get back into good habits. I’ve managed to keep up with my reading schedule since the new year, and so I am pretty motivated to start my weekly summaries as well.

One of my longer term reads I started in January is the Introduction to The Gateway to the Great Books. This short offering is similar to the Introduction to The Great Books of the Western World (which is awesome, by the way), introducing readers to the value of reading good books. One thing that is mentioned is the different kinds of reading matter, and how different books call for different styles of reading. Not everything needs to be read actively, but in the same vein not all books are worth reading at all.

“We need to remind ourselves of this bygone situation in which a book was a lifelong treasure, to be read again and again. Deluged as we are with a welter of printed words, we tend to devaluate all writing, to look at every book on the shelf as the counterpart of every other, and to weigh volumes instead of words. The proliferation of printing, on the one hand a blessing, has had, on the other, a tendency to debase (or, in any case, homogenize) our attitude toward reading.” (GTTGB, Introduction p.19)

As for the importance of actively reading a book (and Mortimer Adler was all about actively reading, pencil in hand to mark up the book):

“Buying a book is only a prelude to owning it. To own a book involves more than paying for it and putting it on the shelf in one’s home. Full ownership comes only to those who have made the books they have bought part of themselves – by absorbing and digesting them. The well-marked pages of a much handled volume constitutes one of the surest indications that this has taken place. Too many persons make the mistake of substituting economic possession or physical proprietorship for intellectual ownership.” (GTTGB, Introduction p. 29)

I’ve got so many good books going on right now, including our read alouds (for school as well as bedtime)! I’ll share some more excerpts next week.

Current (Personal) Reads:

Current Read Alouds:

Reading lists, planning and accountability

I spent my New Year’s Day with my personal scholar planner, my 2017 book list, paper and pencils.

My monthly spread in my personal scholar journal helps me keep track of Good Morning Girls daily bible chapter readings, as well as any live author events through Read Aloud Revival or with a book club.

I finished my 2017 book list, but needed to sit down and work out the nuts and bolts. How am I going to get all those books read in a year?!

 

 

 

 

I first prepared a divided a unlined sheet of paper into 12 blocks – one block for each month.

I decided to plan a quarter at a time since it’s possible I won’t make all my goals and this allows me to retool my plans before each quarter.

My books generally fall into one of two categories – long-term (over the course of the year, or several months at least) and monthly reads.

At the top of each block, I listed all my long-term books. Below these I then listed books I expect to be able to read in a month.

In my previous post, I mentioned several areas I am focusing on this year. When planning my monthly goals, I tried to include one book from Educational Philosophy, Parenting and Christian Study. I also selected two or three fiction titles and one from another area.

On paper, then I might have fifteen books listed. This sounds daunting to me, but eight are long-term reads, so I am reading just a little at a time. For example, each month I will read the corresponding chapter in The Life-giving Home, and in In Defense of Sanity, I am reading one essay a week.

My weekly bullet journal spread. I plan out daily reading portions for my current reads. I purposely leave the weekend light since I know I won’t get much reading done. I also plan the upcoming week on the weekend.

On my weekly planning pages, I list out all the books I plan to read each day, and make not of chapters or pages to work through. I only do this on a weekly basis, in case I haven’t met any of my weekly goals. Having a checklist helps me feel accomplished as I work through my daily reading goals.

 

For those books I am planning to finish in the month, I have planned for more intensive reading periods.

So… why even do this? I am not a formal student anymore. I don’t have quizzes or exams, I’m not paying for courses or risking a poor grade if I don’t get my reading done. So why the planning, why the schedule, why the extra effort?

Last year, I planned out my 2016 book list, and when I fell behind in my reading schedule, I stressed.

But I persisted and even though I fell short of my reading goal, I still read A LOT more books than I would have if I had not bothered to research and put together a reading plan, plan a reading schedule and commit to regular personal study time.

I list out my goals for the month, including books I want to complete, and how much progress I’d like to make in others. I also prepare a tracker page with day columns. Each book gets a row, and I fill in a block for each day that I read from that book.

I am active in an online book community and there is an awesome comradery and environment of encouragement and even a mild sense accountability.

 

 

 

Though honestly, there still isn’t a consequence for falling short of the goal like there would be in school.

So again, why I am doing all this?

December’s Reading Tracker page. Each day I read a particular book, I fill in a block. Lines indicate that a book was completed.

I love the term ‘personal scholarship.’ It really sums up what I am striving for, and what is the driving force for everything I do.

There are so many things I want to read about and learn and experience through books, and no one is going to hold me accountable except for me, because it is a personal goal.

By planning and scheduling, I am making a commitment, a contract with myself to work toward a goal. I want to hold myself accountable to this commitment.

If I fall short, well I reevaluate my reading goal and adjust my plans and schedules – maybe it is not realistic in light of family commitments. I reevaluate and adjust, I do not abandon. I keep the contract as a tangible “thing” that I am making myself accountable to.