What I Learned From Reading 1+ Book a Week in 2020

This year felt like five years. I don’t even have the words to talk about it yet, but I’m incredibly grateful to have made it this far. Through all of the change, grief, and two semesters of mind-numbing virtual schooling, reading books saved my life. Actually no, the people that I connected with by reading their writing, seeing their perspective and learning from their experience, saved my life. Saved isn\’t exactly the word I\’m looking for, but is as close a word that I can think of and here means that these connections brought a lot of meaning and transformation to the situations I found myself in this year. Reading books helped me make sense of things amidst all of the apparent chaos that ensued this year. I was lucky to make a lot of my leisure time “learning time”, taking refuge in books, and ended up reading 80 of them.Yeah…I made a resolution to read a book a week this year. On the other side of it, I think the 52-books-in-a-year thing is overrated. Numbers can be motivating because they are easy to keep track of and use for humble-bragging to other people, but they are also deceiving. Have I retained and applied everything from every book? No. And why not? Because when I focused on the number 52, the important thing was getting to that number and being able to tell myself and others that I did it. It didn’t matter if it was 52 100-page books or 52 1000-page books. It didn’t matter if I learned or remembered anything special. It didn’t even matter if the quality of my life outside of reading improved or got worse. It was just about getting to 52. Once I got there, I felt underwhelmed by the accomplishment. I knew that reaching that goal wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t fun and deepening my perspective, relationships and service to people and the planet.I reached my goal then realized that the number was the least important part of a meaningful learning process. That I can see a book, feel my curiosity to open it then connect to another person through space and time, expand my mind, challenge myself, apply what I learn in my attitude, daily life and dreams, and have more fulfilling relationships, all by looking at paper, is nothing short of a miracle. Books are gifts to those of us who can read, so if you’re reading this: enjoy that gift and share it with others.Gratefully, I read some mind-blowing books this year. To me, these are the books that I can’t put down until I have to come up for air. The authors question, reflect and argue about things that I may have thought about a little or a lot, but always in ways way deeper and more nuanced than I can currently reproduce. These are the books that made me wonder who “I”, “you”, “us”, “them”, and “we”, even are. Reading them only compels me to read, write and talk more about them. And they are featured on our IG as Jan’s Most Mind-Blowing Reads of 2020 – check them out here.

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