Welcome to 2011.
Yes, it’s a new year. And thank goodness for that!
I love fresh starts. It’s like Anne Shirley so wisely stated: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”
While we’re already more than a week into the new year, it’s still pretty fresh, still full of newness. And in keeping with the “fresh start” theme, I’m making some radical changes in my own life. I feel like a gardener in Spring, surveying a barren patch of earth and seeing it for all it’s possibilities.
On a professional level, I’m tilling and planting in pursuit of growth. I love to write, and want to do something constructive with that passion by finding opportunities to share my creativity. For the past year, I have had the pleasure of working with a dear friend in opening a yoga studio in a little town in Kansas. Writing and designing advertising and business materials reignited the spark of my creative spirit, and I refuse to allow anyone or anything to extinguish it. The story ideas sprouting in my mind finally have room and sunlight and fresh air to thrive and flourish, and the words are finally formulating and finding their way on the white of my laptop screen. I also love books, and to justify the time I want to invest in reading them, I’m determined to get my on-line bookstore up and running. I recently purchased the dustedcover.com domain, and am in the process of lining up my ducks and stocking up on books. It’s an exciting endeavor, though also a little overwhelming. But more exciting than overwhelming.
On a personal level, I’m pruning and grafting. Trimming out diseased branches, and introducing new, healthy opportunities that might flourish and produce fruit down the road. I am blessed with some tremendous support, freshly tilled ground, and the rains and winds of adversity to encourage deep roots and strengthen my resolve. The Master Gardner has seen me through storm after storm, and while I may have lost a branch or two along the way, He has kept my spirit strong and continues to nourish my soul. God is so good.
And so, I look forward to this new year, this fresh start, with great anticipation for new things to come. And I hope, and pray, that you are doing the same.
While I refused to come up with any resolutions for the year, I did decide to sit down and make a list of 24 books I plan to read before the year’s end. Two books a month. It’s not a resolution. I don’t do resolutions. But I want to read with intention, and so this is a list of intentions:
1. The Bible. I really want to read the Bible all the way through, cover to cover. To guide me through this, I’m using a guide I printed out from oneyearbibleonline.com. I actually started it in November, but since one of my little people used my printed out guide as a palette for his artwork, I went ahead and printed off a new one and will just start from scratch.
2. Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. During the past year, I’ve tried to absorb as much C.S. Lewis as my jobs as wife and mommy will allow. There are some great podcasts of Master’s level courses on the life and theology of Mr. Lewis on iTunesU to enrich the experience of reading his works.
3. America by Heart, by Sarah Palin. I like a lot of things about Sarah, and I’m looking forward to learning more about her through her latest book.
4. Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism, by Bob Edwards. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Murrow, and still hope to attend the Edward R. Murrow School of Broadcasting at Washington State University. While the medium he helped to create has become something so much greater than he could have ever imagined (or hoped for), he must be acknowledged as a true, modern-day pioneer.
5. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift. In keeping with the theme of dusting off the covers of old and new classics, I want to read this one out loud to my little men. Sure, there was a movie based on the book made recently. But I just can’t stand Jack Black, and the movie is never as good as the book. But now that they’ve seen the trailer for the movie, they might take a little more interest in the book.
6. Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. My parents dutifully purchased the complete set for me when I was about 10. I never finished reading them. This past year, I read the first two books to my kids before we watched the movies, and they really enjoyed the books, and then watching and seeing how the movie was similar and understanding the story more than they might have otherwise. And they’re very good at coaching my British accent, since I give each of the characters a different voice when reading to them, and you just can’t read the dialogue of the King and Queen of Narnia without an accent. We haven’t seen the new movie yet, so this one will likely move up the list pretty quickly.
7. Broke, by Glenn Beck. This may come as a surprise to some, but I’m actually a staunch Conservative. Hmmm… might not be good for business to bare my political soul, but it’s who I am. I’ve never read any of Beck’s books, but I want to better understand the financial workings of the government, and I know he’s done his homework.
8. Get Known Before the Deal, by Christina Katz. This is one of those books I’ve had for a while, and just haven’t taken the time to read. It’s about giving yourself a platform for your writing. I wonder if she recommends starting a blog…
9. A Little Princess, by Francis H. Burnett. Okay, I’m cheating a little bit on this one since it’s already on the list of books that I’ll be reading to my boys as part of their homeschool curriculum this year. I loved the Shirley Temple movie as a kid, and yet I never read the book! Another classic revived for a new generation. Though, not one my boys are thrilled about since it’s about a princess. But I told them there’s a monkey in it, so they’re cool.
10. Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff. This is a newbie to the publishing world, but we were learning about Ancient Egypt in our schooling earlier this year, and so now my Egypt radar is on high alert. “They” say that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you have to learn, and I certainly did not learn much about ancient civilizations as a kid. (One of the many benefits of homeschooling, is that you get to learn and re-learn along with your little people.)
11. Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis. I think I may have mentioned that I’m diggin’ Lewis.
12. Emma, by Jane Austen. I’m a girl, and I’m a girl who loves books, so it’s a foregone conclusion that I love Jane Austen. I haven’t read Emma yet, so it’s long overdue.
13. If You Build It, Will They Come: Three Steps to Test and Validate Any Market Opportunity, by Rob Adams. Should probably have read this before buying a domain name, but ah well. My dad read this one and recommended it.
14. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food, by Lysa TerKeurst. I just heard her on Focus on the Family radio the other day, and she has a relate-able story to tell. I want to write something clever here about how I never use food to satisfy anything other than a rumbling tummy, but I can’t stop thinking about tiramisu.
15. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain. Another one of those classics that I want to expose my kids to but haven’t actually read myself yet. I know there was a Tom Sawyer movie made not too long ago. It couldn’t possibly be as good as the 1938 version.
16. The Odyssey, by Homer. Another selection inspired by recent exposure to his stories as we work through the year’s homeschool lessons. So much to learn! And I downloaded this one for cheap on Kindle for PC.
17. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Hmmm… I’ve read this one before, but it’s been more than ten years. Why don’t I own this one yet? I have the movie– LOVE the movie. Yes, I definitely need to read that one again.
18. How to Grow a Novel, by Sol Stein. I need to read more books on writing, and my favorite author, Francine Rivers, recommends this one.
19. The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, by Al Ries and Laura Ries. This is one of those books that I’ve had for years, and just haven’t made the time to read. I just hope it isn’t already irrelevant.
20. Bringing Up Boys, by Dr. James Dobson. I bought this when I found out my first child was going to be a boy. I remember skimming through it while sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room prior to a prenatal checkup, but can’t recall having cracked it open since then, despite adding two more boys to the mix. Wish I had actually read this one sooner- could have saved myself many a headache.
21. The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, by John Seymore. Someday, I’d like to live on a farm. Have some chickens and sheep and a milk cow, an organic garden, can my own fruits and vegetables and almost never have to go the store except for things like sugar and whole grain wheat. And Fat Free French Vanilla Coffeemate. Okay, I probably couldn’t hack it as a country girl, but it’s good to dream. And I did make butter a few weeks ago.
22. Homeschooling for Dummies, by Jennifer Kaufeld. Yes, I was homeschooled, and I am currently homeschooling my three little men. But I’m homeschooling because I want them to have the absolute best, most well-rounded education they could possibly have access to, and I don’t know everything. (Shhh- please don’t tell them!)
23. The Gathering Storm, by Brock and Bodie Thoene. Before Francine Rivers was my favorite author, this husband and wife duo held that not-so-coveted place in my literary heart. This is the first book in a new series just published last year. It’s been a while since I’ve ready any of their work, and so they more than deserve a spot on the list.
24. 1/2 Price Living: Secrets to Living Well on One Income, by Ellie Kay. Considering my changing personal circumstances, I probably should be looking for a book entitled, “1/4 Price Living,” but this looks like a good place to start.
So, now you know what’s on my list. What’s on yours?