My Reading Year – Part One. January 9th

I’ve never being one for serious New Year’s Resolutions but I always vow to read 52 books in any calendar year. I often don’t achieve that – last year I spent two months reading ‘War and Peace’ – but I think if I can read 350 pages a week I’ll have a good go. A reading life is one of habit and and consistency so, perhaps, if I write about my reading, I will begin to recognise patterns which I can use when encouraging my students to read for pleasure in their lives.

Book One

storm‘Storm Breaker’ (Alex Rider Book One) – Anthony Horowitz.

How can we recommend teen fiction to kids when we don’t read it ourselves? This book has been about for ages but I picked up a copy over the holidays and gave it a go. I grabbed ten pages here, another ten there. In coffee shops, waiting in the car. When you have free time on holiday it highlights, more than anything, what makes you a reader. Actively finding even five minutes to get through a couple of pages, I was frantically searching thorough a packed out Glasgow City Centre for somewhere to sit down, eventually discovering a quiet corner in Waterstone’s. Well, not exactly quiet but I did a good job of cutting everything out for ten minutes.

It’s a real page turner. It’s poorly written: full of cliched set pieces and stereotypes. The action never lets up. A lifetime of reading Fleming’s Bond novels and some le Carre highlighted every ingredient Horowitz has used, causing me to sigh cynically on every other page. But, when I was twelve I would have loved it.

Book Two

habit‘The Power of Habit’ – Charles Duhigg

What makes a reading life so varied these days is the remarkable number of ways in which you can access books. This one was on my kindle and non-fiction. Quite coincidentally it is concerned with changing habits and I chose to read it January merely because it was next on my list. I hate to admit that I read non-fiction in a different way to fiction. It seems to be more dense at times and I have to take time to focus on every fact. I often rush along with fiction and, on occasion, will flick back to find out about a character or event. My kindle is in my pocket so I get through this one reasonably quickly. Recently in the press it has been reported that kindles sales are crashing as quickly as they rose. It seems the humble book is triumphing after all. Many of us never doubted it. I still carry mine everywhere though. You never know when you’ll have a reading emergency.

Duhigg’s book is superbly written, intricately researched, but slightly repetitive in places. I loved the opening section on recognising the nature of our habits. Cue, Routine, Reward. It got me thinking about how we develop habits as readers and how that might  work in classrooms. What is the reward for a reluctant reader? How can we convince them that there is one?

Book three is Neil McGregor’s ‘Shakespeare’s Restless World’, recommended by @JamesTheo. It’s astonishing so far.

Next time:IMG_0774

5 thoughts on “My Reading Year – Part One. January 9th

  1. I’ve been a strong advocate of adults reading children and y/a fiction since my days as a school librarian. Less time to read now, but I’m still doing it and as you say, 10 min snatches allows you to read a y/a novel fairly quickly. I put up ‘what we’re reading’ posters and they stimulate a lot of dialogue with classes. I want them to see I’m reading (and enjoying) texts that matter to them and that I’m interested in their opinions and further book recommendations. Also happy to queue up in the Library with them to get my books issued during our class visits. Reading by example!

    • Exactly. Reading by example and modelling the reading life is what it is all about. As always, thanks for your comment,
      Kenny

  2. I love this idea. I feel like I read all week – pupil work, classroom texts, newspapers, blogs – but somewhere along the line have stopped finding the time to read for pleasure (other than the few minutes in bed before I fall asleep). This year I’m following your lead and aiming to do something about that. I’m keeping a paperback handy at home, carrying my Kindle and making sure I have no excuse. Already I’m noticing that I’m better at finding a few minutes here and there so hopefully this month will form a new and lasting habit.
    Looking forward to keeping up with your book choices this year.

    • Thank you. I’ve been reading a lot about habits and how we can change them. For me, reading is embedded and I’ll never change that but for the kids we teach, I think it’s the continuity and persistence of adults which helps them to see the importance. Thanks, as always for your comment,
      Kenny

  3. Good to read, Kenny, and I look forward to future instalments.

    When I was a head I frequently had to rush to get to places on time. Now, in the post-career phase of my life, the pace is considerably more leisurely and I often find myself EARLY for things. I always have my Kindle in my bag and love having 10/15 minutes’ reading time while I wait. It’s so restful.

    (Surprised to read sales of Kindles were on the decline – I hadn’t heard that. I love books too but the Kindle suits me well when I’m travelling).

    Am reading and very much enjoying at the moment Hilary Mantel’s ‘A Change of Climate’. Have you read it? Have also just read ‘Dr Zhivago’ for my Book Club but found that disappointing, I have to say. We’ve chosen Truman Capote’s ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ for our next meeting – looking forward to that.

    Enjoy your reading!

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