Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge 2015

This will be my third year participating in Joy's New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge. I find it to be one of the most beneficial challenges I've ever tried.

      "Whether you want to write a novel, start a new career, or be happier, there
       are books to aid you in your quest. The New Year’s Resolution Reading
       Challenge is to read one to four books that will stimulate action on your

Resolved (1 book) Determined (2 books)  
Committed (3 books) Passionate (4 books)

This year, my goals are extremely personal, tied to aging, disability, and loss.

As I age, I find that health and economic circumstances have gone a long way toward curtailing the choices available to me in my life. That, doesn't mean I have to be a passive victim of circumstance, however, and I mean to reclaim as much control as I am able.

My goal is to quiet my mind and become more centered. I wish to recognize the opportunities I do have, grab hold of them, and maximize their fruits, thereby regaining as much control over my life as possible. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

Before I start with the reading material, let me just share that a new health club just opened up near us offering some killer joining contracts. They have two pools, and I've started doing laps. (I walk my laps, but they are exercise and laps none the less.)

My first order of business is to quiet and center my mind and create a solid foundation for growth and change. I also need to work on my overall attitude, which has taken a severe beating over time. (Yeah. I plan to do all of that by the end of the month.)

So, here is my reading list for this year:
  1. Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat Zinn
  2. Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe.
  3. I Ching or Book of Changes. This one does not quite fit the challenge exactly, but correlates strongly with my goal. I won't be reading it through for the challenge, but I will be establishing a daily habit of reading to carry on far beyond this month.
  4. The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember - Mr. Rogers.
  5. The Art Of Procrastination - John Perry.
  6. Walden (actually a reread) by Henry David Thoreau.
I also wanted to add A blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds by Barbara Sophia Tammes, but am not able to get it in time for the challenge, either in print or ebook editions. (The ebook was improperly formatted and it will take time for the publisher to address the issue.) I'll come back to this one later.

[UPDATE 2/1/2015:] Okay. Can anyone guess the great cosmic joke here? 
As a part of a short term challenge to help quiet my mind, promote centeredness, and enable myself to regain a modicum of control over my own life, I packed the month with dense reading material that needs time to assimilate.

And what did I learn this month?

That I did not choose the best way to achieve my stated goals for this challenge. So . . .  I made some adjustments. Technically I didn't achieve my goals this year, but I wouldn't call it a failure, because I will simply be extending the time frame and continuing with the challenge.

This is where things stand so far: 

The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember - Mr. Rogers.      {COMPLETED}
I didn't grow up on Mr. Rogers, but my children did. And still, I'm sorry to say, I didn't truly appreciate what a treasure this man was until my grandchildren came along. By then the internet had caught on as well. It's hard to be cynical while reading the words of this caring, nurturing man.

I Ching or Book of Changes.      {ASSIMILATED}
I am finding that the days which include time spent meditating on the I Ching tend to find me functioning better.

Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe.     {COMPLETED}
I haven't completed this one as it includes exercises to help build your practice of meditation as well as the benefit of the author's experience, and I think I will benefit from a closer, slower reading of the book.

I do have one caveat. Although the author offers much, the book seems at times like an extended advertisement for a website that sells his program. I don't begrudge anyone a living, but in a book on mindfulness and meditation, it tends to be jarring.
[EDIT] The most important message I gleaned from this book is that when meditating, it works much better when you let go. The more you try to make it happen, the more elusive it becomes.

I will continue the challenge until I have completed it.   . . .

The Art Of Procrastination - John Perry.      {COMPLETED}

Fun. Tongue in cheek. Thought provoking.

Walden (actually a reread) - Henry David Thoreau.     {COMPLETED}   

It isn't possible to spend too much time in this book. For a gardener who is trying to move closer to nature it is inspiring, and good for meditation.


FINAL UPDATE 12/26/15: As I already mentioned, this year saw mixed results for the challenge. Most important, though, is the insight I gained into myself because of it. I have been so goal oriented that I have forgotten how to actually enjoy the journey. I need to work on this.  

The one book I did not get to may be the one I needed most: Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat Zinn.  

We'll see.   . . .


  1. These sounds like great books to start the year off in a more centered place. Good luck! I'm looking forward to seeing how all this works for you because not being a passive victim of circumstances is becoming an issue for me, too.

    So glad you joined us for the challenge!

  2. I like the look of the mindfulness book. Centering your mind is something I am working on doing this year, also. In fact, my word for this year is stillness. Being still is difficult, and my mind goes all over the place. Good luck with your challenges, both in reading and in your personal life.

  3. That looks like great progress in a month. It's always hard to tell on these topics which books will be a quick introduction and which need a lot longer to process.

    Joy's Book Blog