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Set a Goal and Read: The Beauty of Large Reading Projects

photo by flickr user msbhaven
photo by flickr user msbhaven

Ah, summer. The time for lazy reading by the pool, picking up whichever book strikes your fancy… or frantically completing long summer reading assignments. It depends on who your teachers are.

I definitely had a couple of long, involved reading assignments during my school years, most notably the summer before I started college. It was strongly suggested that we read an abridged version of Don Quixote before term started. Being the rule follower that I am, I went to the library and could only find the unabridged version… so that’s what I read. Even with that experience, though, something about summer brings out my enthusiasm for planning large reading projects.

What do I mean by a large reading project? Well, make no mistake, I completely believe in reading for fun and pursuing those reading materials that interest you. And my reading projects are materials that interest me, but they are those items that I never seem to get around to in the course of my normal reading: really long, thick novels that don’t automatically call to me when I flop down on the couch at night, for example, or lists of books that I wouldn’t remember to get to if I weren’t intentional about it. 

Here are some of my completed reading projects from years past:

All of these were books that I genuinely wanted to read. But Anna Karenina (like many other “classics”) is of an imposing size, and takes some time before you start to really identify with any of the characters (I ended up loving it). The Marsden series took awhile to track down, including having to request that my library purchase 2 of the 3 Ellie Chronicles, which follow the Tomorrow series proper. Poetry can require more thought than I’m often willing to put into my reading without prepping myself beforehand. I had to make them into projects to get them read.

I’m currently working my way through these projects:

  • Read Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles, a French novel, in French (although I have a translation handy to refer to after reading a section in French).
  • Read all six of Jane Austen’s completed novels.
  • Read a selection of questions from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. This is a project to let me get a small picture of the reading my husband does regularly.

Of these, only one is what I would call “active” mode. I am currently reading through the Aquinas book, trying to read a little each day (then picking up my mystery novel once I have!). I’ve read five of the six Austen novels, but I don’t know when I’ll get to the sixth. I started the French novel last fall, and it fell by the wayside, but I hope to pick it back up later this summer.

Obviously, my project reading is not a model of efficiency. Everyone’s reading style is different– see this Hub post about reading habits to get an idea of the variety. Still, I like having projects to work on along with my regular reading because they help me broaden my reading and read books that I might not otherwise. I never seem to have trouble coming up with projects, and certainly have several in mind for the future:soundandfury

What about you? Do you have assigned summer reading projects? Do you have your own reading projects that you are working on? I love to hear about other people’s reading projects… they give me more ideas for future projects!

-Libby Gorman, currently reading Holy Teaching: Introducing the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

12 Comments

  1. My summer reading/listening project is the Jacky Faber series by L. A. Meyer. I listened to “Viva Jacquelina!” as part of the HUB Reading Challenge this year and enjoyed it so much I decided I wanted to read all the books that came before it. I’m only up to #4 now, but I’m making steady progress.

    • Libby Gorman Libby Gorman

      This sounds like a fun project. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sue Hersper Sue Hersper

      The Bloody Jack series is one of my favorites! And I highly recommend the audiobooks as well! The 12th and final book will be out this fall.

      • Libby Gorman Libby Gorman

        Uh-oh. I sense another project needs to be added to my list…

  2. I always give myself reading projects! My roommates think I’m crazy for giving myself homework, but I love completing a project. I’m currently working (slowly) on the Top 100 Chapter Books for Kids, as well as several of the YALSA awards lists. And I’m participating in several blogging read alongs, like the Estella Project Season 2 and Austen in August.

    • Rebecca King Rebecca King

      I see a few Austen in August blogs, which one do you recommend?

    • Libby Gorman Libby Gorman

      These sounds great…I’d also like to hear more about Austen in August…

  3. Rebecca King Rebecca King

    I’ve completed the YALSA Hub Challenge the past 2 years and it introduced me to several new authors that I enjoy and can recommend. My current personal challenge is the past 50 years of Newbery winners (to celebrate my own milestone birthday!). We also have several book lists here in Illinois that I try to read a certain percentage: Rebecca Caudill, Bluestem, Monarch, Lincoln and Read for a Lifetime. I like the Austen in August idea, thanks sharing!

    • Libby Gorman Libby Gorman

      Phew, you are a fast reader…impressive!

  4. Carly Pansulla Carly Pansulla

    I love the Hub Reading Challenge because it formalizes some of my reading goals, which are usually pretty haphazard. I’m trying to develop my Reader’s Advisory skills for mystery lovers, so to that end I’m reading a lot of mysteries; now I’m inspired to actually write out a series of titles and authors to make it an official goal instead of just a vague, disorganized idea!

    • Libby Gorman Libby Gorman

      I think it will be good for me, because I definitely get things done faster when I have some sort of outside pressure (even informal)!

  5. Tiffany Nardella Tiffany Nardella

    I love reading challenges. In past I’ve read through Caldecott winners, Austen, Dickens, Alex Awards, and some Goodreads lists. I just joined YALSA and am looking forward to the next HUB challenge.

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