Towards the end of 2014, I decided to attempt to read 52 books over the 52 weeks that are 2015. This idea came to me from several quarters – but as of most of the ideas, they came from colleagues, friends, and students.
Over the last few years, I have stopped reading fiction. Mostly. When I’m reading fiction, it’s often with a sense of guilt that perhaps I should be reading something more “useful” for my teaching and research. Over many lunchtime conversations with an esteemed colleague and friend, I realised that fiction has a lot more to offer and it is never not useful.
Further to that, I recently invited an alumnus to speak to my students in Singapore about employability – what they could do now, as well as what they needed to do for the future. One of the things she mentioned was reading – that she considered it vital not only for keeping up with the here and now, but also in order to anticipate future opportunities and trends. Interestingly, one’s reading habits can be used as a barometer when interviewing potential employees.
She also said that when we meet, I usually would ask what she is reading. That made me realise that I usually ask people that question – perhaps subconsciously to understand them (or even judge them) – also to find out if there were interesting books out there worth reading.
Also, it was pointed out to me – and I had not realised – that I referred to a lot of books (both fiction and non-fiction) in the classroom. These are not just books that are academically immediately relevant to the content in a class, but also books that help challenge the students or tell a great story that helps with what happening in the classroom.
One of the things that I get asked for often from students is a reading list – not just coursework reading list, but rather a list of books that they might find interesting. So I made a couple of lists which you can access under the ‘Bibliophilia’ tab on this website.
So I decided given all that, I will try to read a book week this year. These books are, to my mind, books that are not immediately related to my teaching or research. They are my indulgences, my guilty pleasures, or simply a chance to read something outside of my normal habits.
To that end, I will document the books I have read here, on my website, as well as on Goodreads. This will give me a chance to keep track of what I’ve been reading and be able to rate it. I will also try to document my thoughts on the books, but this might slip away from me so let’s see how that tracks. Another good friend suggested that I instagram/tweet the covers of the books as I finish them. I like that idea.
Thus begins #52books52weeks.