Assigned Reading, Autodidactic Ambitions, Book Recommendations, Reading

My “Assigned Reading” for This School Year


It’s no secret that I sometimes miss being in school–I miss the external push of deadlines and teachers, I miss the exposure to literature and views that I normally wouldn’t think of, and I miss the feeling that I know, for at least that one thing, that my progress can be measured, tracked, and assessed.

For nearly two years now, I’ve been in the midst of a “reading revival”– one that came about as a consequence of me renouncing the need to read off of recommended reading lists only and instead just read whatever the heck I want.

It’s been glorious–I’ve not only been motivated to read (almost) as much as I did as a teenager, but I’ve also discovered tons of new authors I love, been exposed to lots of exciting and inspiring ideas, and been able to make more connections with other readers, since I’m now actually reading what’s current instead of just what’s considered “classic.”

But the whole thing has kind of been like when you’ve been tracking calories for a really long time and then you all of a sudden decide you’re just going to stop–that you’re going to try and “eat intuitively” rather than plan out every mouthful, or something like that. For the first little while, it seems to be working; you’re able to keep your eating in check yet enjoy the experience, and you wonder why you didn’t do this all along.

Then you get a little lazy—you start rationalizing that a cookie or a handful of chocolate chips after every meal isn’t really that big of a deal, or that since cheese has calcium in it, it’s okay that your family of three is going through a 2.5 lb. block a week (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything). Before you know it, you’re functioning on caffeine- and sugar-laced binges every time you feel the least bit stressed, and your brain feels like it’s in a foggy field all day long.

Yeah, that’s how it’s been with me reading whatever I want lately–sure, sometimes I still manage to pick up something truly nutritious for my brain and soul, but more often than not, I’m constantly indulging in a stream of cotton candy “fluff” reads that leave me feeling more meh than motivated.

So the time has come to put myself back in school (figuratively speaking, anyway).

While before, I used to just set an arbitrary number of how many books I wanted to read off of certain lists that year, I’ve never actually set myself the task of reading certain books throughout the year.

So, with the dawn of a new school year fresh upon us, I have set myself the task to do some “assigned reading” this school year. I have largely used this as an opportunity to make myself read those books that I have continually put off for “someday,” but which have continually been getting set aside by the new, the flashy, or the popular.

Have a look.


Assigned Reading (2017-2018 School Year)

Each term, I must read:

* one “hard hitter” (classic) – 40% of course grade

* one “teen star” (Newbery winner/runner-up) – 30% of grade

* one “power boost” (book for personal growth) – 30% of grade

The following are opportunities for extra credit:

* anything off another recommended reading list (+10% to grade)

* poetry, full book (+10% to grade)

* parenting books (+ 5% to grade)

* any book out of my reading comfort zone (+ 5% to grade)

Term 1 (9/17 – 11/25)

*HH – 1984 by George Orwell

*TS – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

*PB – Grit by Angela Duckworth

Term 2 (11/26 – 1/28)

*HH – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

*TS – The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

*PB – The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

Term 3 (1/29 – 3/31)

*HH – Lord of the Flies by William Golding

*TS – Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

*PB – How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

Term 4 (4/1 – 6/1)

*HH – A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

*TS – The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

*PB – As A Man Thinketh, Volume II by James Allen (and edited by my dad!)



Now, here’s where you come in –

I’m already thinking ahead to what I want to read in the future, and I’d love some input from YOU on what I should read next. If you want to weigh in, click this post for a list of the 100 Most Recommended Classics, and then let me know which ones I should read next (and why, obviously!).

Also, I’m on the hunt for some “extra credit” reads for this “school year,” so any good parenting books or poetry anthologies or books that will help me diversify my reading that you know of are all welcome!






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