Before I made public Reading Resolutions on the blog, I had an annual reading plan that was required for my job at the RA desk. Here is how it went. I had to read at least 1 book from each genre, 2 from a genre I was less familiar with or was concentrating on that year. Then I also had to read 5 nonfiction titles from at least 3 different Dewey areas. I was encouraged to read “multicultural” titles [the old word for diverse books] and different formats such as audio and graphic novels.
This reading plan also formed the basis for the syllabus I created when I taught the RA class for many years. I encouraged my students to read across the breadth of leisure reading holdings and challenge themselves to read outside their personal comfort zones.
When I talk about reading plans in my RA trainings, people always ask the same questions. Why is this forced reading important? I thought you said "Never apologize for your reading tastes,” so why can’t I read what I want?
Here is one simple answer to both inquires. It is your job to help leisure readers find the right book for them. It is not about YOU! It is about the reader in front of you. What they like and what they want in their next leisure read is all that matters for each transaction. How can you be ready for any type of reader walking into your building if you are only reading your own favorite types of books?
Look, when you work with leisure readers as your job, no matter how much you love books and reading, it is still YOUR JOB! You need to work at it to be better. People turn to me as one of the RA experts in our field and I work hard at it. So you.... you have no excuse.
Okay, I am done chastising. Now I will offer solutions.
This year, along with the more specific RA resolutions I will be laying out in a post in early January, I am also going to do the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Here is their description :
There are, once again, 24 tasks averaging out to two per month if you’re planning out your reading year. As I said last year, “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. No one is keeping score and there are no points to post. We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out. That’s what this is – a perspective shift – but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.”I have a screen shot of their easy to use check list below, but you can click here for the entire post and print a nice copy that you can use all year long.
If you are a library worker helping leisure readers, I think it is imperative to read outside your comfort zone. I realize sometimes it is hard to both create your own reading plan AND stick to it. If you follow the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, you have a great plan all laid out, and it comes with a like minded community on Goodreads where you can share your plan and how you are doing with other readers. In fact, even just joining the Goodreads group without participating will greatly increase your RA skills, as you will be part of a conversation about a wide range of leisure reads. Lurking will get you far toward your training goals.
And remember, that is the goal of making Reading Resolutions. It is not to shame yourself into reading something you wouldn’t normally pick up. It isn’t even about learning to like new types of books for your own enjoyment. Rather, it is to commit yourself to learning about as wide a range of titles as possible because you never know what kind of reader is going to step up to the service desk. You want to be ready to help everyone, but you only can be if you work at it.
If the hardest work challenge you have in 2016 is reading a book you didn’t like but was outside your comfort zone, I promise you, that mean you had a great year.
What do you have to lose? And you have only becoming even better at helping leisure readers to gain!